3) Charles Millham


(compiled by Jean Knourek)

Nothing is known about Charles Millham’s early life, but I was able to obtain a copy of his birth certificate from the General Register Office in London, England, showing that he was born on November 20, 1840 to Mary Milham in the workhouse at Battle, County of Sussex. In those days, the workhouses became the homes of many orphans and destitute people who, for one reason or another, had nowhere else to live. The wealthy and powerful Church of England often visited the workhouses in search of promising youngsters to place in their residential schools and provided them with an education. In speculation, this may have been how Charles later came to be employed by the Church.

Charles Millham Birth Certificate

It will be noted that Millham was spelled with only one “L”. It seems Charles made the change following his marriage since any signature of his after that time includes two “L’s”.

It is believed that Charles came to present-day Winnipeg, Manitoba in about 1858 and worked for the Church of England with the Bishop of Rupert’s Land, the Right Reverend David Anderson. Hudson’s Bay Company Archives show that on December 8, 1863 Charles acquired Lot 1046, in the Parish of Headingly, from Rev. David Anderson. The property consisted of 98 acres, and measured 164 chains/6 chains frontage. (A surveyor’s chain is 66 feet.) No purchase price is listed, and later correspondence suggests that the Bishop gave Charles the property. Correspondence indicates, also, that about the first of the year 1864, Charles “settled on and improved the same.”

On February 25, 1864 Charles married Sarah Ann Gowler, the sixth of twelve children born to Oliver and Mary Gowler. The ceremony was officiated by the Right Reverend David Anderson, and witnessed by two of Sarah’s brothers, Oliver and John, and by Elizabeth Miller and Elizabeth Bryant. In the next twenty years, twelve children were born to Charles and Sarah.

Charles Millham, Sarah Gowler marrigae certificate

On June 6, 1868 Charles bought Lot 1047, adjoining his property on the west side, from Mrs. Ann Gunn for a “sum of thirty pounds sterling which is to be payed by the end of twelve months with house and all standing property thereon—fifteen pounds of which is to be paid in the meantime.” A payment of fifteen pounds sterling was made on July 9, 1868 with payment in full being made on October 19, 1870. The lot consisted of 100 acres and measured 168 chains with six chains frontage.

In March 1873, in reply to an advertisement to that effect, Charles began detailed correspondence to obtain patent for his land. As a result, both lots were recommended for patent on December 15, 1873 by the Hudson’s Bay Company which listed the improvement as including one dwelling, four other buildings, and 42 acres broken. The lots were renumbered Lot 15 when the federal government commenced governing lands, and patent was granted on April 2, 1875 to include an area of 200.4 acres. However, the patent for the outer two miles was not issued until May 28, 1903.

Following is a collection of correspondence by Charles Millham in proving ownership of his property at Headingly (obtained from Manitoba Provincial Archives):

Headingly 29th March 1873

To Lieut. Cl. Dennis
In accordance with your advertisement of the 22nd instant I beg to apply for my patent for lands to
situate here in this Parish and annexed hereto are the necessary documents in support of my claim.
I am Sir yours faithfully,
Charles Millham


I, Charles Millham of the Parish of Headingly in the County of Selkirk, Province of Manitoba, Farmer, make Oath and say—
1. That sometime in the year 1863 the late Bishop of Rupert’s Land gave me one Lot of land extending six chains in width on the South side of the Assiniboine River, the same standing in my name and being numbered 1048 in the Hudson’s Bay Company Register and that on or about the 1st day of the year 1864 I settled on and improved the same.
2. That on or about the 6th day of June 1868 I purchased from Mrs. Gunn a Lot of land on the West side of and adjoining the aforesaid Lot, the same extending six chains and being numbered 1049 in the Hudson’s Bay Company’s Registry.
3. That I have since occupied the said Lots and that they contain together twelve chains frontage on the South side of the Assiniboine River and run back two miles to the base line, and are bounded on the east by a Lot belonging to William Tait and the West by a Lot belonging to James Tait.
I claim my lots under the 32 Section, Manitoba Act.
The improvements are: One Dwellinghouse, Two Barns, Two Storehouses and about twenty acres of land, more or less, under cultivation.
Sworn before me at Winnipeg
This 31st day March 1873
S. Arthur Levequent

June 6th 1868

I, Mrs. Gunn do hereby sell to Charles Millham my right and title of tract of land on the south side of the Assiniboine River No. 1049 in the year of our Lord 1868 for the sum of thirty pounds sterling which is to be payed by the end of twelve months with house and all standing property thereon—fifteen pounds of which is to be paid in the meantime.

Mrs. Ann Gunn
Charles Millham
George Sutherland
Alex Sutherland

Payed the sum of Fifteen Pounds sterling on the 9th of July 1868
Received payment in full on the 19th of October 1870
Mrs. Flett

Charles Millham

        Millham lot numbers     Millham lot


January 17th, 1878

I certify that Lot no. 15 in the Parish of Headingly has been patented to Charles Millham, and that the said Millham sold the said Lot to Joseph F. Charnock by deed dated 14th June 1875 and registered on the 24th day of September 1875 (including all rights and privileges thereto attached) and that the said Joseph F. Charnock has not sold the said land or the outer two miles attached thereto, but that the same seems to be vested in the said Joseph F. Charnock as shown by the books in this office.
                                                                                                                    A.M. Kennedy
Registrar of Deeds
For the County of Selkirk

Millham Hudson Bay Land Registrar

During the Red River Rebellion of 1869-70, Charles was one of 47 men imprisoned by Louis Riel for a period of one month—from about February 17 to March 15, 1870. It seems that Charles was with a large group of angry settlers who had traveled from Portage la Prairie to obtain the release of another group of prisoners. It is told that through that time, Sarah visited Charles regularly and took him food. She is also said to have pleaded with Riel for Charles’ release by taking him a loaf of bread each day.

By the later 1870’s, Charles had decided to move west in search of perhaps more and better land. He sold Lot 15 to Joseph F. Charnock effective June 14, 1875 and on December 27, 1877 he made entry at Portage la Prairie for SW18-15-17 W1 at Minnedosa. He began cultivating and residing on the homestead on May 1, 1870. By June 28, 1882 when he applied for his patent, he had a one-story house 20×20 built of hewn poplar logs and covered with thatch. The 20×20 stable was also built of poplar logs but covered with bundles and hay. Cultivated land was 22 acres, 10 of which were under crop and 40 acres were fenced. The NW 18-15-17, his pre-emption, was paid for in cash, and the homestead was recommended for patent on August 1, 1882 (See map of Minnedosa Area.)

The story is that Charles used to ride horseback and leave home for days at a time. No doubt he made many acquaintances during his travels. By 1889 he had found land further west to his liking, and following a great deal of correspondence and red tape, made entry for SE22-18- 33 W1 with his pre-emption being the NE quarter of the same section in the Hazelcliffe district. By February 4, 1890 Charles was advised he would be allowed to homestead the SE quarter and purchase the NE quarter at $2.50/acre.

Millham Homestead Patent


He commenced cultivation in 1890 and built a house the same year, 20×16 and 18×16, logs, lumbered on outside and shingled. His livestock at the time of moving to Hazelcliffe consisted of two teams of oxen and 35 head of cattle. By 1901, when Charles received title to his land, his livestock consisted of 7 horses and 15 head of cattle. A 40×30 log stable with sod roof had been built and a 36×22 log granary with shingled roof. As well, a 2-wire fence was erected for a distance of 1 ½ miles around some acreage.

Charles and Sarah Millham homestead

Following the marriage of their youngest son, Albert, who took over the farm, Charles and Sarh retired to the hamlet of Hazelcliffe to a new house that was built for them (which was later known as the Bleasby house). Their home was located just behind the new Presbyterian Church which was also built in 1904. Charles became the first secretary and also an elder in the church.

Charles and Sarah were able to do a bit of traveling in their later years—at least one trip to Oregon in 1909 and to California in 1915 with their son, George.

A nurse stayed at the house for several weeks to care for Charles as he suffered from Bright’s Disease until his death on August 20, 1915. Sarah moved to Wapella and lived in a small house/addition at the home of her daughter, Alice. She passed away due to a heart condition on January 26, 1918.

Charles and Sarah Millham

Charles MIllham obituary tombstone

(1840-1915) (1846-1918)
married 1864

1. Caroline (March 17, 1865 – October 10, 1866)
2. Oliver Charles (October 19, 1866 – October 16, 1955)
3. George William (July 19, 1868 – October 9, 1947)
4. James Obediah (January 7, 1870 – March 22, 1870)
5. Mary Frances (March 11, 1871 – September 20, 1899)
6. Jane Ann (September 10, 1872 – May 24, 1951)
7. Alfred (December 30, 1873 – October 21, 1899)
8. Ruth (July 22, 1875 – August 2, 1906)
9. Albert Edward (December 24, 1878 – May 25, 1953)
10. Alice (August 18, 1880 – August 30, 1973)
11. Florence (October 2, 1882 – May 10, 1952)
12. Elizabeth (December 4, 1884 – July 13, 1972)

Children of Charles and Sarah Millham

As related by grandchildren of Charles and Sarah:
Charles was in a dairy partnership with two other men at Headingly, but they cheated him of his money.
Charles and Sarah came to Wapella each spring about Easter time. They attended the Anglican Church here and stayed a few days at Alice’s, and in the Kendalton district with Florrie and Lizzie. Charles and Sarah were dressed fit to kill, and rode in a fancy buggy (shiny and black) drawn by a team of horses with shiny harness.
(Myrtle Thorn)

Once Charles and Sarah needed flour, so they went to Esterhazy with the horse and buggy. Afterward, Sarah settled Charles to go home while she, accompanied by granddaughters Florrie and Elsie, went on the train.
Sarah was of strong character, very methodical and a good business manager. She couldn’t read or write and may have been jealous of Charles who could.
Charles was of gentle character and a happy guy who loved a joke. He sang in the choir and had an organ which was given to son George after a trip to California in 1913-14.
(Elsie McKenzie)

When Sarah came to live with our family after Charles’ death, Dad built a house onto our house—kitchen, living room, bedroom and utility room, with an adjoining door and an outside door, where Sarah lived out her days. Dad lit our fire and went to light her fire every morning.
Once Sarah had a dream about Charles in which he said, “Come Mother, it’s time we were going. The bugle is blowing.” She was gone in two weeks.                                                           (Les Gordon)