Milton Slavens


Milton Slavens married Mary Elizabeth Bryan shortly after his discharge from the 51st Infantry in 1862. Mary was the cousin of Willis' wife, as her mother was Eliza Ragan Bryan. Milton and Mary farmed in the North Salem area for several years, buying a farm a few miles southwest of town and across the county line in Jackson Township, Putnam County. Daughters Rosa and Mary were born there, as well as a son Harvey Abner, who died at one year of age.

Milton and Mary sold the farm in the mid-1870's and relocated to Saline County, Nebraska, near Pleasant Hill. Mary's brother William Bryan also moved to Pleasant Hill with his family and their mother Eliza. Mary Slavens died in 1888 and Milton married Charlotte (Lottie) Maria Dunning on 19 Dec. 1890. According to her death certificate, Lottie's parents Loren W. and Eliza Blanchard Dunning were both born in New Jersey.

In the 1880 census, Milton is listed as a farmer, and in the state census of 1885 he's the caretaker of the county poor farm. In addition, he's listed in the agricultural section as owning a small farm and raising sheep and cattle and growing oats, with the help of 200 weeks' worth of hired labor. Bet we know where those workers came from. Milton was also a member of Coats Post 107 of the G.A.R. in nearby Dorchester.

The preview issue of Saline County Connections, a publication of The Pastfinder Library in Crete, reprinted a story on the poor farm from the 5 June 1884 issue of The Globe, a newspaper in Crete. Milton either took over as caretaker within a few months of the story, or perhaps he was already overseeing the agricultural production. Here are some excepts from the story:


Milton and Mary's stones at the Pleasant Hill Cemetery, Saline County, Nebraska

"Ye Globe Local took occasion to visit the County Poor Farm lately. As you drive into Pleasant Hill you notice among other things a large white building considerably in need of paint, somewhat resembling a hotel. If you will enquire you will be told that this is the home of the county poor.

"The building is 46 x 40, two stories high, with an addition 12 x 14. The upper story contains four rooms and the lower, five.

"Ascending the flight of stairs which leads to the upper story you find yourself in a room at present not in use except as a store room. Leading out of this, towards the south, is another room. The windows of the room are strongly barred and the stove securely surrounded by an iron railing.

"A single glance at the two inmates explains why these precautions are necessary. The appartment (sic) contains two insane women, who have been returned by the asylum as incurable, and hence must be cared for by the county...

"...Mr. James Fike, the keeper of the Poor Farm, received us courteously and gave us whatever information we wished. We found everything in a neat and orderly condition.

"The Poor Farm contains one hundred and sixty acres, eighty of which as already under cultivation."

Milton and Mary had four children: Rosa Ellen, Harvey Abner (who died in infancy), and Mary Eliza, all born in Indiana, and James Garfield Slavens, born in Nebraska.

Rosa married William F. Kortright; the couple moved to Colorado and then California, where records indicate they settled in San Benito County. According to the 1900 census, they had seven children, four of whom were living (Harry M., b. April 1883; Viola, b. 1888; Olive, b. 1892; and Charles F., b. Sept. 1898). Rosa died in 1950 and William in 1946; Charles F. Kortright died in 1969 in Los Angeles.

Mary married Samuel Dunning.

James Garfield Slavens married Agnes Langdon and moved to Washington state. "Jack," as he was known to his family, was a lumberjack for several years, affiliated with the Pine Tree Lumber Co. in Olympia. He and Alice had five children, including son Langdon "Don" Slavens and daughters Myrtle Rose "Mickey" Thomas, Maida Morrill, Edna Lesley Morris, and Avis L. Fuller Winslow Esch.

Milton Slavens died 28 Nov. 1901 and is buried at the Pleasant Hill Cemetery. His second wife Lottie died in Sterling, Col., in 1936, where she had lived for 25 years.

(Thanks to Lyn Harrison of the Pastfinder Library for the photos and reprint of the poor farm story. If you have Saline County connections, check them out here.

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