A genealogy blog about the migration generation of my McKee Family line, including bios, transcribed obituaries, photographs, and research notes.

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Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Earl Renwick McMillan 1893-1982 Illinois, Washington, California

Every family tree has its black sheep and its stars. Earl Renwick McMillan is a family star. Here are the vitals:

Earl Renwick McMillan
s/o Randle S. McMillan and Nancy Harriet McKinley (d/o Robert McKinley and Sarah McKee)
b. 12 Dec 1893 Marissa, Saint Clair County, Illinois
d. 1 Dec 1982 Sacramento, Sacramento County, California
m. Where? When? Can you help?
Anna Shampaign
d/o Charles E. Shampaign and Margaret Cavanaugh
b. 21 Feb 1896 Saint Louis, Saint Louis City, Missouri
d. 22 Feb 1989 Sacramento, Sacramento County, California

Earl and Anna had two children: Edward and Margaret.

As you'll see from Earl's obituary, this family spent the majority of their lives in the Seattle area.

So why is Earl a star? I'll give you a hint before you read his obituary. Earl is personally responsible for countless hours of summer time family fun around a barbecue. Ready for his obituary?

The Seattle Times, Wednesday, December 15, 1982, Page F15

Rites for Earl McMillan, 89, inventor of charcoal briquettes

Memorial services for Earl R. McMillan, 89, former mining engineer, will be at 2 p.m. next Wednesday at the Bellewood Presbyterian church in Bellevue. He died Dec. 1 in Sacramento, where he has lived the past several years.

McMillan was the manager of coal operations and the chief mining engineer for Northern Pacific Railroad from 1946 to 1962, when he retired. Prior to that, he worked for the firm’s subsidiary, the Northwestern Improvement Co., managing coalmining operations in Roslyn and Cle Elum from 1930 to 1945.

He was part owner of the Northwest Briquetting Co., which made briquettes out of coal, a method he invented. He also served as a mining consultant and was assistant superintendent for the Bureau of Mines here.

McMillan, a 1917 civil engineering and geology graduate of the University of Missouri, received honorary mention on the All American football team and was captain of the school’s championship baseball team.

He also received an advanced mining degree from the University of Washington in 1919.

He was past president of the West Coast Minerals Association, past chairmen of the North Pacific section of the American Institute of Mining Engineers and an elder of the Laurelhurst and Bellewood Presbyterian churches.

He was also a member of Seattle Rotary, the Arctic club and was a Mason. He served in the Army during World War I.

Surviving are his wife, Anna; a daughter, Margaret Ann, Sacramento; a son, Edward, Bainbridge Island, and a sister Bessie Orr, Springfield, Ill.

Remembrances are suggested to the Seattle Rotary Foundation or to Bellewood Presbyterian Church.

So the next time you pull out a hibachi and fire up the coals, be sure to hoist a beer in tribute to Earl.

Notice that there's no burial spot for Earl mentioned in his obituary. His wife's obituary also contains no burial location. Therefore, there are no Find A Grave memorials...yet. So I guess I'll be sending for death certificates (if I can) to see if they include burial information. I've already written to Earl's son and he indicated that the family has no interest in this project.

On another front, if you've never looked for patents or scholarly papers, you should. You might be surprised to find an inventor or two in your family. In Earl's case, his name appears on many patents based on his work and his published scholarly papers are cited. You can do a general Google search and many of these types of items will be included in the returns. However, you should also check Google's dedicated searches. On the Google home page, click the More link, and then click Even more. A list of dedicated searches sorted into groups displays.   

I had occassion to point out the patent search during a presentation. The next time I went to a meeting a lady walked up to me and told me that a relative of her's had a dozen patents. She wouldn't have looked had I not mentioned the patent search in passing.

Based on my experience, it's always worth a quick check while I'm watching TV.

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