Editor’s note: This is one of a series of articles that will run until Labor Day in advance of the return to Sidney of the Vietnam Memorial replica wall and a Field of Valor featuring American flags in Custenborder Park. Both exhibits are by the Shelby County Historical Society. Flags for the Field of Valor can be purchased by calling 498-1653. The project commemorates 2015 as the anniversary of the beginning or end of several U.S. armed conflicts. This series will include stories about most of America’s wars. Today, what a former Sidney resident found out about his ancestors who fought in the Revolutionary War.
PIQUA — The National Society of the Sons of the American Revolution doesn’t open its membership to just anyone.
Would-be Sons must provide documentation that proves an ancestor supported the cause of American independence from Great Britain during the years, 1774-1783.
Sidney native Doug Millhoff, now of Piqua, knew he had four such ancestors. Finding the documentation to get him into the exclusive society sent him into a genealogical search and new hobby he’d never really planned to pursue.
“I got interested (in genealogy) because I decided I wanted to join the Sons of the American Revolution, so I had to research all that stuff. Then I got interested in all my ancestors,” he said recently.
Millhoff’s five patriot ancestors are Philip Jacob Millhoff, Ephraim Headlee, Samuel Fordyce and John Headlee Sr. and Jr.
All are relatives through his father’s side of the family. Philip Millhoff and Ephraim Headlee are Doug’s third-great-grandfathers. John Headlee Sr. is Doug’s fifth-great-grandfather, and Ephraim and John Jr.’s father. Fordyce is Doug’s fourth-great-grandfather. John Headlee Jr. was Ephraim’s brother, making him Doug’s third-great-uncle.
Ephraim Headlee was the great-grandfather of Rose Pickering, who married George Millhoff. Rose and George were Doug’s grandparents. Rose’s great-grandmother, who married Ephraim, was Mary Fordyce. Her father was Samuel Fordyce.
Philip was born about 1750 in France and moved to the United States as a toddler, in 1753, aboard the ship, Edinburg. His family settled in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania. When the war erupted, Philip joined the Pennsylvania Militia from York County.
“Most of the service rendered by members of the Pennsylvania Militia fell into one of three categories. They were either used to augment the operations of the Continental Line such as when some of the Associators accompanied General Washington in crossing the Delaware in January 1777.
“Other examples of this type of service include the large numbers of Pennsylvania militia employed in the summer and autumn of 1777 to oppose the British invasion at Brandywine and on the flanks at the battle of Germantown, though in neither case did they actually see action. The militia did provide a significant defensive force patrolling the south side of the Schuylkill River and engaged in occasional clashes with British outposts and scouting parties including heavy skirmishes at Whitemarsh on December 7. Due to the 60-day turnover, however, none of the men who were at Brandywine in September would have been present at Whitemarsh in December. It is known that no Pennsylvania militia served at Valley Forge, Monmouth, or Yorktown.
“The second type of service was duty on the frontier in Northumberland, Northampton, Bedford and Westmoreland counties. Occasionally, militia reinforcements from Cumberland, Lancaster and York counties would be brought in to reinforce these frontiers as occurred in the summer of 1778.
“A third type of militia duty was in providing guards for supply depots located in Lancaster, Lebanon and Reading and at various prisoner of war camps,” according to the website of the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission.
Philip was promoted to lieutenant for his “brave and efficient service.”
Ephraim, Johns Sr. and Jr., and Fordyce all served in the Morris County Militia from New Jersey. John Sr. became ill very quickly and died without ever seeing action. Ephraim served as a private.
The militias of New Jersey served as much of General Washington’s army at various times throughout the war, particularly when enlistments by soldiers from other states were up and new recruits had not yet joined the fighting. They participated in skirmishes against British troops who were stationed throughout what is today much of New York City: Manhattan, Long Island and Staten Island. Some units fought in the Battle of Brooklyn.
According to Doug’s application to the Sons of the American Revolution, Philip’s son, also named Philip, was the one who moved the family to Ohio. The move was probably made in the early part of the 19th century. Doug said they first settled in Dayton and later came north to Shelby County. Family members have lived in Houston, Cynthian Township, Oran, Clinton Township, Loramie Township or Sidney ever since.
Doug’s grandfather and father were active in Shelby County politics. George Millhoff was the county treasurer and his son, Clyde, assisted him. When George retired, Clyde ran to take the office. The election ended in a tie and was decided by a coin toss. Clyde lost.
Later, however, Clyde was a delegate to the Republican National Convention of 1968, at which Richard Nixon was nominated for president. Doug and his mother, Pauline, went along. Doug had had his photo taken previously with Nixon when the then-vice president had made a campaign stop in Sidney in the 1950s.
Clyde was proud of his military service as a lieutenant colonel.
“He loved the Army and the National Guard. He had a day job and then trained troops at the armory in Sidney at night,” Doug said.
Clyde also served as Shelby County campaign manager for William McCulloch, of Piqua, who was a congressman from 1948 to 1973.
Doug graduated from Sidney High School in 1958 and from Capital University in 1963. He served in the Springfield National Guard from 1964 to 1970, beginning as an airman and moving through the ranks to tech sergeant. He managed aircraft records for the 178th Tactical Fighter Group.
Doug worked at Mutual Federal Savings Bank for 43 years, retiring as chairman of the board in 2006. A member of Sidney City School’s Hall of Honor, he is a former high school and university tennis champion and now enjoys genealogy research and his condo in Delray Beach, Florida.
Reach the writer at 937-538-4824 and follow her on Twitter @PASpeelmanSDN.