Art Under the Influence – John Thomas Millidge

John Thomas Millidge (1850-before 1911), drawing: Stag and Mountains, c. 1880, graphite on paper, Queens County Heritage Collection (1987.42a)

John Thomas Millidge (1850-before 1911)
drawing: Stag and Mountains, c. 1880
graphite on paper
Queens County Heritage Collection (1987.42a)

John Thomas Millidge (1850-c 1919) was the son of John J. Millidge and Isabella Peters, and the great-grandson of James Peters, one of the Loyalist founders of Gagetown.  It appears John Sr. was the local schoolteacher and died relatively young in the 1870s; Isabella in 1890s.  Young John Thomas appears in all census records up to 1901 but disappears from the record by 1911 indicating his death.  According to a story written by Marianne Grey Otty about 1940, he died in the flu epidemic following World War I. In the late 19th century he lived with his mother’s unmarried sisters, the Peters girls who ran a school for young women in the large Peters House at Gagetown, and worked as a handyman.  Again, according to Miss Otty, he later lived with the Fred Cooper family by the time of the war.

John Thomas Millidge (1850-before 1911), drawing: Backyard Scene, c. 1880 graphite on paper, gift of Dr. James K. Chapman, 1988 (1988.59)

John Thomas Millidge (1850-before 1911)
drawing: Backyard Scene, c. 1880
graphite on paper
Gift of Dr. James K. Chapman, 1988 (1988.59)

His drawings appear to be copies of prints or something he has seen in a magazine (similar to Anthony Flower) however the detail and execution is very fine.  His uncle, Dr. Harry Peters, was married to Ann Wood, the daughter of Reverend Abraham Wood making an interesting family connection to a fine artist.  In the Otty story, it is noted that”here and there in Gagetown homes are to be seen lead pencil drawings of the most careful execution and meticulous detail.” As the children of Fred Cooper swarmed over him, he would draw pictures of them or give them candy.

Millidge’s precise death date and burial is unknown and the details of his life are rather scarce; the only tangible links to his life are two drawings which appeared in Art Under the Influence.

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