Monday, August 16, 2010

Miller Family History Day

We took a birthday drive out to the old Miller stomping grounds in Elbow yesterday afternoon. The village museum is home to some family artifacts, including the bathing suit, pictured to the left, which my grandmother wore on her honeymoon in 1926.

In biblical style, my genealogy goes something like this: Johannes M. Müller begat Adam B. Miller, Adam B. Miller begat John H. Miller, John H. Miller, begat John G. Miller, John G. Miller begat David M. Miller. But that leaves out a lot--including the women who donated their bathing suits to museums. So here is a bit more information for any Miller relatives (and anyone else) who may be interested.

The two lamps on the right belonged to one of the Müller daughters.
My great-great-grandfather, Johannes M. Müller (29 July 1825 - 7 Sept 1916), was born in Daisbach, Baden, Germany to Johannes Müller and Katherina Weber. My great-great-grandmother, Catherine Brandt (1829-1906), was born in Reichertshausen, Baden, Germany, to Konrad Brandt and Annie Marie Schmaltz. Johannes and Catherine sailed to North America in 1852 on the same ship. They landed in New York, and were married in 1852 in Canada. Did they know each other before they left or did they meet on the boat? Their marriage, at any rate, was fruitful. They had nine children: John Henry, Adam B., Charles B., Katherine, Henry B., David, Augusta, William, and Barbara. (I understand that the recurring 'B.' was part of the acculturation process: Canadians wrote their middle names as initials; the Müllers added middle initials as their middle names. Another part of the acculturation process was anglicizing Müller to Miller; this happened gradually.) Johannes M. and Catherine lived in several different places in southern Ontario; they are buried in a small cemetery outside Neustadt, ON.

To recent immigrants like the Müllers, land and livelihood were more important than nationality. While some of Johannes and Catherine's children, such as Charles B., remained in Ontario, others, such as Henry B., moved to the vicinity of Saginaw, Michigan.
Adam B. Miller's scarf (pre-1900)
My great-grandfather, Adam B. Miller (1854-1908), apparently followed Henry south (?) and then west. In 1885, while living in Marion, Kansas, he married Sophia Krueger (Oct 1859-28 Oct 1931), who was born in Serran Mecklenburg, Schwerin, Germany. Adam and Sophia had two children in Kansas (Wilhelmina Edna and Lena Violet). At some point between 1887 and 1890 they returned (or moved?) to Michigan, where their remaining five children were born: John Henry, Walter Lewis, Eleanore Henrietta Marie, Emma Augusta, and Elsie Marie.

Adam Miller Family Potato Masher
In 1905 the Adam B. Miller family moved to what is now Saskatchewan, taking advantage of the offer of free land by the Dominion Lands Act, and set up a homestead at SE Section 12, Township 26, Range 6, West of 3rd Meridian.  After the museum and a stop at the lake, we made a pilgrimage past the old Miller house, the homestead, and the Loreburn cemetery, where Adam, Sophia, my grandparents, and a few other Millers are buried. For pictures and more detail about the house and the homestead, see this post on our April 2008 visit with my Dad and Mom. The house is as dilapidated as ever, but the surroundings look more pleasant in mid-August near the end of a very wet summer:

 Adam died in 1908, three years after moving to Saskatchewan. I have in my possession a collection of century-old letters sent to Adam from his father and siblings in 1907-1908. They were preserved, no doubt, because they arrived around the time he died, but they don't explain why he died. Adam was survived by his wife, and seven children between the ages of 8 and 22. My grandfather, John Henry Miller (15 May 1890 - 20 Feb 1987), was the oldest son, and took over the family farm. (Grandpa's only brother, Walter Lewis [b. Nov 1891 or 1892], presumably helped too; he died in Dawson Creek, BC, in 1917.)

In 1912, John Henry graduated from an engineering school in Regina (2nd from right in the back row):
He later studied agriculture at the University of Saskatchewan. Did this "Cameron, Miller and Miller Threshing Outfit" from 1923 include my grandfather?
On 11 Oct 1926, after the harvest was in, Grandpa married Edith Olive Edmonds (22 Feb 1906 - 19 Mar 2003). Grandma E. Olive Edmonds was born in Maryfield, SK, the daughter of Gunson Edmonds (15 Nov 1869 - 26 Oct 1927) and Mary Margaret Wiggins (28 Mar 1879 - 2 Nov 1958). Grandpa was 36, Grandma, almost 21. A newspaper clipping included in Across Border and Valley, a Maryfield history, reports the following:
Mary Margaret Wiggins's sewing basket
"On Monday afternoon . . . a pretty wedding took place at the home of the bride's parents, Mr. and Mrs. G. Edmonds, of Maryfield, when Edith Olive was united in marriage to John Henry Miller, of Loreburn, in the presence of immediate relatives and friends of the bride.  To the strains of Lohengrin's wedding march the bride entered the parlor leaning on the arm of her father, who gave her in marriage.  . . . The bride was beautifully attired in white crepe georgette, with seed pearls, and crowned with a bridal veil held in place by a wreath of orange blossoms.  After the ceremony the guests to the number of almost 20 sat down to a sumptuous repast.  The white table was decorated with flowers and centered with the wedding cake.  The groom's gift to the bride was a string of pearls, and other presents were numerous and costly, including cheques from her father and uncle, Mr. C. Edmonds, indicated the love and esteem in which the bride is held.  Mr. and Mrs. Miller leave for points west and will spend the winter in California before returning to the groom's farm at Loreburn."

The news clipping accounts for the swimsuit, but does not explain how John Henry met and wooed a woman 16 years his junior who lived on the other side of the province. Fortunately, my dad was able to fill in the gap: Edith Olive Edmonds became a school teacher--in her late teens, presumably, since she was married at 20--and her first school was Wild Lily School, exactly two miles down the road from the homestead. She boarded with her future sister-in-law, Eleanore Miller (married to Dave Miller--same last name, different family--from Dreispritz, Russia). A meeting with Ella's eligible bachelor brother, John Henry, was therefore inevitable.

When they returned from their honeymoon in time for the new farming season, John and Olive settled at the Miller homestead, where my dad, John Gunson Miller, was born. Did Sophia Krueger, John Henry's mother, live with them until she died in 1931, or did she retire to Loreburn or Elbow?


Edith said...

Wow! Thanks for writing that all out. It was fascinating...and more information than I'd ever known. Thank you for working to preserve some of our family history.

Happy Belated Birthday

d. miller said...

I have a lot more information on dates, and somewhere--I hope--scattered information with more stories. I realized as I was putting this together how many gaps there are. I really "need" to go through and synthesize the material I do have, and document the remaining memories while they last.

Karen said...

Wasn't Grandma teaching, and boarding with Grandpa's family (as teachers did in those days) when they met? Just a memory of the story that may or may not be accurate.

Thanks for writing it all out. Very interesting. I would like to go to Neustadt and see the graves--now that I know who to look for.

d. miller said...

Dad's comment: Karen is right. Your grandma (Edith Olive Edmonds) became a teacher and her first school was Wild Lily School which was just two miles down the road from the homestead. That was the school which I later attended for my first eight grades. She boarded with Ella and Dave Miller, whom I knew as Aunt Ella and Uncle Dave. Ella was the third youngest of Grandpa's sisters. Therefore Grandpa could not fail to meet Grandma in that situation. I do not know whether Aunt Ella did any matchmaking.

Anonymous said...

Hey I wanted to share with you another.... clue to the lost boy's ("millers" of the 1800's)

William Metcalf Miller (born 1815) married Hannah Hunter Miller (Rushton) settled in Nova Scotia after immigrating from the states originally. William Metcalf miller "Müller" Was the son of Jacob miller "Müller" and Bethia S. Miller(Metcalf) both emmigrants(sons and daughter of immigrants who permanently have settled) from Baden, Germany.