Can you believe it! This article is building support for a third separate and distinct Miller family line among my wife Susan’s ancestors. Unlike the Christian Miller (b.1700) Anabaptists who originated in Switzerland, and the Joseph “Yost” Miller (b.1725) Lutherans who originated in Germany, the Johannes Michael Millers (b.1632) were originally Reformed and and then Brethren, or “New Baptists.” More about their faiths in a minute. Both the Christian Millers and the Joseph Millers came to Somerset County, PA, from Berks County around 1782, after the Ft. Stanwix treaty with the native Americans allowed settlement west of the Alleghenies. The Johannes Michael Millers, after arriving in Germantown (1727) outside Philadelphia, settled in Chester and then moved to Lancaster and York Counties. After less than a year, some crossed the border into Maryland and what is now Washington County. From there the succeeding generations took up residency in Virginia, Ohio, Kentucky, and Indiana. But, it’s the few that remained in PA, moving to Franklin County, or came back north into Somerset County that we concern ourselves with today. From that remnant we find Mary Miller (1815-1883), who would become the wife of Christian L. Miller (1813-1891), and mother of Sarah Miller (1843-1925), and grandmother of Franklin Baer (1862-1916), my wife’s great-grandfather.
At this point, we leave the usual discussions of name origins and meaning and famous other Millers to the Introductions of the Christian Miller and Joseph Miller families. Rather we begin with a statement of our problem in researching and writing about our connecting figure, Mary Miller.
Often, common biblical names in the German tradition, such as our Mary (or Maria), are found somewhere in a family line at least once in every generation. As with our other ancestors Christian, Joseph, John, and others, much confusion has resulted and hours of research has been necessary to separate and clarify. The genealogist finds himself inching his way back in time, cross-checking and comparing names, dates, places of birth and death, spouse(s), and off-spring. So, with my confusion over the many Mary Millers, I’ll walk you through the process I have undertaken to arrive at the theory that our Mary Miller, wife of Christian L. (also a Miller), originated with patriarch Johannes Michael Miller. We grant that there are other theories and possibilities, such as J. Virgil Miller’s belief that our Christian L. married an Irish immigrant named Lewis and moved to Ohio. We’ll save tht discussion for another article.
Let’s begin with the assumption from our Baer family tradition, church and cemetery records, and an overwhelming amount of internet data that says Abraham Baer married Sarah Miller. Likewise, we know that this Sarah’s parents were Christian L. and Mary, each a Miller from different families. Now, if we can line up Christian and Mary’s children and Mary’s parents and place and date of birth, we should have a match. If their dates of death and place of burial match, that should clinch it. Let’s see if it works.
Mason’s book Michael Miller Family History reveals that Mary’s father and mother, Abraham (1779-1820) and Mary (Crill b.1781), farmed 200 acres near Welsh Run, PA, a few miles north of Hagerstown, MD. Abraham was also a cabinet maker, member of the Church of the Brethren, and father of at least eight children. Ancestry.com suggests that Abraham had a second wife and moved further west into Somerset Co. and with this confirms daughter Mary’s dates and places of birth, death, and burial as “born 1815 in Elklick Twp., Somerset Co, died 1883, and is buried in Middlecreek Church of the Brethren Cemetery.” Her children, and let’s just pick three with memorable names, including Joseph M., Mary “Polly” who married a Shrock, and Catherine who married a Kimmel.
“The Miller Line: Lancaster Co.” concurs in every detail. Two other sources offer proof from another angle. The History of Bedford and Somerset Counties (1906) refers to Joseph M. Miller as “son of Christian and Mary (Miller) Miller” whose maternal grandfather is Abraham Miller. Newsfeed.rootsweb.com publishes a court document from Somerset, PA (1892) pertaining to the estate of Christian L. Miller. We know that our Christian died in 1891 and see his children listed there as: Joseph, Mary Schrock, and Catherine Kimmel.
The genealogist’s rule of thumb is to have at least two sources of documentation for each ancestor. We believe we have more than enough to verify that this Mary Miller, the off-spring of Johann Michael Miller, is the spouse of our Christian L. Miller, and that together they produced the future mate of our Abraham Baer. But another puzzling research question has arisen in studying the extensive Lancaster Miller document: page 12 lists a number of Christian Millers, several of whose descendants look quite similar to our Anabaptist ancestors from Berks County. Could there be yet another connection, and could this invalidate our original claim of a third separate Miller line? After all, our oldest Christian was born around 1700, several generations after the first Johann Michael, and both lived out their early years in Canton Bern, Switzerland. Stay tuned.
Other Works Cited
“Johann Michael Miller Family History.” 14 Dec. 2011 http://www.frontierfamilies.net/family/Miller/home.htm
“Miller Family.” History of Bedford & Somerset Counties, PA. 1906 http://www.usgwarchives.net/pa/somerset
“Miller Family History.” 12/12/11 http://home.comcast.net/~troygoss/millbk.html
“WorldConnect Project: Blough et. al.” 13 Dec. 2011 http://wc.rootsweb.ancestry.com/cgi-bin/igm.cgi?op=GET&db=