Butler County history column: Millikin family of doctors

Stahlheber Woods renamed ‘Millikin Woods’ in 1945 in honor of Dr. Mark Millikin.

When Ohio and Butler County were created in 1803, there were few physicians who could tend to the medical needs of area settlers. Most practitioners were transients who quickly moved on to settle in other locations while only two or three remained in the county for more than a few years.

Historical records indicate that Dr. Squier Littlel, Dr. Jacob Lewis, and Dr. J. Lanier served the area prior to the arrival of Hamilton’s first permanent physician, Dr. Daniel Millikin.

“Old Doctor Dan” (1779-1849) first visited the area in 1804 and returned with his wife, three children, and two of his brothers in 1807. He had married Joan Minor in 1801 and had eight children with her. A second marriage with Ellen Curry after 1830 produced another four children. He established his practice in Hamilton but provided health care to many other Butler County residents and settlers living in adjoining counties.

As a pioneer doctor, Millikin’s life was full of hardship, extensive travel on horseback over horrible roads in all types of weather conditions, and frequent exposure to infectious diseases. The poor health he suffered late in his life was attributed to his career in medicine.

Dr. Dan was a trustee of the Hamilton Literary Society during the 1810s and helped raise the funds needed to build a brick schoolhouse at the corner of Third and Dayton streets. He was a member of Miami University’s Board of Trustees from 1812 to 1824, represented the area in the state legislature in 1816 and 1817, and was an associate judge for Butler County’s Court of Common Pleas from 1827 to 1841, all while practicing medicine.

Millikin was president of the Butler County Medical Society when it was organized in 1836 and signed the new constitution and by-laws when the group was reorganized in 1848.

Robert B. Millikin (1793-1860), a younger brother of Dr. Dan, came to Hamilton from Pennsylvania in 1813. After studying with his brother and taking Sarah Gray as his wife in 1816, “Dr. Bob” was licensed to practice medicine in 1817. He established his practice in Rossville and operated a drugstore there for many years.

After Sarah died in the 1830s, Millikin married Ann Eliza Yeomans. Robert served as Rossville’s postmaster from 1824 to 1836, was a member of the state legislature during 1836 through 1838, and was briefly Butler County’s treasurer in 1849-1850. He also served as a trustee of Miami University from 1840 to 1848.

Dr. Daniel Millikin (1845-1914) was one of the most popular, respected and admired men in Hamilton during his lifetime. He was the son of lawyer John M. Millikin and grandson of the pioneer Dr. Dan and one the first three graduates of Hamilton High School in 1862. Young Millikin studied chemistry at Yale University (1863-64) and medicine under Dr. Cyrus Falconer who had been one of Dr. Robert B. Millikin’s students. He married Amanda Hunter in 1866 and the couple had four children.

In 1875, Millikin earned his medical degree at Miami Medical College in Cincinnati and immediately began his practice in Hamilton. He joined his alma mater’s faculty in 1884 and held three academic discipline chairs until he resigned from the school in 1893.

“Dr. Dan” was president of the Ohio Medical Association during 1895 and 1896 and appointed to Miami University’s Board of Trustees by Ohio Governor William McKinley, a position he held from 1891 to 1900. Millikin was elected to the Hamilton Board of Education and served as board president during 1906 through 1913.

Millikin was also a popular man of letters who contributed articles and essays to literary and scientific journals and was a highly effective public speaker. He frequently acted in a variety of locally produced plays and wrote several comedies which were staged throughout the county. A clipping from the May 5, 1910 Hamilton “Telegraph” reported that one of Millikin’s plays with a cast that included Stella Weiler Taylor, his son Dr. Mark Millikin, Dr. Louis Frechtling and others would be staged at a state medical society meeting in Toledo.

When “Dr. Dan” died in 1914, more than 500 people attended his memorial service in Hamilton’s new YMCA.

Mark Millikin (1868-1945) graduated from Hamilton High School in 1886 and attended Johns Hopkins University from 1886 to 1889 before earning his medical degree from Miami Medical College in 1892. When “Dr. Mark” joined his father’s practice in 1893 the office became known as “Millikin and Millikin.” Also in 1893, he married May Beckett with whom he had six children.

The younger Millikin was Hamilton’s health commissioner from 1904 to 1911 and was one of the 15 men who organized the Hamilton Chamber of Commerce in 1910. He was a member of the city’s first charter commission that unsuccessfully tried to form a city manager government in 1916. However, in 1926, Millikin and other community leaders on the second charter commission won voter approval for a new city charter. “Dr. Mark” was elected to the city council in 1927 and was reelected six times, serving from 1928 to 1943.

Millikin was the chief of the medical staff at Mercy Hospital from 1920 to 1944, the year he ended his practice due to poor health after more than 50 years of service to the community. In 1945, the city renamed what had been known as Stahlheber Woods, Millikin Woods in “Dr. Mark’s” honor.

Neil Millikin (1900-1981), Dr. Mark’s son and great-great-grandson of the pioneer Doctor Daniel Millikin, graduated from Hamilton High School in 1918. Young Neil is seen in his Hamilton High 1915 football team uniform in the photo at the left. Millikin acquired a bachelor’s degree at Johns Hopkins University in 1921 before earning his medical degree at the Harvard University Medical School in 1925 shortly after marrying Grace Krauth.

Dr. Neil was a Hamilton-area general practitioner for more than 50 years. For 33 years, from 1948 to 1981, he provided medical care to the local US Selective Service board without pay and served on the board of the Butler County Children’s Home. He was a founding member of the Hamilton Community Foundation. In 1962, Dr. Millikin was elected chief of staff at Mercy Hospital, a position held by his father for almost 25 years.

He was also chief of staff at Fort Hamilton-Hughes Memorial Hospital, today called Kettering Health Hamilton.

Taken together, these five members of the Millikin family provided nearly 175 years of almost uninterrupted service meeting the health care needs of Butler County residents. To a man, they also gave of themselves to improve the social life, education and quality of life of Hamilton’s citizens. The Millikin family of doctors was an exceptional influence on Hamilton and the surrounding area.

This column is published on behalf of the Butler County Historical Society, located at 327 N. Second St. in Hamilton. See more about the BCHS online at bchistoricalsociety.com.


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