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Benjamin C. Milam

Ben C. Milam was born in Franklin County on July 1, 1821.  He was the youngest child born to John and Lucy Bradley Milam, who migrated from Virginia; first to Scott and then Franklin County, Kentucky. Like most men of the time John Milam was engaged in farming.  Young Ben stayed on the farm until he was about fourteen. Then he became an apprentice in the watchmaking business for eight years under Beverly Noel. Ben really didn't like the watch making trade very well. In 1839 he began making the first quadruple winding fishing reel in his shop at 222 West Main Street. The reels were made of the finest materials and possessed flawless workmanship. The Milam Reel won awards at various World's Fairs; a gold medal at the International Fisheries Exposition in Bergen, Norway in 1893; the highest award given by the Columbian Exposition in Chicago in 1893; the International Exposition in Paris, France in 1900 and the Louisiana Purchase Exposition at St. Louis, Missouri in 1904.
On June 9, 1846, Ben volunteered for service in the Mexican War.  He was Captain of Company C, First Regiment Kentucky Cavalry, commanded by Humphrey Marshall.  On January 22, 1847, eleven members of Milam's company were captured near the town of Encarnacion during an encounter with the Mexicans.  Along with Milam the men of Company C, most of whom were residents of Franklin County, saw action in the Battle of Buena Vista.  Many of the casualties were Kentuckians, many of whom were Franklin Countians.  There was an out cry from the Frankfort citizens to recover the bodies of the missing. The Frankfort Trustees and the Franklin County Court appropriated money to bring the bodies of the Franklin County dead back to Frankfort.  Milam returned to Mexico to secure the bodies and arranged for them to be returned to Frankfort by Ruben A. Hawkins.  When the bodies arrived at the warf in Frankfort Milam was there to receive them.  On September 16, the remains of 11 men; seven who had died at the Battle of Buena Vista and four who died in other engagements were buried in the Frankfort Cemetery.
Shortly after returning from the war Ben married Martha Shockley of Franklin County.  She was the daughter of Thomas and Ann Stephen Shockley, natives of Maryland. Two children were born to Ben and Martha.  Anna M. Milam, was born in Franklin County on September 15, 1850 and John W. Milam on July 12, 1859.
Ben served on the city council in 1882.  Martha S. Milam died on December 13, 1885.  After Martha's death, Ben remained active in local politics again served on the council in 1890.  In 1900, Mr. Milam served as President of The Deposit Bank, which in 1914 consolidated with the Farmers Bank.  Son, John Milam was in charge of the Fishing Reel business, although Ben kept a watchful eye over its' production. Benjamin C. Milam died on January 29, 1904.  He is buried beside his wife, Martha, in the Frankfort Cemetery, section L.  John Milam continued to produce the famous reel until his death on March 27, 1928.

Kentucky - A History of the State 1887, by Battel and Company
The Frankfort Cemetery . . .in Kentucky, by KGS
Capital On The Kentucky, by Kramer


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