Milliken family sitting on house steps
Milliken Family on their Porch. Dr. James Milliken sitting on the porch with some of his daughters at his house located at 44860 Main Street in Mendocino. Three of the girls are holding either a dog or a cat. Left to right: A family friend Philippa, Sadie and dog, Inez with Dr. Milliken, Eva is in the center, and friend Annie, far right. (Gift of Catherine G. Blosser, Sadie Milliken Blosser Collection, Kelley House Photographs)

May 27, 1909 – Dr. James W. Milliken, Mendocino physician and surgeon, died at his Main Street home (Didjeridoo Inn in 2022) at the age of 57 from heart disease. Although the doctor hadn’t felt well for several weeks and had never fully recovered from a bout with the flu in April, his death came as a terrible shock to the whole community as well as to his loved ones.

Born in Surry, Maine on November 28, 1851, Dr. Milliken was the oldest of seven children. He worked in the lumber mills in Maine to put himself through teacher’s college. After teaching in both private and grammar schools for some time, he enrolled in New York Medical College.

When he graduated from medical school in 1876, he moved to Holden, Maine, where he met Elizabeth Farrington, whom he married in 1878. In 1882, he visited Mendocino at the request of his brother, Horace, who had lived in Mendocino since 1874.

The physician brother of prominent Mendocino resident Joshua Grindle wrote in a letter: “I understand that James Milliken is thinking of locating in Mendocino. He is a noble, high-minded man. Show this letter to your friends and do what you can for him, for he is an honorable and dependable and deserving man, well-qualified for the work he has undertaken, and truthful and kindly in his every relation.”

Dr. Milliken opened his medical practice here in 1883 and made Mendocino his home for the rest of his life, except for the year 1889, when he returned to New York to take a post-graduate course in medicine.

Education was important to Dr. Milliken, and he served as a Mendocino school trustee for many years. He was an excellent public speaker who frequently made public addresses, including the commencement address at Mendocino High School in 1908.

His funeral was held at the Presbyterian church with the pastor, Rev. J. Melville Fisher, and Rev. W. M. Coates, of the Baptist church, officiating. The church was overflowing – over 200 mourners waited outside during the service.

His survivors included his wife, Elizabeth; daughters, Eva, Inez, Sadie, Beth, and Faith; son, Alden; his 86-year-old mother living in Maine; brothers, Horace of Fort Bragg and Elmer of Bridgewater, Maine; sister, Clara Smith of San Bernardino County; and two grandchildren.

Final Weekend! Neighbors Across the Pond – Vintage Photographs & Objects from the Ford & Kelley Family Collections. Exhibit includes glass bottles, dolls, and clay pipes excavated from the historic Kelley Pond. Thursdays through Sundays, 11 am to 3 pm. Located at 45007 Albion Street, Mendocino.