Milton Cushing Springer enlisted in the army 31 May 1864, near the end of the Civil War. His rank was 1st Lieutenant in Co. F 134th Illinois Infantry. Cushing, age 27, had just graduated from Northwestern University when he joined The One Hundred Day Troops, as they were known. Consisting of idealistic students and young business men, these soldiers were recruited in the spring of 1864, and were placed on garrison duty for the purpose of relieving the veterans who were needed in carrying out the operations of Grant and Sherman. Cushing was promoted to Captain on 10 July 1864 when the regiment's captain died, and was mustered out on 25 October 1864.
One hundred days in the army was enough to ruin his health, and Springer suffered from the effects of hepatitis and cystitis for the rest of his life. His obituary testifies to his avoidance of all alcohol and even coffee or tea. The newspaper gave Springer credit for "abstemious habits" but the delicate state of his health probably made caution necessary. Among the documents in his wife's application for a widow's pension is a statement by the regimental surgeon, Dr. J.M. Jenkins. The military doctor had treated Springer for jaundice resulting, in the doctor's opinion, from exposure from heavy rain and sleeping on wet ground during the march from Paducah to Mayfield, Kentucky, about the last of September 1864. Springer was a healthy man prior to this exposure, but was unable to do any active duty subsequent to it, till mustered out.
Milton Springer was born on 3 May 1837 at Hennepin, Putnam County, Illinois. When he was about 19 he entered college at Illinois Wesleyan at Bloomington, and a few years later became a student at Northwestern University in Evanston. While in Evanston he was a witness to the Lady Elgin shipwreck on 8 Sept 1860. After the war he began a course of study at Garrett Biblical Institute. Springer received a degree from Garrett in 1865, and accepted a position as President of Hedding College in Abingdon, Illinois where he remained for about five years.
In May 1873 he became a resident of Wilmette. An 1890 city directory
of Wilmette, placed online by the Wilmette Historical Museum, locates Springer and his family on West Railroad Avenue. West Railroad Avenue is now known as Green Bay Road. While house numbers were not in common use in Wilmette at the time, Springer's house was identified as the 2nd house south of Wilmette Avenue. After Springer's death in 1890, the family moved to a different house at 707 Central Ave.
In spite of his ill health, Springer had a busy career. According to Springer's biography in the Album of Genealogy and Biography, Cook County, Illinois, 4th ed
, President Grant appointed him Chief Deputy of the United States Internal Revenue Office in Chicago soon after Springer's arrival in Wilmette, and he served through successive administrations for the next twelve years. Springer also worked as treasurer of the Anderson Pressed Brick Company and was on the Board of Trustees of the Chicago Universal Building and Loan Association.
Milton C. Springer was very involved Wilmette's development during his years in the village. He was a charter member of the Methodist Church of Wilmette, filling the pulpit from time to time. He also worked on the school board, was a member of the Wilmette Library Association, and served as Village President for the three years before his death in Wilmette on 26 Dec 1890.
Milton C. Springer married Mary Elizabeth Ward of Harvard, Illinois, on 25 March 1866. Mary Springer, age 82, died in Wilmette on 30 July 1927, and was buried in Rosehill Cemetery in Chicago. The couple had six children during the course of their 24 year marriage, Lewis B, George Ward, Francis V., Mary [aka Mamie], a son, and Nora P. Their youngest son died in childhood. The name of this child is in some dispute being Milton C. in Springer's biography, and John M. in the Wilmette Census of 1880. All of the children but Frank remained residents of Wilmette during their lives.
Portrait provided courtesy of Wilmette Historical Museum