Tuesday 14 June 2016

Moving 7 – The Miller Family Goes West…and North

I last mentioned the Miller family in a blog post on 18 August 2015 when my 2nd great-grandparents, John Conrad Miller and Hannah Tunstall Mayfield were married and moved to Cincinnati, Ohio. John and Hannah met in Indiana. I have a marriage license dated 5 May 1838 from Tippecanoe County. I assume the actual marriage occurred shortly after that date but no record of the event has yet been found.

The family lived for a while in Jefferson County, Indiana, probably near her father and siblings. Their first child, daughter Matilda Ann was born there in 1839. They then relocated to Cincinnati where their three sons were born: Thomas Benton in 1841, Isaac Mayfield, my great-grandfather, in 1843 and John Conrad Jr. in 1846. I believe that John Conrad Sr. died in 1846 but no death record or grave-site has been found to confirm the date and place of the event. He would only have been about 31 at the time.

John was born in Germany about 1815. We do not know when he immigrated to the US.  He apparently was a tradesman. Information from different sources, if they are correct and for the right individual, indicate he was a blacksmith (Cincinnati City Directory for 1839-40), involved in “manufacture and trade” (1840 US census) and saddler (Cincinnati Directory for 1843).
Migration routes of the Miller families
After John’s death, Hannah remarried to a man named Daniel Boone Watson, in 1854. They had two children together, in 1855 and 1857. The photo on this blog is of Hannah and all of her children, taken about 1886. Most of the Watson family packed up to go west in 1866 ultimately landing in Kansas. By then, Hannah’s three oldest children were married. Isaac’s oldest child was born in 1867, in Illinois, possibly along the route they travelled to Kansas.

By 1870 all of the Millers & Watsons were in Kansas. My grandfather, Edwin Miller was born in Manhattan, KS that year. They farmed in Riley County for over 15 years. In 1893 Edwin applied for a homestead in 1893 near Yukon, Oklahoma with the support of his father. I wrote about this homestead in a blog post on 1 April 2014.

In 1895 Ed and Mattie McDaniel met, fell in love and got married. Mattie had arrived in the Yukon area only shortly before with her sister, Rebecca, and her family, as I indicated in my last post here. Their courtship was a short one. According to ‘Becca, “Ed was a prosperous, young farmer with a fast team, and shiny, red-wheeled buggy, the catch of the county!" Through family correspondence, we even know what the bride wore: “…wedding dress was of tan challis, with mutton-leg sleeves, a snug-fitting double breasted bodice with four large cove red buttons, and a floor-length skirt.

The farm was to remain his but over the next decade Isaac apparently reneged and took back the lands, eventually giving them to his youngest daughter, Mabel. That caused some bitterness in the family and probably was the main reason why Ed packed up his young family in 1903 and went back to Kansas.

In 1914 the Miller family moved to Corvallis, Oregon. In a letter written to a cousin by my aunt, she described the trip as by train. There was a week’s stopover in Denver, Colorado, as one of my uncles fell sick with mumps.

My mother was born in Corvallis, OR in 1917 and spent much of her early childhood there. But the wanderlust and availability of almost free land in Alberta got to my grandfather and, in 1928, they made their way north, settling near a little town called Irricana (short for irrigation canal). There Edwin farmed until his 80s. He died of a stroke in 1953. My grandmother lasted only a few years and died in 1956.

Over three generations the Miller families had migrated almost 4,500 miles, from Ohio to Kansas to Oklahoma to Oregon and finally to Alberta, Canada.

Wayne Shepheard is a volunteer with the Online Parish Clerk program in England, handling four parishes in Devon, England. He has published a number of articles about various aspects of genealogy and is a past Editor of Chinook, the quarterly journal of the Alberta Family Histories Society. Wayne also provides genealogical consulting services through his business, Family History Facilitated