Milstead Genealogy Home PageUpdated December 24, 2009
|The derivation of the name Milstead is not certain, but one likely theory is that it means the ‘middle place’, from Old English middel ‘middle’ and stede ‘site, place’. It is first recorded in the late eleventh century as Milstede.|
The first Milstead in America that we know of was Edward born in 1656. He lived in Bethersden, Kent, England and was deported in 1674 for stealing 2 nutmegs, a pound of Gingerbread, and 3 shillings from two homes. After serving an indenture to pay for his passage, he went on to acquire land, marry thrice, and father a number of children, from which many of the Milsteads in America are descended. This site is dedicated to all the descendants of Edward I and also to my other ancestors.
For the first century after the arrival of Edward, the Milstead family multiplied and prospered with the colonies, acquiring lands and slaves, but also suffered under the "tyranny" of the homeland. When the revolutionary war came, at least one Milstead served in the Continental Army. After the revolution, some Milsteads chose to spread westward with the frontier and many moved South, while others remained rooted in Charles County.
Over the next three quarters of a century the now spread-out Milstead family in the North, South, and West had mostly, if not totally, lost all memory or awareness of each other. Charles County Milsteads were still living in a mainly agrarian society that was not unlike most of Virginia and the other southern states. Other Milsteads just a few miles away were running a brickyard in the thriving city of Washington by 1820. There were by this time groups of Milsteads in Florida, Indiana, Kentucky, Texas, Western Virginia (soon to become West Virginia after Virginia succeeded from the Union and then West Virginia succeeded from the Confederacy), Ohio, Mississippi, Alabama, and undoubtedly anywhere else that Europeans were within the new land. In Charles County, the Milsteads helped establish a church in Chicamuxen, MD that is still the center of gravity for the family today.
When war came in 1861, America underwent a great tragedy. It was an awesome and awful thing that affected everybody for the worse, whether white or black or something else. 600,000 killed, about 2% of the population. 23,000 were killed in one day, half of the total for Vietnam, but coming from a much, much smaller population. The Milsteads again were typical. By my count, there were 69 Milsteads that fought in "The recent unpleasantness." About 2/3 of Milsteads fought for the Confederate States, and the other 1/3 fought for the union. This pretty much maps the distribution of the family over the northern vs. southern states. Like every other group, we took our casualties in wounded and killed, although statistically we probably fared a little better than would be expected. Joseph H. Milstead is buried at Arlington Cemetery at the Confederate Memorial.
After the civil war, the family grew and became more diverse. Some became famous/infamous, and most went on to work, raise families, and passed into memory and beyond. The information contained on this site is my insufficient attempt to capture and bring back from the "realm of the nearly forever lost" some of the things we know, or think we know, about this great, and ordinary, American family.
The information presented herein is not perfect, in fact it contains many errors, but for all that, it is still a place to start for anyone who would like to attempt the rewarding, frustrating, and ultimately impossible task of bringing clarity to history that can only be viewed through the cloudy lens of scant and conflicting information. It is like viewing the world through a piece of glass that has been etched by the tides of time. Everything is distorted, but there is definitely something there.And every once in a while, the sun shines just right and there is just the fleeting moment of clarity..... or was there?
August 15th, 2004