John A. Milner
- This article is about the engineer and Alderman. For his cousin, the chief engineer of the South & North Alabama Railroad, see John Milner.
Milner was the second son of Reverend Pitt Saunders Milner and his wife, Pamela (or Pamelia) Parker, and the first cousin of fellow engineer John T. Milner. In 1850, at age 17, he traveled to California to join other members of the family prospecting for gold and spent two years there before returning with his cousins to Georgia.
He passed the entrance examination to the University of Georgia, but accepted a job with an engineering company before enrolling. He was immediately engaged as a surveyor on a railroad connecting Montgomery and Selma and later joined his cousin in surveying the route of the Alabama Central Railroad, taking charge of crews operating between Conecuh County and the Alabama River.
Milner married the former Sally Cooper of Autauga County on August 17, 1861. During the Civil War he was commissioned a Major in the Confederate Army and was involved in iron-making in the Birmingham District. He settled in Elyton and later built a farmhouse within the bounds of the present city of Birmingham, where the 400 block of 18th Street South now lies.
Milner continued to assist his cousin in surveying the South & North Alabama Railroad and its crossing with the Alabama & Chattanooga Railroad in Jones Valley. He actually performed the surveying work at the eventual crossing.
On his own, Milner constructed the Milner Coal, Iron & Railroad Company's line from Coalburg to Birmingham. He and another cousin, Willis Milner became associated with the Elyton Land Company's efforts to mitigate flooding, to construct the Birmingham Water Works, and to lay out residential subdivisions such as Highland Avenue.
Milner was a member of the first Birmingham Board of Aldermen, having been appointed by Robert Lindsay to serve as part of Robert Henley's administration. In the 1872 Birmingham municipal election he won the same seat under the administration of James Powell.