William G. Whitney's Saber

How Did the Saber, Scabbard and Belt 

Come to Be Owned by William Whitney?

The type of saber we have was developed in 1860. It was a "prestige" item, worn by officers and members of the cavalry. It was a sign of authority because it was given out for promotions or efforts on the battlefield. This lends credence to the possibility that William's saber was given to him when he was promoted to captain. A distant relative of his, LeJean Marshall of Allen, was told by his father about going to visit William with his father. They sat on the porch in rocking chairs and William had his saber with him. Mr. Marshall thinks he has some letters from his grandfather that refer to the promotion and gift of a saber to William Whitney. (They may have been lost in a barn fire, however.)

Another possibility is that it was originally a cavalry sword. and came to him after the death of a friend, Reuben Bowen. Reuben was in the cavalry and lived for a time in Allen with his bride Sarah Mulliken. It's possible that Reuben is the man in the tintype that accompanied the saber, scabbard and belt that was purchased at the Benge estate auction held on November 9, 2013. Reuben and William might have been friends, and after Reuben's rather unusual death when he was discharging a cannon on a Fourth of July celebration in 1881, Sarah might have given his war weapons to William Whitney.


Reuben D. Bowen

from Record of Service of Michigan Volunteers in the Civil War 1861-1865. 

Published by the authority of the Senate & House of Representatives of the Michigan Legislature, under the direction of Brig. Gen. Geo. H. Brown, Adjutant General.

Aaron T. Bliss, Governor. Ihling Bros. and Everard. Kalamazoo, Mich. p. 21.

Bowen, Reuben D., Allen

Enlisted in company B, Second Cavalry, Oct. 10, 1862, at Allen, for 3 years, age 21. Mustered Oct. 14, 1862. Joined regiment at New Market Tenn., Nov. 1, 1862. Discharged at Edgefield, Tenn., June 27. 1865.

(The death records show he died in July 1880 in Cambridge, IL, but his wife Sarah's obituary says that he died on July 4, 1881 in Springfield, IL.)


Sarah Ophelia Mulliken Bowen Cain

from the Hillsdale Daily News, p. 3, Saturday, March 28, 1942

MRS. FRED CAIN, 92, SUCCUMBS  Daughter of County Pioneers is Stricken With Pneumonia

Mrs. Fred Cain, 92, a Hillsdale County resident for 91 years, passed away Friday evening at the home of her son Leon Cain, on East Bacon street road. Death resulted from pneumonia.

Born near Hillsdale, May 4, 1849, the deceased was the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Charles Mulliken, pioneer residents of Steamburg, and her maiden name was Sarah Ophelia Mulliken. Mr. Mulliken helped clear the land in every township from Adrian to Hillsdale, finally locating this own farm in Steamburg. For a year Mrs. Cain lived in Springfield. Ill.

Her first husband was Reuben Bowen, a Civil War veteran, who met death while firing a cannon at a celebration in Springfield, Ill., July 4, 1881. February 17, two year later, she became the bride of Fred Cain, who also preceded her in death. 

Survivors are two daughters, Mrs. Cassius Sawdey of Waldron, and Mrs. Victor Fish of Allen; two sons, Leon at whose home she passed away, and Earl Cain of Jonesville; a sister Mrs. William Morgan of Steamburg; 16 grandchildren, 45 great grandchildren, and three great-great grandchildren.

Funeral services, in charge of the Voorhees Funeral home in Hanover, will be held Tuesday afternoon at 2 o'clock in the Somerset Center church. Interment will be in the cemetery there.

(Sarah is buried in Row 19 - on the south in the cemetery behind the Somerset Congregational Church.)


Charles Mulliken

from the Hillsdale Daily News, September 5, 1987

CHARLES MULLIKEN DEAD   Oldest Known Person in Hillsdale County Died Friday Morning

The following is reprinted from the Democrat of Nov. 27, 1908:

"Charles Mulliken was born June 18, 1812, in East Bloomfield, N.Y. He came to Adrian, Michigan, April 29, 1836, into the heavy timber and at once commenced to open his farm, and cleared land from Adrian to Hillsdale in every township between the cities in his day. His wife was Miss Cynthia Yates, also of East Bloomfield. She was born May 9, 1816, and died in her eighty-fourth year. Sherman Mulliken, his brother, still lives, and one sister, Mrs. Jane Fuller. He joined the church when twenty-four years old and has thirty-one grandchildren and twenty-seven great-grandchildren. He is in fine spirits, in the best of health, a perfect marvel of mental activity, full of hope and good cheer, and lives with his daughter, Mrs. William Morgan south of Steamburg, Hillsdale County."

Mr. Mulliken at the time of his death was probably the oldest resident of the county, his age being ninety-six years. He died Friday morning at the home of Wm. Tripp, east of town, of pneumonia. Funeral services were conducted Sunday by Rev. H.M. Ford. The five children were all present at the funeral.


LeVegoa (sp?) Clawson of Allen supplied this article.