The Loudermilk name has been a part of Comanche County, Texas history since the mid-1800s when family members began to arrive in De Leon, Texas. To fully understand the evolution of the family, one must begin in the year 1640 in southern Germany, near the towns of Kessel/Kirchardt in Bavaria. This area is near the junction of the rivers Spierbach, Galn, and the Lauter.
History has it that the Lautermilchs were dairy farmers, the name itself derivedfrom the words lauter and milch. Lauter means pure and milch means milk. These honest dairy farmers did not water down the milk, thus the German translation, Lauter-milch.
Jacob Lautermilch left that area in the mid-1600s to go to Holland, and it is believed that he left to escape religious persecution. Others may have followed, or possibly they had already migrated to England as early as the 1500s.
In September of 1731, the ship Britannia docked in Philadelphia. Records show a Georg William Lauttermilch with Magdelena. They also show Wilhelm, Wendell,and William Lautermilch on board. The Britannia sailed from Rotterdam by way of London.
Evidence of other Loudermilks arriving in America is recorded in various records of early ship logs. Johans Loudermilch arrived in Philadelphia in September of 1732 via the Crawford. Gottfried Loudermilch’s ship, the Princess docked in Augusta in 1736; Jacon Loudermilch arrived in this country on September 15, 1749, and in October of 1772 by way of Rotterdam and London came Jacob Lautermilch to Philadelphia via the Crawford.
The Loudermilk family surfaces in the Americas when George Loudermilk I built a home next to the headquarters of George Washington at Fort Cumberland, Virginia. Sometime later, George Washington Loudermilk was born in Virginia.
Eight Loudermilk men (believed to be members of this family), including George Washington Loudermilk who served in the Tennessee Mounted Regiment, served in the War of 1812, and eventually they all received land grants in what is today the state of Tennessee.
George Washington Loudermilk was paid $8:00 per month (plus forty cents a day for his horse) for his service in the War of 1812. He was married twice, fathering eighteen children. He lived with second wife, Mary, when he died in Union County, Georgia in 1844. At this point, the Loudermilk family had lived in Virginia, Tennessee, North Carolina, and Georgia.
Soon family members would be led to an area north of Atlanta, Georgia where the Civil War would become the focal point of existence in this country. As for the Loudermilk family, early records show thirty-two Loudermilks joined the war effort between June 17, 1861, and November 14, 1863. John Loudermilk rose to the rank of major, participating in many major battles. In June of 1864, while serving with the 36th Georgia Infantry, Comanche D, he was wounded in the head and taken by train to the Atlanta Fair Grounds, Hospital 2, where he died on June 9. He was buried in the Oakland Cemetery, near downtown Atlanta.
Major John Loudermilk was the father of the three Loudermilk brothers who would eventually make their way to Comanche County, settling in what would become the community of Downing. Tate and Hardy Loudermilk arrived in the early 1880s, and Walter soon followed. He was met in De Leon and traveled by wagon to the new country his brothers had settled.
Downing became a thriving community with three churches, general stores, a doctor’s office, a cotton gin, and a school. It was located on the north side of the Rush Creek bottomlands. At one time, the Loudermilk family owned the mercantile stores and were active in operating large farms. Other Downing families in the area were Scott, Cadenhead, Wilson, Lesley, Hulsey, Kelly, Nabors, and Beaty.
The Loudermilk brothers were active in Comanche County. In 1816, William Tate Loudermilk was the State Representative from Comanche County. He traveled to Austin by buggy, staying with families along the way. He had also served as the Texas State Organizer for the Farmer’s Union and served as its State President in 1906.
Tate Loudermilk owned a cotton gin and a large farm at Downing. He was a Democrat and a fierce champion of everything he believed to be of benefit to his community and his country. He was well known for his integrity and his principles.
George Hardy Loudermilk owned several farms near Downing, De Leon, and Comanche. He was also the owner of the Downing Store.l
Walter Henry Loudermilk was a successful farmer and also ran the Downing Store. He was in the mercantile business with a partner, John Nabors. Later he owned a grocery store and filling station, which he ran until his death in 1939.
The children of these three brothers totaled twenty-nine. Tate and Ellen Wilson had seven; Walter and Mintie Wilson had twelve; and George Hardy and Susan Buford and second wife, Fannie Freeman, had eleven.
Today, Downing remains with only two or three of the older structures. Although a few of the grandchildren and great-grandchildren remain in Downing, the little village and the name Loudermilk is almost gone from the area. Only the cemetery holds a true reminder of the members of the family who came to Texas to live in a community they did so much to create and maintain.
(Thank you to Alene Loudermilk Quenon and Jewel Dukes Huddleston for compiling much of this information.)