Just One More Summer Sunday….

I wasn’t able to work on my 52 Ancestors story this week, so instead, I’m sharing something different with you.

I started writing “Sunday Stories” years ago. This is my way of sharing history with my family and descendants, the kind of history I wish I knew about my ancestors.  The daily, “what was my life like” kind of history.

I’ve been rather lax lately. My family doesn’t know it, but the 52 Ancestors articles ARE their Sunday stories for right now.  Still, from time to time, I write a separate Sunday story when something strikes my fancy.  This week, I’m sharing my Sunday Story with you in the hopes it will inspire you to do the same.

Years ago, a man named Mickey used to write Sunday Stories about his life in Italy before he immigrated. He faithfully took the hand-written letter to a copy machine every Monday and mailed a copy to each of his children.  Many didn’t even bother to open the envelopes – too busy – just threw them in a drawer.  Some even lost them.  But when Mickey died, all of a sudden those letters became precious, to the point that the kids had to make a list to see who had which letters and if any, God forbid, were entirely missing.

Mickey would have smiled. I don’t know if he had a father’s intuition and knew that’s exactly what would happen – but he told me he knew they weren’t being read when he sent them.  That made my heart sad for him, because I knew how neglected and unappreciated he must have felt.

I saw what happened in Mickey’s family after his death.  It was actually kind of humorous in a sad way – all the frantic scrambling.  I know they all wished they had paid more attention to Mickey when they had the opportunity.

I decided that Sunday stories were a wonderful idea – and it really doesn’t matter that they aren’t read today, even though I hope they are, because I’m writing them for posterity too.  Someday they’ll be read, maybe….and if not…it wasn’t for lack of trying on my part.

Please join me today for “Just One More Summer Sunday” and a peek into life on the farm in the Midwest with my Mom and step-Dad, who I have forever called my Dad.

Just One More Summer Sunday

Summer Sunday

What I wouldn’t give for just one more summer Sunday.

Not that Sunday’s were particularly special on the farm, it’s just that we were all home on Sunday. Even if we had moved to town, everyone came home on Sunday afternoon.  We talked and joked, sometimes played games like gin rummy, aggravation, dominoes and Yahtzee, and did whatever needed to be done.  And we ate, of course.  Life on the farm revolved around eating.

No one ever talked about coming home on Sundays, or planned it particularly, it’s just what we did. It evolved.  Everyone looked forward to Sunday family time to catch up with what everyone else in the family was doing.  It was Facebook face to face.

Sunday afternoons in the summer in Indiana were hot and sticky and uncomfortable. Fans were involved.  Sometimes a completely ineffective electrical fan for the entire house, and always, personal fans being waved back and forth made up of anything that moved air.  Magazines, cardboard, whatever.

So we sweat together. Sweat bonds people, ya know.

We also cleaned green beans together and shucked corn together, sitting on the metal glider under the old maple tree out back, with the corn silk sticking to our hands and arms because we were “moist,” as my mother used to say. Women didn’t sweat, for Heaven’s sake.

We took the kids along and picked out the best watermelon or musk melon from the melon patch that we had planted one Sunday afternoon in the springtime and brought it to the house. If it was particularly large, the child rode in the red wagon to the garden and the child got to pull the wagon back to the house with the melon in tow.  Often, we cut the melon outside to keep the mess out of the kitchen – plus – it was cooler out there in the shade.

We always had a “slop bucket” where any food waste, like melon seeds and rinds, got deposited with a splat. After dinner, we got to go out and feed the hogs who had been looking forward to the slop bucket “treat” since we began the food preparation process.  Hogs are a lot smarter than people give them credit for.  They knew.

Dad had an old red barbeque grill with the paint peeling off from years of cumulative heat. He put charcoal in the bottom and lit it using lighter fluid with enough time left before “dinner time,” which was lunch on the farm, or “supper time” which was late afternoon, about 5, for the charcoal to ignite, burn bright, then burn down to grey ash with the heat inside.  Dad somehow magically knew when the coals were “about right.”  Then he put the burgers on the grill.  It was a long, involved process and you could easily die of hunger waiting!  It didn’t make any sense to me that the coals were better for cooking than the fire, but I’ve learned a lot since then about cooking heat and the fires of life as well.

Before Dad had the red barbeque grill that we got him for one Father’s Day, he had an old barrel cut in half with some kind of grill or wire thing that he had rigged up that sat across the top. Sometimes food fell through the rigged mesh into the charcoal, and you just picked it back up with the tongs and put it back on the grill, after brushing it off of course.  If it was too bad, it went in the slop bucket.  Nothing was ever wasted.

Much of our life on the farm was “rigged up,” but we never viewed it that way. Today I look back at all of those things Dad made personally and cherish them along with the time he took to make them.  Then, they were just life, the way it was and what we did.  Nothing special.

Mom and I made the hamburger patties inside and put them on plates and took them outside to Dad to grill.  Yes, we used the same plates to bring the grilled burgers back inside, and no one died or even got sick.  We made potato or macaroni salad and cut up whatever vegetables were ripe in the garden.  By August, we had fresh corn to shuck and together, at the table, after one of the children said Grace, we ate buttered corn on the cob, grilled hamburgers and fresh warm tomatoes from the garden.  Life couldn’t have been better.  To us, then, it was just normal.  Nothing unusual or special.

We chatted about what happened during the week, plans for the next week, school, teachers and oh yes, about the crops, what was ripening next, or was wilting in the heat…and rain, always rain, or lack thereof. It was a farm, after all.

The women discussed who was dating whom, who was potty trained, who was sick,  what was on sale this week in town, and church doings of course.

Everyone talked about funerals, births, who bought a new car, or far more exciting, a new tractor, and who was going broke – and in farm country, someone was always going broke.

Oh, and pass me another burger and some of that “mater” too please…

There is absolutely nothing like a plump bright red tomato, fresh picked from the vine, warmed by the sun and sliced, its flavor exploding with the juicy hamburger and a slice of sweet onion too.

Sometimes we had buns, sometimes not – depended on how much we could get at the grocery that week for our $20 bill. Sometimes the choice came down to chocolate or Oreos or buns….and let’s just say that we often ate without buns.

And speaking of chocolate, the best was yet to come. Dad planned ahead and sometimes, on particularly hot Sundays, he would make homemade ice cream for dessert.  He churned it by hand, the churn sitting on the back step.  Actually, we all took turns since it was no small task and your arms got tired really quickly. He always helped the kids and absorbed way more than his share of the work without anyone noticing and without saying one word.

Because making ice cream was a slow process requiring patience, dessert usually happened about mid-afternoon.

We always made banana ice cream. It was Dad’s favorite, so somehow it became the entire family favorite. No one even suggested any other flavor – ever.  That would have been heresy…and besides that…no one even thought of it.

I remember company one time asked about chocolate ice cream and we all just stared at them like they were speaking a foreign tongue we couldn’t comprehend. They said they didn’t like banana ice cream.  Mom told them they would like this banana ice cream, because it was “special,” and that was that.  I don’t know if they liked it or not, but nary another word was spoken about other flavors!

It seemed like it took FOREVER for that ice cream to set up. And the more you had to crank, the hotter you became, and the more you wanted some of that ice cold ice cream.  Sort of seems self-defeating doesn’t it – but ironically – no one ever tried to get out of their turn at the crank.  Everyone thought it was fun – a novelty – at least for a little bit – until your arm got tired.  Then Dad would come over and “spell you for a bit,” because that’s just the kind of man he was.  In reality, we were all “spelling” Dad for a bit, giving him a little break, but we though we were really doing something special!

After what seemed like an eternity, the ice cream would be declared “done,” Dad would crack open the churn and we would finally get to eat the ice cream, whether it was done, meaning set up, or not. Sometimes it was nice and hard.  Sometimes it was more like soft serve and I distinctly remember once when it was almost runny, more like pudding, and Dad suggested we put the lid back on and crank some more.  He got soundly outvoted and we ate the ice cream just the way it was…with one important addition of course…chocolate topping.

But not just any chocolate topping. Nosireeeee…special hot fudge topping.

You know those buns we sacrificed? Well, instead we bought chocolate fudge topping and then we “doctored it up” by heating it and adding both bittersweet dark chocolate and fresh percolated hot coffee until the fudge topping was thick and rich, but not too sweet.  I know, that doesn’t seem to make sense, but it was TO. DIE. FOR.

I wish I had taken some pictures of those days, but back then, picture developing was an expensive luxury and photos were saved for “special occasions,” like when my grandmother’s last living sister, great-aunt Eloise, visited.

Note that by this time, the walkway to the outhouse, visible behind the garage, was semi-paved and Mom and Dad were wearing “good” summer clothes – translated to mean not threadbare and no holes or large stains – at least not that my mother spotted or my Dad would have been sent to change:)

Summer Sunday 2

Even though film and developing was expensive, we did of course take photos at Christmas, birthdays and when we had “special” company, but Sunday afternoon on the hottest day of the summer, sweating, eating burgers and cranking ice cream on the farm was nothing special, so not one picture.

Nothing special at all.

Oh, what I would give for just one more summer Sunday afternoon at home with Mom and Dad on the farm….

Summer Sunday 3

Molly Ringwald – Who Do You Think You Are – “The Swede”

Molly Ringwald wearing a white sweater while sitting in her dad's house.

If you have Swedish ancestors, you’ll enjoy this episode immensely. There is a great deal of historical content in addition to lots of records available in Sweden.

Additionally, I learned something about the Homestead Act of 1862 here in the US I didn’t know before as well, so this episode might be helpful if you’ve ever wondered how the heck your ancestors picked some location west of the Mississippi to settle.

Film star Molly Ringwald was born in Roseville, California to Robert “Bob” Ringwald and Adele Fremd. She knows a considerable amount about her Ringwald line, but knows next to nothing about her father’s maternal family. Molly thinks she has Swedish origins because of rumors her father’s grandfather was called “The Swede.”

Extremely close to her family, Molly is interested in learning about her paternal grandparents’ ancestors and sharing the information with her parents and children. Molly thinks her dad, Bob, might have additional information about The Swede, so she meets with him in Brooklyn. Bob recalls that “The Swede’s” real name was Edwin Jenson and believes he came to the US when he was about three years old, but that’s about all knows.

Molly heads to a local library to meet with genealogist Brian Schellenberg to learn more about her great-grandfather Edwin Jenson. Molly reviews Edwin’s death record which shows that he was indeed born in Sweden – in 1885. Molly continues to scan the record and sees that Edwin’s parents, Gustaf Jenson and Carolina Grip, were also born in Sweden.

This is the first time Molly hears the names of her two-times great-grandparents and wants to know more about them. She searches for clues on a 1900 US census and finds an entry showing Gustaf and Carolina Jenson living in Nebraska with their six children, including their son Edwin. She wonders where the family came from in Sweden and why they would have left for America. Brian suggests Molly visit an archive in Sweden to dig deeper into her family.

Molly travels to the regional archive in Lund, southern Sweden, where she meets with archivist Petra Nyberg. There, Molly discovers that her two-times great-grandparents Carolina and Gustaf were from a nearby coal-mining town called Höganäs, and that Gustaf was a laborer in the mines.

Reaching farther back, she uncovers the names of Carolina’s parents and Molly’s three-times great grandparents: Carl and Kjersti. Molly heads to Höganäs to visit with a historian well versed in mining communities.

Together with historian Erik Thomson, Molly experiences a coal mine first hand, encountering the narrow, dark, and dangerous conditions both her ancestors endured. I have to tell you, it was all I could do to watch this – even though my own family worked the mines – just not in Sweden.  (Yes, I’m a bit claustrophobic.  So it Molly, but she perseveres anyway.)

But that’s not all, there is more to this story. But I can’t tell you without ruining the story line.  I have to say, I don’t know how this woman endured…but she did…and her daughter Caroline succeeded beyond anyone’s wildest dreams.

Molly marvels at how Kjersti’s daughter Carolina – Molly’s great-great-grandmother – escaped with her miner husband Gustaf and wonders what life was like for them in Nebraska.

Molly heads back to America and meets with historian Tonia Compton in Nebraska. Molly reads a warranty deed and discovers that Carolina personally purchased land for her family in 1905, an incredible feat for a married, immigrant woman! Molly locates the land on a 1908 Plat Map, which shows that the acreage is only about 15 miles from where she stands. Before Molly leaves to visit the land, Tonia hands her an obituary notice, which highlights Carolina’s incredible reputation in the community and the love felt for her by her family.

Molly arrives at the property and takes in the landscape as she walks in her ancestors’ footsteps. She regards with deference the life that Carolina made for herself and marvels that her 2x great-grandmother changed the narrative of her family.

DNA Day Sale at Family Tree DNA

Have you been waiting for a sale at Family Tree DNA for Y DNA, mitochondrial or Family Finder?  Well, here it is.  These prices will be in effect before the end of day today.

DNA Day 2016

As you probably know, National DNA Day commemorates the day in 1953 when a paper detailing the structure of DNA was published in Nature magazine. It also recognizes the completion of the Human Genome Project in 2003.  What better way to celebrate that achievement than to have a sale on DNA tests for genealogy?

The sale will extend through Tuesday, April 26, 2016 (11:59 PM Central), and will be limited to new tests or add-ons. Upgrades will be discounted in June.

Click here to order.

A Short Timeout

I know all of my faithful followers are used to my posting schedule, but unfortunately, we have a bit of a problem this week.

Call it:

Garden: 1
Roberta: 0

We finally had a nice day and I went to ready the perennial beds for summer.  Apparently, that was a mistake.

I did something that did not agree with my back on Sunday and have been rather incapacitated ever since.

OK, enough with the niceties – it hurts like bloody hell.  And you cannot blog or write in a prone position.

So please bear with me for the next few days as my normal publication schedule is interrupted.  I do have a few articles nearly prepared and I’ll see what I can do with those.

And as for that cliffhanger…I really didn’t do that on purpose.  Seriously.

In the mean time, there are almost 700 articles on this blog and it’s fully searchable by key word in the search box in the upper right hand corner – so maybe this is a good time to read about something new!

My apologies.

daffy and bug









Upcoming Ancestry DNA Update – Urgent!!!

This article is very quick and dirty because it’s all that I can do at the moment and you need to have this information NOW! Please read the entire article because you’ll find instructions at the end. Yes, I know this is very short warning, but please do not shoot the messenger.  I started typing the minute tonight’s conference call was over, literally.

Ancestry was kind enough to hold a second conference call about their upcoming changes this evening with the bloggers group. The first call during Rootstech let us know changes were coming.  Tonight we received more details.

This is not the end of the world and not a repeat of Autosomalgeddon that occurred when people lost 80-90% of their matches when Timber was introduced.

Let’s get the bad news over with so we can move on.

The Bad News

  • You will lose some matches.
  • Ancestry indicated that no one lost anyone 2nd cousin or closer.
  • The change is imminent – meaning if you’re not doing something tonight and tomorrow, get busy on the “To Do” list at the end of this article.
  • You may lose Circles or NADs due to disappearing matches. The average loss was 1 circle and NADs were similar, although they did not provide a number.
  • Today you can see matches to matches up through the 4th cousin level. At the 5-8th cousin level, you cannot see matches to matches. The category most dramatically affected was the 4th cousins shifting to the 5th-8th cousin category, WHICH MEANS YOU WILL NO LONGER BE ABLE TO SEE YOUR COMMON MATCHES WITH THOSE PEOPLE.

The Good News

  • You will have new matches.
  • Most people will have a net gain in matches and the example we saw was significant.
  • Ancestry will allow you to download previous match information on matches that have disappeared but ONLY IF YOU STAR THEM OR MAKE A NOTE ON THE MATCH.  This was not originally in the plans and we want to thank Ancestry for adding this after the Rootstech call.
  • There will be two new papers, one white paper on Ancestry’s new methodology and technology, and one on matching.
  • Ancestry will review feedback after the rollout so if you have something to say, it won’t be effective on Facebook or to your friends.  The only place it stands any chance of being effective is if you submit your feedback to Ancestry directly.  And I’m betting civil feedback carries more weight than nasty feedback – no matter how you feel.  That old sugar catches more flies than vinegar thing.

The Interesting News

  • Most of the changes people will see are in the relationship estimates of more distant cousins, meaning 4th cousins or more distant.
  • Most of the lost matches will be in the most distant, 5th-8th cousin category.
  • Most of the gained matches will also be in the 5th-8th cousin category.

Your Immediate To Do List

  1. Star or note every DNA/Tree match, meaning those with leaf hints.
  2. Screen shot every Circle and NAD if you care about NADs, and record who is in the Circle or NAD.
  3. Record all of your matches with matches information for 4th cousins or closer. I would begin with 4th cousins because those are the most likely to disappear. Those with tree hints are the most valuable to you, so I would start with those.
  4. DO THIS NOW!! We can’t provide you with any release dates because Ancestry will launch when they are ready, and they don’t exactly know what day that will be. So, if you do this today, the worst thing that will happen is that you’ll have all your data. If you wait, the worst thing that will happen is that you’ll lose valuable information.

Oh, and did I mention time is of the essence????

Get busy everyone. If you wait, you’ll be sorry.

Magdalena Miller, Probably Not Rochette (c1730-1800/1808), Grandmother to 97, 52 Ancestors #120

Magdalena, such a beautiful name. Biblical of course, but then her family was Brethren, so a Biblical name isn’t the least bit surprising.

It’s somehow a bit ironic that the only mention, anyplace of Magdalena’s name is in her husband’s estate records. And the name may be Magdalen, with no trailing a or e.  Spelling was far from standardized at that time.

Philip Jacob Miller died in early 1799 in Campbell County, KY. His estate was inventoried and probated, and sometime between 1800 and 1808 when the estate was settled, Magdalena became ill, was treated by a doctor and died.  Philip Jacob’s estate paid money at various undated times to Magdalena, then paid for her doctor bill; “pail cash to the amount of 3 pounds 3 shillings for necessaries during the illness of Magdalen Miller, widow of Jacob Miller, dec’d, which illness carried her off.”

The next entry shows her funeral expenses at 10 shillings. How did that equate in the money of the day?  Well, a small log chain in the estate was appraised at 10 shillings, so perhaps the only expense was the wooden box in which she was buried.  Vastly different from today.

Were it not for these notations, we would have no idea of Magdalena’s name. For more than 70 years, there was no record – and only with the death of her husband do we learn her name.  Had she died first, her name would forever be unknown to us.

The rest of what we know about Magdalena is by inference. For example, she had a daughter, also named Magdalena who is referenced in Philip Jacob’s estate settlement.  Magdalena, the daughter, shown by the family as having been born April 25, 1770, married Daniel Ullery and is unquestionably identified as the daughter of Philip Jacob Miller – but Magdalena’s birth is not recorded in Philip Jacob’s Bible.  She would have been born right about the time be obtained that Bible, so how could he forget the newest baby?  But, he did.  She’s not the only missing child in that Bible either.

Because some of the children are missing from the Bible record, and they appear to be the youngest 4 children, we have to make inferences about when Magdalena, the mother, was born. If her last child was born about 1774 or 1775, she would have been about age 45, so born about 1730, which makes sense.  Philip Jacob Miller was born no later than 1727, so they would have been about the same age.

We don’t know where Magdalena was born, or who her parents were. We don’t even know if she was born in the US or abroad.  What we do know is that she had to be in the same location as Philip Jacob Miller in order to meet and marry.  In roughly 1750, that would have been York County, PA living in the Brethren settlement there.

York County, Pennsylvania

The History of York Co, PA, written in 1907 tells us that the first Brethren congregation in York (now Adams) County was the Conewago Church which was established in 1738, “20 miles west from the town of York, on the Little Conewago,” which was in the vicinity of Hanover.

Surnames of the families who were among the early church members were Eldrick, Dierdorff, Bigler, Gripe (Cripe), Studsman (Stutzman) and others. Prominent members include Jacob Moyer James Henrick, preachers; Hans Adam Snyder, George Wine, Daniel Woods, Henry Geing, Joseph Moyer, Nicholas Hostetter, Christian Hostetter, Rudy Brown, Dobis Brother, Jacob Miller, Michael Koutz, Stephen Peter, Henry Tanner, Michael Tanner, John Moyer, Jacob Souder, Henry Hoff, John Swartz.  The wives of these persons named were also members of the church.  Unmarried members were Barbara Snyder John Geing, Maud Bowser, George Peter, Hester Wise, Christian Etter, John Peter Weaver, Barbara Bear, Elizabeth Boering, Grace Hymen.  Their first preacher was Daniel Leatherman, Sr, followed by Nicholas Martin, Jacob Moyer (Meyers), James Hendrich (Henry.)

In 1741, a new church was founded “on the Great Conewago, about 14 miles west from the new town of York.”  Founding members there include John Neagley, Adam Sower, Jacob Sweigard, Peter Neiper and Joseph Latshaw.  The first elder was George Adam Martin followed by Daniel Leatherman Jr. and Nicholas Martin.  In 1770 members included George Brown, John Heiner, Peter Fox, Anthony Dierdorff, Nicholas Moyer, Manasseh Brough, Michael Bosserman, David Ehrhard, Daniel Baker, Abraham Stauffer, Henry Dierdorff, John Burkholder, Andrew Trimmer, Eastace Rensel, Peter Dierdorff, Barnett Augenbaugh, John Neagley, Michael Brissel, Welty Brissel, Matthias Bouser, Laurence Baker, Philip Snell, Nicholas Baker Jr., Adam Sower, Adam Dick, Henry Brissel, David Brissel, Henry Radibush, George Wagner and George Reeson.  Unmarried members were Peter Wertz, Ann Mummert, Christian Fray, Samuel Arnold, Mary Latshaw, Catharine Studabaker, Nicholas Baker, Marillas Baker, Sarah Brissel, Jacob Miller, Rudolph Brown.

As you can see, these were not small churches and the population of Brethren in this region was fairly extensive. Of course, the 1770 membership list would have swollen since some families moved south to Frederick County, Maryland in 1751.  Nicholas Martin who was involved in the establishment of both York County frontier Brethren churches was the first preacher in Frederick County, MD on that new frontier as well, and it’s through his letter that we learn of the death of Michael Miller in 1771, Magdalena’s father-in-law.

Seldom did the entire family remove from an area – often leaving a married child or siblings behind who would establish the family in various areas – like seeds spread by the wind.  Some of these families did not remove and the surname is not found in the Maryland congregations.  Magdalena’s birth family may not have settled in Maryland.

Notably absent on the York County list is Michael Miller, who we know unquestionably lived there from 1744 to roughly 1751 or 1752 along with the entire Berchtol clan, who could well have been Mennonite. The Garber or Garver group is absent as well, and they were Brethren.  Michael Miller owned land with Nicholas Garber and Samuel Bechtol (Berchtol) near Hanover.  Also settled near Hanover was Stephen Ullery, a surname also missing from these lists. So while these are not complete, many of these names are also found among the Brethren in Frederick County, Maryland after 1750 – so it’s very likely that Magdalena’s family is found among this list.

Magdalena had to live in the same general area as Philip Jacob Miller. The Miller/Garber/Berchtol land was either the same as or near the York Road Cemetery and Bair’s Mennonite Church today.

York Co church

The church is set at the bottom of a hill. This photo overlooks the church, cemetery and hills in the distance and across the road, below, the newer portion of the cemetery on the hill.

York Co cem

We don’t know where, but Magdalena assuredly lived here someplace. This land would have been familiar to her.

Rochette, or Not?

There is a persistent rumor that Magdalena’s surname is Rochette, but for the life of me, I can’t find even one snippet of documentation relative to that surname – or any similar surname. Unfortunately, that has reproduced itself like a wild virus and nearly every tree in any public space shows Magdalena’s surname as Rochette – but to date we can find no evidence.  None.  Nada.

Merle Rummel, Brethren historian, says he had a note in his records and believes that he may have obtained the information when he was the minister in southern Ohio, around the year 2000, not far from where the Miller children inherited their land. It was their descendants who told him the surname was Rochette.  But where did they obtain that information?

Two other published sources have cross referenced other people, who both say they have no idea where the surname came from.

Gale Honeyman at the Brethren Heritage Center doesn’t know either. So, at this point, I think we’re going to have to chalk her surname up to a persistent rumor, for now.

I would still like to know if the information arose from older generations of the family, or if it took root from something otherwise published.  Rochette is such an unusual name – hardly seems likely to have pulled it out of a hat. If you have or find anything, please do let me know.

Here’s what I do know. There is not one single mention of the surname Rochette in Frederick County, Maryland, nor in the York Co., PA deeds from 1749 forward, nor in any Lancaster County, PA records that I could find, nor in any Brethren church records that I could find either, or in the county histories prior to 1850.

Furthermore, Rochette is very clearly a French name, not German, and it would be extremely unlikely for a French family to be found among the German pietist families of the Brethren (or Mennonite or Amish) church – not to mention that the German families by and large did not speak English and probably didn’t speak French either.

Had Philip Jacob married a non-Brethren, he would not have been welcome in the church at that time. The German pietist sects, meaning Brethren, Amish, Moravian and Mennonite, traded members back and forth, but their common link, aside from their pietist faith, was the German language which was spoken exclusively, not only in the church, but in their homes and communities.  Many of these families did not speak or understand English. As late as 1805, when later generations of these families were migrating to Ohio, they had to bring at least one man along who spoke both German and English to serve as their translator.

York County also had and has a pronounced Mennonite population as well. The Berchtol family was Mennonite. Clearly this did not cause a huge social rift if the Berchtel, Miller and Garber families owned land jointly.  If a Brethren male married a Mennonite woman, one or the other switched, because families were not “split” as they can be today.  The Mennonites and Brethren were far more alike than different.

So Magdalena was clearly of the Brethren faith too, at least after marriage, meaning her family was very likely found in the group of Brethren or even Mennonite families in York County, PA in the late 1740s, around 1750. The question remains, of course, which family?

A Brethren Bride

Based on the birth of their first child in 1752, or at least the first one in the Bible, it appears that Magdalena and Philip Jacob Miller were probably married in about 1751 – just about the time the Brethren moved from York Co., PA to Frederick County, MD.

What was life like during this time for a young Brethren bride? According to the “History of the Church of the Brethren in southern district of Pennsylvania” published in 1941:

Meetings were held in rotation over the district at private places — in barns or dwelling houses which were often built with an idea to throw two or more rooms together by large folding doors to accommodate a place for the meeting. A goodly number of brethren would come the evening before and a social time would be spent in Scriptural discussions and song and worship before retiring. Next morning breakfast was furnished by the host, assisted by guests, with the greatest delight to all present. The crowd began to swell to such a size that our attendance of today would be surprised.

The hospitality of the host was specially fine. Dinner was furnished, free to all, at meeting. Their horses were cared for during the night and all well fed at meal time. A number of hostlers were always engaged prior to meeting to help to care for horses. The greatest respect was shown to everyone present, members, as well as neighbors. Sometimes these rotations would come around every sixteen weeks; later ten to eight weeks, finally the church houses were built. The old brethren were afraid when churches were built “Something might be lost”.

These rotations of meeting places were scattered over a distance of 50 miles between Westminster, Carroll County, Maryland, and York, York County, Pennsylvania. Christian Royer, John Myers, and Samuel Miller in Manchester district,

The home of Christian Royer was built with moving partitions. Four rooms in one for meetings.

Another source said that church buildings weren’t actually built until about 1810, and even then it was with some reluctance.

Life was probably much the same, except more remote, in Frederick County. It’s likely that Magdalena, as a newlywed, left her family behind, whoever they were – unless they too were one of the families who migrated to Frederick County.  How I wish we knew.

New Life in Frederick County, Maryland

On October 26, 1751, Philip Jacob Miller obtained the land warrant from his father for Ash Swamp in Frederick County, Maryland.   It’s likely that he had just recently married and was “settling down.”  In October, Magdalena would have been 3 months pregnant, just enough to suspect strongly, before the days of pregnancy tests, so that would have been a good time to move, giving her time to set up housekeeping in the new location before the arrival of their first child.

This land had never been settled or cleared, so there was a lot of work to be done. Magdalena may have stayed back in York County while Philip Jacob felled trees and constructed at least a rudimentary home for his bride and soon-to-be family.

On March 7, 1752, Philip Jacob Miller’s father, Michael, sold the last of his land in York County, so the family is assuredly in Frederick County by this time.

This beautiful farm sits today on the land that Philip Jacob and Magdalena carved from the wilderness.

Miller farm sky 2

According to Philip Jacob Miller’s Bible, in April 1752, daughter Lizbeth is born at 3 o’clock at night.

On June 18, 1754, daughter Lidia was born. We don’t know what happened to Lidia, because she is never mentioned in the estate settlement, so the presumption would have to be that she died before her parents.

On April 8, 1755, son Daniel was born at 4 o’clock at night.

A month later, in May of 1755, Magdalena and Philip Jacob’s land was being resurveyed.

This was about the time history in Frederick County was unfolding. General Washington and Benjamin Franklin met with General Braddock in Frederick County, coaching him on military fighting styles in the colonies.  Red coated soldiers marching in a line appear as sitting ducks to Indians.  Braddock poo-pooed the warnings, and sure enough, on July 9th, general Braddock was not only defeated, but slain along with his men, opening the entire frontier to warfare from the French and Indians.  Braddock should have heeded sound advice.

Magdalena would have watched as the red-coated soldiers drilled and prepared for their death march westward. If she happened to visit her father-in-law, Michael Miller, she could have seen the encampment of the soldiers, likely within half a mile or so of his homestead on Antietam Creek.

Of course, Magdalena had a newborn baby, a 13 month old baby and a 3 year old, so she may not have gone visiting much. I suspect she had her hands full.

After Braddock’s defeat in the summer of 1755, the French and Indians began attacking the farms and settlements. The farmers in the region began to abandon their farms.  We don’t know where the Miller family went, but they assuredly went someplace for safety, because the Brethren religion staunchly opposed fighting, taking the life of another, even for protection, and the entire area was abandoned, so staying behind was not an option.  The only way to remain safe was to stay out of harm’s way.

Magdalena must have been terrified, not for her own safety, but that of her small children. I can only imagine belonging to a religion where you would choose to allow your children to be killed before defending them and taking the life of their aggressor and soon-to-become murdered.  But, that was a scenario played out over and over again on the Pennsylvania and Maryland frontier in Pietist families.

From 1755 to 1757, Alfred James writes, “Raid after raid from Fort Duquesne hit pioneer settlements along the Susquehanna and the Potomac.” It was unending and relentless. Another reports that “Frederick, Winchester and Carlisle became the new frontiers of the colony” and “Many even fled to Baltimore,” and “some to Virginia.” Arthur Quinn writes that families went as far east as Bethlehem “where there was no more room in the inns, or the shops or even the cellars.”  Nead writes, “Terror and desolation reigned everywhere.” Repogle 106

It didn’t end there, in October 1756, 20 people, including Jacob Miller and his wife and 6 children were scalped in Conococheague, the area where our Miller family lived. I don’t know if Jacob Miller was Brethren, or related to our family, but it certainly sounds like either he did not defend himself, or he was surprised and could not.  Whether he was our Miller family or not, rest assured, absolutely everyone knew what happened and it clearly struck widespread terror into the hearts of the settlers.  The Indians and French were both hopeful of driving the Europeans back from whence they came, but for slightly different reasons.

Son David was born December 1, 1757 at 3 o’clock at night.

We don’t know where David was born, because Frederick County was abandoned during both 1757 and 1758, so Magdalena gave birth to David elsewhere, wherever elsewhere was. The refugee family was growing.

Daughter Susannah was born March 2, 1759 at 7 o’clock in the morning.

The war officially ended in November 1758 and the attacks diminished, but didn’t end. It’s likely that daughter Susannah was born elsewhere too.  We know that Magdalena’s father-in-law, Michael Miller, was back in Frederick County by 1761, so it’s likely the entire family sought refuge together and returned together as well.

Daughter Christine was born December 4, 1761 at 10 o’clock in the forenoon.

Christine was very likely born in Frederick County.

Daughter Mariles was born ??? 1762 at 8 o’clock in the morning. A child by the name of Mariles is not mentioned again either, so I initially assumed this child is actually Mary – whose birth is not recorded in the Bible but whose existence is confirmed through the estate settlement.  After working with the various records, I don’t think Mariles is Mary.  I believe Mariles died.  Mariles is a very unusual name.  I don’t think I’ve ever seen it before, but I did notice Marillas Baker on the 1741 Great Conewago church membership.  That could be a clue.  There are also unexplained DNA matches to individuals with Baker heritage.

In 1763, Pontiac’s War began and once again, Frederick County was abandoned for the balance of 1763 and at least 1764.

This time, instead of taking 3 children when Magdalena and Philip Jacob evacuated, or ran for their lives, whichever scenario evolved, Magdalena had 7 children ranging in age from the baby born in 1762 to Lizbeth who celebrated her 10th birthday about the time that Mariles was born.  Her children were aged approximately 1, 2, 4 , 6, 8, 9 and 10 – truly stair-steps.  It’s hard enough handling a couple of children in difficult circumstances, but they had to find someplace to shelter with 7 children, and Magdalena was pregnant again.

All I can say is that this woman must have been extremely weary and somehow found the strength of Job.

Son Abraham was born April 28, 1764, someplace, but not likely in Frederick County.

By 1765, Michael Miller has returned to Frederick County once again, so it’s very likely that Philip Jacob and family returned as well.

Was there any home left to return to? The reports were that all of the homesteads and farms were burned.  Did they live in their wagon while the men constructed a quick home?  It surely would have been small because there would have been so many in need at the same time.  By this time, Magdalena had 8 children.

Magdalena may have lost a child between Abraham and Solomon, as there is a 3 year gap between children. If so, that child is probably buried in the now-lost Miller cemetery which was believed to be originally on John Miller’s portion of Ash Swamp.

Son Solomon was born March 20, 1767, most likely in Frederick County.

In April, 1767, Magdalena’s husband was naturalized in Philadelphia, PA, along with her father-in-law. Does this suggest that Philip Jacob was absent when Solomon came into the world?  Sadly, it appears that Solomon exited the world as well, as he is never heard of again either.  Did he die as an infant?  Were it not for the Bible entry, we would never have known he existed.

Pontiac’s War ends in 1768 and the western frontier opens.

Daughter Ester was born February 13, 1769, probably in Frederick County. Life had settled down once again by this time.

And then, there’s daughter Magdalene whose name is not recorded in the Bible but whose birth within the family is recorded as being April 25, 1770 and whose existence is confirmed in the 1799 agreement between siblings regarding Philip Joseph’s estate.

Magdalena’s father-in-law, Michael Miller, died in 1771. It’s unusual that Magdalena had no child named Michael, although an infant Michael could surely have died.  It’s also remarkable that they had no son named Philip Jacob either.  Perhaps another death.

Two daughters, Mary and Hannah were born sometime in this timeframe.  Based on the birth of Mary’s children with John Creamer, she looks to have been born sometime between 1770 and 1772.  Sarah is noted as deceased in 1799, but also noted as having “children” which would put her birth sometime before 1775.

Daughter Hannah’s birth is not recorded in the Bible, but is recorded elsewhere as June 7, 1774.  Hannah’s name is shown on Philip Jacob’s state settlement.

About 1774, son Daniel married Elizabeth Ulrich and on March 1, 1775, Magdalena welcomed her first grandchild, Stephen.  Philip Jacob penned in the Bible, “my son’s son is born,” along with his name and date.  That must have been a joyful day for Magdalena.  Everyone loves their grandchildren, and the first grandchild is not only special, they also carry the special significance of being the first of a new generation.  They get to carry the torch, but they just don’t know it yet.

The Next New Frontier Opens

Just west of where Philip Jacob and Magdalena lived in Frederick County, but within view, were the Appalachian chain of mountains, representing a physical barrier, as well as a realistic one. The unsettled and unprotected frontier was on the other side.  Safety, or at least relative safety was on this side.  This picture was taken from the northern boundary of the land owned by Philip Jacob and Magdalena Miller, looking towards those forbidding mountains.  Eventually, the land on the other side of the mountains would become inviting.

Beginning in 1775, events began to ramp up that would culminate in the Revolutionary War. The residents of Frederick County, after what they had already been through in the previous decades, must have been getting increasingly uneasy and nervous.

In 1776, Washington County was taken from Frederick County, and the Miller lands fell into the new county.

In about 1778, Magdalena’s sons, Daniel and David would set out and join the Brethren migration to Bedford, PA, in the Juniata Valley. I wonder how Magdalena felt as she watched the wagons pull away, carrying her 2 children and at least 5 grandchildren as well.

The Brethren, who would not participate in wartime activities, including voluntarily paying increased taxes because they would not serve in the militia were subject to having their lands confiscated. Oral history in the Miller family preserves the tradition that Magdalena’s brother-in-law, Lodowick, who owned the land adjacent to Philip Jacob on the south, did lose his land to confiscation.  I don’t know, but I do know that Lodowick left in 1782 or 1783 for the Shenandoah Valley.

We also know that Philip Jacob Miller was on the non-Associator’s list, telling us he was either a pietist or a Tory. The locals didn’t much care which – both were viewed by locals who supported the Revolution as traitors.  Pietists, who refused to take up arms were suspected of being Tory sympathizers.  To those defending the colony, it didn’t much matter.  What mattered was that you weren’t helping to defend the land you lived on and the responsibility fell to others.  Resentment and suspicion festered towards those of Pietist faith.

Life within the family and within the Brethren community went on.

Daughter Susannah married Daniel Ulrich about 1781.

By 1782, Daniel and David Miller may have been back in Washington County, seeking shelter as the Indians were raiding in Bedford County, PA. If so, they returned to Bedford County.

Abraham Miller married Catherine Maugans in 1783. Catherine was the sister of David Miller’s wife, Magdalena Maugans.  Brothers married sisters.

The cabin of their father, Conrad Maugans, found just north of the land where Magdalena Miller lived, in present-day Maugansville, is preserved.  Magdalena’s cabin probably looked much the same.

maugans cabin

The Revolutionary War ends in 1783. People began to heal, as best they could.  How do you ever heal after being suspected of what amounts to treason by your neighbors?  It’s no wonder that the Brethren community was so withdrawn into itself.

Magdalena’s son, David Miller married Magdalena Abigail Maugans about the same time, and their first child was born on May 10, 1784. It’s unclear whether part of the Maugans family also migrated to Bedford County, or perhaps David was smitten and either did not go to Bedford County as early as thought, or he came back and married within the Brethren community in formerly Frederick, now Washington County.

Magdalena’s daughter Christine Miller married Henry Snell sometime before 1786.

Daughter Sarah Miller married Henry Andrew Neyfong (Nifong), probably before 1795, given that she was dead by 1799 and Philip Jacob’s estate refers to her “children,” plural.

Based on when we know daughters Magdalena, Hannah and Ester married, we know that in 1790, Philip Jacob had at least 4 females living in the household.

What we can’t tell for sure is which whether Philip Jacob Miller is listed in the census as Jacob Miller or Philip Miller, nor can I tell by his neighbors. There were 7 John Millers, so finding his brother John isn’t helpful.  However, given that we know Philip Jacob had at least 4 females living in the household, that narrows the candidates to 1 Philip and 1 Jacob in Washington County.

None of them fit the bill exactly.

Daughter Mary married John Creamer or Cramer about 1792.

Daughter Elizabeth married Jacob Shutt in 1793. This is the only one of Magdalena’s children to obtain a marriage license in Washington County, Maryland, if this is the correct Elizabeth Miller and Jacob Shutt.

In 1794, Magdalena’s brother-in-law, John Miller died. Now this might not sound like a life changing event – but it surely was for Philip Jacob Miller, who had farmed the land beside his brother’s for the past 40+ years.  And in that time, if your husband experienced a life-changing event, your life changed too.

On April 6, 1795, Philip Jacob Miller, as administrator, sold the land of his brother John to Dr. John Schnebley. On September 25, 1795, Philip Jacob sold his adjacent land to the same man.

Daughter Magdalena Miller married Daniel Cripe about 1796.

Daughter Hannah Miller married Arnold Snider about 1796.

I wonder if these last two marriages occurred because the family was getting ready to set off for the new frontier and it was now or never.

On to Kentucky!

Talk about an amazing class last act.

Magdalena and Philip Jacob were getting ready to set out for their final frontier, and the fact that they were roughly 70 years old didn’t stop them. I wonder if that gave them pause for reflection.  I wonder if they were both anxious to move on, or if one person held back, needing to be convinced.  I would love to be a fly on the wall and hear that conversation, translated to English of course.

Miller farm west

The land they left looked vastly different than the uncleared, forest-covered land they settled in 1751.

Did they travel in the fall of 1795 or the spring of 1796? We can eliminate winter due to snow and ice on the roads and ice on the Ohio river.  Did they travel entirely by wagon, or did they go part way by wagon and then transfer to river raft, floating down the Ohio River to the area just upstream of Cincinnati?  That’s the most likely scenario.  If that was their path, then fall would have been much safer, as the Ohio floods often in the later winter and spring.  Did they take their wagon on the raft, or did they leave it behind, perhaps trading wagon for raft? What about their horse or horses?  When they arrived in Ohio, did they disassemble the raft and use the wood to build a shelter, or begin a house?

By August 16, 1796, Magdalena and Philip Jacob had arrived in Campbell County because he paid tax that day on 1 male over 16 (probably himself), 1 horse and 1 head of cattle. They probably also had hogs and chickens, neither of which were taxed.

Daughter Ester Miller married Gabriel Maugans about 1799, based on the birth dates of their children. Gabriel was a brother to both Magdalena and Catherine Maugans who had married David and Abraham Miller.  By this time, Magdalena had been in Campbell County for 3 years.  We don’t know where Ester and Gabriel got married, or if they actually married earlier, before the Miller family left Washington County.

Philip Jacob Miller’s Death and Estate

We don’t know exactly where in Campbell County, KY Magdalena and Philip Jacob Miller lived, but we do know that there is a persistent rumor that he was buried on an island at the mouth of 12 Mile Creek. Campbell County extends from just beneath Cincinnati upriver about 25 miles.

Campbell Co Ky map

Twelve Mile Creek is about half way, just above New Richmond on the Kentucky side of the river about half a mile.

If the 12 Mile Creek location is even remotely accurate, this is a picture from Google Maps of the 12 Mile Creek area from the Ohio side of the river, looking across to Campbell County. As you can see, the area is quite hilly. In many ways, it reminds me of Washington County, Maryland.  Magdalena and Philip Jacob would have been comfortable there.

Ohio River looking to Campbell co

In 1799, Magdalena’s husband, Philip Jacob, died. We don’t know if he was ill, if the death was unexpected, or what happened.  His estate was probated on April 8, 1799 in Campbell County, KY. There was no will.  He was at least 73 years old and possibly as old as 83.

Based on the tax lists and on Philip Jacob’s estate, it surely looks like he was actively farming. In 1797 and 1798, he had increased his holdings from 1 to 3 horses.  Philip Jacob is not listed in 1799, but David Miller is noted. This makes sense, because we know that Philip Jacob’s will was probated in April of 1799 and tax time was August, and David Miller was one of his father’s executors, explaining why David was suddenly on the tax list in 1799 when he had not been previously.

At least two of Magdalena’s daughters were living in Campbell County, KY in 1797 and 1798, Hannah who was married to Daniel Snider and Magdalena who was married to Daniel Cripe. In 1800, Hannah lived in Campbell County, as did Stephen Miller, Magdalena’s grandson through Daniel.  I wonder if Stephen came to live with his grandmother to help her.

At that time, when a man died, the entire household was inventoried and appraised, except for the wife’s clothing. And literally, that was it – all that was “hers.”  The wife was entitled by law to 30% of the value of the estate, but her 30% generally had to be bought at auction after bidding against anyone else who was interested.  I hope most people had the common decency to not bid against the widow.

Generally, the wife had to buy her kitchen utensils back, her pots and pans, her coffee mill and teapot, her silverware and plates and any furniture she wanted.

Hardly seems fair by today’s standards, but it was the way things were at that time.  Life wasn’t fair, especially not for women – and life was harsh.

Looking at Philip Jacob’s estate inventory tells us a lot about Magdalena’s life.

Much of the estate speaks to farming, but since everything was inventoried, except Magdalena’s clothes, we can also catch a glimpse of Magdalena’s life too by the items typically associated with females.

  • One full box of glass
  • One box part of the glass taken out

We know that Magdalena has glass, and quite a bit, not just pottery or wooden trenchers.  Glass was a luxury, especially on the frontier.

  • One large copper kettle
  • One iron kettle
  • Six boiler plated, 2 dishes and 2 basins
  • One small iron pot, some tin and wood ware
  • One bake oven, one frying pann, some pewter dishware

The kettles would have been hung over the fire in the fireplace (or outside) to cook their food. I would bet that Magdalena brought these two kettles with her from Pennsylvania, as copper and iron kettles were probably very scarce on the frontier.  Plus, you could pack things inside them.

Kettles and pots were used both inside and outside. They were used for cooking food, boiling water for washing clothes, making commodities like lye soap, making animal mash and for scalding the hair off of butchered pigs.

Not only was the food to be eaten daily prepared in these kettles, but so were the foods to be “put up,” like apple butter and in the later winter, maple syrup was boiled down in the kettles, generally in an “outside” kitchen or “sugar shack.”

  • One small copper tea kettle

Does this mean Magdalena drank tea? It couldn’t have been tea as we know it today, which wasn’t available on the frontier, but perhaps sassafras tea or willow bark or others, perhaps with medicinal qualities.

  • One coffee mill

Maybe this is where I got my coffee affliction. I asked Merle Rummel about coffee and he suggested that their coffee then wasn’t like our coffee today.  Coffee beans would have had to be imported, probably from New Orleans, and ground in the mill.  Merle said coffee then was likely toast toasted very crisp and then ground.  Maybe coffee beans were a true luxury.

  • One old broken iron skillet with sundry other little things

Did this iron skillet break after they arrived in Kentucky? How does an iron skillet break?  The handle maybe?  It’s Magdalena’s only skillet, but she does have a frying pann.  Even broken, it still had a value.

  • One side saddle with two girths

Women of that time rode side saddle, so this would have been Magdalena’s saddle. I’m amazed at her age that she was still riding a horse.  They did not have a buggy, so maybe that explains why she rode the horse.  Shye had to be an accomplished horse-woman because at her age, one fall would do her in.

  • One pocket looking glass

I’m really curious about this item. Looking glasses, meaning mirrors, where considered vain by the Brethren.  Merle suggests that perhaps this was a monocle, used instead of glasses – a single ground glass lens held up to the eye to see and kept in the vest or pocket.  That’s as good an explanation as any.  It could have been either Philip Jacob’s or Magdalena’s.  I can see him using it to read and her using it to thread needles.

  • One pair of hand mill stones and one grind stone

These items are fascinating. The hand mill stones would have been used for grinding things in small quantities.  The grind stones were probably similar to what the Native people used to grind corn.  But why would the Brethren, who took their corn and wheat to mills, have these kinds of implements?  Were the mills too far away?

  • Five low bags

I have no idea what this is.  If you know, please share.

  • One flax wheel an sifter

A flax wheel is a type of spinning wheel that was used to spin flax into linen threads to be woven into cloth. Interestingly enough there was no loom, so perhaps Magdalena spun and another woman wove.  A loom would have been very difficult to transport downriver, even disassembled.

  • Two old trunks

These two old trunks probably held everything of value to Magdalena as she and Philip Jacob undertook their last journey from Maryland through Pennsylvania to Ohio, some 450 miles, past age 70. The Bible probably rode from Maryland in one of these trunks. How I would love to take a day and look through the items in those two old trunks and talk to Magdalena about why she packed and took what she did – and why she left the rest behind.

Philip Jacob’s estate executors distributed money to Magdalena from the estate several times for a total of about 70 pounds. The only dated receipt was in January of 1800, but there were 4 in total.

They also paid Magdalena’s medical expenses of 3 pounds 3 shillings, but the “illness carried her off.” The estate then paid her funeral expenses which cost all of 10 shillings.  Unfortunately, these entries weren’t dated.

The only other dated information was the settling and closing of Philip Jacob’s estate on October 19, 1808.

So we know that Magdalena died sometimes between January of 1800 and October of 1808. My suspicion would be that she did not die for several years, since several payments were made to her.  If one payment per year was made, then her death would have been perhaps around 1805, but that’s pure speculation.

The Question About Magdalena’s Children

I’m still bothered by the fact that not all of the children reflected in the 1799 estate agreement are recorded in Philip Jacob Miller’s Bible. How could Philip Jacob have left four children out of the family Bible?  All four missing children were daughters, and if you look at the original Bible entry, there was obviously confusion about Lidia’s entry, as it was overstruck, like he was confused between two children’s births.

It begs the question of whether they were his children. However, the 1799 agreement clearly says that the people involved are the “sons and daughters of” Philip Jacob Miller. Since Philip Jacob did not have a will, the only clear record is the estate distribution and the sibling agreement.  The Bible omissions simply don’t make sense, unless Philip Jacob was tired of having daughters, or figured he would do the recording later – and never did.  However, he recoded the birth of his first grandson in 1775.  Maybe there was a loose page that is missing today.

I have always taken a family Bible to be the best possible record, but this situation very clearly shows that cannot be presumed as fact.

We’re also assuming (how I hate that word) that all of Philip Jacob’s children were from one wife, Magdalena, his wife at his death. We are assuming that because we have nothing to indicate otherwise.

Her name may actually have been Magdalene or Magdalen, not Magdalena – although spelling at that time was not standardized and was very inconsistent.  I will always think of her as Magdalena – the name is beautiful and lyrical and just sort of rolls of your tongue.

In the following chart, I have summarized the children listed in Philip Jacob’s Bible, the 1799 agreement where his children (and spouses if female) agree how to divide his 2000 aces and the later distribution of that land by deed.

Child Bible Entry 1799 Agreement with Spouse Estate Distribution Property Deed
Elizabeth Miller April 1752 Jacob Shott ?
Lidia Miller June 18, 1754 Apparently deceased
Daniel Miller April 8, 1755 Daniel Miller to Daniel Eltzroth
David Miller December 1, 1757 Executor of estate ?
Susannah Miller March 2, 1759 Daniel Ullery Daniel and Susannah Ullery
Christina Miller December 4, 1761 Henry Snell Henry and Christina Snell
Mariles Miller 1762 Apparently deceased
Abraham Miller April 28, 1764 Executor of estate Abraham Miller to William Spence
Solomon Miller March 20, 1767 Apparently deceased
Ester Miller February 13,1769 Husband Gabriel Maugans Gabriel and Esther Morgan (Maugans
Magdalen Miller Missing (date April 25, 1770 from other sources) Daniel Cripe Took Cash
Mary Miller Missing but born circa 1770-1772 John Cramer John and Mary Creamer (Cramer)
Sarah Miller Missing, but before 1775 because she had “children” and was deceased in 1799 Andrew Nifong (Sarah is deceased) Andrew Nifong
Hannah Miller Missing but June 7, 1774 from other sources Arnold Snider Arnold and Hannah Snider
Estate to Jacob Wise and Jacob Creamer
Estate to Gabriel and Esther Morgan

It’s worth noting in the 1799 sibling agreement that the male Miller children can all sign their names and all of the female children sign with an “X,” so they cannot write.

Here’s what we do know about the children listed in the Bible and the estate records, all presumed to be Magdalena’s children.

1. Daughter Elizabeth Miller was born in April 1752 and married Jacob Shott, according to the way he signed his name on the sibling agreement. Elizabeth and Jacob both signed the sibling agreement in December 1799 relative to the estate of Philip Jacob Miller.  There is a Jacob Shutt and Elisabeth Miller marriage record in Washington County, Maryland on January 4, 1793 shown in “Maryland Marriages, 1655-1850,” although Elizabeth would have been 41 at this time, if it is the same Elizabeth Miller.

2. Son Daniel Miller was born April 8, 1755 and died August 26, 1822, as stated in Philip Jacob’s Bible, later owned by Daniel. Daniel married Elizabeth Ulrich, daughter of Stephen Ulrich Jr. and Elizabeth, surname unknown.

Daniel Miller’s grave stone is in Sugar Hill Cemetery in Preble County, Ohio, but I’ll be telling you “the rest of the story” in Daniel’s article, shortly.

Daniel Miller stone

Daniel had the following children as recorded in the Bible:

  • Stephen Miller born March 7, 1775, married first to Anna Barbara Coleman and second to Anna Lesh.
  • Jacob Miller born November 20, 1776, died October 20, 1858 in Montgomery County, Ohio and married Elizabeth Metzger about 1799 in Bedford County, PA.
  • Daniel Miller Jr. born March 30, 1779 in Washington County, PA, died June 25, 1812, as given in the Bible.
  • David Miller born July 30, 1781.
  • Samuel Miller born March 17, 1785, died November 27,1867 in Elkhart County, Indiana.
  • John Miller born December 15, 1787 in Bedford County, PA, died June 11, 1856 in Harrison Twp, Elkhart County, IN, married in 1807 to first cousin Esther Miller, daughter of David Miller and Magdalena Maugans. This is the John who obtained Philip Jacob’s Bible from his father’s estate.
  • Isaac Miller born December 8, 1789 in Bedford County, PA, died August 1822 in Ohio, married July 2, 1812 to Elizabeth Miller, his first cousin, daughter of David Miller and Magdalena Maugans.
  • Abraham Miller born March 16, 1794 in Bedford County, PA, died May 19, 1855 in Marshall County, Indiana, married in 1827 to Elizabeth Lasure in Montgomery County, Ohio.
  • Elizabeth Miller born April 2, 1796 in Bedford County, PA, died November 8, 1871 in Miami County, Ohio, married in 1815 in Montgomery County, Ohio to Johannes Boogher.

3. Son David Miller was born December 1, 1757 in Pennsylvania and died August 18, 1845 in Montgomery County, Ohio where he is buried on a cemetery on the land he owned.

David Miller stone

David married Magdalena Maugans about 1783, probably in Washington County, PA. It’s believed by some researchers that he was married previously as well.

  • David Miller Jr. born circa 1780 to David and the unknown first wife.
  • Michael Miller born May 10, 1784 in Washington County, MD, died December 18, 1856, Montgomery County, Ohio, married Salome (Sarah) Cramer first and second in 1837 to Elizabeth Brumbaugh.
  • Catherine Miller born circa 1791, died after 1860, married in 1811 to Abraham Overholser.
  • Esther Miller born May 30, 1787, died April 21, 1861 in Elkhart County, IN, married John Miller, her first cousin, son of Daniel Miller.
  • Elizabeth Miller born 1793 in Bedford County, PA, died April 4, 1865 in Johnson County, Iowa, married July 2, 1812 to Isaac Miller, her first cousin, son of Daniel Miller.
  • Jacob Miller born March 17, 1796 in Kentucky, died October 8, 1861, married Mary Michael in 1816 and second to Mary Rohrer after 1842.
  • Nancy Miller born in 1800, died in 1823, married in 1818 to Joseph Martin who married her sister Susannah after Nancy’s death.
  • Susannah Miller born circa 1800, died circa 1851, married July 5, 1823 to Joseph Martin, her sister’s widower.
  • Lydia Miller married David Shively.

4. Daughter Susannah Miller, probably named for her grandmother, Susannah Berchtol Miller, was born March 2, 1759 and died before January 2, 1826. She married Daniel Ulrey, probably around 1790, the son of Stephen Ulrey and Christine Kunkle, and he died in Warren County, Ohio in June of 1823.  Their children are identified through deeds and marriage records.

  • John Ulrey died April 15, 1844 in Shelby County, Indiana, married in 1812 in Warren County to Jane Drake.
  • David Ulrey born about 1794 in Kentucky died July 9, 1879 in Rising Sun, Ohio County, Indiana. He married Phebe Post in 1816 in Warren County, Ohio.
  • Joanna Ulrey born Nov. 22, 1798 in Ohio, died March 27, 1875 in Hamilton County, Ohio, married David Buxton.
  • Sarah Ulrey born September 19, 1799 in Ohio, died November 15, 1883 in Davis County, Iowa, married David Hutchison in 1816 in Warren County, Ohio. He drown in the Ohio River in 1824 and she married a second time in 1836 to James Keith Sleeth in Shelby County, Indiana.
  • Jacob Ulrey died around 1840 in Shelby County, Indiana. He may have married Mary Shaver in 1818 in Warren County, but he did marry in 1825 to Phebe Pope.
  • Elizabeth Ulrey born May 6, 1803 in Ohio, died August 13, 1884 in Cass County, Indiana, married in 1822 in Warren County, Ohio to Israel Phillips.
  • Rhoda Ulrey died prior to 1850, married in 1818 in Warren County, Ohio to Daniel Babb. In 1850 he has remarried and is living in Shelby County, Indiana.
  • Hannah Ulrey born 1799-1803, married Benjamin Cripe, her first cousin.
  • Margaret Ulrey born about 1804 in Ohio, died between 1860-1870 in Shelby County, Indiana, married in 1818 in Warren County, Ohio to John S. Pope.
  • Susanna Ulrey, signed a deed in 1826, unmarried.
  • Daniel Ulrey Jr., signed a deed in 1827, single.
  • Isaac Ulrey married in 1829 in Warren County, Ohio to Rebecca Foster.

5. Daughter Christina Miller was born December 4, 1761 and died on March 7, 1815 in Warren County, Ohio. She married Johannes Heinrich Snell who inherited his parent’s farm near Hagerstown which he sold on December 5, 1796 before moving with Philip Jacob Miller to Kentucky, so they must have been close to her parents.  Henry remarried after Christina’s death to Permelia Aikens.  Christina’s children were:

  • Catherine Snell born March 4, 1781, Washington County, MD, died after 1850, married in 1803 in Fleming County, KY to Joseph Ford.
  • John Snell born January 7, 1782 in Washington County, MD, died 1840-1845 in St. Clair Co., MO, married in 1807 in Warren Co., Ohio to Mary Shively and second in 1829 to Margaret Wintermute in Darke County, Ohio.
  • Jacob Snell born December 6, 1783 and before 1832. He married in 1806 in Fleming Co., KY to Christiana Myers.
  • Adam R. Snell born July 21, 1786 in Washington County, MD, died in 1861 in Stark County, Illinois and married his first cousin, Susannah Creamer , daughter of John Creamer (Cramer) Sr. and Mary Miller.
  • Daniel Snell born March 22, 1788 in Washington County, MD and died November 18, 1869 in Warren County, Ohio, married in 1812 to Sarah Peckinpaugh.
  • George Snell born Mary 4, 1790 in Washington County, MD, died 1850-1860 in Montgomery County, Ohio, married in 1813 in Warren County, Ohio to Catharine Swank.
  • Henry Snell born April 12, 1792 in Washington County, MD, died September 28, 1876 in Warren County, Ohio, married in 1819 to Mary Runyan.
  • Elizabeth Snell born October 28, 1797 in Kentucky, married in 1818 in Warren County, Ohio to Levi Collins.
  • Samuel Snell born February 28, 1800 in Kentucky, married in 1818 in Warren County to Rachel Collins.
  • William Snell born November 5, 1801 in Kentucky, died July 29, 1886 in Warren County, Ohio, married in 1822 to Anna Cramer and second in 1863 to Christinia Tiger.
  • Sarah “Sally” Snell born March 17, 1803 in Kentucky, died March 17, 1829 in Warren County, Ohio, married in 1818 in Warren County to Peter Smith.

6. Daughter Mary married John Creamer.  Their children were born beginning in 1793 and continued to about 1812.  If Mary was daughter Mariles who was born in 1762, that means that she had her last child at age 50.  Possible, but not likely.  I suspect that Mary is not Mariles and Mary’s birth was not recorded in the Bible.  Mary’s children were:

  • Susannah Creamer born June 23, 1793, Washington County, Maryland and died March 11, 1872 in Stark County, Illinois, married in 1811 to Adam R. Snell, her first cousin, son of Henry Snell and Christine Miller.
  • Mary Creamer born about 1795 in Washington County, MD, died sometime after 1880 when they were living in Brown County, Ohio, and married John Morgan (Maugans), her first cousin in 1816 in Warren County. John was the son of Esther Miller and Gabriel Maugans.  The surname was Morgan from this generation forward.
  • Catherine Creamer was born December 23, 1798, died December 9, 1835 and married in 1819 in Warren County to John Fulks.
  • Elizabeth Creamer was born May 29, 1800 in Kentucky, died July 31, 1831 in Warren County, Ohio, and married her first cousin, Felix Morgan (Maugans) in 1812 in Warren County. He was the son of Esther Miller and Gabriel Maugans. The surname was Morgan from this generation forward.
  • John Creamer, Jr. was born in 1802 in Ohio, married in 1831 in Warren County, Ohio to Mary Jane Burger and again in 1843 to Jane Irwin.
  • Hannah Creamer born in 1804 in Ohio married John McMullen in 1834 in Warren County, Ohio. She died after 1880, probably in Brown County, Ohio where they were found in the 1880 census.
  • Daniel Creamer born about 1805 in Warren County, Ohio married in 1832 in Warren County to Rebeca McMullen.
  • Sarah Creamer was born in 1806 in Warren County Ohio and apparently never married as she was listed in the 1880 census, living near her sisters Nancy and Esther.
  • Nancy Creamer born June 11, 1808 in Warren County, Ohio, died September 18, 1883 in Warren County.
  • David Creamer born May 27, 1810 in Warren County, Ohio and died on October 7, 1872 in the same place. He never married.
  • Esther Creamer was born about 1812 in Warren County. She too was single and shared a home with her sister Nancy in 1880.

7. Son Abraham Miller was born April 28, 1764, according to the Bible, and died April 29, 1859 in Hamilton County, Ohio. Some reported that he died on his 95th birthday.  He married Catherine Maugans, daughter of Conrad and Rebecca Maugans about 1786, according to “The Gospel Visitor” published in April of 1860, page 128.  Unfortunately, Abraham did not have a detailed will, even though he was 95 when he died, but a simple directive given as a nuncupative will just before his death where he leaves everything to his wife and then to be divided according to law.

  • Abraham’s children are difficult to identify, but there appear to be 12. You can view an attempted list here.

8. Daughter Esther Miller was born February 13, 1769, according to the Bible, and married Gabriel Maugans sometime around 1788. Gabriel was the son of Conrad and Rebecca Maugans.  Gabriel died in 1815 in Warren County, Ohio, leaving several minor children.  An E. Morgan is listed in Hamilton Township of Warren County in 1830, with the proper number of children and ages, but I cannot find her in 1840.

  • Jacob Maugans married Mary. Interestingly, in the 1830 census, Jacob had 3 “deaf and dumb” individuals living in his household.
  • Daniel Maugans known as Morgan married Mary Ann Harkrader in 1821 in Warren County, Ohio and died in Darke County, Ohio December 19, 1835.
  • Esther Maugans married Daniel Swank in 1814 in Warren County, Ohio and died in October 1832 in the same location.
  • Elizabeth Maugans was born November 7, 1794 in Bedford County, PA and died January 12, 1863 in Clinton County, Ohio. She married in 1814 in Warren County, Ohio to Frederick Pobst.
  • John Maugans known as Morgan born about 1796 in Bedford County, PA died June 24, 1886 in Clermont County, Ohio. He married his first cousin, Mary “Polly” Creamer in 1816 in Warren County, daughter of John Creamer and Mary Miller. In 1880 they are found in the census in Brown County, Ohio.
  • Abraham Maugans known as Morgan, born August 9, 1798 in Bedford County, PA and died June 24, 1886 in Clermont County, Ohio. He married Nancy Evans.
  • Felix Maugans known as Morgan was born about 179 in Bedford County, PA and died between 1860-1870 in Warren County Ohio. He married his first cousin, Elizabeth Cramer in 1820 in Warren County, the daughter of John Creamer and Mary Miller.
  • David Maugans known as Morgan was born about 1801.
  • Joseph Maugans known as Morgan was born about 1804 and married in 1824 to Mary Ann Miller.

9. Daughter Magdalena was born April 25, 1770, married Daniel Cripe (son of Jacob Cripe Jr. and Barbara Shideler) about 1796 and died in Elkhart County, Indiana on May 25, 1842, according to the stones on FindaGrave. Daniel and Magdalena were among the first to move to Montgomery County, Ohio, near Dayton in May of 1807, and then were among the first to move on to Goshen, Indiana, in Elkhart County, in 1829.  Magdalena was originally buried in the Dierdorff Cemetery but in 1961 Magdalena’s and Daniel’s remains were moved to the West Goshen Cemetery, but the original headstones were preserved flat in front of new stones.

Magdalena Cripe stone

Submitted by Melanie Wheeler Popple

Magdalena Cripe original stones

Madgalena had the following children:

  • Mary Cripe born January 8, 1797 in Campbell County, KY, died April 11, 1868 in Elkhart County, IN and married June 17, 1821 in Montgomery County, Ohio to John B. Pippinger.
  • Samuel Cripe born Oct. 16, 1799 in Campbell County, KY and died June 22, 1862 in Elkhart County, Indiana. Married first to Esther Cripe, daughter of Jacob Cripe Jr. and Magdalena Bostetter.
  • Benjamin Cripe born August 6, 1801 in either Clermont of Hamilton County, Ohio and died November 9, 1955 in Elkhart County, Indiana. He married Hannah Ulrich, daughter of Daniel Ulrich Jr. and Susannah Miller. Susanna Miller was Magdalena Miller’s sister, so Benjamin and Hannah were first cousins.
  • John Cripe born October 11, 1802 in either Clermont or Hamilton County, Ohio, died November 4, 1886 in Elkhart County, Indiana, married Dec. 8, 1822 to Mary Cripe, daughter of Jacob Cripe Jr. and Magdalena Bostetter.
  • Daniel Cripe Jr. born May 29, 1805 in Montgomery County, Ohio and died Dec. 17, 1885 in Elkhart County. Married to Sarah Ulrich, daughter of Daniel Ulrich Jr. and Susannah Miller. Sarah died on November 26, 1868 in Elkhart County. Daniel and Sarah were first cousins.
  • Emanuel F. Cripe born October 7, 1806 in Montgomery County, Ohio and died June 11, 1893 in Elkhart County, Indiana. Married to Catherine Mikesell, daughter of Joseph Mikesell and Catherine Cripe in 1827 in Montgomery County, Ohio.
  • Elizabeth Cripe born 1808 in Montgomery County, Onio and died February 8, 1841 in Elkhart County, Indiana, married in about 1825 to Christian Stouder.
  • Susannah Cripe born Feb. 5, 1810 in Montgomery County, Ohio and died Feb. 3, 1876 in Elkhart County IN. Married to Joseph Stouder in 1827 in Montgomery County, Ohio. Married second to John Baker in Dec. 23, 1845 in Elkhart County.
  • Catharine Cripe born May 6, 1812 in Montgomery County, Ohio, died January 13, 1888 in Noedesha, Kansas and married in 1827 to David Mikesell, son of Joseph Mikesell and Catharine Cripe in Montgomery County, Ohio.

10. Daughter Sarah Miller is missing from the Bible, but married Henry Nyphong and died before the 1799 sibling agreement. The executors sign for the “children of Sarah Miller,” so we know she had children, we just don’t know how many, who they were or where they lived.  Henry Nifong did take the land in Warren County.  In the 1820 census, there is an Andrew Nifong in Clermont County, Ohio with one male age 26-44.  What happened to her children?  Are they grown, living elsewhere or did they die?

11. Daughter Hannah Miller was born June 7, 1774 in Frederick County, MD and died August 22, 1840 in Warren County, Ohio. She married Arnold Snider who died in 1813 at Fort Meigs, Ohio and married secondly to Samuel Shepley in 1815 in Warren County.  Hannah is buried in the Murdoch Cemetery in Warren County.

Hannah Shepley stone

Given that Arnold enlisted as a volunteer in the War of 1812, he was not likely Brethren. Hannah’s children are:

  • Jacob Snider born 1796 in Kentucky, probably married in 1834 in Warren County, Ohio to Catharine Roate.
  • Susannah Snider born November 28, 1798 in Kentucky, died January 1, 1841 in Auglaize County, Ohio and married in 1817 in Warren County, Ohio to James Hill Coleman.
  • Daniel Snider born December 9, 1800 and died January 23, 1889 in Brown County, Ohio. He married Susannah Bickmore.
  • Abraham Snider born August 10, 1802 in Warren County, Ohio and died August 27, 1849 in Clermont County, Ohio. He married in 1825 in Clermont County to Elizabeth Myers.
  • John Snider married Mary.
  • Mary Snider born in 1805 in Warren County, Ohio, died on December 30, 1849, married in 1822 in Warren County to Jacob Myers Jr.
  • Elizabeth Snider born June 5, 1808 in Warren County, died April 19, 1874 in Warren County and married there in 1826 to Benjamin Eltzroth.
  • Esther Snider born in 1810 in Warren County and married there in 1826 to Solomon Beach.
  • David Snider born December 9, 1811 in Warren County, Ohio and died May 5, 1841 in Clermont Count, Ohio. He married in 1833 in Clermont County to Sarah Wilson.
  • William Snider born October 23, 1812 in Warren County, Ohio and died October 25, 1869 in Clermont County. He married Elizabeth.
  • Hannah Shepley born October 11, 1816 in Warren County, Ohio, died June 18, 1849 in the same location. She married in Warren County in 1840 to Daniel Eltzroth, son of Jonas Eltzroth and Catherine Morgan.

Magdalena’s DNA

Magdalena Miller gave her mitochondrial DNA to all of her children, but only female children pass it on to their offspring. By looking at her mitochondrial DNA, we may be able to connect her to her family of origin, but even if we can’t do that, we can learn about her deeper ancestry. One thing I’d love to know is if her line has either French or German matches.  There’s a very big hint right there relative to the surname Rochette.

In order to find Magdalena’s mitochondrial DNA, we need to test someone, male or female, that descends from Magdalena through all females to the current generation, where the tester can be either male or female.

All of the grandchildren bolded above are females who married, so presumable had children themselves. If you descend from Magdalena through all females and have DNA tested, please, please let me know.  If you descend from Magdalena through all females and have not yet DNA tested, I have a DNA scholarship for the first person who can prove that descent genealogically and contacts me.

Here’s a list of the 25 grandchildren whose descendants may qualify if descended through all females, with their husband in parenthesis.

  1. Joanna Ulrey (David Buxton)
  2. Sarah Ulrey (David Hutchinson and James Keith Sleeth)
  3. Elizabeth Ulrey (Israel Phillips)
  4. Rhoda Ulrey (Daniel Babb)
  5. Margaret Ulrey (John Pope)
  6. Hannah Ulrey (Benjamin Cripe)
  7. Catherine Snell (Joseph Ford)
  8. Elizabeth Snell (Levi Collins)
  9. Sarah “Sally” Snell (Peter Smith)
  10. Susannah Snider (James Hill Coleman)
  11. Mary Snider (Jacob Myers Jr.)
  12. Elizabeth Snider (Benjamin Eltzroth)
  13. Esther Snider (Solomon Beach)
  14. Hannah Shepley (Daniel Eltzroth)
  15. Susannah Creamer (Adam Snell)
  16. Mary Creamer (John Morgan previously Maugans)
  17. Catherine Creamer (John Fulks)
  18. Elizabeth Creamer (Feliz Morgan previously Maugans)
  19. Hannah Creamer (John McMullan)
  20. Esther Maugans (Daniel Swank)
  21. Elizabeth Maugans (Frederick Pobst)
  22. Mary Cripe (John Pippinger)
  23. Elizabeth Cripe (Christian Stouder)
  24. Susannah Cripe (Joseph Stouder and John Baker)
  25. Catherine Cripe (David Mikesell)

Surely with this many candidates, there has to be someone out there who has tested or is available to test! Is that person you?  Do you carry Magdalena’s mitochondrial DNA?

The Life and Times of Magdalena Miller

If all of these combined resources are accurate, Magdalena had a total of 14 children, that we know of, plus any that were stillborn or died young and not recorded in the Bible, for whatever reason. There is a 3 year gap between children between 1764 and 1767 that look suspiciously like they lost a baby.

We know that Lidia, Mariles and Solomon never grew to adulthood. Did they die as infants, young children, or maybe in Indian raids?  Did Lidia and Mariles marry and succumb during childbirth perhaps?  How long did Magdalena get to know and love those children before they passed from this life.

We know that the Miller family had to evacuate in 1755, a year after Lidia was born and the again when Mariles was born in 1762. Did the difficult times contribute to their deaths, or, God forbid, were they lost in the warfare?  The gap in children between 1764 and 1767 may also reflect another uncounted casualty.

Solomon was born in 1767, after the family returned to the homestead, so things were quieter. Solomon is likely buried in the now-lost Miller Cemetery on Ash Swamp in Maryland.  Lidia and Mariles may have been buried near wherever they died, if the family was evacuated.  Were they buried someplace beside the wagon trail? I suspect many bodies line those early roads, marked with nothing except loose soil and perhaps a makeshift cross of twigs lashed together.

If Magdalena had to lose children, I only pray that she got to bury them in a respectful way in a place where she could at least visit their graves.

In addition to the children who died young, Magdalena’s daughter Sarah died after marrying, leaving children. Was Magdalena involved in the raising of those children, perhaps?

When Philip Jacob and Magdalena made the decision to remove from Maryland to Kentucky, at least three of their children were living in Bedford County, PA – David Miller, Daniel Miller and Esther Maugans. The rest most likely accompanied their parents from Maryland.  One couple, Christine and Henry Snell sold a farm in Maryland to join the wagon train.

While the trip initially sounds lonely, I don’t think it was. If they stopped to “pick up” the Bedford County families on the way, that means that a total of 11 families traveled together.  We don’t know when daughter Sarah Nifong died, other than before December of 1799, but we do know that her husband took his share of the Warren County land, so he was very likely living there with the rest of the family.

Magdalena had a total of at least 97 grandchildren. I said “at least 97” because some are uncertain and assuredly some are unknown, especially babies who died young.  Magdalena assuredly stood graveside while her grandchildren were buried, weeping with and for her children.  A grandmother’s heart is twice broken, once for the grandchild that died, and once for the pain of her child that she can’t salve.

Before they left for Kentucky, arriving in 1796, Magdalena had a total of 34 grandchildren….and those are the ones we know about. Her first grandchild was born in March 1775 to son Daniel.  Magdalena had just had her own final child in June of 1774, exactly 9 months earlier, so the generations formed a continuum, with one blending into the next.

That wagon train in 1796 would have included those 34 grandchildren ranging in age from newborn to about 20 years old.

These children born so closely together in 1774 and 1775 could have grown up as siblings were it not for the fact that Magdalena’s two oldest children, Daniel and David, removed to Bedford County about 1778 – taking their children, and at that time, all of Magdalena’s grandchildren, with them.

Daniel and David may have returned to Washington County, Maryland around 1782 for a reprieve from Indian problems, but returned to Bedford County, PA as soon as possible. In essence, Daniel and David didn’t see much of their parents – nor did Magdalena see much if any of her grandchildren from Bedford County until they moved to Kentucky in 1795 or 1796.  By that time, many of those grandchildren were grown or quickly approaching that age.  In fact, her great-grandchildren probably started being born around this time too.

By 1799, when Philip Jacob died, Magdalena had about 30 MORE grandchildren, for a total of 75 or so. We know Magdalena died sometime between 1800 and 1808 and by 1808, there were another 15 grandchildren – for a total of about 90 that she knew.  An additional 8 were born after her death.

It’s impossible for me to fathom 97 grandchildren, many of about the same age. How could you even tell them apart or remember their names?  Maybe you just claimed “old age” and didn’t even try!  Of course, you could always say grandmotherly things like, “Oh goodness, you’ve grown so much and become such a big girl that I didn’t recognize you.”

But one thing is for sure. As I ponder Magdalena, the widow, I really don’t have to think about her living alone, or being lonely – because I suspect that if she were alone, it was because she wanted to and chose to be.  Some days, maybe she craved time alone to cherish the silence.  Maybe she rode that horse with the side-saddle or walked in the woods for solitude.  Magdalena probably lived with a family member, most likely one of her children, in a bustling household with cousins and siblings and neighbors in and out all the time.  A constant beehive of activity.  Indeed, life was good, surrounded by family, on this, the final frontier.

As far as Magdalena was concerned, the late-in-life move to Kentucky, even though it meant leaving behind everything familiar, was probably well worthwhile.  It reunited her family on the frontier of opportunity – a gift, the benefits of which lasted many generations into posterity and assuredly changed the life and future of every child and grandchild who rode that wagon train to Kentucky.

Magdalena’s move and the sacrifices she made were truly one very classy and generous “last act” that defined her legacy.  Many of us would never have found ourselves born in Indiana or Ohio were it not for Magdalena’s move to Kentucky.  Thank you Magdalena!

References and Acknowledgements

Lots of researchers have written about and compiled information about the Miller family, and I have drawn liberally from their work. Suffice it to say that they don’t all agree – and in fact some contradict each other. So I’ve gone through each and compiled the information I found credible by evaluating the sources, where possible.  Where doubt remains or work needs to be done, I have said so.

Replogle – “Ancestors on the Frontier: Miller, Cripe, Ulrich, Replogle, Shively, Metzger” by Justin Replogle, self-published in 1998

Mason – “The Michael Miller and Susanna Bechtol Family Record” compiled in 1993 by Floyd R. and Catherine Mason, now deceased

Miller – “A History and Genealogy of David Y. Miller 1809-1898” by Gene Edwin Miller, self-published

Goss, Troy – The Miller Family History

Stutesman – “Jacob Stutzman (?-1775); His Children and Grandchildren” by John Hale Stutesman, Jr.

Tom and Kathleen Miller’s Johann Michael Miller Family History

I want to offer a special thank you to Reverend Merle Rummel for his numerous and ongoing contributions, not just to me personally, and there have been many, but to the Brethren research community at large. His insight and knowledge of the Brethren history and families is one of a kind.  He is a living tribute to the spirit of our ancestors.

Katey Sagal – Who Do You Think You Are – “A PeaceMonger”

Katey Sagal joins TLC this Sunday evening, April 17, at 9/8c for an extremely interesting episode featuring the unique history of the pietist religions on the colonial frontier in Pennsylvania – in this case, the Amish.

You’ve probably figure out by now that I have a media relationship with TLC for these episodes, which means that I get to preview them in advance so that I have the opportunity to write about them, if I choose to do so.

I watched this episode twice. It’s the only episode I’ve ever watched more than once, but then again, it turns out there is a personal reason.  I’m not going to share that with you just yet, but I will be writing about it and utilizing DNA results to prove or disprove….no…..I can’t say more. You’ll have to watch the episode and then read my follow-up article in a few days!

Katey Sagal was born and raised in Los Angeles, California, the daughter of show business veterans: director Boris Sagal and child radio star, Sara Zwilling.

Losing both of her parents in her mid-twenties, Katey feels that she has no family to ask questions of. She would like to know about her mom’s time performing with the USO, and fill in the blanks on her mother’s paternal line, since she knows nothing beyond her grandfather, Daniel Zwilling.

Katey starts her journey in New York City, where her mom lived when she joined the USO. Katey meets with a military historian, who she hopes can shed some light on her mother’s experience with the USO during WWII. A 1944 newspaper article shows Katey’s mom, under the stage name Sara Macon, as a singer for a USO camp show called “Smooth Sailing,” which performed for wounded soldiers as part of the hospital circuit.

Katey Sagal Mom article

She discovers guidelines her mother had to follow at the hospitals, including:

“Do not mention anything about their wounds, sickness or condition, nor notice that they have lost a limb.”

Katey reacts to what her mom was exposed to at the young age of 18 and wonders more about her experience with the USO. She heads off to meet an actual member of the USO who was performing at the same time as Katey’s mother.

Katey Sagal Mom group

Katey sits down with Hilda “Tinker” Rautenberg, an absolutely lovely lady, and discovers that Tinker actually performed with her mother. Katey is overcome with emotion as she looks at old photos of her mom that she’s never seen before, and is touched to hear personal stories and meet someone who actually knew her.

I cannot tell you how profoundly I related to this. My mother was also a performer during this same timeframe, and several years ago when I was speaking (yes, about DNA) in Fort Wayne, Indiana, a lady approached me afterwards and told me that my mother was her dance instructor.  She had recognized my mother’s pictures from the mitochondrial portion of the presentation.  We had a lovely, albeit very emotional visit.  At least, it was emotional for me.  She shared heart-warming stories with me about my mother as a young woman and professional dancer that I had never heard before.

Armed with a sense of her mom’s early life touring and with a better understanding of the source of her mother’s life-long anti-war sentiments, Katey hopes to push further back on her line genealogically, starting with her mother’s father, Daniel Zwilling.

Katey asks a genealogist for help in researching her family and discovers that her 2 times great-grandfather Abraham Miller paid $300 to have someone else fight in the Civil War in his place. She finds he was buried in a cemetery in Iowa for Dunkards (Brethren), which is a pacifist religion similar to the Amish, and heads to Pennsylvania to investigate her ancestor’s family and faith.

In Pennsylvania, Katey finds that, in fact, generations of her family were peacemongers, and that she is connected to two well-known Amish families stretching back to early America.

She uncovers the harrowing story of her Amish 7 times great-grandfather Jacob Hochstetler, whose family was caught up in the tensions between Native Americans and the colony’s settlers. Katey learns that while under attack by the Native Americans, Jacob held true to his religious beliefs and refused to bear arms against his assailants; but his wife and two children were killed, and he and two other children were taken captive. This event became known as the Hochstetler Massacre.

Personal accounts reveal Jacob’s daring escape, and Katey discovers that both sons were adopted into Indian tribes and treated like family. Years later, the sons struggled to return to their old family and way of life. Katey finds that her ancestor’s brave and moving story has left such a mark on Amish history that it is written about in Amish schoolbooks.

Katey heads to her ancestors’ former homestead for a moment to reflect on Jacob and her family’s inspiring story.

When you watch Katey’s episode, make note of the Miller-Stutzman marriage and join me in a few days for “the rest of the story” and what DNA can do for you!


You want a hint?

Hmmm…if you read this article in my 52 Ancestors series, you’ll find both surnames…but that’s all I’m divulging for now.  Stay tuned!