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

  1. Our generations of tomorrow will NOT be able to read and decipher the old beautifully written records and documents of yesteryear because they are being taught to read and write in block form only. So sad.

  2. Roberta my latest email address is
    I have copies of the estate of Philip Jacob Miller. If you want a copy of them I can send them. I went to Campbell County, Kentucky years ago and got copies. Dale Landon

  3. I found this article very interesting. We have German/Mennonite folks who were in PA during this period who migrated to the area of Humberstone, Welland co. Ontario. in the late 1700s. I see some surnames in common. Karen Wirth

    On Sun, Apr 10, 2016 at 3:19 PM, DNAeXplained – Genetic Genealogy wrote:

    > robertajestes posted: “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 Phil” >

  4. I have also been the recipient of Troy Goss’s kindness. He helped me make a connection with a Family Tree DNA match that also has connections to your Miller family. I thought you might be interested in the story of one of the Miller descendants in 19th century California from my blog.  Becky’s Bridge to the Past: Serendipity |   | |   | |   |   |   |   |   | | Becky’s Bridge to the Past: SerendipityDocumenting my family’s past for future generations. | | | | View on beckysbridge.blogspot… | Preview by Yahoo | | | |   |

  5. This is a wonderful detailed summary of a family who is like so many other German families, coming into Pennsylvania (Chester, Lancaster, and York) in the early 1700s and then moving once or twice or many times. For our family it is the Liebensteins who became Levingstons or Livingstons with branches in many places, Frederick MD, Virginia/West Virginia, SW Pennsylvania, then South Carolina, Ohio, Tennessee and Missouri. It’s THE story of America. DNA is helping us find their family today. Thanks for sharing, Roberta!!

  6. Hello! I am descended from Philip’s sister Eleanor…. no mention of a sister here…. please contact me

  7. Pingback: David Miller (1781-1851), Tamed 3 Frontiers, 52 Ancestors #126 | DNAeXplained – Genetic Genealogy

  8. Pingback: Daniel Miller (1755-1822), Musical Graves, 52 Ancestors #130 | DNAeXplained – Genetic Genealogy

  9. Pingback: Elizabeth Ulrich Miller (c1755-1832), Listening for Samuel’s Voice, 52 Ancestors #131 | DNAeXplained – Genetic Genealogy

  10. Pingback: Stephen Ulrich (c1720–1783/1785), Twice Naturalized Brethren, 52 Ancestors #133 | DNAeXplained – Genetic Genealogy

  11. Pingback: Elizabeth Ulrich (c 1720 – 1758/1782), Not a Cripe, 52 Ancestors #134 | DNAeXplained – Genetic Genealogy

  12. Pingback: Another Daniel Miller – A Y DNA Tale – 52 Ancestors #135 | DNAeXplained – Genetic Genealogy

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  15. Looking at my niece’s DNA now trying to find her father’s line who was adopted, and came across a gedcom on for Daniel Paulus 1847-1930, it has Mary Ulrich who married John Martin; and Susan Cripe 1829-1916 who has the two lines of Philip Jacob Miller 1726-1799. Someday I want to get into the autosomal DNA needs a better formula, this is my father’s grandaughter, she gets 4th cousins that have a section from her maternal grandmother, and a section from maternal grandfather very interesting. I can find matches to my niece on different branches of relatives, sometimes I match her but not our common relative, I share the same father with her mother. Sometimes my DNA matches some of her maternal grandmother’s DNA, meaning my mother matches a cousin she has. Thanks so much for including the will where I could zoom in. One day i still want to compare our DNA, for Ulrich, Miller, Shiveley, Deeter cousins we might be surprised what we discover. I am wondering if their is one typo here. Daughters Susannah (Snider) and Magdalena Cripe migrated into northern Indiana, settling in Elkhart County. Should be Susannah Ulrich or Ulery/Ullery. It stumped me for a while. Thanks again.

  16. Pingback: Magdalena Miller, Probably Not Rochette (c1730-1800/1808), Grandmother to 97, 52 Ancestors #120 | DNAeXplained – Genetic Genealogy

  17. I descend from the Wolfes you mentioned, the flatboat makers. Of the two sons of George Sr., Jacob and George, only Jacob has unbroken male descendants surviving today. I Y111 one of them and was somewhat surprised to have 0 matches at Y12 all the way to Y111 as a project admin for several surnames including the Woolf surname project. I descend from their likely sister Elizabeth Wolfe that married Charles Daugherty. This family is difficult to track in the 18th century in PA. We now have a strong Y match to a Wolf tester who brickwalls at a Jacob C. Wolf, son of a Peter Wolf(e). Anyways just thought I’d pass along that we are exploring that family.

  18. My Miller ancestors were Jacob Miller and his wife Sybilla Catherine Meyer Miller who had two sons Casper and John as well as two daughters. The sons were baptized at East Vicent Reformed church in Chester County, Pa -1756-58 I am kin through the son John. John married Elizabeth Bergdoll in York in 1781. They and Casper Miller moved to Shenandoah County in 1786. John and Elizabeth Bergdoll Miller had 3 sons, one named Philip, one John and one Henry. Based on the fact that John and Elizabeth named one son Philip and that Elizabeth’s maiden name was Bergdoll. I wonder if there is any connection between Philip Jacob Miller and my Miller family line. Thank you.

    • If you order a YDNA test, we can find out easily. Please join the Miller Brethren project too.

  19. Esther Miller Morgan and her husband Gabriel Morgon are mentioned briefly here in the land partition. A mention is also made to Esther’s birth date. However, there is not image from the family bible to corroborate. I’m looking for document to support her date of birth. Do you have access to an image? Many thanks for this wonderful compilation.

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