W. H. Miller, to the Descendants of Yost Miller
as Published in the Johnstown Tribune-Democrat, August 27, 1910*
“Of the reunions held in this vicinity of late, none attracted more attention nor found a happier throng assembled than yesterday’s gathering of Yost Miller’s descendants in Edgewood Grove, near here. There were close to 600 people directly connected with the family present, in addition to which many friends were drawn to the grove to renew friendships with their representative family which includes in its membership several well-known Somerset lawyers and preachers, physicians, teachers and successful farmers from various parts of the county.
One of the features of the literary exercises was the historical address delivered by the Hon. W. H. Miller, president of the association. Mr. Miller resides in Stoyestown and the wealth of information presented in his address was gathered from some of the older Millers in various nearby towns, from the county history and the first record book of the orphan’s court in which Yost Miller’s will is recorded. His remarks traced Yost and Jeremiah Miller from revolutionary times to Coleman Station and contained timely references to the condition of the county when it was practically a wilderness. His address follows in full:
Nearly two years ago the thought struck me that I would try to bring these families together under some form to make a record of the different families of the sons and daughters of our projenitor, Yost Miller. Little did I think that it would result in such a gathering as we have here today and I fully realize that I am not able to entertain you in such a manner as would be a fitting address for an occasion like this. When I undertook this project I had very little data. I very well remember my grandfather, Joseph Miller, who was the oldest son of Yost Miller, and from him I received some information which I retain to this time, although he died July 14, 1860, aged 79 years—50 years ago—and some further facts from my father, uncles and aunts and these facts have always remained with me. Yet when I undertook the framing of this family record it almost looked as if it would be a futile effort and but for the able and untiring help of some of the members of our committee it would have failed.
The committee has requested me to present to you the history of the Yost Miller family. This would mean to trace Yost Miller from Berks County to the western part of Bedford County and down to the present time. Let me say that at this time we have no definite knowledge of the place of the birth of our projenitor, but we are certain that he with a caravan of a number of other families, namely the Friedlines, Gunters, Barnharts, Mostollars, Stauffers, and others, formed a colony of settlers in that part of Somerset County lying between Friedens and Mostollar. On examining the tombstones in the little old graveyard along the Berlin Road above Coleman’s Station, we find along the side of Yost Miller’s grave those of Frederick Gunter, the Friedlines and a number of other old settlers. These pioneers left their homes in the east and came to this country to make new homes for themselves and their families burning the bridges behind them; that is, they came to stay.
Yost Miller located in what is now Coleman’s Station about the year 1782 on a plantation, as he called it. Later, the property was owned by Joseph Long and his son, Josiah Long. From all the information in our possession Yost Miller came to this county with a family. I find on the tombstone of John Miller, a younger brother of Joseph, both sons of Yost Miller, that he was born in Berks County in 1781, so we have reason to believe that nearly if not all of his family were born n the east and came along with their parents to this county. My first trace of Yost Miller and his brother Jeremiah I found in the archives of Pennsylvania at the time of their enlistment in the revolutionary service at Ephrata, Lancaster County, in 1777. This is all we have accurately at this time, but have quite a number of facts which will not fall definitely to show where he was born and reared. We have every reason to believe that these brothers belonged to some older Miller family, which we will locate during the coming year. It appears from his executor’s account on record at the time of his death, 99 years ago, he left an estate of close on to $4,000. From this we are led to believe that he came to this county with some means, as it would be almost impossible that he could have accumulated this amount during the 28 years he lived in this county. He erected and operated the first saw mill in the north of the county. This saw mill was known and seen by some people yet living, and some of the old Miller Saw Mill may yet be located close to Kimmelton on Wells Creek on the S & C Railroad. Yost Miller lived at Coleman’s Station from 1783 to 1811, when he died, 63 years old. A photograph of his tombstone you can see and get.
The grandsons and daughters were physically and mentally strong people. Many of these I knew personally and from these grandsons and granddaughters have sprung several generations of patriotic, industrious and intelligent farmers, loyal yeomen of this county, and nearly all of them made this county their home. That these descendants were patriotic will be shown by someone else: that very many of them were the molders of the moral, religious and intellectual forces of the county will also be shown. We can say these Millers were an industrious, energetic class of people. Nearly all of them were farmers. The sons and sons-in-law had to clear their farms, which then consisted of forests, and thus have they prepared the way for their posterity. You must remember 125 years ago this county was but little less than a vast wilderness which had to be cleared before it could be cultivated. The early settlers did not have the advantages and conveniences that we have now. Yost Miller’s children settled what then seemed near the parental home. Joseph [see “Our Miller Family Tree”] and Barbara (Mrs. George Lohr) settled in Quemahoning Township, Catherine (Mrs. Philip Ogline), Elizabeth (Mrs. Peter Lenhart), and Susanna (Mrs. Adam Berkey) settled in Somerset Township, west of Somerset. John was never married and lived among his brothers and sisters. Peter located at New Rumlet, Harrison County, Ohio. He married Catherine Cobaugh. He too was a farmer. His farm is still owned by one of his grandsons to this day. [The writer omits the 8th child here, Christina, for some reason, but includes her in his published genealogy. She became Mrs. John Mostoller.]
That Yost Miller was not a physically strong man, because of his exposure and service in the Revolutionary War, we know; but he was an intelligent, honest Christian gentleman, a man who rigidly adhered to the doctrine of God’s law, a Christian not in name only, but in the spirit of God and Christ, which is the grandest legacy any father can leave to his posterity. In his religious faith he reared his family. Some of his grandsons and granddaughters through their marriages and intermarriages became the founders of other denominations. Thus it may be seen that the same religious spirit was manifested and perpetuated down along the line of his posterity. We who are his descendants may well pride ourselves on our heritage. We may not have royal blood coursing through our veins, but we are certain that our forefather, Yost Miller, was one of God’s true noblemen. In his political faith he clung to that of chieftain, George Washington. Later on, he was a Whig. His sons and sons-in-law were Whigs and Republicans. Their sons and grandsons were dyed-in-the-wool Republicans. They became the founders of the Republican Party in Somerset County and his descendants to this day have not forsaken the faith of their fathers in their religious and political life. Yost Miller and his family and his descendants were not different from many other families that came from the east to this country during the 17th Century. The people did not live as they do now. Conditions were vastly different then. These early settlers had to make many sacrifices of their eastern homes and friends, of their schools, of their church life, but to their credit be it said that when they came to this new country they brought teachers for their children with them. In this respect they were more interested than some of our people in some of these later days.
Now what is the conclusion of this history of our forefathers? First, that they in their day lived up to their opportunities; second, they succeeded in rearing large, hearty families, being careful to instruct their children in the moral and religious duties of life, thus preparing them to take their part in the communities and the world, to become good citizens so that the world might be the better because they had lived in it. Surely to us has come a goodly heritage.
Now, my brethren, it remains with us to see to it that we in our day and generation live up to our opportunities, discharge our duties as faithfully as our fathers did. Then and then only may we expect to see the fiber and texture of our ancestors reproduced in our posterity.
I most heartily congratulate you, my brethren of the tribe of Joseph, on your presence on this our first reunion in this beautiful grove. Well may we all congratulate ourselves on this occasion as a family for various reasons. First, these family relations have almost lain dormant for several generations. Thus it is that the vital links or chains, although almost sunken into the sands of oblivion, still have their normal strength. They only had to be raised, brightened, stretched out and shown and the Yost Miller tree of his descendants appear as one large family.
In Exodus, first book, seventh chapter, we find these words: ‘That after Joseph died his brethren died also, but his descendants lived and grew to be a great multitude of people.’”
*also included in William H. Miller and John S. Miller’s A Brief History of Yost (Joseph) Miller and Jeremiah Miller and Their Descendants, printed in Johnstown, PA, around 1920 by Benshoff Printing Company. The report was given at the first official Yost Miller Reunion held in Somerset, PA, August 26, 1910. The annual reunion is still held most years and was last held in August 2002 near Jennerstown, Somerset County, PA, with the 9th and 10th generations of American Millers attending.
Last revised: 1/9/17