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



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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.



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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



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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.



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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.



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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!



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Concepts – Y DNA Matching and Connecting with your Paternal Ancestor

Recently, I received a question about exactly how and why we can use Y DNA to identify or connect with a patrilineal ancestor.

“I do not quite understand how the profiles can be identified specifically to an ancestor since that person is not among us to provide DNA material for “testing” and comparison.”

That’s a great question.

Let’s look at the answer in steps.

Males Inherit the Y Chromosome from Dad

First and foremost, and the most important part of using the Y chromosome for genetic genealogy is understanding that the Y chromosome is passed from father to son without any DNA being incorporated from the mother. So, in essence, the Y chromosome is passed intact.

In most western cultures, the surname is passed utilizing the same inheritance path, so the Y DNA and the surname are passed along together – hence Y DNA projects are often called surname projects. If the Y DNA is passed from father to son, without any unexpected nonpaternal events or adoptions in the mix, then the surname and the Y DNA will match since the advent of surnames in the culture where the original ancestor that adopted that surname was born.

Let’s look at England for example. Often people there adopted surnames after the Norman invasion (1066) and by the 1200s, most people had surnames.  Of course, there weren’t a lot of records for normal working-class people at that time, but by the time church and parish records started to be more reliably kept, in the 1580s, give or take, surnames were well established and everyone had one.  John who lived on the green was now John Green and John who lived by the brook was now John Brook.  Their sons took their surnames upon birth in a traditional marital relationship.

Y and mito

Therefore, the Y chromosome is passed from male to male, father to son, forever, illustrated by the blue squares in the pedigree chart above…with the Y DNA almost entirely intact.

Mutations Happen – Whenever

Did you catch that word, “almost?”

Yea, it’s a “gotcha” word, but it’s also why genetic genealogy works. If it weren’t for occasional mutations, all of the Y DNA would be exactly the same, and not at all useful for genealogy.  Thankfully, that’s not the case.

From time to time, a mutation occurs as the DNA is passed from father to son.  We see the results of this inheritance and mutation pattern in the DNA markers we test for genetic genealogy.

The markers we typically use for genetic genealogy are called STR, Short Tandem Repeat, markers. They are the 12 marker, 25, 37, 67 and 111 marker panels tested by Family Tree DNA.

These types of markers mutate more rapidly than the other type of Y DNA markers typically used to determine haplogroups, known as SNPs, Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms.

STRs and SNPs

There are two primary differences between STRs and SNPS relative to genealogy.

The first difference is that STR mutations are what I call stutter or repeat mutations. Think of a copy machine that got stuck.  Let’s say your DNA at a location, meaning at a specific marker, looks like this: “TAGA.”  However, when the copying of that DNA for the next generation was done, 20 or 30 or 40 generations ago, long ago in a faraway place, the copy mechanism got stuck and now you have 5 “TAGA”s in a row, so “TAGATAGATAGATAGATAGA.”  Now you have a value of 5 instead of a value of 1 in that marker location.

SNP mutations, on the other hand, occur at one location and are defined by one of the nucleotides, T, A, C or G that live in that location getting swapped for a different nucleotide. So, now, at that particular address, T becomes C.  That’s a single nucleotide polymorphism and those changes are how haplogroups and their branches are formed.  If you are interested, you can read more about haplogroups and how they are born here.

In addition to switches between nucleotides, you can also have insertions of DNA and deletions of all DNA where the value becomes 0, but for now, let’s leave it at STRs and SNPs. I wrote a detailed article about SNPs and STRs here.

Oh yes, and as one final bad joke, the mutations, occasionally, revert back – that’s called a back mutation. I know, it’s a really bad joke, meant, I’m sure to confound genetic genealogists.  And the only way you’re ever going to discover a back mutation is through known genealogy when you see it occur in a line.  Just remember, mutations can happen anytime they want to – on any marker – in either direction – and sometimes in increments of more than 1.  So, a marker value can go from 10 to 12 in one event, for example.

Some STR markers are more prone to mutations than others, and those are known as slow or fast moving markers.

STR fast and slow

The project pages color code each marker in the column header as to its known characteristics relative to mutation speed.

STR color legend

The legend above, from the Family Tree DNA Learning Center provides the color coding for the column header values.  Fast in any group = red.

The second difference between STRs and SNPs is that STR mutations happen more frequently than SNP mutations, making them useful in a genealogically relevant timeframe, where SNPs happen much less frequently, and are therefore utilized to determine and identify haplogroups and haplogroup branches, meaning deeper genealogy, generally before the adoption of surnames.

Having just said that, the timeframe of SNPs and STRs is beginning to overlap, but STRs are still the gold standard of genealogy testing to compare men born within the past few hundred years, especially with a common surname.

In genealogy testing, you always start with STR testing and then progress to SNP testing, if you wish.

Marker Comparisons

So, let’s take a look at how STR marker comparisons work in a hypothetical example.

Let’s say, for example, that we have 6 sons of Abraham Estes who died in 1712. Descendants of those sons have tested their Y DNA and sure enough, they have some mutation differences between them.  This would be expected in the 7-9 generations between when Abraham lived and the current generation testing.

Let’s say that all 6 of Abraham’s sons matched his STR markers exactly back then, but in the 7-9 generations between Abraham and the present day testers, one mutation has occurred in each of 4 lines on a different marker. Two of his son’s lines have not had any mutations at all.

Of course, we don’t know this before we evaluate the DNA. It’s the marker values themselves that will inform us about Abraham’s DNA.

STR mismatch example

In our example, Abraham’s six sons’ lines tested, as shown above. All of their markers match each other, except one marker in each of 4 mens’ tests, highlighted in yellow above.

How do we know those are mutations? Because the majority of the results from the other sons lines are all the same.  Therefore, we can utilize the DNA of the 6 different son’s lines to determine the DNA of Abraham at each one of those different marker locations.  So, let’s reconstruct Abraham’s values for these markers.  Isn’t this fun!!!

STR Abraham reconstruction

The green row at the bottom is reconstructed Abraham. We know the value of each marker based on the common values of his sons’ lines.  The only place the sons and their descendants could have gotten that DNA was from Abraham, the common ancestor of all of these 6 men.

So, with marker 393, all 6 sons lines have a value of 13, so Abraham had to have a value of 13 as well.

On marker 19 (394), all the different sons lines, except one, Elisha, had a value of 14, so Abraham’s value was 14 and Elisha’s line in a generation someplace between Abraham and the current tester has developed the mutated value of 13.

Line Marker Mutations

It’s possible that some of these markers are known as or can function as “line marker” mutations – identifying specific son’s lines. Let’s say, for example, that a mutation occurred between Abraham and Moses at location 426 such that Moses has a value of 11.  That means that every one of Moses’s sons would have had a value of 11 at 426, as opposed to the value of 12 present in Abraham’s other sons at that marker.  Therefore, if someone tests who doesn’t know which of Abraham’s son they descend from, and they have a value of 11 at 426, I’d start by looking at Moses.  That isn’t to say that same mutation couldn’t have happened in another line too, but Moses is still a good place to begin since we know his line has 11 at 426.

Of course the only way to learn that information about Moses, positively, is to find men who descend from each of his sons and recreate Moses in the same way we recreated Abraham.

What About False Paternity?

Let’s say that an Estes male who had an undocumented adoption occur 3 or 4 generations upstream in his Estes line tests – and he is entirely unaware that an “adoption” happened. I define an undocumented adoption in this context, also known as a nonpaternal event (NPE) or false paternity, as any event that causes the surname of record to be different than the biological surname.  The biological surname is that of the man who contributed the Y DNA.  These events, although often thought of negatively are sometimes very positive and loving – such as adoption.  Of course, some are less positive, but one can’t assume in either direction without evidence.  In my experience the most common historical reasons for a mismatch between surname and biology is that a child took his step-father’s surname or that the child was born out of wedlock and took their mother’s surname.

Reasons for a mismatch between surname and biological paternal lineage can be:

  • Adoption (contemporary or historical)
  • Sperm donor
  • Stepson taking step-father’s surname
  • Mother pregnant outside wedlock and child takes mother’s surname
  • Name change
  • Accepted multiple intimate partners (think wife-swapping or polygamy)
  • Culturally ignored multiple intimate partners (think slavery)
  • Infidelity
  • Rape

Let’s say in our example that our tester’s ancestor was born to an Estes female out of wedlock.  The illegitimate child took the mother’s Estes surname – but carries the Y chromosome of his father whose surname is not Estes. Today, several generations later, the tester carries the Estes surname handed down to him through several generations of Estes males, so his presumption, of course, is that he also carries the ancestral Estes Y DNA.  But he, ahem, doesn’t.

His test results come back and the first clue is, of course, that he doesn’t match any Estes men on his results page. He reaches out to me as the Estes project administrator, and I compare his results with Abraham to see how distant his results really are.  And the answer is….drum roll…pretty darned distant.  His results are shown in the row below green Abraham.

STR false paternity

As you can see, when compared to reconstructed Abraham, it’s quite obvious that the new Estes tester is biologically not an Estes on his Y DNA. In fact, he has a genetic distance of 7 out of 12 markers, so very clearly not a match.

How Many Mutations Is Too Many?

Family Tree DNA has set up Y DNA matching thresholds at levels that include relevant matches and exclude non-genealogically relevant matches.  For someone to be listed as your match, they need to have no more than the following total number of mutations difference from your results on any given panel.STR Match mutations

Depending on where your mutations fall, in which panels, you can have too many mutations to match at 25 markers, for example, but match at 37 or 67 because more mutations are allowed, and your mutations just happened to fall in the first panel or two.

The number of mutations allowed is the same as genetic distance.

What is Genetic Distance?

You’ll notice on the Y DNA matches page that the first column says “Genetic Distance.”

STR genetic distance

Many people mistakenly assume that this is the number of generations to a common ancestor, but that is NOT AT ALL what genetic distance means.

Genetic distance is how many mutations difference the participant (you) has with that particular match. In other words, how many mismatches in your DNA compared with that person’s DNA.  Looking at the example above, if this is your personal page, then you mismatch with Howard once, and Sam twice, etc.

Counting Genetic Distance

Genetic distance, however, can be counted in different ways, and Family Tree DNA utilizes a combination of two scientific methods to provide the most accurate results. Let’s look at an example.

In the methodology known as the Step-Wise Mutation Model, each difference is counted as 1 step, because the mutation that caused the difference happened in one mutation event.

STR genetic distance calc

So, if marker 393 has mutated from 12 to 13, the difference is 1, so there is one difference and if that is the only mutation between these two men, the total genetic distance would be 1.

However, if marker 390 mutated from 24 to 26, the difference is 2, because those mutations most likely occurred in two different steps – in other words marker 390 had a mutation two different times, perhaps once in each man’s line.  Therefore, the total genetic distance for these two men, combining both markers and with all of their other markers matching, would be 3.

Easy – right?  You know this is too easy!

Some markers don’t play nice and tend to mutate more than one step at a time, sometimes creating additional marker locations as well.  They’re kind of like a copy machine on steroids. These are known as multi-copy (or palindromic) markers and have more than one value listed for each marker.  In fact, marker 464 typically has 4 different values shown, but can have several more.

The multiple mutations shown for those types of multi-copy markers tend to occur in one step, so they are counted as one event for that marker as a whole, no matter how much math difference is found between the values. This calculation method is called the Infinite Alleles Mutation Model.

str genetic distance calc 2 v2

Because marker 464 is calculated using the infinite alleles model, even though there are two differences, the calculation only notes that there IS a difference, and counts that difference as having occurred in one step, counting only as 1 in genetic distance.

However, if one man also has one or more extra copies of the marker, shown below as 464e and 464f, that is counted as one additional genetic distance step, regardless of the number of additional copies of the marker, and regardless of the values of those copies.

STR genetic distance calc 3 v2

With markers 464e and 464f, which person 2 carries and person 1 does not, the difference is 17 and the generational difference is 1, for each marker, but since the copy event likely happened at one time, it’s considered a mutational difference or genetic distance of only 1, not 34 or 2. Therefore, in our example, the total genetic distance for these men is now 5, not 8 or 38.

In our last example, a deletion has occurred, which sometimes happens at marker location 425. When a deletion occurs, all of the DNA at that location is permanently deleted, or omitted, between father and son, and the value is 0.  Once gone, that DNA has no avenue to ever return, so forever more, the descendants of that man show a value of zero at marker 425.

STR genetic distance calc 4 v2

In this deletion example, even though the mathematical difference is 12, the event happened at once, so the genetic distance for a deletion is counted as 1. The total genetic distance for these two men now is 6.

In essence, the Total Genetic Distance is a mathematical calculation of how many times mutations happened between the lines of these two men since their common ancestor, whether that common ancestor is known or not. In fact, we use genetic distance as part of our calculations to attempt to discern when that common ancestor lived, if we don’t know who he was.

One of the reasons that mutational difference (genetic distance) is important is because the TIP calculations utilize the number of mutation events, and the estimated time between mutation events, to determine the range of dates and confidence levels for the time to the most recent common ancestor (MRCA) calculations between any two matching men.

Please note that on July 26, 2016 Family Tree DNA introduced changes in how the genetic distance is calculated for some markers to be less restrictive.  You can read about the changes here.

How Often Do Mutations Happen?

A very common question about STR mutations is “how often do mutations happen?”

A mutation can happen any time. I have seen 2 mutations between a confirmed father and son, and I have seen 8 generations elapse with no mutations.  So, in essence, mutations happen whenever they darned well feel like it.  In reality, the time between mutations varies widely, but we can calculate the average and utilize that number.

Family Tree DNA provides us with an estimation tool, called the TIP calculator. You can see the orange “TIP” icon listed with each match below.


You use the calculator to compare the results of any two men who match each other to estimate the probability of when they shared a common ancestor.

STR TIP input

The TIP calculator estimates number of generations at various confidence levels between any 2 matching men. However, please keep in mind that the TIP calculator has to use statistical averages, which is equivalent to “one size fits all.”  In truth, one size doesn’t fit anyone particularly well, and some people not at all,  but it’s the best we can do.

STR TIP output

In this case, these two men being compared are 3 mutations different at 111 markers, and they are proven genealogically to be 8.5 generations apart, counting the parent as generation 1, and counting Abraham Estes as generation 8 for one man and 9 for the other.

So, you can see, at the 50th percentile, where statistically you are as likely to be incorrect in one direction as the other, the estimate is about 4.5 generations.

The TIP calculator is sometimes very accurate, and sometimes not so much. It’s a tool, not a crystal ball.  Don’t we wish we had that crystal ball…oh yes…and a time machine too!!!

In Summary

Utilizing Y DNA to compare your family’s Y DNA to others is a wonderful genealogical tool. DNA testing is becoming an expected part of the Genealogical Proof Standard, an integral part of a “reasonably exhaustive search.”

You can prove, or disprove, your lineage. You can find your biologically accurate line.  You can combine the results of several descendants to recreate your ancestor, and then identify line marker mutations that will help other testers in the future identify their lineage.  You can test even further, if you want, and explore all of the possibilities of deep ancestry.

Furthermore, having reconstructed your ancestor, when you do finally hit that “Holy Grail” and a male who lives in the small village overseas where your ancestor originated tests his DNA – and matches your ancestral DNA values – you’ll know that the match is genuine – and you can claim them as “yours.”

Even though Y DNA testing can only be performed on males, because only males carry the Y chromosome, females can most certainly participate by recruiting appropriate males and sponsoring tests on their ancestral lines. Lack of a Y chromosome doesn’t stop anyone, just maybe slows you down for just a tad!

Have fun, enjoy, test your Y DNA lines, contact your matches and make your ancestor come alive once again through the legacy of what your ancestor left to you…their, now your, DNA.



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Philip Jacob Miller (c1726-1799), Buried on a Missing Island?, 52 Ancestors #119

Philip Jacob Miller was born about 1726 in Germany to Johann Michael Mueller, spelled Miller here in the US, and Suzanna Agnes Berchtol (Bechtol, Bechtel) and was an infant or child when arriving in the colonies in 1727.

We don’t know exactly when Philip Jacob was born, but we do know he was born before his parents immigrated because he was naturalized in 1767, and had he been born after immigration, he would not have needed to be naturalized.  We also know that his parents were married in 1714 in Krotelback (Crottelbach), Germany, with their first child being baptized in the same church in 1715, so by process of elimination, Philip was born sometime between 1716 and 1727.

Philipp Jacob is a bit unusual, because parts of his life are virtually unknown, but others are well documented. His early life we can only infer because of what little we know of his parents.  His life after marriage and moving to Frederick County, Maryland is fairly well documented, comparatively speaking, but his final years in Campbell County, KY are a bit fuzzy.  He sort of drifts into and out of focus.

Philipp Jacob Miller was also somewhat unusual in another way too – in that he never seemed, with only a couple possible exceptions, to use solely his middle name, always using both his first and middle names.  Typically German men were called by and known by their middle name alone – for example Johann Michael Miller was Michael Miller.  That was unless their name was Johannes Miller, with no middle name, and then they would just have been called Johannes, or John.  Normally, Philipp Jacob Miller would be called Jacob, but Philipp Jacob wasn’t called Jacob – although when we see a Jacob I always have to wonder.  We can simply say that Philipp Jacob wasn’t your typical Brethren man and that would probably sum things up pretty nicely.  He seemed quite religiously faithful, except for these “tidbits” that creep up here and there – just enough to hint otherwise and make you really scratch your head and look confused.

Philip Jacob’s Childhood

Philip Jacob Miller would have spent the first part of his childhood after arriving in the colonies in Chester Co., PA where his father paid taxes until about 1744 when he bought land near Hanover, Pennsylvania, in the part of Lancaster County that would become York Co., PA in 1749. By 1744, Philip Jacob would be a young man of at least 18, perfectly capable of farm work and the manual labor required to wrest a living from the land.  Perhaps he drove one of the wagons as the family packed up and moved to the Brethren community near Hanover, PA in 1744 where his father bought land jointly with Nicholas Garber and Samuel Bechtol.

Philip Jacob’s wife, Magdalena

Philip Jacob Miller married Magdalena whose last name is stated to be Rochette, about 1751, probably in York County, PA.  Let me be very clear about one thing.  There is absolutely no confirmation or documentaion for her surname, despite hundreds of entries on Ancestry.com and other online resources that suggest otherwise.  I thoroughly perused the Frederick County, MD records and there are no Rochette’s or similar surnames there.  York County, PA records need to be reviewed in their entirety as well, but it would be very unusual to find a French surname in the highly German Brethren congregation.  There are no Rochette deeds in York County from 1749 forward and no Rochette records in any Brethren church reference.  I found no Rochette names in the Lancaster County records either, although I have not perused every record type.  Until or unless proven otherwise, I do not believe that Magdalena’s surname was Rochette.

Frederick County, Maryland

Philip Jacob moved to the Conococheague area (Frederick, then Washington Co., MD) by about 1751 or 1752 when an entire group of Brethren migrated from York Co., PA following years of bickering about land ownership and border disputes that turned violent and was subsequently known as the Maryland-Pennsylvania Border War and also as Cresap’s War.

PA-MD boundary issue

Brethren, being pacifists, tried to remain neutral but eventually, simply sold out and left for an area they thought would be safer and less volatile. Little did they know about what the future would hold.

The first Brethren, Stephen Ullerich, by 1738, and Philip Jacob’s father, Michael Miller, by 1745, had crossed into the Antietam Valley and Conococheague Valley (either side of Hagarstown) and purchased land.

Philip Jacob Miller is one of 3 confirmed children of Michael Miller as proven by a series of deeds and surveys to property called Ash Swamp near Maugansville in Frederick County, MD, northwest of Hagerstown. Philip Jacob obtained this land in October of 1751 from his father who had clearly purchased it speculatively in 1745.

In 1753, Philip Jacob Miller had his land resurveyed.

Miller 1753 Ash Swamp resurvey crop

This land, Ash Swamp positively belongs to “our” Philip Jacob Miller, although there is another survey (and resurvey) for one Jacob Miller for 50 acres on “The Swamp” adjacent Diamond Square. Is that our Philip Jacob Miller too?  We don’t know – it’s that ambiguous Jacob name again.  Ash Swamp is definitely our Philip Jacob as is later proven through subsequent transactions.

1753 Ash Swamp resurvey 2

1753 Ash swamp resurvey 3

Ash Swamp is where Philip Jacob Miller lived, adjacent to his brother John Miller to whom he deeded part of Ash Swamp.

Miller page 27

The resurvey documents were plotted on top of a contemporary map to isolate the location just southwest of Maugansville.

Miller farm west 3

I visited Philip Jacob’s land in the  fall of 2015.  This view of the area is from the location of the Grace Academy school, just about dead center in Philip Jacob’s land, looking west. This land is discussed in detail in Johann Michael Miller’s article.

The third brother, Lodowick purchased adjacent land to the south.

Lodowick's land

Sometime between 1748 and 1754, Philip Jacob’s mother died because his father remarried to the widow of Nicholas Garber, the man that he co-owned land with in York County, PA. We know this because in 1754, Michael Miller was administering the estate of Nicholas who had died in 1748, implying of course that Michael’s wife, Philip Jacob’s mother, Susanna Berchtol, had died as well, probably in that same timeframe.

We know very little about the years between the resurvey of Ash Swamp in the early 1750s and 1771 when Philip Jacob’s father died. Most of what we do know is due to a history of the area and not from the family directly.  However, when a war is being waged where you live and the entire county evacuates, you can’t not be affected.

Philip Jacob Miller, along with the rest of the residents of this region would have abandoned their farms for safety, twice, as difficult as that is for us to fathom today. The first time was in 1755 when General Braddock was defeated and the Indians descended on this part of Maryland, burning, killing and running the residents off of their farms and back east.

Based on the resurvey document, we know that the surveyor was working on May 15, 1755 in Frederick County, surveying Philip Jacob’s land, and you can rest assured that Philip Jacob was right there with him, watching every move.

Braddock was defeated on July 9, 1755, less than two months later, leaving the entire frontier exposed.

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

In the fall of 1756, Indians scalped 20 people in Conococheague including one Jacob Miller, his wife and 6 children. Were they related?  We don’t know.  If they were Brethren, they would not have defended themselves.

Most settlers fled east from Monocacy. George Washington received a report in the summer of 1756 that “350 wagons had passed that place to avoid the enemy within the space of 3 days” and by August the report was that “The whole settlement of Conococheague in Maryland is fled, and there now remain only two families from thence to Fredericktown…..”

The settlements remained abandoned in 1757 and into 1758 when General Forbes actions served to end the war. Were it not for Forbes, we might all be speaking French today.

In 1758, General Harris extended a road from Harrisburg, PA to Fort Duquesne on the Ohio River (Pittsburg.) Highway 30 follows this road most of the way today. Replogle 55

Forbes road went from Cumberland to Bedford and by August 1758, 1400 men had completed the road to Bedford, just wide enough to get a wagon through. A contemporary writer said it took 8 days to travel from Bedford to Ligonier, a distance of about 45 miles.  This military tactic succeeded.  General John Forbes took Fort Duquesne, now Pittsburg, the French abandoned it, and ended the French and Indian War on November 25, 1758.  Indian attacks diminished and by 1762, the French had given up Canada.  Replogle 107-108, 110

Forbes Road

There is one item of particular significance – during the war, a small fort was built at Raystown, which would eventually become Bedford, PA, a location that would, in the 1770s, become quite important to the Brethren Miller family. It was indeed the next stop on the frontier and two of Philip Jacob’s sons would find themselves traveling that road and settling in in Bedford County, PA for a few years, at least until their father rallied the family round once again.

Philip Jacob Miller would eventually float down the Ohio River to Campbell Co., KY, and settle one last time, on one last frontier, across the river and a dozen miles upstream from Fort Washington, now Cincinnati. The Forbes road may have been part of the route he took.

Return to Frederick County

When did the settlers return to Frederick County? We don’t know.  Certainly not before the end of 1758, and probably not until they were certain things had settled down and the attacks had abated.  They likely had to rebuild from scratch, their homesteads and barns all burned.  As difficult as this must have been, they obviously did rebiuld and we have absolutely nothing in our family history reflecting this extremely difficult time.  You would think there would be stories…something…but there is nothing.  These hardy people simply did what needed to be done.

The only hint we have in terms of when they returned is that Michael Miller is back in Frederick County by 1761 purchasing land and in 1762, paying taxes. Given that he was by that time, 69 years old, you can rest assured that he was not alone and was in the company of his sons.  Wherever they had taken refuge – the family had been together.

Something else was afoot too, because in 1762, the Brethren began to be naturalized, and this from a group of people who disliked government and oaths and any processes of this type more than anything else. Brethren leaders even shunned their children if they obtained a license to marry.  However, in 1762, Nicholas Martin was naturalized in Philadelphia, PA, a state that did not require a citizen to “swear an oath” but allowed to them to “affirm,” instead.  Michael Miller and Jacob Miller (possibly Philip Jacob Miller although another Jacob Miller was present in Frederick County at this time) were witnesses for Nicholas.

If Philip Jacob and his family thought they could rest easy now, they were wrong. In fact, they had probably only been resettled a couple of years, were probably still rebuilding when they, once again, had to run for their lives.

Pontiac’s War descended upon them and from 1763 to 1765, the Brethren families in this area had to take shelter elsewhere.  According to historical records, the devastation and fear was even worse than the first time.  And true to form, we don’t know where they went, or for how long.  What I wouldn’t give for a journal…even just one sentence a week…anything.

The Maryland Gazette, written at Frederick on July 19, 1763 said, “The melancholy scene of poor distressed families driving downwards through this town with their effects…enemies…now daily seen in the woods….panic of the back inhabitants, whose terrors at this time exceed what followed on the defeat of General Braddock.”

Ironically it also reported that the season had been remarkably fine and the harvest the best for many years. Once again, Frederick County put together two companies of militia and once again, no Brethren names appeared on the list.  Replogle 113 – 114

Perhaps the entire group of Brethren returned to Conestoga. I suggest this possibility because we know that two Brethren, Nicholas Martin and Stephen Ulrich, are found attending the Great Council of the Brethren in Conestoga in 1763.  Where you find one Brethren, or two, you’re likely to find more.

Conestoga is near present day White Oak in Lancaster County, PA and both Conestoga and Conewago, another Brethren settlement, aren’t far from the Brethren settlement in Ephrata. It would make sense for the Brethren to return to areas they knew and relatives with whom they could shelter for as long as need be.


In 1765, the Millers are once again back in Frederick County because Michael, now at least 73 years of age, is selling or deeding his land.  One must admit – the Miller’s didn’t give up and they were persistent.


In 1767, another surprising event took place. Michael Miller, Philip Jacob Miller and Stephen Ulrich (or Ulrick) all traveled to Philadelphia along with Jacob Stutzman (from Cumberland County) and were naturalized at the April term of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.  They were listed under the title, “Affirmers Names.”  This makes me wonder why Michael Miller wasn’t naturalized in 1762 when he witnessed Nicholas Martin’s naturalization?  He was already there and could have easily been naturalized at that time.  What had changed in those 5 years to make an entire group of Brethren men “affirm?”

Philip Jacob Miller naturalization 1

Philip Jacob Miller naturalization 2

Philip Jacob Miller naturalization 3

Philip Jacob Miller naturalization 4

Michael Miller, Philip Jacob’s father, had waited a long time to be naturalized. He was just a few months shy of 75 years old.  He must have felt a pressing need for the naturalization and it must have been very urgent for him to risk his religious affiliation he had so staunchly preserved throughout his entire life – even in the face of warfare and extreme adversity.  From the perspective of today, we’ll likely never know what exactly was so urgent that it prompted these men to make the trip from Frederick County, MD to Philadelphia, PA where they could do the lesser of two evils and affirm as opposed to swear their loyalty and become citizens.  Whatever it was, it had to be mighty important.

This was clearly a family group that included Jacob Stutzman, Johann Michael Miller’s younger “step-brother,” Stephen Ulrich whose daughter would marry the son of the fourth Brethren man, Philip Jacob Miller, less than a decade later. Oh course Philipp Jacob Miller was the son of Michael Miller.  Stephen Ulrich would also marry Hannah Stutzman, Jacob Stutzman’s widow in 1782.  So yes, indeed, these families where closely bound and would become even more so.  Of these men, Johann Michael Miller was the eldest, and Philip Jacob Miller, at just over 40 was part of the second generation of Brethren.  He was born in the old country, but was probably too young to remember. This list does beg the question of why John Miller, Philip Jacob’s brother wasn’t with this group, nor brother Lodowick.  It’s possibly that both John and Lodowick here born after immigration, and therefore did not need to be naturalized.

Map Frederick co to Philly

The trip from Maugansville, Maryland to Philadelphia, about 165 miles, was not trivial, then or now, and certainly not for an old man bouncing around in a creaky wagon. It makes me wonder if the reason that the entire group went was because Michael Miller, as elder statesman, got it in his head he was going and the rest of the men certainly weren’t going to allow him to go alone, at his age, so they all went and shared in the “shame” of taking an oath or affirmation, equally.  Or maybe Michael set the leading example.  Probably a matter of perspective!

New Frontiers Open

In 1768 and 1769, events began to unfold which did not necessarily affect the Miller family right then, but would have an profound affect upon them in coming years. Likely, the idea of more plentiful and less expensive land was alluring, at least to the younger generation.

In 1768, the defeat of Pontiac triggered mass migration westward over the mountains. Replogle 20

In November 1768, the British government bought large tracts of land from the Iroquois and Pennsylvania now owned all the land west of the Alleghenies to the Ohio River except for the northernmost part of the colony, opening the doors for a huge migration. However, the Delaware and Shawnee were left out of the negotiations, and the raids continued.  Replogle 115

1768-1769 – A list of persons who stand charged with land on Frederick County rent rolls which are under such circumstances as renders it out of the power of George Scott Farmer to collect the rents and there claims allowance under his articles for the same from March 1768 to March 1769: (Note there are several pages of these, so much so that it looks like a tax list, not a typical roll of uncollectibles.)

  • No Cripe, Greib, Ullrich, Ullery or Stutzman
  • Conrad Miller
  • Isaac Miller
  • Jacob Miller Jr
  • John Miller
  • Lodwick Miller
  • Michael Miller heirs
  • Oliver Miller, Balt Co.
  • Oliver Miller, Balt Co additional
  • Thomas Miller

Source: Inhabitants of Frederick Co. MD, Vol 1, 1750-1790 by Stefanie R. Shaffer, p 45

Philip Jacob Miller’s father died in 1771. A few years later, between 1774 and 1778, Philip Jacob’s sons, Daniel and David Miller would both set out on the road to Bedford County, wagons full, waving good bye to an aging Philip Jacob Miller and his wife who had probably crossed the half-century mark by this time.

It was about this time that Philip Jacob Miller bought a great Bible that was printed in 1770 in Germany. Perhaps he bought it when his father died in 1771, in his father’s memory.  Perhaps an earlier family Bible had been destroyed in the evacuations and depredations, or perhaps Philip Jacob Miller simply did not inherit his father’s Bible.  Whatever, the reason, Philip Jacob bought his own and began to fill in the important dates of his life.  He probably reflected on each occurrence as he wrote each child’s birth lovingly in his own handwriting.

Miller Bible cover

Philip Jacob Miller’s incredibly beautiful Bible is shown above.

The Revolutionary War

If Philip Jacob Miller thought his life was ever going to be peaceful and serene, he was wrong. Next came the Revolutionary War which began in 1775 and in many ways was just the continuation of the issues present in the Seven Years War, also known as Dunsmore’s War or the French and Indian War – the same beast that had run the Miller’s off of their land, twice now. They had only been back from the last evacuation for a decade before war raised its ugly head again.  Would there never be peace?

Philip Jacob Miller lived through the Revolutionary War in Frederick County, MD. This would have been his third war in 30 years, or fourth war in 40 years, depending on how you were counting.

Floyd Mason, in his book, “The Michael Miller and Susanna Bechtol Family Record,” tells us what he discovered about the Brethren in Frederick County during the Revolutionary War.

During the Revolution, the colonists held their national conventions and appointed certain committees of local leaders to carry out local responsibilities. In PA and MD, the main committee was the Committee of Observation who had the responsibility for raising funds to promote the war, select its leaders and furnish themselves with one committee member for each 100 families.  This committee had full power to act as it saw fit, answered to no one and there was no appeal of their decisions.

The militia groups were called Associations, later called Militia Companies. The Committee of Observation made lists of those not participating, whether Loyalist or members of the “Peace churches,” and they were called non-enrollers or Non-Associators.

The war issues divided the people’s loyalty. About one third favored the revolution, one third were Loyalists or Tories who favored the English and one third were neutral or did not believe in this manner of settling the issues.  This threw the Quakers, Mennonites and Dunkers in with the Tories or Loyalists and in opposition to the efforts of the Committee of Observation, at least as the committee saw it.

The churches were bringing discipline to bear on members who did not follow the historic peace teachings of the church. Annual Conferences were held each year and members were asked to remain true to the Church’s nonviolent principles, to refrain from participating in the war, to not voluntarily pay the War taxes and not to allow their sons to participate in the war.  This caused a lot of problems for the church members who wanted to be loyal to the church, loyal to the Loyalists who had brought them to the new country and loyal to the new government which was emerging.

As the war wore on and it looked as if the patriots efforts might lose, emotions raged. Non-Associators found themselves having to pay double and triple taxes.  Their barns were burned, livestock stolen or slaughtered and their crops destroyed.  They were often beaten and “tarred and feathered.”  Church members came to the aid of those who endured the losses.

Some members chose not to pay the war taxes or participate in the war activities and chose to wait until the authorities came and presented their papers to have taxes forced from them. This was in compliance with the Church of the Brethren Annual Conference Action. The Committee of Observation provided that non-Associators could take as much of their possessions with them as they could and then they would seize the property and remaining possessions and sell them to fill their war chests.

During this time, the Revolutionary War was taking place and the Brethren were known as non-Associators, those who would take an oath of loyalty, but would not belong to a militia unit nor fight. Many non-Brethren residents suspected them of secretly being allied with the Tories and resented their refusal to protect themselves and others.  Laws of the time allowed for the confiscation of property of anyone thought to be disloyal.  Records of this type of event have survived in the oral and written histories of some of the Brethren families, in particular some who migrated on down into the Shenandoah Valley.  Perhaps others thought it wise to move on about this time as well.

Taken from several sources, these are some of the names of non-Associators and others who were processed by the Committee of Observance that are descendants of Johann Michael Mueller (Jr.) who died in 1771.

  • Samuel Garber who may have married one of Michael Miller’s daughters, and their sons Martin and Samuel Garber
  • Jacob Good, Michael’s step-daughter’s husband
  • John Rife, Michael’s step-daughter’s husband
  • David Miller, the son of Philip Jacob Miller
  • Michael Wine, married Susannah, the daughter of Lodowich Miller, son of Michael Miller
  • Jacob Miller, son of Lodowich Miller
  • Abraham Miller, relationship uncertain
  • Another source lists Elder Daniel Miller, stated as Lodowick’s son, as being fined 4.5 pounds.

Susannah Miller Wine told her children and grandchildren that Michael Wine, Jacob Miller, Martin Garber and Samuel Garber had their property confiscated by the authorities for remaining true to the non-violent principles of their church.

Lodowich Miller’s family group removed to Rockingham County, VA about 1782 or 1783.

We know that in 1783, Philip Jacob Miller, John Miller and Lodowick were signing deeds back and forth in Frederick County. These activities may well have been in preparation for Lodowick’s departure.

William Thomas, on the Brethren Rootsweb list in 2011 tells us:

I have a copy of the 1776 non-enrollers list for Washington County, MD, that lists “Dunkars & Menonist” fines. The list includes Abraham Miller, David Miller, and David Miller son of Philip.  It goes onto list an appraisal of guns (whatever that means) in 1777 and includes a Henry Miller.

Point being there were several Miller’s in Washington County, some of who were Dunkers or Mennonites, a name common to both denominations.

If you move to the 1776 non-enroller list for Frederick County, MD, you have even more Millers. You have Jacob Miller, Jacob Miller s/o Adam, Abraham Miller, Peter Miller, Stephen Miller, Solomon Miller, Robert Miller, Henry Miller, Philip Miller, David Miller and Daniel Miller, all fined, and implying a Dunker/Mennonite/Quaker religious affiliation.

Washington County, Maryland was formed in September 1776 from the portion of Frederick County where Philip Jacob Miller lived.  Note that while David Miller, son of Philip is listed, Philip or Philip Jacob is not listed and neither is a Jacob.

However, there is also evidence that Philip Jacob Miller did participate at some level. Men 16-60 were required to participate in the local militia.

From the book, “Colonial Soldiers of the South, 1732-1774” by Murtie June Clark:

Capt John White’s Company Maryland Militia, 6 days, undated:

  • Michael Miller
  • Jacob Miller

Note that there were multiple Michael and Jacob Millers in the area, and not all of them appear to be Brethren.

Capt Jonathan Hager’s Company, Maryland Militia 6 days service, undated:

  • Jacob Miller
  • Conrod Miller
  • John Miller Jr.
  • John Miller
  • Jacob Miller Jr.
  • Zachariah Miller
  • Philip Jacob Miller
  • Jacob Miller (son of Conrad)

List of Militia 1732-1763 now before the Committee of Accounts lists John White’s militia as from Frederick County as well as that of Jonathan Hager.

Perhaps Philip Jacob Miller was trying, rather unsuccessfully it seems, to find a middle ground.

It’s difficult to understand how to interpret this information that seems to be conflicting.  To try to resolve or better understand the situation, I turned to the 1790 census where I found 2 Philips in Washington County, 5 Jacobs, 7 Johns and an Abraham in both Washington and Frederick County.  Unfortunately, the 1790 census did not add clarity.

The Sons Leave

Philip Jacob’s sons, Daniel and David, followed the migration to Bedford Co., PA about the time of the onset of the Revolutionary War. The brothers went to Morrison’s Cove (Juniata River) and possibly on to Brothers Valley, both early Brethren settlements.

Morrison's Cove fall

David and Daniel both moved to Morrison’s Cove (shown above) between 1774 and 1778, staying for about 20 years until they joined their father later in Kentucky, but Philip Jacob remained in Washington Co., Maryland, which was formed from Frederick County in 1776. There is a record of a Jacob and Daniel Miller taking the oath of fidelity to the State of Maryland in 1778 in Washington County (formed from Frederick County in 1776,) so perhaps they didn’t leave until after 1778.

It was a rough time for Philip Jacob Miller. In the 1760s, the family had to abandon their land for a second time, returning in about 1765.  We don’t know where they sheltered, but likely, the family group included Philip’s elderly father, Michael.  In 1771, Phillip Jacob’s father, Michael, died.  Between 1774 and 1778, Philipp Jacob’s two sons, Daniel and David left for Bedford County.  In about 1783, Philip Jacob’s other brother, Lodowick left for the Shenandoah Valley, possibly as a result of the Revolutionary War.  Family is getting scarce.  The final straw seemed to be when Philip Jacob’s brother, John, died a decade later, in 1794.  John had lived beside Philip Jacob for his entire adult life in Frederick (now Washington) County, and they assuredly depended on each other and helped one another farm.  Now John was gone too.

The Big Decision

I can see Philip Jacob and Magdalena talking by the fireplace one evening, perhaps as Philip Jacob stared out the window, over his land, pondering the bold and life-changing move he was considering. It would change his life, and death, and the lives of all of his children as well – not to mention Magdalena.

Philip Jacob had farmed with his brother John since they all moved from York County in 1751 or 1752 – more than 40 years earlier. They had likely all evacuated together, twice, and rebuilt together, twice.  When their father died, there were still the three brothers, but with Lodowick removed, now John gone to death, and both of Philip Jacob’s oldest sons having moved to Bedford County, Philip Jacob obviously felt uneasy and probably somewhat isolated.  Was he concerned that he wouldn’t physically be able to farm alone?  Was he concerned that there would be no one left to inherit Ash Swamp in Washington County while at the same time his two sons in Bedford County were renting land?

Was the allure of reuniting his family who was marrying and scattering, for once and for all, in a new location, strong enough to cause a man 70 years old, or older, to sell out?

On the new frontier, Philip Jacob could buy seven times as much land as he had in Maryland –  enough land for everyone.  Seven times the land.  That’s some powerful motivation.  Was this dream enough to make an elderly man sell most of his possessions, pack everything up in a wagon and head overland for the new frontier of Ohio, some 450+ miles distant, down rough roads, on a riverboat and through Indian territory?

That must have been his motivation, for I can think nothing other than the love of family that would uproot a man of that age from his well-deserved rocking chair beside the warm fireplace and propel him on to yet one final, untamed, frontier.

Map Mauganstown to Cincy

Philip Jacob Miller would succeed in leaving a legacy in land for his children.

Campbell County, Kentucky

Philip Jacob sold Ash Swamp in Washington County, Maryland in 1796 to the same man who bought his brother’s land from John’s estate. Michael then likely took a wagon overland to somewhere he could intersect with a river, probably Pittsburg, then floated down the Ohio River to Campbell Co., KY, a few miles upstream from Fort Washington that would one day become Cincinnati.

Conestoga wagon

The group would have moved by conestoga wagon. This conestoga wagon belonged to Jacob Miller who was found in Frederick County but had left by 1765 for Virginia. Later, this same Jacob Miller arrived in Montgomery County, Ohio about the same time that Daniel Miller, Philip Jacob’s son would arrive.  This wagon was supposedly built in 1788, so it would not have been the actual wagon used to move from Frederick County, it was used by the Brethren group on subsequent moves and did wind up in Ohio.  The wagons used by Philip Jacob Miller and his family would have been very much the same.

Brethren historian, Merle Rummel tells us more about the migration of the Brethren during this time.

Emigration came down the Ohio River from Western Pennsylvania by flatboats, but it was hazardous due to Indian depredations. These Brethren started on the Monongahela where Elder George Wolfe I is recorded to have been in the business of building flatboats (Wolfe and Sons) at Turtle Creek (just upstream from Pittsburg, Pennsylvania). When General Wayne defeated the Ohio Indians in 1795 (Treaty of Greeneville), the dangers of the Ohio River route were reduced, and it opened the way for others to follow the old Shawnee War Path, (the Kanawha Way) from North Carolina and the lower Valley of Virginia, through the (West) Virginia mountains to below the “Falls of the Kanawha.” There flatboats could come down the Kanawha River to Point Pleasant and down the Ohio. Others continued on the Trace by land into southern Ohio. Many more Brethren began coming west from the Old Frontier regions.

We know that Philip Jacob Miller arrived before August of 1796, because he was paying personal property tax and by then, he had acquired a horse and a cow.

Campbell County, Kentucky Tax Lists, posted by Dale Landon, March 2010, on the Brethren Rootsweb list.  These tax lists generallyonly counted males.

  • taken 16 Aug 1796, Philip Jacob Miller, 1 over 21, 1 horse, 1 cattle
  • taken 28 Aug 1797, Philip Jacob Miller, 1 over 21, 3 horses
  • taken 28 Aug 1797, Daniel Cripe, 1 over 21, 2 horses
  • taken 25 Aug 1797, Arnold Snider, 1 over 21, 2 horses
  • 1798, Daniel Cripe, 1 over 21, 2 horses
  • 1798, Philip Jacob Miller, 1 over 21, 3 horses
  • 1798, Arnold Snyder, 1 over 21, 2 horses
  • 1799, David Miller, 1 over 21
  • 1799, Arnold Snider, 1 over 21, 2 horses
  • taken 28 Aug 1800, Philip Miller, 1 over 21
  • taken 9 Aug 1800, Stephen Miller, 1 over 21, 1 horse
  • taken 23 May 1800, Arnold Snider, 1 over 21, 3 horses

It’s unclear whether Philipp Jacob Miller bought land in Campbell County, KY, or not. I don’t believe that a thorough sifting of available Campbell County records has been done by any researcher, although several researchers have done some.  A visit needs to be made and all of the available records thoroughly researched, including the estate packet, if one remains, for dates and signatures.

Phillip’s Death

We know that Phillip Jacob died before April 8, 1799 when his estate was probated, and probably after the first of the year.

Philip Jacob Miller estate probatePhilip Jacob Miller estate probate 2

There is a slight discrepancy in the documentation.  We have a tax list dated 9-1-1800 that lists Philip.  However, it’s also possible this is a list for what’s owed this year from the previous year or for his estate, although it doesn’t specify that it’s an estate and not an individual.

Philip Jacob Miller 1800 taxes


BullSkin Trace

Merle Rummell tells us the following, with the maps added by me:

Stonelick church today

The first Brethren Church north of the Ohio River was the Obannon Baptist Brethren Church (now Stonelick, above), near Goshen Ohio, on the Indian Trail north from Bullskin Landing (1795).

The old log Obannon Church Building (c1823) was at the Stoddard (Stouder) Cemetery, about a mile east of the south edge of Goshen – so these families were in the immediate Church area.

Stouder Cemetery

Daniel and David Miller lived at 132 and Woodville Pike, in the lower left hand corner.

Gabriel Karns lived about a mile on east of the Millers, on Manila Pike, the old Indian Road. They were forced to move north (1805, Dayton area, Montgomery County, Ohio) being forced off the Bounty Lands.  Daniel Miller was put into the ministry at the Obannion Church.

In eastern Ohio Territory, the land back from the River was not good farmland. It was Appalachia Hills, that crowded the River. David Horne travel 60 miles up the Muskingum River to the Forks of the Licking at the new Zane Trace, before he found land. John Countryman left the Massie Fort at Three Islands (now Manchester OH) and went 30 miles up the Ohio Brush Creek till he found farmland. It was at the Little Miami River, just before Cincinnati where the Brethren stopped at good farmland along the Indian Trace, the Obannon Church.

The Bullskin Landing was a goal for the Brethren migration down the Ohio River by flatboat. It was probably the best landing on the river, being a sunken valley back into the Ohio Hills.

Bullskin creek

Bullskin Creek is flooded by the Ohio River for half a mile back from the River, a wide valley opening. It was the first major landing for Ohio River flatboats above Fort Washington (Cincinnati). Here the flatboat was protected, off the river, with easy unloading facilities.

Bullskin landing

This settlement in Clermont County is called Utopia. The Brethren settled on the Bullskin about 1800. (Miller, Moyer, Metzgar, Rohrer, Hoover, Houser; the old Olive Branch Church. It converted en-mass to Church of Christ in the New Light Revival of 1830’s.) Being farmers, they lived mostly on the level lands above the high riverbank hills, at the head of Bullskin Creek.

The major Indian Traces north, one going to Old Chillicothe on the east of Dayton, continuing on to Fort Detroit, left from there. Another went to the ford of the Great Miami at Franklin Ohio and up the west side of Dayton. The Bullskin Trace, the old Indian Road to Detroit, became the first State Road in Ohio.

Most of the settlers on the New Frontier were frontier folk from the Old Frontier, very few were from the Settled East. The River brought them from Old Fort Redstone (now Union and Brownsville PA), Brothers Valley and Washington Co PA in the west; from Penns Valley, Brush Valley and Northumberland Co PA in the north; from the Conococheague, Middletown Valley MD; from Morrison’s Cove, Cambria Co and the Juniata Valley PA. The Kanawha Trace brought them from the Carolina settlements on the Yadkin; from Franklin and Floyd Cos and the lower Valley VA. These areas were the Old Frontier. It showed in the type of people who came, in their self-reliance and independent thought. They didn’t just accept being told something was true, they tried it out for themselves, and used it. They had to, or they died on the frontier. They were not stupid, while some were illiterate, most could read their Bible -maybe a Berleburg Bible, some read Greek. The Brethren knew what the Bible said, and lived it. They were definitely Brethren, and they took their Brethrenism with them, making a real Christian witness to their neighbors!

To this area near Cincinnati came the Aukerman Family in 1789, to “Columbia” at the mouth of the Little Miami River. The 11 year old son was John, who eventually would be the first settler at Gratis, in present day Preble County, in 1804, on Aukerman Creek, named in his honor. The John Bowman family came near that same time. They settled north on the trace probably in now Warren Co OH, between Lebanon and Goshen OH.

South of Goshen, came first David Miller, then his brother, Daniel. Daniel was put into the ministry there about 1798. The first minister was Elder John Garver, from Stony Creek in Brothers Valley PA, by way of Virginia, to North Carolina, to Kentucky. In 1805 he moved to the Donnels Creek Church, up the Indian Road. By tradition, the founding of the Obannon Baptist Church was 1795, Elder David Stouder. He seems to have come over from Kentucky, and by research, may be the David Stover near Limestone, probably from the Log Union Church. This was the beginnings of the Obannon Church, but these families weren’t allowed to stay.

These were the Bounty Lands, claimed by Virginia as payment for service to their Veterans of the Revolution. Government survey of the lands began in 1802, and it did not matter to the Government or the surveyors if people already lived on these lands, if there were homes built and fields cleared. That the Dunker custom often included getting title from the Indians to homesteads gave them no claim to their lands in the eyes of the surveyor or state. Legally, they were squatters. There was no appeal for their claim to the land, all they could do was leave. They moved north, beyond the Bounty Lands, to the little Village of Dayton. Their move was easy, they went up the Indian Trace. From Little’s Bounty Lands Survey (1802) we have been able to identify the adjoining farms of David and Daniel Miller,  they were surveyed as cleared lands.

Now other Brethren families came to Bullskin Landing. These were the second line of Brethren, moving west from the Old Frontier lands in Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia or Carolina, and some moved up from the churches in Kentucky. They used Bounty claims to get land, Bountys purchased back home, by self or through kin, from those who had no wish to leave for the west. The families at Obannon were mostly from Maryland and Pennsylvania: Binkley, Cripe, Grossnickle, Frey, Karns, Maugans, Miller, Moler, Pringle, Stouder; Elder John Garver and Frederick Weaver as ministers. Stonelick was a meeting house of the Obannon Congregation. This was good farmland, but it was a heavy clay and many Brethren soon moved north to better lands on the Great Miami headwaters near Dayton Ohio, where they remain strong today.

 Philipp Jacob Miller’s Land in Warren County, Ohio

After arriving in Kentucky, Philip Jacob Miller bought 2000 acres of land that lay along O’Bannon Creek in Warren County, Ohio, across the river from Campbell Co., KY and north about 45 or 50 miles, for $1.10 an acre, near where his sons, David and Daniel, may already have been living.

Philip Jacob’s 2000 acres were north of Goshen some 8 miles – being on the Clermont-Warren Co line, extending east beyond Cozaddale.

After Philip Jacob’s death in September 1799, his children made an agreement among themselves to divide this land into ten 200 acre parcels. Magdalena, his daughter, decided to take her share in cash. The other children drew lots for these 200 acre parcels, but only a few of them ever lived on their land in Warren County, Ohio. Stonelick covered bridge, shown below, now closed and undergoing renovation is located near the Stonelick Brethren Church where several of Philip Jacob’s children were founders.

Stonelick bridge

Philipp Jacob Miller lived in Campbell County, Kentucky, not Clermont County, Ohio, across the river nor in Warren County, Ohio, where he purchased land, which was located about 40 miles north of the Ohio River on the Warren County/ Clermont County border.  It’s unclear whether or not Philip Jacob purchased land in Campbell County, or not, or why he settled and stayed in that location as his children were settling further north, although the tax lists do indicate, at least initially, that some of his children did live in Campbell County.

Philipp Jacob’s sons Daniel and David Miller settled in Clermont County, Ohio across the Ohio River and Philipp Jacob himself acquired land about 10 miles north of his son’s land on the border of Clermont and Warren Counties, but apparently none of those three families ever lived on Philip Jacob’s land.

This was also a time of some confusion, because the settlers who had acquired land in this region, which became designated as military bounty land for Revolutionary War veterans, often lost that land when veterans or those they sold their rights to subsequently patented that land.

To Philip Jacob, this must have smelled too much like what happened back in York County, PA in the 1740s with the disputed land involved in Cresap’s War, claimed by both states, and granted by both states as well – to different settlers.

Troy Goss tells us the following about Philipp Jacob’s land, with maps and documents added by me:

Ohio land magnate William Lytle (1770-1813) obtained a patent from the United States government on May 2, 1803, which included the lands that Philip Jacob Miller had acquired.

Phillips two sons, David and Abraham, serving as administrator of his estate purchased his land for a second time from Lytle later in 1803. That was apparently better than losing the land altogether.

They purchased 1,800 acres and an adjacent lot of 200 acres for a total of $2,200. These tracts conform to Virginia Military Reserve Survey tracts 3790 and 3791 in the southeast corner of Hamilton Township, Warren County, and with about 162 acres crossing over into Goshen Township, Clermont County. They are roughly bounded in the north by the community of Comargo, on the east by Cozaddale and Stony Run, and encompassing the community of Dallasburg in the southwest.

Philip's land satellite

As you can see, this area is about 45 miles north of Bullskin Creek on the Ohio River. However, Daniel and David’s land are right on the way, shown with the red pin below.

Philip's land map

Troy continues:

Philip’s children made an agreement among themselves to divide this land into ten 200-acre lots of 163-1/3 by 196 poles (~2,695 by 3,234 feet). Daughter Magdalena Cripe decided to take her share in cash. The children designated John Ramsey and Theophilus Simonton to appraise the lots and stipulate compensation between the varying values of the lots, whereupon the children drew lots for the parcels and David and Abraham, as estate administrators, began deeding each in April 1805 for the nominal sum of $1. Arbitrarily numbering the lots from the northwest to southeast, we find the following among the ten surviving children and one widower son-in-law:

Will-Philip Jacob Miller p1


Document filed in Warren County, Ohio.

The document is transcribed by cousin, Marian, as follows:

Articles of agreement between the children of Philip Jacob Miller

Warren County, Ohio Deed book, vol 14, page 21-22

[Starts part way down the page]

Articles of Agreement made and concluded upon this nineteenth day of December one thousand Seven hundred ninety nine betwixt we the under named Sons and Daughters of Phillip Jacob Miller deceased in manner and form following viz

First We Daniel Miller, David Miller, Abraham Miller, Susannah Miller, Christena Miller, Elizabeth Miller, Sarah Miller, Esther Miller, Mary Miller, Magdalen Miller, and Hannah Miller for ourselves our heirs executors administrators and assigns have positively and finally covenanted and agreed betwixt each other to divide a certain tract of land containing two thousand acres in lots beginning with No one, two three &c until said lands (which now lays and is situate in the north Western Territory upon O’Bannions Creek or near the same) is equally and justly divided into Ten equal Shares in regard to quantity and quality or rather to have sd lands equally divided into Ten two hundreds acre lots

Secondly we do finally agree to have John Ramsey Theophilus Simonton and one more person if required to appraise and divide sd lands into ten Shares so as each of the above named Sons and Daughters of the above deceased person (except one daughter named Magdalen Gripe wife of Daniel Gripe now in being which here hath finally agreed to take her Share in cash and hath given their bond for the same) Shall have an equal share of said lands,

Thirdly and lastly we do firmly & finally covenant and agree with each other to stand to and abide by the final and appraisment and determination of John Ramsey Theophilus Simonton and another if required concerning sd lands. For and in consideration of which covenant and agreements well and truly to be made and done we bind ourselves our heirs executors Administrators and assigns in the Penal sum of One Thousand Dollars Specie each firmly by the

[page 22]

Presents in Testimony whereunto we have set our hands and seals this day and year above written as also at the back part of the above covenant, N.B. we do furthermore finally agree to pay all debts that might come against the above deceased Person hereafter viz each of us one equal Share of sd debts.

Daniel Miller (seal)
David Miller (seal)
Abraham Miller (seal)
Jacob (his x mark) Shott
Elizabeth (her x mark) Shott (seal)
Daniel & Mallalnon Greib
David Miller and Abraham Miller (seal),Trustees for Sarah Millers Children
John (his x mark) Cremar and Mary (her x mark) Cremer (seal)
Arnold (his x mark) Snider and Susanna (her x mark) Snider (seal)
Henry Snell & Cristena his wife (seal)
Gabriel (his x mark) Magens
Ester (her x mark) Magens
Daniel Ulrich (German script) Susannah Ullrich[?]

Test. Prest.
Leonard Raper
Temperance Raper

[written sideways up the page] Recd for record Jany 19th 1829 & recorded Feby 17th 1829 Asabel Brown RWC

Test prst
David Posoy
George Muchlin

Test prst
John Alinn
James Crawford
Conrad Brombaugh
Eamsel [?]
Jacob [?]

We whose names are hereunto Subscribed being appointed by the heirs of Phillip Jacob Miller decd to divide a Two thousand acre tract or tracts of land into Ten Equal lots and also to equalize the lots in the following manner (Towit) The Tenth lot to pay fifty five dollars to the fourth, the Seventh to pay thirty eight dollars to the Second, the Sixth lot to pay thirty three dollars to the third lot, the eighty lot to pay Twenty eight dollars to the first lot, the ninth lot to pay Twenty four dollars to the fifth lot, Given under our hands this 29th March 1800.

John Ramsey
Theos Simonton Apprs.

The siblings divided the land as follows:

1 – Northernmost 200 acres adjacent to the 1,800 survey; estate sold to Francis Eltzroth for $200, 22 Sep 1809; quit claim from the heirs of Daniel Miller to Benjamin Eltzroth (son of Francis and grandson-in-law to Philip Jacob) for $500, 7 May 1828; the town of Comargo lies in the northeast corner

2 – Northwest 200 acres; estate sold to Gabriel [& Esther] Morgan for $1, 22 Apr 1805; Gabriel had purchased an adjacent 200-acres lot from Richard & Mary Cunningham two months earlier

3 – North-central 200 acres; estate sold to John [& Mary] Creamer for $1, 22 Apr 1805

4 – Northeast 200 acres; estate sold to Henry [& Christina] Snell for $1, 22 Sep 1809; the town of Cozaddale lies along the southeastern boundary

5 – West-central 200 acres; estate sold to Arnold [& Hannah] Snider for $1, 22 Apr 1805

6 – Central 200 acres; estate sold to Daniel [& Susannah] Ullery for $1, 22 Sep 1809

7 – East-central 200 acres; Abraham sold his lot to William Spence for $400, 22 Apr 1805

8 – Southwest 200 acres; estate sold southern half (100 acres) to Jacob Wise for $200, 6 Dec 1806; and northern half (100 acres) to Jacob Creamer, perhaps a brother of John Creamer, for $200, 16 Jan 1807; the western half of the town of Dallasburg lies in this tract

9 – South-central 200 acres; estate sold to Andrew [widower of Sarah] Nifong for $1, 22 Sep 1809; the eastern half of the town of Dallasburg lies in this tract

10 – Southeast 200 acres straddling the Warren-Clermont county line; estate sold to Gabriel [& Esther] Morgan for $1, 22 Apr 1805

Lots 8, and either 2 or 10, may have been designated for David or Elizabeth, whose names do not appear among the deeds. On the other hand, Esther and Gabriel Morgan somehow managed to acquire both lots 2 and 10.

Only the families of four Miller daughters, Christina Snell, Esther Morgan, Mary Creamer, and Hannah (Snider) Shepley, ever lived on their land in Hamilton Township, Warren County. An 1867 map of the area shows Snells, Cramers, and Eltzroths still living in the area.

Magdalena Miller reportedly died in in Campbell County nine years after Philip in 1808.

Following Philip Jacob’s and Magdalena’s deaths, a few Miller children remained in Warren and Clermont counties, while others moved north to more fertile lands in Montgomery and Preble counties. Daughters Susannah Ullery and Magdalena Cripe migrated into northern Indiana, settling in Elkhart County.


  • Agree 1799: 19 Dec 1799, Articles of Agreement, Warren County Deed Book 14, Ohio
  • Deed 1803: 7 Sep 1803, Warren County, Ohio; recorded 9 Nov 1803
  • Deed 1803: 7 Sep 1803, Clermont County, Ohio; recorded 14 Dec 1803
  • Deed 1803: 28 Dec 1803, Warren County, Ohio; recorded 11 Apr 1804
  • Deed 1803: 28 Dec 1803, Clermont County, Ohio; recorded 28 Apr 1804
  • Deed 1805: 22 Apr 1805, Deed Book 1, Warren County, Ohio
  • Deed 1809: 22 Sep 1809, Deed Book 2, Warren County, Ohio

I was able to locate Philipp Jacob’s actual land thanks to a combination of sale information and the Warren County Maps and Atlases website which documents the military land grants and where they were located in Warren County.

Warren county maps

Hamilton Township is in the lower portion of Warren County bordering Clermont County on the south.

Hamilton twp map

“Map of Warren County Ohio With Municipal and Township Labels” by US Census, Ruhrfisch – taken from US Census website [1] and modified by User:Ruhrfisch. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Commons

Below we see track 3790 in 1867, still in the Cramer and Snell families. Part of grant 3790 extended southward into Clermont County.

Miller 3790 tract map

In 1867, we can see that the land in grant 3791 also remains in the Eltzroth family that purchased this section from Daniel Miller.

Miller 3791 tract map

Grant 3791 is located just above 3790.

Miller 3790 and 3791

Philipp Jacob’s Burial

We know where Philipp Jacob’s land was located, and we know he never lived there. When he died in early 1799, he was living in Campbell County, KY, across the Ohio River.  Had he planned to move to his land in Warren County?  We’ll never know.

There is a persistent family rumor that Philip Jacob was buried in an old cemetery that was on an island in the mouth of 12 Mile Creek (Campbell Co KY) that was washed away in an Ohio River flood. I find this hard to believe, given the difficulty of burying someone on an island.  The Brethren were practical if anything, and burying someone on an island is not practical from any standpoint.   On the other hand, if you can’t farm the island, at least it could serve as a cemetery.  So who knows.

12 Mile Creek crop

Merle Rummel, Brethren minister and historian visited the site of the “Twelve Mile Regular Baptist Church Island” cemetery. This cemetery is not on an island, and still exists, such as it is.  So perhaps Philip Jacob Miller was not buried on an island after all?

You might notice that 12 Mile Creek is about 20 miles downriver (northwest) from Bullskin, and assuming there was a ferry crossing, significantly closer to Philipp Jacob’s land which was northeast of present day Cincinnati.

12 Mile Creek to Warren Co

Merle Rummell visited the 12 Mile “Regular Baptist Church” Island Cemetery in either 2007 or 2009. He was kind enough to provide me with photos taken and information gathered during that visit.

Merle said:

All that remains on this site are 6 tombstones, none with death dates before 1849.

Ball, Mildred-died 28 Mar 1862; age 30 yrs 3 mo 8 days; wife of John Traver
Beagle, Wife of Jesse-June 1869/only date listed
Henderson, John-28 June 1828-21 Feb 1905
Stephens, Eleanor-22 Aug 1777-1 Sep 1849 wife of John Stephens
Stephens, John-1774-1849
Walker, daughter of J&M-died 18 July 1868 age 2y

Those buried earlier, and there seem to be several, are in unmarked graves.

Several field stones were found on end protruding out of the ground.  Several bases of headstones were also found.  The area around the foundation is heavily covered with Vinca or Periwinkle vines.  I suspect there may be more stones beneath this vegetation.  It also seems apparent that graves were placed on two sides of the old church.  This leads me to believe there are many more graves at this site than previously believed.  There appears to be foundation remains of two smaller outbuildings.

Based on the information and photos provided by Merle, the location of this cemetery and original church is where the red pin is shown below, utilizing Google maps.

12 Mile Church

This suggests that Philipp Jacob Miller probably lived in close proximity to this location.

12 Mile Church larger

Google street view shows us the area near the church, back in the gently rolling hills.  12 Mile Creek is to the right, paralleling the road.

Campbell Co near church

This picture shows the crossing of 12 Mile Creek.

Campbell Co. 12 Mile Creek

The cemetery would have been in the hills to the right.

Campbell Co viewing hills

If Philipp Jacob Miller truly was buried on an Island in the Ohio River at the mouth of 12 Mile Creek that washed away in a flood, it would have been near this location, where the divit marks the mouth of 12 Mile Creek.

Campbell Co 12 Mile map

A satellite view of the location.

Campbell Co 12 Mile satellite

The final resting place of Philipp Jacob Miller is one of the more interesting family mysteries that will, of course, never be solved.

Philip Jacob Miller’s Estate

I have always felt that looking at what someone left behind at their death tells us a lot about their life. In essence, it tells us the story of their life – except in Philipp Jacob’s case, he had gotten to start over several times.  Philip Jacob’s estate spoke of a farmer, but one that wasn’t entirely poor despite having “sold out” three years before when he left Maryland.

The family used glass. They had a looking glass, which is actually rather amazing considering the fact that they were Brethren, and a coffee mill.  All of the kitchen goods were included in the estate inventory as well, and of note, the value of the Bible and “sundry other books” is valued highly, equal to the box of glass, the cow and calf and the saddle.  And what were those “other books?”  My guess is that they were religious books.  Clearly, Philip Jacob Miller knew how to read and his books were important enough to him for them to be brought along to the new frontier, probably in the two trunks.

Nothing is found in Philipp Jacob’s estate inventory that speaks to anything but a simple, plain lifestyle that would be expected of a Brethren church member – except that pesky looking glass, which is very, very un-Brethren. A looking glass would have been considered very vain.

The amazing thing is that this is that an estate inventory lists ALL that the family owned, not just what they wanted to dispose of – and included everything – even things that were the wife’s.  So we have a complete picture – as unfair as that is to the spouse.

I shudder to think of cooking for a family with the utensils Magdalena had at her disposal.  There was no cook stove, so she cooked in the fireplace.  There was only one bed – but of course Philipp Jacob sold off anything extra before leaving Pennsylvania, so one bed was all that he and Magdalena needed.  They probably had more in Pennsylvania, or, the children slept on hay in the corners, a common practice at the time.

As a matter of course, family members often “bought” items at an estate sale, along with the neighbors. The widow was often allowed to take some kitchen things on credit against her “share,” which was one third of the value of the estate.

Persuant to an order of Campbell County Court, We the undersigned after being sworn appraised the Personal Estate of Philip Jacob Miller, Deceased. The articles contained in the Inventory are listed with the value of each respective article being placed opposite to it.

Philip Jacob inventoryPhilip Jacob Inventory 2

Campbell September Court 1799

Dale Landon was kind enough to provide the original estate documents from his visit to Campbell County, KY.

Estate Appraisal Page 1 crop

Estate Appraisal Page 2 Part 1

Estate Appraisal Page 2 Part 2

As I look at his estate, I wonder how much Philipp Jacob brought with him in 1796 as he migrated down the Ohio to Campbell County and how much be bought after arriving.

It’s odd that he had an old wagon and an old horse too. Did they come all the way from Pennsylvania in that wagon and horse?  One horse could not have pulled a loaded wagon alone.  Of course, the “grey stud” was probably a horse (given his value) and could have been teamed with the mare.

One thing we know for sure, the Bible came along with Philip Jacob from Washington County, probably packed into one of those two trunks. And in those two trunks were packed the cumulative results of a lifetime – all condensed into just two trunks.

If I had two trunks to pack, what things would I take with me?

Philip Jacobs’ sons, David and Abraham administered his estate. Estate packets are extremely interesting and sometimes hold many hints as to the life of the person whose estate is being administered.  In this case, we know that Philip Jacob’s wife, Magdalena became ill, was treated for her illness, but it “carried her off” anyway.

Debts of the estate of Jacob Miller deceased in account with David and Abraham Miller administrators:

Philip Jacob estate accountPhilip Jacob estate account 2

Campbell County to wit: Agreeable to an order of the Court of Campbell County we the undersigned being appointed commifsioner to examin and settle with the administrators of Philip Jacob Miller dec.’d as to the personal estate of the deceased and do report to the court of Campbell County that the above is a true statement given under our hands this 19th day of Sep’r 1808 James Noble George Porter Written on the right edge of the page. Campbell September Court 1808 This Report of the commifsioners appointed to settle with the Administrators of Philip J. Miller dec’d was returned to Court and ordered to be recorded and is recorded. Test James Taylor clk

Estate inventory and debts posted to the Rootsweb Brethren list by Dale Landon on March 11, 2010 and he provided originals below, as well.

Estate Inventory Page 1 Part 1

Estate Inventory Page 1 Part 2

Estate Inventory Page 2 Part 1

Estate Inventory Page 2 Part 2

There are couple items of interest on this list. The money from John Schnebly was likely for the land back in Washington County.  He bought both John’s and Philip Jacob’s land, and he may have also bought all of the farm and household goods that Philip Jacob wanted to sell before leaving as well.

I had to laugh at the entry for whiskey at the estate appraisal.  I have seen whiskey provided at the sale and I’m guessing it loosens up the bidding and makes the net sales much higher!

At first glance, it looks like Jacob had a son Jacob who had an estate, but that’s not the case. The court referred to Philip Jacob as Jacob, crediting the balance of his estate sale to his estate account to be settled by the administrators at a later date.

Philip Jacob’s wife, Magdalena does pass away and the estate pays for her doctor bills and funeral as well.   I’d love to see the date on that receipt.

The Philip Jacob Miller Bible

Philip Jacob Miller probably sat in front of his fireplace in his home on Ash Swamp, about the time of his father’s death in 1771, reminded of his own mortality, and dutifully wrote the names and dates of his children’s births into his new Bible.

Philip Jacob Miller Bible front page

On February 11, 2009, I was fortunately enough with some hints and sleuthing to find the Philip Jacob Miller Bible in Elkhart, Indiana. The custodial family, who has no idea how the Bible originally came to be in their family, has taken wonderful care of the Bible and allowed it to be photographed.

Both the custodial family and I spent a significant amount of time trying to figure out how they came to be in possession of the Miller family Bible, which is greatly cherished as a family heirloom. I suspected a second marriage or something of that sort, but the only connection we could find was that their family bought a house that was in the John Miller family – and perhaps, just perhaps, the Bible got accidentally left in that home, perhaps to be discovered a generation later in the attic – and of course, cherished as a family heirloom – not realizing it wasn’t from their family.  Thank goodness they cherish it, because that’s the only reason it still exists today.

Upon arriving to visit the Bible, another surprise was awaiting me, as the front section holds the children’s birth records of Philip Jacob Miller, and the back holds the same for the children of Daniel Miller, son of Philip Jacob Miller, also my ancestor. It was a double hitter day!  Given a signature in the Bible, I also believe that Daniel’s son John was likely the next custodian, taking the Bible to Elkhart County, Indiana.

This Bible was printed in 1770, but the first child’s birth recorded is in 1752, and Philip Jacob’s children are not entered in birth order. Furthermore, the handwriting in the back matches Daniel’s exactly.  This tells us that this Bible is probably not the original Philip Jacob Miller Bible.  One look at what happened in Frederick County, MD in 1750s and 1760s and we’ll quickly understand why.

The residents all evacuated twice and their houses were burned. If the family Bible didn’t manage to somehow get put in the wagon as the family was evacuating, then it was burned.  The Miller family was back in the region by 1765 when Michael Miller, Philip Jacob’s father, was deeding land, but I’m guessing a new Bible didn’t get purchased until after Michael’s death in 1771.  Perhaps Philip Jacob thought the purchase of a new Bible would be a fitting remembrance for funds received after his father’s death.  Or maybe Michael bought it for Philipp Jacob before his passing.

Regardless of how Philipp Jacob acquired this Bible it was obviously precious to him and cherished by the family.

A single entry unquestionably identifies the owner.

Beside the first entry in the Bible, which is the birth of Daniel in 1755, there is another entry which says “1775 Daniel Meines Sohn Sohn zur Welt geboren” (my son’s son was born into this world). In the back portion, we show the birth indeed of Stephen in 1775, the eldest son of Philip Jacob’s eldest son Daniel.  An earlier 1947 translation (apparently before the tape was applied) says “my grandson was born March 7, 1775”, which was obviously translated before the tape was applied, and matches exactly with Daniel’s own entry of his son’s birth.

Philip Jacob Miller Bible Daniel entry

The following photo is me holding the Bible. What a glorious day.  I am extremely grateful to the owners for very graciously allowing me to visit.

Philip Jacob Miller Bible and me crop

The following page is the front page with Philip Jacob’s children’s birth recorded.

Philip Jacob Miller Bible children

The births are recorded as follows:

  • Lizabeth Miller was born in April 1752.
  • My daughter Lidia was born at 3 o’clock at night, Junee 18, 1754. The zodiac sign was the Waterman (Aquarius).  (Note that the name and date were struck out.)
  • My son Daniel Miller was born at 4 o-clock at night April 8, 1755. He died August 26, 1822.
  • My son David was born December 1, 1757, at 3 o-clock at night. The zodiac sign was he lion (Leo).
  • My daughter Susannah was born March 2, 1759, at 7 o’clock in the morning. The sign was the Bull (Taurus).
  • My daughter Christine was born December 4, 1761 at 10 o’clock in the forenoon, the sign was the Fish (Pisces).
  • My daughter Mariles was born — 1762 at 8 o’clock in the morning. The sign was the Virgin (Virgo).
  • My son Abraham was born April 28, 1764.
  • My son Solomon was born March 20, 1767.
  • My daughter Ester was born February 13, 1769.

Daughter Hannah, as reflected in the 1799 agreement between Philip Jacob’s heirs is not reflected in this list of Philip Jacob’s children.  We’re also left to presume that Mariles is Mary.

As little as this is, it’s absolutely the only thing written in Philip Jacob’s own hand, showing any of his personality at all. It’s extremely interesting that he recorded the astrological signs for many of his children.

The following page is the back page recording the births of Daniel’s children.

Philip Jacob Miller Bible Daniel children

However, the first entry is that of Daniel himself, again, and the second entry is that of his sister Lizbeth born in 1752 who was not recorded on the front page. Of course, we know this was a recopied Bible. This Bible survived the trip west in a wagon, then floating down the Ohio River.  This Bible has been wet one or more times.  We know that in the early 1800s, this Bible went to Warren or Clermont County, Ohio, then Montgomery County, Ohio, then in the 1830s, to Elkhart County, Indiana where it remained for the next 177 years or so.

The top back entry for Daniel also has his death entry beside it to the right in a different hand and ink.

Following those entries we find Daniel’s children. Oddly, we find no other deaths recorded nor marriages.

We do find his son John’s signature in the Bible twice, once at the bottom of the back page (shown above) and once a few pages inside the front.

Philip Jacob Miller Bible John signature

It looks like Philip Jacob Miller and his wife lost a child in 1756, as there is a child born in April 1755 and then not another one until 2 and a half years later, suggesting that they lost a child about September 1756. 1756 was the year that the Brethren were evacuated and was reported to be the worst of that time. Did Magdalena have that child in a wagon perhaps?  We are left to wonder what happened.  One thing is for sure, that child’s death and the grief it brought to the family made whatever else was happening in 1756 even worse.  For all we know, that child may have had to be laid to rest along the roadside someplace in an anonymous grave.

Daughter Lidia died, probably as a child – as the only record of Lidia is this Bible.

We don’t know what happened to Solomon either, so the presumption would have to be that he passed away.

A Remarkable Life

As I think of Philip Jacob’s life, I think if what an undauntable spirit this man must have had. He was undefeatable and seemingly tireless.  If you look at his life, he repeatedly faced incredibly difficult challenges that would be overwhelming to most of us, yet he overcame them all in one way or another, in spite of, or perhaps because of his overarching Brethren faith.

Here’s a brief timeline review of Philip’s life:

1726 or before – born in Germany
1727 – immigrated to America
1727 – ?? uncertain
17?? – 1744 – Chester County, PA
1744 – 1751 – York County, PA and the Border War
1751 – married Magdalena, probably York Co, PA
1754 – his mother has died by 1754 when his father has remarried
1751 – 1755 – Frederick County, MD on Ash Swamp
1755 – 1761? – Evacuated to someplace
1761 – 1763 – Frederick County, MD on Ash Swamp
1763 – 1765 – Evacuated to perhaps Conewago in Lancaster Co., PA
1765 -1796 – Frederick Co., MD on Ash Swamp
1767 – Naturalized in Philadelphia, PA
1771 – his father dies, Frederick County, MD
1775 – 1782 – Revolutionary War, Frederick Co. MD on Ash Swamp
1782 – 1783 – brother Lodowich moves to the Shenandoah Valley
1780 – sons Daniel and David move to Bedford County, PA
1794 – brother John dies
1796 – Sells Ash Swamp, moves to Campbell County, KY
1799 – Dies, leaves 2000 acres in Ohio across the river from Campbell County, KY to his children

In 1796, Philip Jacob Miller, at age 70 (or older), sold Ash Swamp, 290 acres and probably rode the Ohio River to the next frontier where he bought 2000 acres. What a fine grand hurrah and legacy for the German man who began with nothing.  America truly had been the land of opportunity, albeit with a few pretty significant speed bumps along the way.

I would love to have known this man with the irrepressible spirit. Even in his golden years when other men his age want nothing more than to be left alone drowsing in sun puddles in the rocking chair on the porch, he sold everything, packed up, probably bought a flat boat and set out on one final adventure.  His sons Daniel and David had been in Morrison’s Cove now for about 20 years.  His daughters were marrying and moving away too.  Was this Philip Jacob’s way of bringing the family together in one place for his final years?  If so, it worked.  Land has a way of doing that.

Oh yes, and did I mention that the Revolutionary War veterans who received grants for this Ohio land that Philip Jacob had already claimed felt it was too risky and dangerous to claim, so they sold it to land speculators, or privately to frontiersmen willing to take risks, like Philip Jacob Miller. Philip Jacob Miller never seemed to shy away from challenges.  In some cases, he had no choice, but this time, he set forth willingly and embraced an uncertain future – even in the golden years of his life.

Ironic that Philip Jacob Miller, as a pietist Brethren, lived through being caught in the midst of 4 separate wars that spanned his entire adulthood. We’ll likely never know the full price of his decision to remain true to the Brethren principles.  The Jacob Miller family that was slaughtered could have been his brother.


The Miller family genealogy has been particularly difficult because so much ambiguity remains about the children of Johann Michael Miller, the original American immigrant, and then about his grandchildren as well. For example, his son, Philipp Jacob Miller’s children are documented, thanks to his Bible and his estate record, but his brothers’ Lodowick and John don’t have Bibles to document their children, and neither are the descendants of their children documented in many cases.

To make matters worse, any person with the surname of Miller in that time and place, or even nearby got appended to this family.

In order to help sort through this, the Miller-Brethren DNA project at Family Tree DNA welcomes not only Miller males of Brethren heritage, but anyone who descends from a Miller Brethren line, male or female.  Miller males need to take the Y DNA test.  These men and everyone descended from any Brethren Miller line needs to have taken the Family Finder autosomal test.

One challenge with autosomal DNA is that so many of the Brethren lines are so highly intermarried. When you match another Miller descendant, it’s difficult to know if you’re matching through your Miller line, or maybe through a different Brethren line that you both share.  Unfortunately, since the Brethren frowned on things like marriage licenses, many wives’ surnames are unknown.

For example, we don’t know who Philip Jacob’s wife, Magdalena’s parents were, but a number of Miller descendants do match with a whole group of Mumaw descendants who don’t appear to have a common ancestor with the Miller line. Clearly we do have a common ancestor, someplace, so either they have a Miller, or Miller wife’s line in the Mumaw woodpile, or we have a Mumaw or Mumaw wife’s line in the Miller lineage woodpile.  And yes, the Mumaw’s were indeed in the right places at the right time.  It’s a much better bet than Rochette – but only time and more testing by more descendants will tell.

We don’t have all the answers, by any stretch, but we have proven one thing. The Elder Jacob Miller of Maryland, Virginia and Ohio does not share a common paternal ancestor with Johann Michael Miller.  That’s a very valuable piece of information, moving forward.  This also helps us sort descendants.  Let’s face it, Miller is a German trade name and there are just too many men with the same first names.  We need all the help we can get.

If you descend from anyone in a Brethren Miller line, please join the Miller-Brethren DNA project through Family Tree DNA.

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.



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Scott Foley – Who Do You Think You Are – “God Knows I Am Innocent”

Scott Foley is featured on Who Do You Think You Are this Sunday, April 10 on TLC at 9/8c.

This episode is truly interesting, focusing on two defining periods in American history – and little known aspects of both – The Salem Witch Trials and the American Revolution.  If you’re a history junkie you won’t want to miss this episode.

I am innocent

Actor Scott Foley has been married to his wife, Marika, since 2007. They have three young children and he credits them as being a huge reason why he wants to learn about his own heritage. Marika is Polish-American, and her family has a rich history in Poland. As a patriotic American, Scott would like his children to understand their American ancestry too.

Since Scott’s tree is virtually a blank page, he’d like to investigate the only family lore he’s heard. There’s always been a rumor that his paternal grandparents’ side has ties to the Revolutionary War, but Scott isn’t sure how or why. Scott decides to sit down with his father to see if there’s any other clues he can glean to start his search.

Scott’s father Hugh has a few vague leads for his son; he believes the Revolutionary War story is connected to his mother Evelyn Fogg’s line, who died before Scott could meet her. From what he can remember, her mother’s maiden name was something like Wadworth. Curious about the Revolutionary War story, Scott and Hugh go online to the DAR website and search for anyone named Wadworth – which returns zero results. Scott tries “Wadsworth” instead and hits 50 listings. Scott figures he should head to the DAR itself for more answers – and it’s a good thing he did, because Wadworth isn’t the right name at all.  Thankfully, Scott teams with a professional genealogist.

Scott meets with genealogist Kyle Betit at the DAR in Washington, D.C. Kyle has dug into records and compiled a family tree for Scott on ancestry.com to see if he could get back to an ancestor who was alive during the Revolutionary War.

Pouring over the tree, Scott discovers that the family name was actually “Wardwell,” and confirms through the tree and DAR website that his 5x great-grandfather Simon Wardwell is in fact recognized as a Patriot. But who was this ancestor, and how was he associated with the War? Simon Wardwell’s pension file reveals that he enlisted around the start of the Revolutionary War in 1776 and revealed something truly amazing about his service. Scott heads off to Washington’s former headquarters in Cambridge, MA to find out more.

At Washington’s Headquarters, Scott meets with historian Scott Stephenson. And learns that his ancestor, Simon would’ve witnessed incredibly significant events in American history, including an attempt on Washington’s life, and the reading of the Declaration of Independence.

Having finally discovered the truth behind his family’s Revolutionary War story, Scott is still curious if he can trace his ancestors back to colonial times in America. He travels to the New England Historic Genealogical Society to do some more digging.

At the NEHGS in Boston, Scott meets with historian Mary Beth Norton, who presents him with a large family tree. Scott confirms that the Wardwells stretch back generations in Massachusetts, all the way to his 9x great-grandfather, the immigrant. But Mary Beth reveals that Scott’s 8x great-grandfather Samuel Wardwell is well known to certain colonial historians. Scott discovers that in 1692, Samuel was caught up in the infamous Salem Witch Trials.

Scott learns the Salem Witch crisis started when two young girls from Salem began suffering from bizarre fits. Soon a local doctor declared they were under the influence of evil. This sparked great fear and hysteria; accusations of witchcraft exploded. The mainly Puritan community felt God was punishing them, and sought to reaffirm their religious beliefs by going after those they believed in league with the devil. They aggressively pursued anyone accused, including Samuel Wardwell. Mary Beth suggests that to find out what happened to Samuel, Scott head to Salem.

At “The Witch House” in Salem, MA, Scott talks with Salem Witch Trials historian Margo Burns. Curious about his ancestor’s trial, Scott uncovers testimony from a teenage girl who accused Samuel of “afflicting” her, and a man who claimed Samuel could predict the future and witnessed him reading palms.

Scott discovers the date of his ancestor’s death, September 22, 1692 – and the details. Wanting to pay his respects, Scott heads off to the Salem Witch Trial Memorial.

Scott takes a moment to reflect on the incredible lives of the men he’s discovered. Scott is pleased to know his family has deep roots in some of the most iconic events in American history; true stories for his children.

Concepts – Parental Phasing

I recently used a technique called parental phasing as part of the proof that one Curtis Lore found in Pennsylvania was the same person as Curtis Benjamin Lore, found later in Indiana.  Given that I’ve already used parental phasing as part of a proof argument, I’d like to break it down further and explain the concepts behind parental phasing, what it is, why it is so important, and why it works so well.

For those of you who don’t have at least one parent available to test, I’m truly sorry, and not just because of the lost DNA opportunity. But please do read this article, because you may be able to substitute other family members and derive at least some of the benefits, although clearly not all.

What is Parental Phasing?

The fundamental concept of parental phasing is that the only way you can obtain your DNA is through one or the other of your parents, so every one of your matches should match you plus one of your parents. Right?

Should, yes, but that’s not exactly how autosomal matching works in real life.

You can match someone in one of two ways:

  1. Because you received the matching segment from one of your two parents, and they received that same segment from one of their two parents, a circumstance that is called identical by descent or IBD.
  2. Because your match’s DNA is zigzagging back and forth between the DNA you inherited from both of your parents, or your DNA is zigzagging back and forth between their parents, either of which is called identical by chance or IBC.

I wrote about his in the article titled, Concepts – Identical by…Descent, State, Population and Chance.

Here’s the matching “Identical By” cheat sheet since you may find it helpful in this article as well.

Identical by Chart

How Does Parental Phasing Work?

Parental phasing works by comparing your DNA against your matches DNA, then comparing your matches DNA against your parents DNA, and telling you which, if either, or both, parents they match in addition to you. Oh yes, and there’s one more tiny tidbit – they must match you and your parent(s) on the same segment(s).

As bizarre as it sounds, sometimes your match will match you on one segment, and match your parents on an entirely different segment.  While this was not an expected finding, it does happen, and frequently enough that it was found in every parental phasing test run – so it’s not an anomaly or something so rare you won’t see it.

Therefore, parental phasing may be a two part process, where:

  • Step 1 is determining whether or not your match matches either or both of your parents.
  • Step 2 is determining if your match matches you and your parent on the same segment(s), or at least part of the same segment? If not, then it’s not a phased IBD match – even though they do match you and your parent.

Conceptually, each of your matches will fall nice and cleanly into one, or both, of your parent’s buckets. Let’s look at a couple of examples.  For each of the people who match you, they will also match your parents on the same segment as follows:

Match Matches Your Mother Matches Your Father Matches Neither Parent Comment
Susie Yes No From Mom’s side, IBD
John No Yes From Dad’s side, IBD
Bob Yes Yes Matches both parents lines, IBD and may be IBP
Roxanne No No Yes Identical by Chance, IBC

Please Note: Your match list will change if you change your matching threshold, and so will your phased matches to your parents.  In other words, while someone might not match you and a parent both on the same segment at 15cM, you might well match on a common segment at a 10, 7 or 5cM threshold.

So in essence, parental phasing puts your matches into very useful buckets for you and helps eliminate false positives – or matches that appear real but aren’t.

How Can Someone Match Me But Not My Parents?

That’s a really good question. Sometimes you match someone because you received common DNA from an ancestor, through your parents, which means you’re identical by descent (IBD), a legitimate genealogical match.  But other times, you match someone just by chance because their DNA is matching pieces of both of your parents’ DNA, and not because you actually share a common ancestor.

Let’s take a look.

This first graphic shows you with an identical by descent match to your match’s father’s DNA. Your match’s father shares a common relative with (at least) one of your mother’s lines.

Phase IBD

In the most basic terms, an identical by descend (IBD) match looks like this, where your match is matching you on one of your parent’s strands of DNA. Both matching strands are colored green in this example.

Of course, your DNA does not come labeled as to which side is mother’s and which side is father’s. You can read more about that here. If it did, we wouldn’t even need to be having this discussion at all – because that’s what parental phasing does.  It tells you which side of your family your DNA match came from.

You can see in the above example that you and your match both share an actual strand of DNA. You inherited yours from your Mom and your match inherited theirs from their Dad, which means your Mom and their Dad share a common ancestor.  However, to be able to discern that fact, that your Mom and your match’s Dad share a common ancestor, you need to be able to phase the DNA of both you and your match to know which parent that strand came from.

In reality, your DNA and their DNA is entirely mixed in each of you, shown in the chart below, and without additional information, neither of you will know which strand of DNA you match on, or who you inherited it from.  Initially, you will only know THAT you match.

Phase IBD2

So here’s what your DNA really looks like. It’s up to the DNA matching software to look at the two strands of your DNA that’s mixed together, and the two strands of your match’s DNA that’s mixed together and see if there is a common grouping of DNA at each location that extends for at least 10 locations in length, which is the “threshold” for our example that signifies a match that is likely to be “real” versus IBC, or identical by chance.  In my example, that common grouping is the green “Matching Portions” column, above.

An identical by chance match looks like the chart below. You can see that the green matching DNA is zigzagging back and forth between your parents’ DNA.

Phase IBC

It can even be worse where your match’s Mom’s and Dad’s DNA is also zigzagging back and forth, but you can certainly get the idea that there are all kinds of ways to NOT match but only three ways to legitimately match – Mom’s side, Dad’s side, or both.

So you can see that indeed, you do technically match, but not because you share a DNA segment of any size with one parent, but because your match’s DNA matches part of your Mom’s DNA and part of your Dad’s, which means that DNA segment does NOT come from one common ancestor, meaning not IBD. However, the matching software can’t tell the difference, because your strands aren’t coded to Mom and Dad.

What parental phasing does is to assign your matches to “sides” or buckets based on whether they match your Mom or Dad in addition to you.

One Parent Matches

In my case, I only have one parent whose DNA is available. Therefore, all of my matches will either match both my mother and me, or not.  The balance that do not match me and my mother, both, will either match to my father or will be IBC, identical by chance matches.  Unfortunately, just by utilizing one-parent phasing, I can’t tell if the “non-Mom” matches are really to my father or are IBC.

Let’s look at an example.

Match Mom’s Side Dad or IBC Comment
Denny Yes Probably not Mom’s side, could also match on Dad’s side but we have no way to tell. My parents lines come from different parts of the world except that they both married into Native American lines.
Sally No Yes Can’t tell whether Dad’s side or IBC
Derrell No Yes Also matches cousin on Dad’s side on same segments, so Derrell is assigned to Dad’s side pending triangulation.

By using the ICW tool at Family Tree DNA, shown below, I can see who matches me and my matches, both – in this case, me and my mother.

No Parent Matches

If I have no parents in the system, but several other close family members, like uncles or cousins, I can easily see who else I match in common with my match.

In other words, without my mother to match, Denny will either match my Mom’s side family members, and I can tentatively group him there, my Dad’s side family members, and I can tentatively group him there, or neither, in which case I can’t do anything with him except note that fact.

An Example

I’m going to use my proven cousin Denny for my examples, because that’s who I used in my Curtis Lore case study and our connection is proven both genetically and genealogically.

Here’s Denny’s match list. My mother is Denny’s closest match and I’m his second closest.

Phase match list

Therefore, I can use the ICW technique to effectively put my matches into buckets that divide my DNA in half, if I have both parents.

If I have one parent, I can fill one bucket for sure by putting everyone who matches both my mother and me into the “mother” bucket. The balance will be in the “Father +IBC” bucket.

This is easy to do at Family Tree DNA by using the crossed arrow ICW tool to find everyone who matches me in common with my mother.

Phase iCW

If I don’t have either parent, but I have an uncle or a cousin, I can still assign some matches to buckets by utilizing this same ICW tool. What I can’t do without both parents is to eliminate IBC or identical by chance matches from my match list.  I need both parents or at least well fleshed out match groups to do that.  There are examples of using match groups to identify IBC matches in the article, Identical By…Descent, Chance, Population and State.

Furthermore, I will need to download my match lists for both my mother and myself to verify that each person matches both my mother and myself on a common segment.

Testing the Theory

Let’s use my real life example and see how this works. I’m going to utilize three generations, because this gives us the ability to see the parental phasing work twice.  In this illustration, below, four people have tested, Denny, Mother, Me and My Child.

Phase pedigree

Denny and my child, who are 3rd cousins once removed, match on the following DNA segments, utilizing the Family Tree DNA chromosome browser.  We are comparing against Denny, meaning he is the “background” black chromosome.  The orange illustrates where my child matches Denny.

Phase browser denny child

There are no matching segments on chromosomes 18-22.  I have not included X chromosome matching.

Here’s the same information in chart format.

Phase chart denny child

You can see that Denny and my child have several fairly significant segment matches, along with some smaller ones too. The question is, which of those segments are legitimate, meaning IBD and which are not, meaning IBC?

Let’s phase my child against my DNA and see which of these segment matches hold up.

My child is orange, and I am blue and we are both matching against cousin Denny.

phase browser denny child me

As you can see, many of those segments are legitimate because Denny matches both me and my child on the same segments. So they are not IBC, or identical by chance, but IBD, identical, literally, by descent – because my child received them from me.

In some cases, Denny matches only me, blue, which is fine because all that means is that either our matches are IBC or I didn’t pass that DNA to my child. Both matches on chromosome 3 are to me (blue) and not to my child (orange).

However, in the cases where Denny matches my child (orange,) and not me (blue,) on the same segments, that means that either Denny and my child share an ancestor that is through my child’s father or the matches are IBC.  Those matches are not through me.  In other words, those segments did not pass phasing.  You can see examples of that on chromosomes 1, 4 and 14, and partial matches on 11 and 12.

Chromosome 16 shows a really good example of a crossover event where my child, orange, received part of my DNA, blue, but about half way through my segment, it was divided and my child inherited part of mine and the other half from their father.  So, visually, you can see that my child only matches Denny on about half of the segment where I match Denny.

Matches Spreadsheet

I downloaded the results of both Denny’s matches to me and Denny’s matches to my child into one Matches Spreadsheet and have color coded them so that you can see the relationships.  If Denny matches both me and my child, you will see a common segment on that chromosome for both me and my child in the spreadsheet.  Rows where Denny matches my child are light orange and rows where Denny matches me are light blue, similar to the chromosome browser colors.

Denny Me Child

There are only three possible conditions and I have colored the chromosome column accordingly:

  • Denny matches me only – dark teal – may be a legitimate match but we don’t have enough information to tell at this point
  • Denny matches my child only, but not me – red – NOT a legitimate match – identical by chance (IBC)
  • Denny matches me and my child both – boxed green – a legitimate identical by descent (IBD) match

You’ll note that some of these matches are exact. For example on the first matching segment of chromosome 2, below, my child received this entire segment of my DNA.  It was not divided at all.

Denny Me Child 2

However, in the next two matching groups on chromosome 2, my child received most of the DNA I share with Denny, but some was shaved off, but not half.

Denny Me Child 2 shaved

On chromosome 16, my child received almost exactly half of the DNA segment that I share with Denny.

Denny Me Child 16

On chromosomes 11 and 17, my child shares more DNA with Denny than I do, which means that all of that DNA isn’t ancestral though me. In this case, either there are some fuzzy boundaries, a read error, part of the DNA is IBD and part is IBC or part of the DNA is matching through both parents.

Denny Me Child 17 c

On chromosome 14, I match Denny, but my child received none of that DNA, which is why I’ve added the color teal.

Denny Me Child 14 c

Now, let’s phase me against my mother and see how the DNA matches hold up in a third generation.

Adding the Next Generation

The view of the chromosome browser below shows Denny matching my child, in orange, me in blue and my mother in green.

Amazingly, many of these segments follow through all three generations.

phase browser denny child me mother

Let’s see how the various matches stacked up, pardon the pun.

I’ve added Denny’s matches to mother to the Matches Spreadsheet and her rows are colored green.

On the Matches Spreadsheet from the first example, there were several segments where Denny matched only me and not my child. They were colored teal.  In the chart below, so we can track those segments, I have colored them teal in the matchname column, and you can see the resolution of how they did or didn’t survive phasing against my mother in the chromosome column.

Of those 11 segments, 2 phased with my mother, the rest did not. That makes sense, since none of those are segments I passed on to my child, so they would be more likely to be IBC.

Denny me Child Mom SS

The legend for the spreadsheet above is as follows:

  • Dark teal in chromosome column – Denny matches Mom only – may be a legitimate match but we don’t have enough information to know (chromosomes 1, 2, 4, 5, 6, 7, 9, 12 and 15)
  • Dark teal in matchname column, plus red in chromosome column – previously Denny matched only me, now I do not phase against my mother, so this is an IBC match (chromosomes 1, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 10, 12 and 17)
  • Dark teal in matchname column, plus green box in chromosome column – previously Denny only matched me, but now this segment is parentally phased and considered legitimate (chromosomes 2 and 10)
  • Red in chromosome column – does not phase against parent, so not a legitimate match – IBC (chromosomes 1, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 10, 11, 12, 14 and 17)
  • Green box indicates a phased match – considered IBD and legitimate (chromosomes 1, 2, 10, 14, 15, 16 and 17)


*So what the heck happened with chromosome 11?

In the first example, this segment received a green box because Denny matched both me and my child on a partial segment, which means that partial segment is phased and considered legitimate.

denny me child mom ss 11 grn

When we moved to the next generation, phasing against my mother, Denny does not match my mother on this segment, so it could NOT have arrived in me and my child via my mother, so it is not IBD, even though it appeared that way initially. Because of this, I’ve changed the box color to red for a non-IBD match.

Denny me Child Mom SS 11

How could this happen?

First, it’s a very small segment overlap match, and second, Denny matched more to my child than to me, which is a neon warning sign that this segment match is suspect, especially those two conditions in combination with each other.

Here’s an example of how, genetically, a match could phase with a parent in one generation, but not hold into the next generation.

phase n o phase

This match matches both me and my child (gold), but not my mother, who has no gold. As you can see, the match does accrue 10 gold location matches in a row, but not 10 green ones, so doesn’t match my mother.  The larger the number of locations in a row required to be considered a match, the less likely this type of random matching will be to occur.

This is both the purpose and the quandry of thresholds.  Finding that sweet spot that doesn’t eliminate real matches, but is high enough to be useful in eliminating false positive (IBC) matches.  And I can tell you, there are just about as many opinions on what that threshold number should be as there are people giving opinions – and everyone seems to have one!  You can read more about this in the article, Concepts – CentiMorgans, SNPs and Pickin’ Crab.

Segment Survival

Let’s take a look and see how many of which size segments survived parental phasing.  Are some of those smaller segments legitimate matches, or did we lose them in phasing?

The chart below shows the results in segment size order, color coded as follows:

  • Red = segments that did not phase and were IBC
  • Teal = segments that match Mom only and may or may not be valid. We don’t have any way to know without additional matches.
  • Green = segments that phased and are IBD

Phased cMs by size

As you would expect, all of the larger segments phased, but surprisingly, so did several of the smaller segments, through three generations.

Given the fact that teal matches did not phase, for the most part, in the previous example, and given that the teal segments are mostly small, my suspicion would be that most of  these teal segments would not phase (with the probable exception of the 10.27 cm segment), if we have the opportunity to find out – which we don’t.

This example is for a non-endogamous line, or better stated, with distant endogamous groups in multiple lines. Endogamous results would probably be different.


What do our statistics look like?

There were 58 matching segments between Denny, my child, me and my mother.

  Match To Whom # Segments # Phased %
Denny My Child 12 8 75
Denny Me 22 11 50
Denny Mother 24 Probably at least 11
Total 58

Of those 58 total matches, 16 were IBC meaning they did not match up through my mother.


Segment Matches

IBC (no phase) IBD (phase) Just Mother Match Groups 2 gen Groups 3 gen Groups
58 16 29 13 12 3 9
% 28% 50% 22% 25% 75%

Thirteen match just to mother (teal), of which one, on chromosome 12 for 10.27 centiMorgans, is the most likely to be legitimate, or IBD. The rest were smaller segments and none were passed to a the child, so they are less likely to be legitimate, or IBD.

There are a total of 12 matching groups, of which 3 are for only two generations, me and mother. In other words, not all of that DNA got passed on to my child, but at least some of it did 9 of those 12 times.

Does Size Matter?

I wanted to see how the small versus large segments faired in terms of three generations of parental phasing. Are smeller segments legitimate or not?  Do they stand up?  The “Phased cMs by Size” chart above was sorted in chromosome order, with teal being a match to mother only (so we don’t know if it phased), green meaning the segment DID phase and red meaning it DID NOT phase with the parent.

Removing the teal blocks, which match to mother only, meaning we don’t know if they would parentally phase or not, leaves us with the blocks that had the opportunity to phase, and whether they passed or failed. 100% of the blocks 3.57cM and above phased.  A natural dividing line seems to occur about the 3.5 cM level, shown below.

phased cms by size less teal

It’s interesting that all matches above 3.36 cM phased, several of them twice, through three generations or two transmission (inheritance) events. Of those, 9, or 43% were under the 10cM threshold suggested by some, and 7, or 33% were under the 7cM threshold.

Most of the segments 3.36 cM and below, did not pass phasing. Of those, 6 or 26% did pass phasing, while 17, or 74%, did not.  Note that this cM level is with the SNP threshold set to 500 SNPs, which is generally the lowest number I use.

Segment Size # of Segments # Segments Phased %
Larger than 3.5 cM 21 21 100
Smaller than 3.5 cM 23 6 26

Are these results a function of this particular family, or would this hold if more parental generational phasing studies were performed?

Let’s see. 

The Threshold Study

I was surprised by the seemingly low threshold of 3.5 cM that appeared to be the rough dividing line for cMs that passed parental phasing and those that did not. I undertook a small study of four additional 3 generation non-endogamous families.

I’ve included the Lore study that we discussed above in the first column.

I have also removed all duplicates in the results below, since the duplicates were an artifact of matching groups where we had three generations to match.

I completed 4 different three-generation studies in 4 unrelated non-endogamous families and noted the rough threshold for where matches seem to pass or fail phasing – in other words, the fall line. In all 4 examples below, the threshold was between 2.46 and 3.16 cM.  You could move it slightly higher, depending on what criteria you use for the “fall line,” which is why I’ve included the raw data.  In all cases, the SNP threshold was at 500 so you would not see any matches with fewer than 500 SNPs.

The black bar in the results below marks the location where the shift from fail to pass occurs in the various studies.

4 family phasing

Additionally, I have one 4-generation study available as well. The closest related of the 4 generations that were being matched against were first cousins, then first cousins once removed, then first cousins twice removed (equal to 2nd cousins) then 1st cousins three times removed (equal to second cousins once removed).

You can see, below, that the pass/fail threshold for this 4 generation, 3 transmission study was also at 3.69 cM for valid segments that survived. The segments labeled “2 match” mean that they did not get passed to the younger generations, so they only matched in the oldest two generations, 3 match the oldest 3 generations and 4 match meaning the match survived through all 4 generations.

It’s interesting that even some of the smaller segments held through all 4 generations.

4 gen phasing

Ethnicity Matters

Clearly, parental phasing is only successful when you have matches. Of the three data bases available for autosomal DNA comparisons today, Family Tree DNA and 23andMe likely have the largest representation of non-US participants, because the Ancestry.com test was not sold outside the US for quite some time.  The Family Tree DNA Family Finder test was sold in the most locations outside the US.

Family Tree DNA probably has the best representation of Jewish DNA of all of the data bases.

Family Tree DNA projects facilitate the grouping of individuals by self-selected interest which includes ethnic categories, making those relationships visible by virtue of project membership wherein they are not readily evident in other data bases.

Therefore, by virtue of who has tested, if your ancestry is not “US” meaning a melting pot type of environment who are not recent arrivals, then you are likely to have less matches, so less phased matches too.  If you have a high degree of any particular ethnicity, even if your ancestry is “US,” you may still have fewer matches.  For example, 3 of 4 of my mother’s grandparents were either German or Dutch, and she has 710 matches, or roughly half the matches that I have.  My father’s heritage was Appalachian, meaning Colonial American.

Here’s a quick chart showing the total matches as of April, 2016 for a number of individuals who contributed their match totals in Family Finder and who carry either no US heritage or a specific ethnicity.  For purposes of comparison, three individuals with typical mixed colonial US heritage are shown at the top.

Ethnicity match chart

People with high percentages of African heritage tend to have few matches today, as do those of purely European heritage. Unfortunately, not many Africans or African-Americans test their DNA and DNA testing is not as popular in Europe as it is in the US.  Many people in Europe are leary of DNA testing or don’t feel they need to test, because “we’ve always lived here.”   I’m hopeful that the sustained popularity of programs like Who Do You Think You Are and Finding Your Roots will encourage more people of all ethnicities and locations to test from around the globe.

People from highly endogamous populations have a different issue to deal with, as you can see from the very high number of Jewish matches in the chart above. Since these people descend from a common founder population, they share a lot of ancestral DNA that is identical by population, meaning they did receive it from an ancestor, so it’s not IBC, but they received that segment because that particular segment is very prevalent within that population.  Determining which ancestor contributed that piece of DNA is exceedingly difficult, if not impossible because several ancestors carried that same segment.

Therefore, while the segment is identical by descent, it’s probably not genealogically useful in a 100% endogamous scenario.

In an unpublished study, we discovered that while working with parentally phased Jewish results, it’s not unusual for up to half of the matches to not match the participant plus either parent on the same segments. Or conversely, they may match both parents, but the segments are comparatively small.  Matching to both parents in an endogamous population, without a known familial relationship, and without at least one relatively large segment, is an indicator of IBP, identical by population, matches.  For Jewish and other endogamous people, parental phasing is very promising, and will help them sort through irrelevant “diamond in the rough” matches indicated by no parent matches or smaller both parent matches to find the genealogically relevant gems.

In all parental phasing groups studied, no one lost less than 10% of their matches utilizing parental phasing and most people lost significantly more, up to half.  I would very much like to see these same kinds of 3 or 4 generation parental phasing studies done for groups of Jewish, other endogamous and African American families.  In order to do a study of one family, you need at least 3 generations who have tested and another known family member, like a first or second cousin perhaps, to match against.

In Summary

Dual parental phasing works wonderfully.  One parent phasing works pretty well too.  Even close relative phasing works, just not as well as parental phasing.  You can only work with the people you have available to test, so test every relative you can convince!

If you have one or both parents to test, by all means, do. You’ll be able to phase your matches against both of your parents individually and eliminate the majority of IBC matches.

If you have grandparents or their siblings available to test, do, and quickly so you don’t lose the opportunity. Test the oldest person/generation in each line that you can.

If you don’t have both parents, test your half and full siblings, all of them, the more the better, because they inherited parts of your parents DNA that you didn’t.

Find your closest relatives and test them, yes, all of them.

If you are testing parents, you don’t need to test their children too, because their children will only receive half of their parent’s DNA, and you already have the parents DNA.

Even if you can’t phase your matches utilizing your parents DNA, you can use the combination of your matches with other relatively close family members to assign or suggest matches to both sides of your family along family lines – creating match groups. For example, if your match matches you and your great-uncle Charlie on the same segment, then it’s very likely that match is from the common ancestral line shared by your common ancestor with great-uncle Charlie – your great-grandparents.  Triangulation, of course, will prove that.

Some of your relatives will be quite interested in DNA testing and others will be happy to test simply because it helps you, and they like to hear about the result of the genealogy research. I’ve discovered that providing a scholarship for the testing, especially for those people you really want to test, goes a very long way in convincing people that DNA testing for genealogy is something they might be interested in doing.  If you can’t personally afford a scholarship for everyone, try the old fashioned collection jar.  And no, I’m not kidding.  It works wonders and gives everyone an opportunity to participate and invest as well, as much as they can afford.

Ethnicity testing has a lot of sizzle for some folks too – so don’t just deliver the dry facts – be sure to talk about the sizzle too. Sizzle sells!  People get excited about the possibilities and of course, you’ll explain the result to them, so they get to visit with you a second time as well.  Something to look forward to at next summer’s picnic!

Be sure to take swab kits to family events; picnics, reunions, graduation parties, weddings and holiday gatherings. Believe me, I have a DNA kit in my purse or car at all times.  And maybe, if your extended family lives close by, resurrect the old-time Sunday afternoon tradition of “going calling.”  Not only can you collect DNA, you can collect family memories too and I guarantee, you’ll make a new discovery with every visit.  Take this opportunity to interview your relatives.

It’s amazing isn’t it, the things we do for this “DNA phase” that we’re all going through!


I want to thank Family Tree DNA for their ongoing support of projects and citizen scientists which makes these types of research studies possible. I also want to thank several individuals in the genetic genealogy community who provided their information and gave permission for me to incorporate their results into this article.  Without sharing and collaboration, these types of efforts would simply not be possible.



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