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Past and Present of Livingston County
Volume 2. Biographies
by Major A. J. Roof. 1913
John T. Milbank is prominently connected with milling interests in Chillicothe and his is a well directed enterprise in which careful management and unfaltering industry are meeting with success. While Mr. Milbank has spent much of his life in Livingston county he as born in Troy, Madison county, Illinois, February 9, 1861, his parents being George and Nellie (Swain) Milbank. The father's birth occurred in Essex, England, on the 14th of July, 1833, and he was a young man of twenty-two years when in 1855 he came to America, settling first at Akron, Ohio. He was a miller, which trade he had learned in his native land, and later followed it in Ohio. Subsequently he took up his abode near Evansville, Indiana, and afterward removed to St. Louis, where he resided from 1856 until 1860. In the latter year he removed to Troy, Madison county, Illinois, where he conducted a milling business on his own account. In 1867 he arrived in Chillicothe and built the plant known here as the City Mills, thus establishing the business of which his son John T. is now proprietor and which for more than forty-five years has been one of the important manufacturing industries of the city.
On the 3d of May, 1860, George Milbank was married to Miss Nellie Swain and they became the parents of nine children: John T., of this review; Sallie W.; George M.; Lucy T.; Charles R.; Mary L.; Henry S.; Kate S.; and Nellie May, deceased. The father died its 1903 after having lived retired since 1897. It is interesting in this connection to note something of the more remote ancestry of John T. Milbank, whose paternal grandparents were Thomas and Sarah (Wallace) Milbank, both natives of England, where they spent their entire lives.
John T. Milbank, spending his youthful days under the parental roof, acquired his education in the district schools and was trained to habits of industry and economy. He early became familiar with the milling business through the assistance which he rendered his father from early boyhood and in 1897 upon his father's retirement he and his brother Henry Milbank purchased the mills which they operated in joint ownership until February 14, 1911, when the subject of this review bought his brother's interests and is now sole proprietor. The plant has a capacity of one hundred and fifty barrels of flour and fifty barrels of corn meal per clay, and this product is sent out over a broad territory, covering a radius of one hundred miles from Chillicothe. It is also sold on the St. Louis market and is shipped extensively into the south. The establishment of these mills in Chillicothe encouraged the growing of wheat in Livingston county, something that had been done to a very limited extent prior to that time, but its production has since greatly increased until it is now one of the staple crops of the county.
On the 9th of May, 1895, Mr. Milbank was married to Miss Bessie W. Palmer, a native of Des Moines, Iowa, and a daughter of Serring Palmer, who was born in Canada. Mr. and Mrs. Milbank have become the parents of three children; George Edward, born July 14, 1897; John Palmer, born February 17, 1900; and Elizabeth Sarah, born July 18, 1905. Mrs. Milbank holds membership in the Episcopal church and Mr. Milbank is a member of the Masonic fraternity in which he has attained the Royal Arch degree. His life conforms to the high teachings of that organization and his social and business connections both place him in a prominent position among the representative citizens of Chillicothe. His has been a useful, active and well spent life in which enterprise, energy and ambition have triumphed over difficulties and obstacles and placed him among the more successful representatives of industrial activity.