David Miller (1781-1851), Tamed 3 Frontiers, 52 Ancestors #126

David Miller was born on July 30, 1781 to Daniel Miller and Elizabeth Ulrich, according to his father’s Bible.

David Miller Bible entry

David has been said to have been born in Bedford County, Pennsylvania, but I believe he was born in Washington County, Maryland, before his parents moved to Bedford County. His father, Daniel, is not found on the Bedford tax lists until 1785 and it’s known that during the 1781 timeframe, many people in Bedford County evacuated back to Maryland, from whence they had come. David’s grandparents, Philip Jacob Miller and Magdalena lived in Washington County during this time, and David’s parents lived there until they removed to Bedford County.  Furthermore, the 1850 census shows David’s birthplace as Maryland.

David Miller 1850 census

There is an oath of fidelity recorded for one Daniel Miller in Washington County, Maryland in 1778, although an oath of fidelity would be quite unusual for a Brethren man. However, Daniel’s father was naturalized so maybe an oath of fidelity was simply viewed as a necessary evil of survival at that time – even for a Brethren. Or maybe Daniel was shunned in Washington County, Maryland after his oath. Or maybe that Daniel Miller isn’t our Daniel Miller.

This was the most difficult of times for the Brethren, in the midst of the Revolutionary War in an area that had been suffering from Indian attacks that they described as depradations. According to various church histories, and specifically the History of the Church of the Brethren in the Middle District of Pennsylvania, the Brethren staunchly refused to flex even one little bit on their beliefs, even to defend themselves. This book, written in 1924 by Galen Royer, reports an earlier 1855 narrative that describes the Brethren as follows:

They are strict non-resistants; and in the predatory incursions of the French and Indians, in 1756-63, and in fact, during all the savage warfare, they not only refused to take up arms to repel the savage marauders and prevent the inhuman slaughter of women and children, but they refused in the most positive manner to pay a dollar to support those who were willing to take up arms to defend their homes and their firesides, until wrung from them by the stern mandates of the law, from which there was no appeal.

Their exclusiveness, opposition to education, their lack of interest in political matters, and above all, their non-resistant principle brought them into disrepute with their neighbors.

The History of the Early Settlement of the Juniata Valley by James Jones published in 1856 describes the massacre in Morrison’s Cove in Bedford County:

The savages swept down through the Cove with all the ferocity with which a pack of wolves would descend from the mountain upon a flock of sheep. Some few of the Dunkards, who evidently had a latent spark of love of life, his themselves away; but by far the most of the stood by and witnessed the butchery of their wives and children, merely saying, “Gottes wille sei gethan.”

This translates as “God’s will be done.”

This sentence was so frequently repeated by the Dunkards during the massacre that the Indians must have retained a vivid recollection of it. During the late war with Great Britain, some of the older Indians of the frontier were anxious to know of the Huntingdon volunteers whether the “Gotswiltahans” still resided in the Cove.

One Samuel R. Miller who lived in Elkhart County, Indiana in the 1880s wrote that he was born in Bedford County in 1820, and that his grandmother was in the field when an Indian attack occurred. 1777 was a particularly difficult year when the Dunkard Massacre occurred during which 20 and 30 Brethren were killed.

According to Samuel, “The Indians in that vicinity were exceedingly hostile in consequence of the encroachments made by the whites upon their hunting grounds. They killed 9 persons at one time during the wheat harvest.” Samuel’s grandmother was “present at this massacre and hid in the wheat field and thus eluded the Indians and effected her escape after they had gone.”

It is unclearly whether or not Samuel R. Miller is related to our Miller family or if he is a member of the Elder Jacob Miller line. Samuel R. Miller did marry the daughter of Susanna Miller Whitehead, our David Miller’s daughter, so his descendants could well match the autosomal DNA of the Johann Jacob Miller line, even if he is not paternally descended from this line. Both the Elder Jacob Miller, his descendants and the Johann Michael Miller line were found in Frederick (later Washington) County, Maryland, Bedford County, PA, Montgomery County, OH and Elkhart County, IN, as both families were died-in-the-wool Brethren.

However, Y DNA testing tells us that Elder Jacob Miller and the Johann Michael Miller line are not paternally related, which goes to show how quickly assumptions based only on location, family intermarriage and religious affiliation, especially with a relatively common surname, can get you into serious trouble.

Brethren Miller Michael

The chart above (click to enlarge) shows the Elder Jacob Miller line, second group from the top, and the Johann Michael Miller line with the yellow heading, and you can easily see that their marker values don’t match.  DNA testing removed decades of both speculation and incorrect conclusions, although you can still find much of that incorrect information still propagated in trees and elsewhere on the internet.

Furthermore, some people in both lines have themselves incorrectly connected to the wrong family based on first name assumptions and incorrect genealogy.  You can see an example of that in the Elder Jacob Miller group where the tester believed their genealogy connected them to the Johann Michael Miller line – but the DNA says otherwise.

The Miller families are exceedingly difficult due to constantly being located in the same area, interacting with each other and using common and the same first names in both families, like John and Daniel, for example.  You find multiple people in the same location with the same first names, from both families, at the same time.  Yes, it’s very confusing and no wonder people have connected to the wrong lines by virtue of genealogy alone.  Thank goodness for DNA testing.

If a male Miller descendant of Samuel R. Miller who was born in Bedford County in 1820 and married Mary Ann Whitehead ever takes a Y DNA test, we can tell them positively if they descend from the Johann Michael Miller line, the Elder Jacob Miller line, or neither.

Return to Bedford County

Our Miller family was back in Bedford County within a few years, if in fact they evacuated, and David Miller would never have remembered living elsewhere. Bedford County, more specifically, Woodbury Township, was his childhood home from the age of 4, if not earlier.

Daniel Miller first appears on the Woodbury Township tax list in 1785 and by 1789, is well established, farming 214 acres with 3 horses and 2 cows. There was just one problem, those 214 acres weren’t his. He rented land from a man named Cox who was somewhat of a land speculator. Many Brethren families are noted on the tax lists as renting land from Cox. According to the “History of the Church of the Brethren in the Middle District of Pennsylvania,” by 1790, all of the desirable lands were owned and all of the good land was claimed many years before. This area began to be settled in 1755.

This beautiful rolling valley named Morrison’s Cove would have been where David played and grew up in the Brethren church and among like-minded families. Bedford County at that time had no established church buildings, and services were held in member’s homes and barns.

David Miller Bedford fall

Today, this beaucolic scene is the old mill pond at Roaring Springs owned by David’s uncle, Daniel Ullery or Ulrich, however it was spelled on the day in question. David may have swum here as a child on hot summer days. In addition to his uncle Daniel Ullery and his wife, Susannah Miller, another uncle, David Miller lived in Bedford County as well as did another aunt, Esther Miller Maugans.

David Miller Roaring Springs

As a young man David would have been raised in Morrison’s Cove, but if the Miller family wanted to own land, it wasn’t going to be in Bedford County. Daniel, David and their sister Esther who was married to Gabriel Maugans decided to join their father, Philip Jacob Miller, on the frontier in Ohio about 1797.

As a teen of about 16, David would have traveled down the Ohio River with his family to settle in near the Clermont and Warren County border in Ohio, not far from the Ohio River. That must have been a great adventure for a teenage boy – traveling on a riverboat to the frontier.

David Miller Ohio River

From Bedford County to Pittsburg was about 100 miles by wagon. In Pittsburg, they would take a flatboat down the river to beneath Cincinnati where they would dock and unload near Bullskin Creek.

Philip's land map

From Bullskin Creek, Philip Jacob Miller, David’s grandfather, settled on the south side of the river, in Kentucky, and Daniel Miller along with his brother David settled about 60 miles north, at the red balloon above. Philip Jacob bought land just north of his sons, at the north end of the blue line, but never lived there and died in Kentucky in 1799.

Daniel and his brother David (not to be confused with Daniel’s son David, the topic of this article) both floated their way to Ohio along with their sister Esther Maugans and husband Gabriel, but the Ullery family would stay in Bedford County under after Daniel Ullery died. Daniel’s widow, their sister, Susannah, remarried to Armal Snider and they were one of the early couples to settle in Elkhart County, Indiana, with Susannah dying there on August 17, 1831. They were likely one of the very first pioneers.

David would have been about 16 or so when his parents, Daniel and Elizabeth decided to head for the frontier with his grandparents, Philip Jacob Miller and Magdalena, where the land was much less expensive than in either Bedford County, Pennsylvania or Washington County, Maryland where the Miller family had lived for two generations prior. Philip Jacob sold his land in Maryland in 1794 and had enough money to buy land for everyone in Ohio.

Philip Jacob Miller gathered his children and struck out for Ohio, headed for the good life, his final hurrah. The legacy he left his children, aside from their Brethren faith, was the land he bought and their resettlement in Ohio.

Miller family history tells us that they floated down the Ohio River on a flatboat, which was typical for pioneers of the day. In fact, a contemporaneous report says that these boats with pioneer families dotted the river everyplace you looked.

log raft

Upon arrival in Ohio, David would settle in Clermont County with his family.

Clermont County, Ohio

David’s father, referred to as the Elder Daniel Miller, was ordained a minister in the O’Bannion Church in Clermont County, Ohio in about 1797.

Elder Daniel Miller and his brother David (whom our David was named for) owned adjacent tracts of 200 and 100 acres about 2 miles south of Goshen, Ohio, on the northwest corner of OH132 and Woodville Pike – in the O’Bannon Church area – shown below today.

David and Daniel Clermont land map

David and Daniel’s land is shown, beginning at this intersection of Ohio 132 and Woodville Pike.

David and Daniel Clermont land

These lands are shown in Little’s (Lytle’s) bounty land survey (1802), although as far as the government was concerned, these lands were reserved for Revolutionary War military veterans. Even if settlers who were living there had obtained title from the Indians or someone else, they were still squatters in the eyes of the government. In 1802, David and Daniel’s land were shown as cleared.  Shortly thereafter, between 1802 and 1805, David and Daniel would move up the old Indian trace to Montgomery County, out of the realm of the bounty land surveys.

David and Daniel Miller’s land is shown below in relation to the location of the Stonelick Brethren Church today.

David Miller Clermont

After living between 5 and 8 years in Clermont County, the Miller clan would be on the move once again.

Montgomery County, Ohio

Sometime between 1802 and 1805, Daniel Miller would move to Montgomery County, Ohio. David would have been between 21 and 24 by this time, certainly old enough to either go with his father or stay in Clermont County. There is a very clear history of the Miller family maintaining connections between the two counties, even going back and forth to marry. The churches in the two counties were clearly thought of as sister churches as well, and many families in Montgomery County came from the O’Bannion Church in Clermont County.

There is some speculation that David was married a first time to an unknown woman before he married Catharina Schaeffer Gephart In Warren County, neighbor county to Clermont, on December 13, 1805. This speculation is based on the fact that Catharina wasn’t widowed until December 1804, so any child born to David before late 1805 had to belong to another mother.

David’s daughter, Susan Miller was born June 5, 1802, assuming that her family knew her birth date and it’s correct on her tombstone.

Daughter Esther Miller may have been born before Susan or may have been born approximately 1804, given that there are 4 years between Susan’s birth in 1802 and the first child born in June 1806 to Catharina Schaeffer after her marriage to David Miller.

The odd thing about this entire scenario is that there is a missing puzzle piece, but I don’t exactly know what it is. I wonder if that missing piece is that David and Catharina’s first child, David B. Miller, was born on June 3, 1806, just 6 months after their marriage in December 1805.

The reason I feel that something is missing is because David Miller obtained a marriage license in Warren County, Ohio, not in Montgomery County where David’s father was a minister and where Catherina lived. David had to have been in Montgomery County to meet Catherina. Catharina was very clearly living in Montgomery County at this time, because David’s father, Daniel, was made executor of the estate of Peter Gephart, Catharina’s husband, who passed away in December 1804. After their marriage, David Miller became the guardian of Catharina’s two children, John and Elizabeth Gephart.

David would have had to have been in Montgomery County to meet Catharina. Based on tax lists and later depositions, Peter’s land was a couple of miles away. Why Daniel Miller was chosen to administer the estate of Peter Gephart, we’ll never know. Daniel was Brethren and Peter was Lutheran – so perhaps the court made the selection.  One hint may be that one Johann Heinrich Gephart, known as Henry, owned land one farm away from Daniel Miller.  It’s unclear the relationship between Henry and Peter Gephart, but it does put a Gephart in the vicinity of Daniel Miller – an avenue for the two families to meet.

Another mystery is that the Gephart family, and Catherina’s Schaeffer family were all Lutheran. She is the only known convert. When and how did that happen? Was her conversion a function of marrying David?

One hint which may or may not be accurate is a statement made in David’s son, Stephen’s biography in the Kosciusko County History book which said that David moved to Montgomery County soon after his marriage and located within 4 miles of Dayton on Wolf Creek.  Keep in mind that Stephen never lived in Montgomery County and David died when Stephen was 8 years old.

On the map below, Wolf Creek runs diagonally from lower right to upper left.

David Miller Wolf Creek

Interestingly, Wolf Creek runs by Trotwood, in Randolph Township, today, the location of the Happy Corner’s Brethren Church near where David’s father, Daniel bought land in 1815, but David never lived there.

Our David is not found in Randolph Township in 1810, but in German township. The David Miller in Randolph County would be our David’s uncle, David Miller, who owned land and is buried there.

Jefferson Township butts up against both German and Miami Township and Daniel definitely bought land from Jacob Miller according to Montgomery County deeds, in Jefferson Township – so it’s likely that David and Daniel in Jefferson were our Daniel and his brother David.

A review of the Daniel and David Miller deeds in Montgomery County shows us the following information:

Date From To Section Twp Range Acres Amount
Aug 28, 1807 Jacob Miller Daniel Miller 34 (Jefferson) 3 5 150 Bear Creek $300
Sept 1, 1815 William Farmer Daniel Miller 26 (Randolph SW corner) 5 5 140.76 $1689
May 27, 1815 Daniel Miller Michael Hoovler 34 (Jefferson) 3 4 149.5 $2980
May 27, 1815 Daniel Miller Abraham Troxel 34 (Jefferson) 3 5 ½ – mill pond noted $20
March 21, 1826 Daniel Miller (David exec) Jacob Miller (son) 26 (Randolph) 5 5 100 ac N side SW 1/4 $1000
Dec 18 1827 John Miller Stephen, Jacob, Samuel, Abraham, Nancy, David (wife Elizabeth) 26 (Randolph) 5 5 40 acres SW side S quarter joining Jacob Miller land $500

The 1800 and 1810 census for Ohio is missing. However, we do have a tax list for 1810 that shows us the following information: 

David Miller 1810 tax Montgomery

As odd as this seems, the Elder Jacob Miller, who we are not related to, at least not paternally, sold Daniel Miller his land in Jefferson Township. I know, that left me shaking my head too – it’s so temping to make a family connection based on this sale.  The Elder Jacob Miller preceded the Brethren group of settlers to Montgomery County and he was probably responsible for recruiting many.

The Daniel in Dayton is the son of Elder Jacob Miller, although wrongly attributed in many genealogies.  We know for sure he lived in the Dayton City limits, as the house still stands today and is on the Register of Historic Places.

We know on the 1810 tax list that our David is the same David who is living in the same location as the Gephart land. I also suspect that the Daniel and David who own adjacent land in Jefferson Township, both entered by Jacob Miller are brothers, although I have no way to prove it.

In 1810, Daniel Miller as executor of Peter Gephart’s estate, Catherine Miller as his former wife and the mother of his 2 children, and David Miller as her current husband petition the court and explain how Peter and Philip Moyer divided land they bought together.  An excerpt is provided below:

Page 341 – May term 1810– Daniel Miller and Katharine Miller (late Katherine Gephart) with the consent of her husband David Miller administrators of the estate of Peter Gephart… that Peter together with George Moyer were in possession of 2 tracts of land as tenants in common in Twp 2 range 5, section 9 and fraction of 10…land sold to Daniel Mannbeck, land sold to Christopher Shuppert…land sold to John Shuppert…to Miami River…corner George Moyer’s land…425 acres (Moyers share was 447 acres). Peter surveyed in his lifetime, quietly to George Jeaceable. Request to execute deed. Elizabeth and John Gephart are his children. Daniel, Katharine and David all 3 sign.

In 1814, we again find David Miller farming the Gephart land, Daniel Miller in Randolph Township where we know he owned land, and David Miller, Daniel’s brother on the land in Randolph Township where he lived until his death.

David Miller 1814 Montgomery tax list

In 1830, according to the tax lists, John and George Gephart own the land that was previously farmed by David Miller who paid the taxes.

The 1820 census schedule in German Township, Montgomery County, shows us David Miller living beside John Gephart, his step-son.

In 1820, David has the following household members:

  • Male 0-10 Samuel Miller b 1816
  • Male 0-10 John David born 1812
  • Male 10-16 David B. b 1806
  • Male 26-45 David (the father)
  • Male 45+
  • Female 0-10 Lydia Miller b 1818 or Catharine b 1814
  • Female 10-16 Mary b 1809 or Elizabeth b 1808
  • Female 16-24 Susan b 1802
  • Female to 45 – Catharina (the mother)

Unfortunately, the female census columns are blurry and not all known females are accounted for.

In 1822, David’s father, Daniel, dies and in 1823 both David and Catharina signed a receipt found in Daniel’s estate having to do with her first husband’s estate.

David Miller 1823 receipt

We know where Daniel and Catharina’s farms were located due to both tax lists, deed transcriptions and current maps. We also know that David farmed Catharina’s farm before her death in about 1826.

David Miller Mont land map

The map above shows the land owned by David’s father, Daniel Miller on Bear Creek, at the upper arrow and the land owned and farmed by Catharina and Peter Gephart and later by David Miller on sections 9 and 10, at the lower arrow. These lands are about 2 miles apart.

David was the administrator of his father’s estate, along with his brother John with his brother-in-law John Becher (Booher, Bucher) and his brother Stephen Miller acting as their securities, as noted below. David’s signature is first, but it looks very odd. Maybe the paper slipped as he was signing.

David Miller 1822 signature

Roughly four years later, Catharina died too. David and Catharina had 7 children before her death, assuming that Susan and Hester were not Catharina’s children, leaving David with several children to raise, the youngest known child having been born in 1818, so about 8 years old.

In 1827, we find David still farming land that wasn’t his in German Township.  He owned 4 cows valued at $32 and no horses.  He still owned no land.

On the 1830 tax list, David still lives in German Township, owns no land, no horses.  He does own 3 cows valued at $24.  His step-son, John Gephart, now 29 years old owns land, 2 horses nd 2 cows.

In the 1830 census, David, living in German Township, is surrounded by many of the same neighbors, except John Gephart no longer lives next door.

David’s household looks like the following:

  • Male 10-15 Samuel b 1816
  • Male 60-70 David (the father)
  • Female 0-5
  • Female 15-20 Lydia b 1818 (age 12)
  • Female 20-30

This may not have been our David, as he would have been age 49, not 60-70, but there aren’t any other good candidates and he is clearly living in the right place.  Perhaps the census taker got the hash mark in the wrong column.

Either David has married a much younger woman and had a young child that did not survive to adulthood, or an unknown female is living with him, a widow perhaps, keeping house.

David wasn’t ready to settle down in the rocking chair on the porch.  He was getting ready to move on, once again.  Much like his father in Bedford County, David never owned land, and he packed up and moved to the frontier, again, where he could own land.  Only this time, the frontier was only a couple hundred miles away, two to four weeks by wagon.

But first, David married a mystery woman named Elizabeth.  I wonder if Elizabeth was aware that David was planning to move to the frontier when she married him, or if this was her honeymoon surprise.  “Surprise Honey, we’re moving to the edge of the earth, past civilization.  Yea, there are Indians, wild animals and no houses. It will be fun!   Woohooo!!!”

Elkhart County, Indiana

From the book “Rock Run Church of the Brethren Centennial 1850-1950”, the following is found on the first page:

In 1830 Elder Daniel Cripe led a group of Brethren from Ohio to Elkhart Prairie. Arriving in the spring, rude buildings were erected and the prairie was broken for the first crops.

The next year, Elder Cripe returned to Ohio and led another group of settlers to Elkhart County. There were now 16 families scattered over the county. He called them together and preached the first sermon ever delivered by a Brethren minister in Elkhart County. Later in this same year, a congregation was organized and a love feast was held.

The Elder Daniel Cripe was married to Magdalena Miller, David’s aunt, sister to his father, Daniel Miller. Magdalena Miller Cripe died about a decade later, in 1842 and Daniel Cripe died in 1859, in Elkhart County.

Daniel Miller’s estate was completed in Montgomery County, Ohio by 1830, and David Miller was in Elkhart County, Indiana by 1831 or 1832, probably arriving in the winter of 1831/1832 with Elder Cripe’s wagon train. By this time, David had remarried to a woman by the first name of Elizabeth. We know nothing more about her other than she died in the epidemic of 1838, on August 19th and was born December 19, 1777, according to her tombstone. She was buried on David’s property, now known as the Baintertown or Rodibaugh Cemetery. There is no question that Elizabeth is David’s wife, as her stone and David’s were both paid for with funds out of his estate.

David Miller Elizabeth stone

Clearly, Elizabeth is not the woman age 20-30 living with him in 1830, as Elizabeth would have been age 47 at that time.

This following extract from a letter written by Jacob L. Ullery in 1892 gives us some perspective about what the trip from Montgomery County to Elkhart County was like.

The first week we came to Saint Marys, Ohio.  The second week we came to
Fort Wayne, Indiana.  The third week we came to where we unloaded our wagon
on the west side of the Elkhart River bank in the woods about a mile west
of Goshen among the Indians.  There we put up a little shanty.  Then we cut
timber for a house and shop.  Then about the first work I done at the
carpenter trade, I went in the woods and cut a tree and split it in lumber
and made a weaver’s loom and some bed-steads.

We had no doctor and no goods.

I worked around till harvest, and then I went to the Elkhart Prairie to
“Credel” the wheat.  After the wheat was cut I helped to make hay in the
marsh, west of Goshen.  There I came among the rattlesnakes.

The last of August I went back to Ohio.  Again in 1831, I came back to
Elkhart County.  Then I helped to build the first frame house in Goshen and
helped build the first Saw Mill in Elkhart County.

In 1833 I went to Ohio again, sometime in February.  I was then 21 years
old.  In April, I was married to Susana Warner.

In various history books, David Miller is listed as a commissioner who established the location of Goshen, along with 2 or 3 other men. This David is noted as being from St. Joseph County in 1831, so we don’t know for sure that this is our David – and it looks doubtful because there are three land patents for a David Miller in St. Joseph County in the 1830s – and our David is definitely living in Elkhart County at this time. The books do indicate that Goshen was named in David Miller’s honor as he wanted that name to be bestowed – and our David lived near Goshen, Ohio from the time he was 16 until he moved to Montgomery County – so it’s remotely possible.

Goshen is also a Biblical settlement location.  The English Standard version of the Bible tells us that:

“My father and my brothers, with their flocks and herds and all that they possess, have come from the land of Canaan. They are now in the land of Goshen.”

David obtained a land patent on September 2, 1831, but we don’t know when he applied for that grant or how long the granting process took. It would have been several months, at least.

The History of Elkhart County tells us the area between the Elkhart River and Turkey Creek is known as “the Barrens” where the land undulates just enough to remove the water. This is the area where David’s home place was located.

It’s possible that David accompanied Elder Cripe in 1830 to select his land, returning home to Montgomery County to tie up his affairs and to wait for his land grant to be approved before leaving permanently for the northlands. I’m actually surprised that David left when he did, as his elderly mother didn’t die until sometime in 1832, by which time, David was already living alongside the Elkhart River. Notice of his mother’s death would have arrived with the next group of settlers to come north.

David subsequently applied for and obtained several land grants including the land he would eventually sell to sons John David and David B. Miller in 1841, for double what he paid for it. He also sold a grant to his son, Samuel.

If John David and David B. started clearing their land in 1832, about the time they arrived, they would have been done about 1841. It took a long time to clear land, as evidenced by this narrative written by one Samuel R. Miller, relationship unknown, who was born in 1820 and also lived in Elkhart County beginning in 1837.

At the age of 17 Mr. Miller entered 80 acres in Union Twp. and subsequently bought 80 acres in Elkhart Twp. and finally took up 120 acres where he now resides in Sect 17. Up to his 27th year, he was engaged in clearing land, handling the ax, mattock and maul and was persevering in his efforts to make the wilderness a garden and to secure for himself a home.

During the first years of his residence in this county, the family were supplied with fresh mean by his gun. Wild turkeys, deer, wolves, prairie chickens and wild geese were very plenty when he first came to Indiana. He has himself killed with his rifle several hundred deer. They were so numerous that the snow would be trampled hard by them near the cabin where a tree had been felled and they came to browse. Many a time by moonlight has he shot them. During his youth and manhood his toil has been incessant. He has split 800 rails in a day from the oak that grew on his section.

I’m telling you what, 10 years is a very long time to chop trees.

Here’s another peek into the past:

John L. Miller was born in Montgomery Co. in 1836. He is the son of David S. Miller and Saloma Leslie Miller. Mr. Miller has seen many changes in the county since he can remember, has seen Jackson Twp. when it was almost a wilderness, has seen the wild deer and wild Indians and other wild animals in this township. He can remember when night would come the timber appeared to be alive with wolves and other animals.

Land Grant Reconciliation

David obtained several land grants. Today, grants can be accessed at the Bureau of Land Management.  The county is listed beneath the serial number.

Name Office Serial Year Parts Sec Twp Range Acres
David* La Porte IN1700_.008 (Elkhart) 1837 E1/2SW 8 35 6e 80
David** La Porte IN1610_.132 (Elkhart) 1837 W1/2SE 32 36 6e 80
David*** Fort Wayne IN1430_.431 (Elkhart) 1831 W1/2SW 34 36 6e 80
David**** La Porte In1730-037 (Kosciusko) 1837 E ½ SE ¼ 9 34 5e 80
David Fort Wayne IN1440-239 (Elkhart) 1833 SW 1/4 5 35 6 160
David La Porte IN1600-240 (Elkhart) 1837 E ½ SW 1/4 5 35 6 80
David***** Fort Wayne IN1440-413 (Elkhart) 1834 E ½ SE 1/4 2 36 5 80
David La Porte IN1730-488 (Elkhart) 1837 SW !/4 28 36 5 160

*Land just to the west of the land in Jackson Township that David patented and sold to John David and David Baker Miller in 1841.

**Land to the east of David’s homeplace.

***The entry, signed by President Andrew Jackson, is David’s home place where the cemetery is located. Given the curvature of the land and the river, his homeplace also includes portions of section 33.

****Grant says David Miller Junior but this is the land that would be included in his estate in 1851, so it’s clearly this David.

*****David Miller and Samuel Stutzman

The grant shown below would become the land of his sons John David Miller and David B. Miller when he sold it to them in 1841 for $100 each for half of the quarter section (80 acres) each.

JDM David Miller land grant

David signed the receipt below.

JDM David Miller receipt

David also obtained a patent for lands that he would sell to his son Samuel. However, most importantly, he applied for land for his own homestead and received the patent in September of 1831.

David Miller homeplace grant crop

Note that David applies for this grant while still living in Montgomery County, Ohio.

David selected a piece of land that is divided by the Elkhart River and has two nice high locations, some tillable land, and the rest is swamp. The swamps were responsible for the summer sicknesses, as the pioneers reported no illness in the winter months, just the opposite of what we have today. These malarial fevers are likely what killed Elizabeth in 1838.

The Sickly Year

1838 is referred to as “the sickly year.”  Everyone was sick.

In the plat map of 1874 on page A-18, there is an article called “Ms. Violet’s Narrative in 1874”. Looking at the 1861 plat map, the Violet’s land is located a few plats (about a mile) north of David Miller’s land. She says:

“The summer of 1838 was exceedingly warm, dry and sickly. Perhaps ¾ of the inhabitants of the North part of Indiana and South part of Michigan was affected with intermittent fevers. Several near neighbors died including Elizabeth Miller the wife of David Miller.

The summer of 1839 continued to be dry but not so dry as last. There was still much sickness but not so many fatal cases.”

In the book, Elkhart County History by Chapman in 1881, they listed a group of farmers and their sales in 1845. The surnames were those of the David Miller neighborhood, as noted in deeds, land grants and plat maps and include Mikesell, Cripe, Hess, Howzer, Latta, Weybright, Thompson and Jackson. David Miller sold 200 bushels of wheat, 1600 bushels of corn and 700 bushels of oats. John Miller 1200 bushels of wheat, 1000 bushels of corn and 800 bushels of oats.


David Miller settled, or perhaps better stated, helped establish a community that is today called Baintertown, located along the Elkhart River just south of present day Goshen. This is the Elkhart River looking towards David Miller’s land.

David Miller Elkhart River Baintertown

Baintertown takes its name from Frederick Bainter, to whom the Wyland Mill was sold in 1860, but Baintertown was established by the Brethren Wyland brothers when they arrived from Ohio in 1830.

David Miller Baintertown Five Medals

Rex told me that the winter the settlers arrived was particular difficult. He said they arrived late in the season without time to construct appropriate shelter. The Indians still lived in a village nearby, and they helped the settlers, specifically the Miller family, select a location, very near their village, and helped them do what they needed to do to survive.

The Indian village was small, probably the remnants of the Pottawatomi village of Five Medals, and as more settlers arrived, the Indian people either died, moved away or were forced off of their land in the Indian removals of the 1830s.

However, Rex said that an old Indian Chief would visit and stay with David Miller and the two men would smoke a pipe together. David was sad when his Indian friend died, as his family would have perished without the Indians the year that they arrived.

The last known record of Chief Five Medals was in 1818, but 1830 was only 12 years later, so it’s certainly possible that Five Medals was still living, and living right where his village had originally been, beside or near David’s land on the Elkhart River.

Rex gave me this undated article from the Goshen newspaper.

Baintertown Settlers…..Wyland Town Revisited

The history of the tiny hamlet of Baintertown in Jackson Twp is interwoven with many aspects of early Elkhart County progress, Mills, the first Dunkard conference and one of the counties first estates are just a few examples.

A historical stone marker centered in a grassy triangle on county road 29 between Benton and New Paris is the only remaining testimony to the founders of the area that was once known as Wyland Town.

The marker notes the names of Jonathon, Jacob, John, Daniel, Christian and Solomon Wyland, the 6 brothers who traveled on horseback from Mercer Co., Ohio in the 1830s to tame the bountiful Elkhart Prairie.

According to local historians, the brothers entered a claim for 640 acres of land surrounding the Elkhart River there and established the county’s first sawmill.

In 1835 and 1840 a grist mill and a woolen mill were built by Jonathan and were known throughout the area as Wyland Mills.

Jonathan, apparently the more ambitious of the 6 brothers soon after his arrival erected what must have seemed like a mansion to those simple pioneers. His home was 40 by 60 and two and a half stories and boasted 18 rooms set off with two wide verandas.

The county road where the house once stood and where the marker now rests is commonly known as the Huntington Road. Although hard to imagine now, the narrow twisting strip of blacktop was once of the state’s first roads.

The legislature on Jan. 24, 1832 appointed Lewis Rogers to survey the area for the purpose of constructing a state road from Grant County to the county seat of this area.

Until the mills were built and the first harvest reaped, the Wylands, like other early settlers, relied on the abundance of wild turkey, venison, and walnuts, say historical ledgers.

Although it is not generally known, materials produced at the Wyland Mills and other mills in the county were shipped north via the Elkhart River and the Great Lakes and were received as far north as Buffalo NY.

The church played a significant role in pioneer life. Historians say the first Protestant denomination was the Church of the Brethren, or originally the Dunkard church.

Although a church building was not built until 1859 at Rock Run Creek, members congregated in their homes and anywhere that might be convenient.

The largest known gathering during the years before the church was constructed was then approximately 5000 members assembled for the church’s annual conference at the home of Jonathan Wyland.

“Settlers traveled from near and far, some came by horseback, many walked and others rode in crude wagons.” Writes one historian.

Daily sessions were held in Jonathan Wylands barn and the officials were designated members of the congregation.

Several of the first Dunkard ministers were Jacob Studebaker, reportedly the contractor for the original county courthouse in Goshen, [still standing and in use in 2009], Martin Weybright, Elder Joel Shively and the Rev. Isaac Berkey.

Finally the Wyland Mills were sold in 1860 to Frederick Bainter and the hamlet became known as Baintertown. Reportedly the village was never plotted or recorded because the residents had no desire to change their peaceful country life into “a booming city”.

The stone marker was erected in 1910 in memory of Iverson P. Wyland, grandson of Jonathan and a school teacher in Jackson Twp. for many years. It stands as a silent reminder that even though the area is calm and peaceful now, the winding waterway was responsible for transporting goods from the Wyland Mills all the way to Buffalo.

There is more to this story though, because there was a church built on David Miller’s land, where the cemetery is located, although we don’t know when the original church was organized. Organized in the Brethren sense means whey the congregation began meeting in homes, not when they built a church building.

Edward Clark bought the land from David Miller’s estate in 1861 and in 1877, he executed a deed to “Trustees, German Baptist Church” stating that when the property is no longer needed for this purpose, the land should be turned over to the cemetery trustees.

The church was located on the west side of the original cemetery.

The first known burial in the original “old section” of Baintertown cemetery was the grandson of David Miller, William Miller, son of David B. Miller and his wife, Christine. William died at 2 days of age on November 4, 1831 – so the family group had arrived by then.

The family had not been in this area long. Needing to establish a cemetery shortly after arrival was not a good omen. David has barely had his land 2 months and the first soil broken was possibly that shovel that buried his grandson.  The wagon train had probably just arrived.

We don’t know when a church was established in this location, but it was probably already in existence by 1877, likely meeting in people’s homes or in a log building when a church building from a Reformed Presbyterian Church in Waterford built in 1858 was dismantled and re-erected on the land deeded next to the original cemetery. By 1931, the church was no longer functioning, so the building was sold and the land became the west part of the cemetery on the north side of the road, where newer burials and parking are found today.

Another article is titled, “Baintertown, A Thriving Center” and was published in the 1976 Goshen News.

David Rodibaugh, Everett Miller’s grandfather was the pusher of the day. His ambition was to acquire a farm for each of his children. His daughter married Ira J. Miller, Everett’s father and they got the farm where the Baintertown school still stands northeast of New Paris.

Rex Miller owns this land today and the school still stands and is in use as a farm building. It’s even heated today, something it probably wasn’t originally. The old school sits at the intersection of road 29 and 142.

David Miller Baintertown school

David Rodibaugh first set up the saw mill, furnishing lumber for many houses and barns in the area. T.J. Harriman was his right hand man.

Next he built the woolen mill and manufactured blankets of all kinds. Later Reddens and sons set up the grist and flour mills and manufactured Never Fail Flour and ground corn meal.

The grocery store was run by Edward Barringer, Everett Miller’s great uncle.

About that time there came a rapid change in merchandizing. The mills, brick kilns and flour mills closed up as they could not compete with national brands, and Baintertown faded out much faster than it had grown. All the factories were torn down and all that remains is a stone in the small park strip, recording the fact that the 6 Wyland brothers landed in the area in 1832 and became very influential. In fact the town was first known as Wylandtown but later when a man named Bainter bought the woolen mill from Mr. Wyland the name of the town was changed to Baintertown. This was around 1862.

Baintertown, then Wyland Mills, saw it’s heyday during the lifetime of David Miller.

David Miller’s Brother, John

David’s brother, the Elder John Miller, also settled in Elkhart County in 1835. As reported in the biographies of the History of Elkhart County, “He was an active co-laborer of Elder Daniel Cripe, and did his share of the evangelistic work in those early days. He finally located in the Yellow Creek Church, seven miles southwest of Goshen, where he died in 1856.”

David Miller John Miller d 1856

The Yellow Creek Church is now the Solomon Creek Church, with the cemetery adjacent.  The map below shows the route from the Baintertown Cemetery, on David Miller’s land, to the Yellow Creek Church.

David Miller to John's map

John Miller is the last known Miller to own the Bible known as the Philip Jacob Miller Bible that ultimately belonged to Philip’s son, Daniel Miller. John bought the Bible at his father Daniel’s estate sale and brought it with him to Elkhart County, where it somehow left the possession of the Miller family and today resides with a family who has no idea why they have this Bible.  John’s signature is found in two places in the Bible.

John Miller signature 2

John Miller signature

The owners were very gracious and allowed me to visit the Bible several years ago. The only connection that we have found is that we believe the owner’s ancestor may have bought the house that John Miller once owned. If that is the case, then the Bible may have somehow been left behind. It has been passed down in their family, as a heirloom, ever since.

Philip Jacob Miller Bible and me crop

Marriage to Martha Drake

On June 6, 1839, David remarried a widow woman named Martha Drake who had at least one minor child. Interestingly enough, in the 1840 census, we find David’s neighbor in Elkhart County to be Ann Drake.

This would truly have been a scandal in the Brethren community, because Martha Drake was a….are you ready for this….a Baptist. Yes, and she didn’t convert either. Holy moley.

I bet this was not a uniformly approved marriage by David’s siblings, younger children, or anyone Brethren. And David’s entire group of friends and family were Brethren. This was indeed a scandalous “mixed marriage.” Obviously, David didn’t care. I do wonder if he separated from the church at that time, or stopped attending. I think this makes David Miller an official black sheep – at least from the Brethren perspective!

David’s 1840 household was comprised of:

  • Male 10-15
  • Male 50-60 David
  • Female 15-20
  • Female 30-40 Martha Drake Miller

Both of the children are probably Martha’s children.

Martha and David set about having 3 additional children by 1846.

Land Speculating

David may have been doing a bit of land speculating. Given that land was almost free for the taking – secured with a small payment – why not? That way land would be readily available for newcomers arriving from Montgomery County and elsewhere, and David stood to make a bit of money. The process of land patenting wasn’t quick or necessarily easy – but once you knew how – it was probably quite worthwhile to have readily available land for people who wanted to settle and start clearing and farming right away. The land patent process didn’t happen overnight.

David apparently farmed several tracts himself, based on these deeds in the chart below found in Elkhart County.

Year From To Qtr Sec Twp Rg Ac
1834, Apr 15 Benjamin Bennett and Susanna David Miller for $100 bk 1 pg 333 W ½ NW ¼ 35 36 6e 80
1834, Oct 3 Henry Matthews David Miller (mortgage and release*) E ½ SE ¼ 4 35 6e 80
1840, Nov 11 David Miller, Bk 6 pg 335 (3 ac) and 336 (3/4 ac) Fractions on Elkhart Riv 3 ¾ ac
1841, Mar 23 David Miller and Martha Samuel Miller for $100 bk 20- page 319 (recorded Nov 4 1852) bk 16 p 17 W ½ SE ¼ 32 36 6e 80
1841, Mar 23 David Miller and Martha John Miller Jr. for $100 bk 20-319 not rec until Aug 14 1856 N ½ SE ¼ 5 35 6 80
1841, Mar 23 Peter Wallmer and Anna John Miller bk 20-page 320 W ½ NW ¼ 5 35 6 81.3
1844, Oct 5 David and Martha Miller Solomon Conrad for $200 bk 9-433 E ½ SW ¼ 8 35 6 80
1845, Oct 18 David and Martha Miller (her mark) Laporte land office sale**1 E ½ W ¼ 8 35 6e 80
Aug 15 1849 David Miller and Martha Lot 147 in Goshen, bk 12-555
1851, Oct 18 David Miller and Martha David Miller Jr bk 14-512 for $100 S ½ SE ¼ 5 35 6 80
1855 David Miller est David P. Gross N ½ NW ¼ 15 35 7e 80
1855 David Miller est (land grant) John Troup W ½ NW ¼ 6 35 6e 79
1855 David Miller est Jonas Renfro Ne frac 33 36 6e 9
1855 David Miller est (home place) Jonas Renfro W ½ SW ¼ 34 36 6e 80
1855 David Miller est Moses Babcock Kosciusko

*Mortgage release was signed on June 13, 1835. Witness William Latta and Caleb Winger

**This notes that there is an affidavit in the Misc Record Book 15 page 165 dated Dec. 27 1918.

An Elkhart County patent map assembled by Boyd IT in 2005 shows that David Miller received a patent in Elkhart Township in 1831 for his homestead land in section 34. There were several 1831 patents to many individuals, but none earlier.

Furthermore, the land patent map shows that David also obtained a patent in section 32, the west half of the southeast quarter in 1837. This map shows the earliest grant to be in 1831, and that Nathaniel Drake also patented the land abutting David Miller’s on the north. I wonder if Nathaniel Drake is related to Martha Drake, David’s second wife. This might well explain how they met.

Imagine that…Baptists next door!

The Early Church

The Gospel Messenger published on March 6, 1909 page 149, tells us something about the early Brethren church in Elkhart County.


By J. H. Miller

In this article I am to tell about the history and the growth of the Church of the Brethren in Elkhart County, Ind. In this County was the first church organized in Northern Indiana, and Goshen was the center of the congregation.

It is said that Bro. Daniel Cripe organized the church about 1830. Soon after that, another brother, John Miller, moved to this “northwestern land,” as it was then called. I well remember of seeing both of those brethren and hearing them preach in German. They settled on Elkhart Prairie, and were from Montgomery County, Ohio: The first child of the Brethren, born in Elkhart County, was Rosanna Cripe. Those “newcomers,” as they were called, held their first meetings in their log cabins.

There are now nineteen congregations in the county, some reaching out into adjoining counties. There are fifty ministers living in the county. Of the number of ministers who formerly lived in the county, twenty-four have died.

There are twenty-three places of worship, and about 1,800 members, nearly as many as may be found in the other part of the State district. Among the number of ministers, strong men in their day, who have died in the county, were James Tracy and Amsey Puterbattgh. They were Brethren, useful men, and did a good work.

Meetinghouses were built about 1850. Their big wagons would go through the mud, woods and cross streams, in order to reach the place of meeting. My father’s turn would come about once in fourteen months. That was a big day for us children. All the ministers had a word for Jesus. Even the deacons were not excused, though there might be six or eight present. They had to bear testimony to the Truth preached. The deacons usually had the place on a bench in front of the preachers’ table.

After meeting a big dinner was served at the expense of those who had the meeting for that day. After dinner, from two to three hours were spent in social visits. Much love and union seemed to prevail among those early Christian fathers and mothers: Our neighbors were from eight to ten miles away, and we were always glad to see them.

In 1852 the Annual Meeting was held in Elkhart County, five miles south of Goshen, in Bro. Jonathan Wyland’s barn, 40 x 80 feet in size. It was estimated that there were about 4,000 people present. I remember of hearing my father speak of the large crowd. It is presumable that John Kline, of Virginia, was the moderator. It was thought by some that this was the first Annual Meeting held in Northern Indiana.

The second, in Elkhart County, was held in 1868; in Eld. Jacob Berkey’s barn. Henry Davy was moderator. In 1882 the meeting was held on Bro. John Arnold’s farm. I have in mind three Annual Meetings in Northern Indiana, and all were held in Elkhart County. At the present time Northern Indiana must have nearly 4,000 members. Many have been added to the church within the last eight months.

In those days the faithful ministers would walk and ride for miles to the place of worship. I remember that Bro. John Leatherman, when ninety years old, walked from ten to twelve miles on Saturday, returning home on Monday. These faithful old brethren were full of the missionary spirit.

I was born in Elkhart County, in 1838, hence have a fairly good knowledge of the workings of the church here. My prayer is that God may call many more faithful workers into his vineyard; and that many souls may be converted to Christ.

It’s remarkable to me that John Miller was still preaching in German, being the 4th generation to reside in America.  My mother tells of hearing her grandmother, Evaline Miller Ferverda (1857-1939), David’s granddaughter, speak in German – although most of the time she spoke English.  Mother said the Brethren Church at that time still gave sermons in German.


David may have moved to the frontier when it was barely settled, but all of his children learned to read and write, either before or after arriving in Elkhart County. We know this based on the signatures on his estate distribution. What we don’t know, for sure, is if the children attended the Whitehead School which would have been located about 4 miles distant, and required fording the Elkhart River and Turkey Creek, or if they were taught at home or in a makeshift school in someone’s home. One thing is for sure, school would not have been taught in the spring, summer and fall when help was needed on the farm. Survival was more important than education.

David Miller to Whitehead school

The Whitehead School was located on the west side of present day CR 19 north of CR 48 in Sect 17. Samuel Whitehead (1811-1874), one of 9 Whitehead brothers, settled in what became known as the Whitehead settlement, southwest of New Paris, Indiana. About 1836 a round log cabin with a clapboard roof was built on his property. This first schoolhouse was about 12X16 in size and was replaced by a wood frame building and was in use until the 1880s when it was replaced by a brick school building. For some reason this school is not shown on any of the county maps before 1874. But it has been found that David B. Miller, David Miller’s grandson, born in 1838 did attend this school in 1854.

Here’s what we know about early schooling in Elkhart County.

The Gospel Messenger March 23, 1907 page 182 Vol. 46 No.


By J. F. Neher, Guthrie, Okla.

It is interesting to note the changes that have come in a half a century or over. Fifty-five years ago I had my first experience in school. The schoolhouse was built of logs. The benches had no backs and were made of slabs by boring holes in each end; into these the legs were inserted.

On one side the house one log was cut out and along window put in to give light to a long table, which was made by boring holes into the log below the window; into these long pins were driven, on which a broad board was fastened, which served as a writing table.

The teacher was the father of a large family living near the schoolhouse. The rod was frequently used, but mostly severely on his own children.

He taught German and English, and a variety of text-books was used. One the higher classes recited their lesson from the Old Testament, another from the New Testament. One, a brother’s son, had for his text-book Brother Peter Nead’s book; and still another recited his lesson from an old German hymn book.

Other things might be mentioned that would seem odd to the student or schoolboy of today; but I believe if the use of the Bible had been retained, the masses today would have a better knowledge of the Good Book.

David’s Death

When David died on December 1, 1851, he left Martha with 3 young children.

David Miller Baintertown stone

David Miller is buried on the far east side of the Baintertown cemetery, just before it drops off into swamp, behind the tombstones below.

David Miller Baintertown burial

The closest thing we have to an obituary for David comes from the Pictorial and Biographical Memoirs Elkhart and St. Joseph Counties, Indiana – 1893 by Goodspeed, page 698, which is actually about his son, David B. Miller.

David Miller came to Elkhart County about 1830 when the country was a wilderness, inhabited only by wild animals and wilder savages. He came to the county overland and settled on 80 acres, build a log house and immediately began clearing and improving. He raised 3 sons and 4 daughters of whom our subject’s (David B. Miller) father is the only one now living, but all reached mature years, married and became the heads of families. They are David, Samuel, John, Elizabeth, Catherine, Lydia and Susan. The mother of these children died in Ohio. David remarried having two children, Michael and Steven, both of whom are living in Milford Indiana. The father died in Jackson Twp.

We know this account is not fully accurate, because David had 9 children who lived to adulthood and married, including Susan mentioned above, born in 1802, before David married Catharina Schaeffer Gephart. Furthermore, he died in Elkhart Township, unless he was visiting someone at the time.

We know positively that David had 9 children before marrying Martha Drake and 3 after his marriage to Martha because of his long, drawn out estate.

The Estate

David died on December 1, 1851, almost exactly 20 years after arriving.

Their son, Stephen’s biography was included in the Kosciusko County History book gave David’s death date as November 5th instead of December 1st.

Apparently things had either slipped David’s mind, or perhaps he wasn’t well, because his land in Kosciusko County had to be “redeemed” by paying the back taxes for 1850 out of his estate.

I was fortunate to find David’s estate packet relatively intact in Elkhart County during a visit a few years ago. Many items didn’t have dates, but enough did that I was able to put together a timeline of what happened. And a lot happened.

You would never have known that this was a Brethren estate from the proceedings.

David’s inventory was appraised and then the sale occurred at the “home of the deceased” on January 3rd, 1852.  That must have been a cold auction.  What follows is his estate appraisal.

Number Items Appraised Value
16 Pigs 10.00
4 Larger pigs 7.00
2 Sows 5.00
6 Sheep firs choice 7.20
6 Sheep – Second choice 7.00
6 Sheep – Third choice 6.00
5 Sheep – fourth choice 3.75
1 Black horse 60.00
1 Small wagon 35.00
1 Windmill 1.50
1 lot Sheaf oats, 12.5 per dz 6.35
1 Lot of corn – 20 per bushel 36.00
4 Kettles 8.00
1 2 horse wagon 35.00
1 Harrow 1.50
1 Cultivators 1.50
1 Grindstone .50
1 Broad ax 1.50
1 Grubbing hoe .75
2 Iron wedges 1.00
1 Lot 2 augers 1.00
1 Lot foot ads drawing knife .50
2 Chopping axes 1.25
1 4 pronged fork and shovel .88
1 Lot of harness 2.00
1 Spear .25
1 Lot of irons and spades and c 1.00
2 Bee keeps 2.00
2 Barrell and reg 1.00
2 Calves 6.00
1 Black cow 10.00
1 Red cow 7.50
1 Bell cow 8.00
1 Speckled cow 9.00
1 Log chain 1.75
1 Lot of wagon tires 3.00
1 Lot of oats 25 bu 3.00
1 Mowing scythe .50
1 Wool wheel 1.00
1 Cut reel .50
1 Barrel and vinegar 1.00
1 Spinning wheel .12
1 Old ladle and old harness .25
1 Rocking chair 1.50
1 Bred tray .50
1 Box stove and 6 joint pipe and elbow 10.00
1 Bed and bedding 10.00
1 Bed and bedding 10.00
1 Bed and bedding 5.00
1 Saddle and reigns 9.00
1 Chest 2.00
2 Flax heckler 1.00
7.5 Yards cloth 18.75
6.75 Yards cloth 16.87 ½
1 Loom 2.00
1 Clock 2.00
1 Bed and bedding 5.00
1 Cupboard and cupboard ware 5.50
1 Cook stove and pipe 12.00
1 Lot of chairs 1.00
Total appraised value 241.53

The actual sale brought in $436.52. David was clearly actively farming with the cows, sheep and pigs listed, along with the farm equipment.  The number of sheep he had is probably directly related to the Wyland brothers’ woolen mill close by.  He also had a 2 horse wagon, but only one horse.  Maybe he shared resources with someone, or maybe he had lost a horse recently.

Did David have a family Bible tucked away in that chest?

At David Miller’s estate sale, John Miller bought steelyards for 1.25, a fish gig for 25 cents. The widow bought 2 calves. I always feel sorry for the widows whose entire household is up for grabs.  Her spinning wheel, her dishes and plates, her furniture.  How was the widow supposed to function, let alone raise three children?  Somehow, these resourceful women always found a way.  I remember watching my Mom cry at my Dad’s estate sale, and her things weren’t being sold, just his.  In a way, it’s a second death as the pieces of your loved one’s life are scattered to the winds.

So far, in this estate, everything looks normal, but it wouldn’t stay that way for long.

David, it seems, owned quite a bit of property, listed on this document from his estate packet.

David Miller land list

I compiled a list of property from tax receipts from the estate. You will notice that some sections and townships look to be incorrect – and they probably are. I have not corrected this, because I wanted to retain it as an example of why we need multiple sources for everything we can confirm in that manner. I don’t know if their handwriting was bad, or mine was, or the data was actually inaccurate – but clearly the “odd man out” data is highly suspect.

Three different pieces of land comprised David’s home place, in section 33 and 34.  The Elkhart River  was the boundary in section 33, which made for an odd sized piece of land.  This all makes perfect sense, once you look at the map.

County Tax Year Desc Section Twp Range Acres Sale
Home Tracts
Elkhart 1851 ½ NW 1/4 35 36 6 80
Elkhart* 1851 – home W ½ S 1/4 34 36 6 80 Jonas Renfro
Elkhart 1852 – home W ½ SW ¼ 34 36 6 80 Jonas Renfro
Elkhart 1852 – home W 1/2 NW 1/4 34 36 6 80 Elkhart Twp
Elkhart 1853 – home 34 36 6 80 Jonas Renfro
Elkhart 1854 – home W ½ SW 1.4 34 36 6 80 Jonas Renfro
Elkhart 1855 – home W ½ SW 1/4 34 36 6 80 Elkhart Twp Jonas Renfro
Elkhart 1856 – home W ½ SW ¼ 34 36 6 80 Elkhart Twp
Elkhart 1851 part of home 33 36 6 9
Elkhart 1852 – part of home In fee 33 36 6 9 Elkhart Twp
Elkhart 1854 – part of home 33 36 6 9 Elkhart Twp
Elkhart 1853 – part of home 32 9
Elkhart 1855 – part of home 33 36 6 9 (7) Elkhart Twp
Elkhart 1856 – part of home 33 36 6 9 Elkhart Twp
Elkhart 1851 part of home NE? 33 36 6 16
Elkhart 1852 – NE fraction 33 35 6 16 – Elkhart Twp
Elkhart 1853 – part of home 33 16
Elkhart 1854 – part of home NE fraction 33 36 6 16 Elkhart Twp
Elkhart 1855 – part of home 33 36 6 16 Elkhart Twp
Elkhart 1856 – part of home NE fraction 33 16 Elkhart Twp
Other Land
Elkhart 1851 W ½ NW 1/4 6 35 6 79 John Troup
Elkhart 1852 W ½ NW 1.4 6 35 6 79 Jackson Twp John Troup
Elkhart 1853 W ¼ NW ¼ 6 35 6 79 John Troup
Elkhart 1854 W ½ NW ¼ 6 35 6 79 Jackson Twp John Troup
Elkhart 1855 W ½ NW ¼ 6 35 6 79 Elkhart Twp John Troup
Elkhart 1856 W ½ NW 1/4 6 35 6 39 Jackson Twp
Elkhart 1858 W ½ NW ¼ 6 35 6 79 Jackson Twp
Elkhart 1859 W ½ NW ¼ 6 35 6 79 Jackson Twp
Elkhart 1851 N ½ NE ¼ 15 35 7 45
Elkhart 1852 N ½ NW ¼ 15 35 7 45 Benton Twp
Elkhart 1853 N ½ NW 1/4 15 35 7 80
Elkhart 1854 N ½ NE ¼ 15 35 7 80 Benton Twp
Elkhart 1855 redeemed from tax sale 1851/52 N ½ NE ¼ 15 35 7 80 Benton Twp
Kos 1850 E ¼ SE ¼ 5 34 5E 80 Moses Babcock
Kos 1851 E ¼ SE ¼ 5 34 5E 80 Moses Babcock
Kos 1852 E ¼ SE ¼ 5 34 5E 80 Moses Babcock
Kos 1851 E ½ SE ¼ 9 34 5 80 Moses Babcock
Kos 1852 for 1851/1852 E ½ SE ¼ 9 34 5 80
Kos 1853 E ½ SW ¼ 9 34 5 80 Moses Babcock
Kos 1854 E ½ SE ¼ 9 34 5 80 Moses Babcock
Kos 1855 E ½ SE ¼ 9 34 5 80 Moses Babcock
Kos 1856 E ½ NW ¼ 9 34 5 80
Kos 1858 E ½ SE ¼ 9 34 5

Martha petitioned the court in about 1855 for her dower lands to be set aside, possibly indicating her intention to remarry, which she did to Joel Applin on January 21, 1858. She is deceased, according to David’s estate records, by 1861. Her gravestone says she died on Sept. 11, 1860.

Martha’s dower land came out of the W ½ SW ¼ Sect 34 Twp 36 Range 6 and was listed as 10 and 40/100 acres. *In 1856 Samuel Miller, as executor, sold part of David’s land to Jonas Reutford or Reutfrow or Renfro, the NW corner of SW 1/4 of Sect 34 Twp 36 Range 6 along the Logansport road and Elkhart river,10 and 40/100 acres.  The northwest corner would have included the house.

David Miller sale notice

Aside from the land, there were other interesting receipts that provide us with a glimpse of David’s life.

  • January 21, 1851 William L. Baker submits a bill to the estate for 6.5 yards of shrouding – $3, 3 yards of bleached muslin – .45 and bolts and screws for coffin – .30

According to sources on Brethren history, the early Brethren were not buried in their clothes, but wrapped in a shroud that was wound around them. This suggests that indeed, David did have a Brethren burial – at least Brethren style.

David’s son, John David’s estate in 1902 was charged for a “robe” instead of burying him in his own clothes.

Furthermore, coffins were to be as simple as possible, and often, the deceased was buried and then the funeral service “celebrated” at the church, without the body. I wonder how much of this custom was related, at least originally, to the lack of refrigeration and embalming. In fact, when coffins were first taken into Brethren churches, it caused quite a ruckus and they were only allowed just inside the back door.

  • August 1851, Stephen Miller came of age.
  • Martha Miller is alive and signs with an X on January 8, 1852
  • John Latta guardian of the 3 Miller children in 1853, but by Aug 1, 1856 Latta is dead and Samuel Ridgeway is guardian.

Some estate distributions were begun in 1853, but by 1855, the bulk of David’s estate, tied up in land, becomes an issue.

  • May 4, 1853, Abraham Leer signs as receiving part of his estate as heir of David Miller.
  • May 3, 1853, Adam Whitehead signs for payment of his share of David’s estate.
  • May 4, 1853, David B. Miller signs for part of his share of estate.
  • In 1855, Adam Whitehead and Michael Haney are administrators of David Miller’s estate, and Conrad Brumbaugh signed a receipt in of partial settlement of his share of the estate as one of his heirs.
  • Aug 25, 1855, John Liveringhouse signs for part of his estate distribution as guardian of 2 minor heirs.
  • Aug 25, 1855, Samuel Ridgeway was guardian of 3 minor heirs.
  • August 25,1855, signs as receiving part of David’s estate as an heir. Mary Stowder
  • Aug 25, 1855, Milford Zunn (Zanin) (both names unclear) signs as heir of David Miller.
  • Aug 25, 1855, Jonathan Caly? Gives receipt for part of distribution of estate as heir. (Jonathan Colyar from 1853 receipt)
  • Aug 25 1855, S. B. Miller gives receipt as heir for part of estate.
  • In August 1855, Adam Whitehead is also guardian of David Drake, obviously Martha’s son.Receipt in David Miller’s estate “Received Feb 15, 1856 from John D. Miller ? on tombstones for David and Elizabeth Miller.”On April 1858, Samuel Ridgway is paying bills on behalf of the children. “Received of Samuel Ridgeway $1.20 for schooling of Stephen and Michael Miller, sons of the widow of the widow Miller.”

I wonder if this means that Matilda wasn’t being schooled, or perhaps her illness prevented her schooling, especially if she had something like Down’s syndrome, a very common occurrence in the youngest child born to late in life mothers.

The Lawsuit

Brethren simply did not file lawsuits. In fact, they would do just about anything to keep from confronting someone, and especially not in court. However, those Brethren traditions went by the wayside in 1855, when all of David’s heirs, including the widow, sued Adam Whitehead and Susan Miller Whitehead. While David may have separated from the traditional ways of the Brethren Church, by and large, his children did not – at least not his children from his marriage to Catharina Schaeffer.

The front of the estate packet shows the plaintiffs that sued Adam Whitehead and Susan, his wife.

David Miller estate suit

August term 1855

Petitioners Martha Miller the widow of David Miller decd, (Adam Whitehead and Susan Whitehead his wife are stricken here,) David Miller, Michael Haney and Elizabeth Haney his wife, John D. Miller, Mary Stouder, Conrad Brumbaugh and Cathearine Brumbaugh his wife, Samuel B. Miller, John Collier and Lydia Collier his wife, adults over the age of 21 years and Stephen Miller, Michael Miller and Matilda Miller, infants under the age of 20 years by Samuel Ridgeway their guardian and John Lear, Hetty Lear and Sarah Lear also infants under the age of 20 by Abraham Lear their guardian, Samuel Brumbaugh, Lydia Brumbaugh his wife, Samuel Irwin and Elizabeth Irwin, his wife, Israel Irwin and Susan Irwin his wife, Isaac Shively and Catharine Shively his wife, all adults over the age of 21 years and William Livinghouse and Sulvia? Livinghouse, also infants under the age of 20 by John Livinghouse their guardian. That David Miller deceased (is) their ancestor who about the year 1852 departed this life intestate leaving the said widow and your other petitioners and Adam Whitehead and Susan Whitehead who are made defendants here to and are his heirs at law who took title to all his real estate by descent.

Owned tracts to wit:

  1. E half of SE quadrant section 9 twp 34 range 5 Kosciusko county 80 acres
  2. North half of the nw quarter section 15 twp 35 range 7 80 acres Elkhart county.
  3. West half north NW quarter section 6 twp 35 north rage 6 east 79 acres Elkhart

Court finds:

  • Martha Miller (the widow) to get one third part as her dower.

Each of the following heirs to have their one twelfth part:

  • Susan Whitehead
  • David Miller
  • Elizabeth Haney
  • John D. Miller
  • Mary Stouder
  • Catherine Broombaugh
  • Samuel B. Miller
  • Lydia Collier
  • Stephen Miller
  • Michael Miller
  • Matilda Miller
  • The remaining one twelfth part to be set over to John Lear, Hetty Lear, Sarah Lear, Elizabeth Irwine, Susan Irwin, Catherine Shively, William Livinghouse and Eliza Livinghouse.

David’s oldest daughter Hester Miller married Abraham Lear in 1824 in Ohio. Beyond that, these individuals are challenging, to say the least.

Hester Miller and Abraham Lear’s known children are:

  1. Elizabeth Lear b Dec 1827 died Aug 16 1913 in Gage, Nebraska.
  2. Susan born April 12 1832 died June 5 1907 North Liberty, St. Joseph County, Indiana
  3. John W. Lear b Sept 1838
  4. Sarah born 1841 Elkhart County
  5. Another document references a deceased daughter of said Esther Lear.

Martha Dies

According to the estate documents, the orphans’ mother died “sometime in September 1860.”

A January 1861 letter to the court states that Stephen, Michael and Matilda Miller own 3.12th of land W ½ SW ¼ section 34 township 36 range 6 except the south end near the center of the south line donated in the decedents lifetime for the purpose of a graveyard. Also excepting the part of that section laying west of the Logansport/Goshen road.

On June 8, 1861 Samuel Ridgeway sold several pieces of David’s land to Edward Clark.

This 1874 plat map, at the bottom center right, shows the original David Miller land which includes the cemetery as owned by E. Clark.  IN 1874, David’s land is bisected by the railroad, in addition to the road.

David Miller 1874 plat

After Martha’s death, this partial paper was found in David’s estate packet.

“and 13 respectively and now reside in Elkhart County. Stephen resides with David Dousman and his working for himself. Michael is working for board and going to school and Matilda resides with Adam Whitehead.”

Filed by their guardian.

Daughter Matilda Miller Dies

Matilda was clearly very ill for some time before she died. Doctors were called, and paid. Sadly, the receipt never said what they treated her for.

By Dec. 8, 1861, Samuel Ridgeway is the guardian of the 3 Miller children. “Received of Samuel Ridgeway guardian for the heirs of David Miller decd $2 for taking of Matilda Miller while sick. Mary Berry”

Matilda Miller’s doctor bill was from Sept 27, 1861 to Sept 30th.

Oct 17, 1861 $23 for coffin.

Dec 9, 1861 shrouding for Matilda Miller, also paid for 10 days care of “Matilda in last sickness.”

Dec. 14, 1861 David Dausman and Samuel Rodibaugh to appraise estate of Matilda Miller.

Matilda’s estate consisted of one bed and bed clothing and bedstead for 22.00 and one chest for 2.00. I can’t help but wonder what was in that chest. Was it David Miller’s chest?

The Final Payments

On Jan. 15, 1864, the 3 youngest Miller children are referenced as “minor heirs of Matilda Miller deceased, there being 11 shares of said Matilda’s estate, and two of them having been paid to Stephen Miller and Michael Miller.”

Michael Miller became of age January 15, 1864 and was paid in full for David’s and Martha’s estate.

Matilda’s share was divided among her two brothers and the other 9 heirs.

The administrator’s final report was submitted Jan 16. 1864

Thirteen years and a month after David died, when his estate was finally settled, Martha had died, Matilda had died and his children were estranged. Some were probably Baptists, no less. Not quite the outcome David had envisioned in 1831 or 1832 when he arrived in Elkhart County with all of his children, full of hope.

David’s Homestead

David’s homestead was still owned by him, along with some other lands along the Elkhart River and in other townships, at his death. His homestead is on the border of Elkhart and Jackson Townships, bordering both sides of State Road 15 and County Road 29 on the south, today, two of the first roads in the area. CR 29 was an old Indian path. David’s house was located in an area where the train tracks are located today.

David patented 80 acres in the west half of the southwest quarter of section 34, township 35 (Elkhart), range 6 east. In his estate packet, we confirm that the cemetery existed at that time, and it is where David is buried as well, by the following sale order for the above land which said specifically…..“except for ½ acre on the south end near the center of the south line donated to the descendants of life-time for a graveyard.” This is today the Rodibaugh, also known as Baintertown, Cemetery, which was originally the David Miller cemetery, and by all rights, should be called the Miller Cemetery. This is where David and his second wife Elizabeth are buried. Martha (Applin), his third wife, is buried here near their daughter Matilda who died about a year after Martha. The old portion of the cemetery is shown below. David is buried far to the right, against the woods.

David Miller Baintertown

On the 1851 Elkhart County plat map, below, David’s land is shown as the David Miller estate, and on the 1874 map the land is owned by E. Clark. The previous location of the house to the right of the road is now where the railroad is located.  I believe this was the house where David lived, because it was the house given to Martha in her dower rights.  The original house was likely a quickly constructed rough hewn log cabin and after 40 years of use, may have not been in good shape. On the other hand, David’s son, John David’s log cabin built probably around the same time is still standing today underneath siding, sandwiched between additions.

David Miller 1851 plat map

Based on the 1851 plat map, David had three structures on his land.  Both were north of the river.  One was on the right hand side of what is now 15, looking north, and two to the left, near the intersection of what is now 42.

David Miller near house

Sitting at the intersection of 42 and 15, and looking left across the road to the west, you should be able to see David’s two houses sitting together – if they were still standing.

Moving slightly south, perhaps David’s house was near these white outbuildings today, seen above but barely visible between the trees, below.  When David owned the land, it may have been cleared.  Today, it is overgrown.

David Miller near house 2

David’s house that was sitting east of the road would have been torn down when the railroad went through, if not before.  It would have sat in the clearing below, and this was probably the highest elevation of his land.  David would have built his home where it was least likely to flood.

David Miller railroad tracks

Moving on south on 15, we can see the Elkhart River on both sides of the road.  This first picture is looking west.  David owned the land on both sides of the River here.

David Miller from 15 west

Looking east, you can see the railroad bridge today.  I wonder if the island was created after the railroad bridge was built with sediment accruing near the bridge base.

David Miller from 15 east

This was likely the shallowest location to ford the river, which was why the original trail was here, with the road curving on either side of the river.  This original path was followed by the road in the same location, followed by the railroad paralleling the road for miles.

The next map we find is an 1874 plat map, which is after Edward Clark bought David’s land.

The colored legend on the 1874 map is:

  • Yellow – David’s home place
  • Orange – David’s other lands
  • Green – David’s land sold to family members
  • Green dash – John David, David’s son’s lands
  • Blue – other fractional sections belonging to David

Note that on the 1874 map, the cemetery is noted. It also looks like CR 29 was slightly altered, perhaps when the railroad was laid.

David Miller 1874 plat map

The map below shows Jackson Township which joins with Elkhart Township, just beneath David’s land.  David also patented the land to the left of John David Miller and David B. Miller, labeled C. Broombaugh.  Conrad Brumbaugh was married to David’s daughter, Catherine.  The land beneath David B. Miller’s land labeled J. M. Whitehead is the land originally owned by Adam Whitehead and his wife Susanna Miller.  Tensions must have run high in these homes after David’s death and during the lawsuit – given that four of David’s children were neighbors, and Samuel lived just up the road.

Margaret Lentz 1874 Jackson Twp map

None of David’s heirs bought the homeplace, probably because all of his older children had farms of their own.  Several of the older children probably never lived there, and some only having lived on the homeplace a short time until they married.  The younger children had no funds with which to purchase the land. The younger children probably also inherited their mother’s portion of the estate, which was 1/3rd of the value of the estate, after her death when they came of age.

The photo below is the Elkhart River as it feeds into David’s land downstream slightly, taken from the park, looking west.

David Miller river from park

The section borders appear to not have been cleared, so they are visible today. This is the northern border of David’s land.

David Miller property line

The following photo is on the road running along the northern border of David’s land (CR 45 ) and is taken from near where the house was located looking East.

David Miller road

This would have been the high farmable lands when David cleared the lands, but today, the owners use this as yard. The only high portions of David’s land was land adjacent the house and then where the cemetery is located, both areas of which are surrounded by significant lowlands which would absorb the floodwaters and hopefully prevent the high areas from flooding.

David Miller field

David Miller higher lands.

David Miller highlands

An example of David’s swamp lands is shown below. In the summer this is probably an impenetrable mess of briars, snakes and mosquitoes.

David Miller swamp

Old trees demarcating the east boundary of David’s land on CR 45. I wonder if these trees were alive when he was.  In most places, it’s illegal to cut a boundary marker tree.

David Miller boundary trees

This list of items submitted as expenses to David’s estate shows the types of farm activities that took place annually on David’s land and how much David’s estate paid to have the activities performed beginning in 1850, which suggests that’s when his health was deteriorating:

Date Activity Amount Paid
Sept 10 Hauling wood .75
March 1850 ½ days haulting .75
March 20 Hauling wood .50
March 24 Threshing 1 day 2 hands and team 2.00
July 20 1 hand threshing 4 days 2.00
July 22 1 hand cleaning wheat 2 days 1.00
July 11 Paid for threshing 100 bushels wheat 5.00
July 30 Hauling wood .50
Aug 28 Making fence 1.25
Aug 30 Hauling rails 1 day 1.50
Aug 31 Hauling rails 1 day 1.50
Aug 31 1/3 note given for threshing 3.62
Aug 30 1/3 expenses of threshing 2.00
Dec. 2 Hauling wood .75
Dec 11 Hauling wood .75
Dec 12 Hauling wood .75
Dec 17 1 day butchering .50
Dec 30 Hauling rails with 2 teams 3.00
Dec 31 Hauling rails with 2 teams 3.00
Jan 1 1851 Hauling wood half day 2 teams 1.50
Jan 2 1851 Hauling wood .75
Jan 10 Hauling wood .75
Jan 18 2 hands building fence 1 day 1.00
Jan 20 Hauling wood .75
Jan 27 Resetting 84 ails from 1850 rails at 2 ? per hundred 4.62
Sept 4 150 fire? Iron from Hawks 7.50
Jan 3 1852 129.50 bushel wheat 3.90
Jan 3 Expenses of paying hands, horses, etc 7.00
Feb. 15 Hauling saw logs to Myland? 1.00
May 28 Hauling Mamon 2.00
May 29 Ditto
Oct 11 106 pounds beef 3.18
Oct 11 1 barrell salt 2.25
Nov 8 Hauling firewood 1.25
Nov 9 Hauling 3 saw logs 1.00
Dec 22 Hauling firewood 1.00
Jan 21, 1866 Hauling firewood 1.25
Aug 2 Cutting and fretting rep 3 acres whet 3.00
Aug 2 Half bushel flax seed .50
Aug 12 1 hand threshing with machine 6 days 3.00
Aug 16 1 hand cleaning wheat 4 days 2.00
Aug 20 Hauling rails and building 120 rods fence 25.50
Jan 14, 1867 Chopping and hauling wood 1.00
Jan 18 Half day butchering .50
Jan 20 Half day hauling wood .75
March 10 Hauling wood 1.5 days 2.25
March 1, 1868 Half day threshing by David .75
March 1 1.5 days threshing by Jacob .56
April 6 Hauling Mamon? With 2 teams 3.00
July 10 Hauling wood and hay 1.00
Aug 26 Threshing 1 day team and 2 hands 2.0
Sept 22 Haulting wood .25
Sept 28 Hauling wood .25
Sept 30 Hauling 8 load wood 1.25
Jan 13 1853 Hauling 7 loads wood 1.25
Jan 30, Hauling 2 loads wood .25
March 4 Threshing oalts 2.00
March 10 Threshing wheat 2.00
March 20 Hauling wood 2.00
April 13 Peeling rails 2 days by Jacob .75

It looks to me like hauling wood was the task that never ended.

David’s Children

David had children by at least two wives and probably three. I only wish David had a family Bible that had survived, because that Bible would likely tell us the story. Maybe it was in that chest, or maybe one of the children or his wife had already taken the Bible.  Maybe it still survives someplace today.

David Miller’s Children with an Unknown Wife

Esther Miller was deceased at the time that her father David’s estate was distributed.

We don’t know Esther’s birthdate, but one researcher shows her marriage to Abraham Lear (also spelled Leer) on December 30, 1824 and names a source as a DAR record. Odd for a Brethren family to have a DAR record.

We do know that Esther was married before 1827 based on her children’s ages. Unfortunately, these dates do little to narrow the range of her birth from “before 1806” to “after 1806” which makes a difference in terms of the identity of her mother.

In the 1850 census, Esther’s husband Abraham’s wife is listed as “C.” Three of Esther’s children are present in that census, Susan, age 18, John, age 14 and Sarah, age 7. Beyond that, there are two additional children in Abraham’s household, Isabel age 4 and Lucinda age 2. These two children are not mentioned in David Miller’s estate distribution, so I would take that to mean they are the children of Abraham and wife “C,” and not of Esther. Furthermore, I would also take this to indicate that Esther died between 1840/1843 when Sarah was born and 1846 when Isabel was born.

In the 1860 census, Isabel and Lucinda are both still living, so their omission from David Miller’s estate is not a matter of death. Additionally, in 1860, William Liveringhouse, age 12, is living with Abraham Lear. Known children of Esther Miller and Abraham Lear according to David Miller’s estate, marriage records and the census are:

  • Elizabeth Lear born December of 1827 and died in August 16, 1913 in Holmesville, Gage Co., Nebraska. Her descendants show her birth date as December 5, 1825. She married Samuel Irvin in Elkhart County on May 11, 1845 and had 8 children. None of the children listed in the one twelfth part are hers.
  • Susan Lear born April 12, 1832 in Elkhart County, Indiana and died on June 5, 1907 in North Liberty, St. Joseph County, Indiana. She married Israel Irvin on April 23, 1852 in Elkhart County and had 7 children.
  • John W. Lear born in 1838. He married Samantha E. Shafer on September 18, 1872 in Elkhart County, Indiana. They had two children.
  • Sarah Lear born in October 1840 (census indicated both 1840 and 1843 at different times) and died after 1910 in Marion County, Kansas. She married Israel Eliphet B. Riggle on October 2, 1862 in Elkhart County. They had 3 children.

David Miller’s estate distribution mentions the 4 children, above, but also mentions the following individuals who are also to receive out of Hester’s one 12th portion, indicating they are her heirs.:

  1. Hetty Lear
  2. Catherine Shively
  3. William Livinghouse
  4. Eliza Livinghouse

Another estate document references a deceased daughter of Esther Lear. Given that William Liveringhouse is living with Abraham Lear in 1860, I would interpret this to indicate that the deceased daughter had married a Liveringhouse. Mary Leer married John Liveringhouse on November 7, 1847 and apparently had two children William and Eliza, before she died, apparently not long before her father. Based on this information, I’m adding Mary Lear as a daughter.

  • Mary Lear was born probably about 1827 and died about 1850. She married John Liveringhouse on November 7, 1847 and had two children, William and Eliza.
  • Catherine is another daughter and a Caty Lear was living beside Abraham Lear in the 1850 census, with Catherine Stutzman, age 50. Abraham Lear’s mother was a Stutzman. Catherine Lear married Isaac Shively on December 26, 1852 in Elkhart County. Catherine Shively was listed in David Miller’s estate distribution.
  • Hetty Lear married Henry Stutsman on April 30, 1857.

Susan Miller was born June 5, 1802 and married Adam Whitehead on February 17,1825 in Montgomery County, Ohio. She died on July 17, 1876 and is buried in the Whitehead Cemetery in Elkhart County. Her birth is calculated from her age on the tombstone.

David Miller daughter Susan stone

Susan Miller and Adam Whitehead had the following children:

  • Mary Ann Whitehead (1828-1916) married Samuel R. Miller
  • Elizabeth Whitehead (1829-1853) married Jacob Riggle(s)
  • Esther Whitehead (1831-1910) married Daniel Shively
  • John M. Whitehead (1833-1912) married Sarah Smith
  • Susana Whitehead (1836-1916)
  • Catherine Whitehead (1838-1919) married John Riggle
  • Margaret Whitehead (1841-1851)

David Miller’s Children with Catherine Schaeffer

David B. Miller was born June 3, 1806 in Montgomery County, Ohio, died on September 26, 1881 in Elkhart County, Indiana and is buried in the Baintertown Cemetery. David’s stone is 4 sided, with wife Christina buried on one side.

David Miller son David stone

Their 2 children are memorialized on one side.

Miller, David B back 07

The third side is David and the fourth side is an inscription.

David Miller son David closeup

David married Christina Brumbaugh before coming to Elkhart County.

The book Genealogy of the Brumbaugh Family shows that Conrad born in 1811 married Catharine Miller and Christine born in 1814 married David Miller.

David Miller Brumbaugh book

David B. Miller had 11 children.

  • Catherine who died before 1893
  • Samuel R. Miller born 1820 who died in or before 1893
  • John B. Miller born 1839 died 1897
  • William Miller born November 2, 1831, died November 4, 1831, buried in the Baintertown Cemetery.
  • Eve Miller born July 1836, died April 2, 1838, buried in the Baintertown Cemetery.
  • Michael M. Miler born December 1842 in Elkhart County, died Sept 5, 1854 and is buried in Baintertown.
  • Jacob Miller was born in 1832 and married a Catherine.
  • Mary Miller was born in 1835
  • Elizabeth “Betsy” Miller was born in 1844
  • Daniel C. Miller was born in 1847 and died in 1931.
  • Susannah Miller was born in 1849.

Elizabeth Miller was born on April 6, 1808 in Montgomery County, Ohio, died on January 16, 1891 in Elkhart County, Indiana and is buried at Baintertown. She married Michael Haney in 1827 in Montgomery County, Ohio. They patented land very near David Miller in Elkhart County and had 5 children.

  • Matilda Haney (1834-1934) married John W. Baker
  • Elizabeth R. Haney (1836-1900) married George Washington Alfrod
  • Joseph Beane Haney (1838-1920) married Lucinda Whitehead
  • Mary “Molly” J. Haney (1843-1922) married Allen D. Gilkinson
  • John Michael Haney (1847-1849)

Mary Miller was born in 1809 in Montgomery County, Ohio and married Jeremiah Bright January 31, 1828 in Montgomery County, Ohio. According to the Elkhart County Pictorial and Biographical Memoirs, they had five children, but I found evidence of 7 including two children who died young:

  • David Miller Bright (1829-1905) married Elizabeth Rinehart
  • George W. Bright (1830-1852)
  • John Bright (1831-1928)
  • Mary Bright (1833-1911) married Jacob Alva Aurand
  • William Bright (1835-1917) married Catherine Wagner
  • Susannah Bright (1837-1838)
  • Daniel Bright (1838-1840)

Mary then married Christian Stouder on September 11, 1842 in Elkhart County and had four more children:

  • Lydia Stouder (1833-1893) married Samuel Neff in 1883
  • Christian Stouder (1845-1927) married Elizabeth Hohbein and her sister, Catherine Hohbein
  • Samuel H. Stouder (1850-1891) married Margaret Rummell
  • Unknown 4th child

David Miller daughter Mary Stouder stone

Mary died on October 22, 1863 and is buried at Union Center Cemetery, although her birth and death information was apparently never inscribed on her stone.

John David Miller was born April 6, 1812 in Montgomery County, Ohio and married Mary Baker there on January 24, 1832. They came to Elkhart County with or near the same time as David Miller. Mary and John David had 10 children:

  • John Miller – died as a child
  • Catherine Miller – died as a child
  • Samuel Miller – died as a child
  • Unknown child – died
  • Hester Ann Miller (1833-1917) married Jonas Shively
  • David B. Miller (1838-1922) married Susan Smith
  • Mary Ann Miller (1841-1915) married Michael Treesh
  • Aaron B. Miller (1843-1923) married Sarah Myers
  • Matilda A. Miller (1844-1935) married John Dubbs
  • Martha Jane Miller (1847-1935) married David Blough
  • George Washington Miller (1851-1917) married Lydia Miller

John David Miller married second to Margaret Elizabeth Lentz, widow of Valentine Whitehead. They had four children:

  • Evaline Louise Miller (1857-1939) married Hiram Ferverda
  • Ira J. Miller (1859-1948) married Rebecca Rodibaugh
  • Unknown child – probably died in 1861
  • Perry Miller (1862-1906) married Mary Jane Lauer

Photo of John David Miller with Margaret and 5 of his children.

John David Miller Photo

Catherine Miller was born March 17, 1813 and died September 24, 1876 and is buried at Baintertown. She married Conrad Brumbaugh in 1833 in Elkhart County and they had five children.

  • John W. Brumbaugh (1835-1910) married Sarah Peffley
  • Lydia Brumbaugh (1838-1856)
  • Eve Brumbaugh (1840-1891) married Daniel Riggle
  • Sarah A. Brumbaugh born about 1846
  • Joseph Brumbaugh (1856-1921) married Ellen Martha Hissong

Samuel B. Miller was born in 1816 and married Rose Ann Bowser Dec. 13, 1837. He died March 1, 1887 and is buried at Baintertown . They had seven children:

  • Emanuel Miller (born 1838), noted as “cripple” in 1870 census
  • Mary J. Miller born (1840-1920) married James Alford
  • William H. Miller (1841-1915) married Delilah J. Alford and Matilda J. Alford
  • Desaline Miller born (1845-1904) married G. Alonze Latta, died of strangulation
  • Albert J. Miller born (1846-1924) married Elizabeth
  • Charles C. Miller born (1847-1910) married Sarah
  • Cephus Miller born 1850, died after 1860
  • James Miller born 1862

Lydia Miller was born about 1818 in Montgomery County, Ohio and married John (Jonathan) Collier, also spelled Colyar, on September 18, 1834 in Elkhart County. She died about 1876. They had seven children:

  • David Colyar born in 1837, married Susanna
  • Elizabeth Colyar born in 1838, married a Whitman
  • Susan Louise Colyar (1839-1917) married George Jacob Hardtarfer
  • Mary Colyar born in 1842
  • John Colyar (1845-1932) married Sarah Josephine Belden
  • Catherine Colyar born in 1848
  • Louisa Emaline Adaline Colyar born in 1855

David Miller had no children with his next wife, Elizabeth, who died in 1838, but he had three additional children with his last wife, Martha Dickerson Drake.

Children with Martha Dickerson Drake.

Michael Miller was born December 25, 1843, a Christmas baby, in Elkhart County. He died on October 20, 1908 of “la grippe,” a colloquial term for flu or an intestinal disorder, and is buried at Baintertown.

David Miller son Michael death cert

Michael married Mary Jane Sparklin about 1866. Mary Jane’s surname is taken from several of her children’s death certificates. They had seven children:

  • Mary C. Miller (1868-1945) married Marion Franklin Mock and George Hefner
  • Frank N. Miller born in (1873-1920) married Sarah Catherine Leedy
  • C. Miller born in 1873, died after 1880
  • Robert Miller (1877-1948) married Carrie Heeter
  • Martha Miller (1884-1948) married John Rapp, then McClellan Corner,
  • David Charles Miller born in (1887-1912) married Hilda Gertrude Huber
  • Susanna Miller born in 1891 married Irvin Hall

Steven Miller was born August 26, 1840 in Elkhart County. On July 4, 1861 he married Mary Magdaline Dausman. From the looks of his picture below with no indication of a beard, he clearly wasn’t old order Brethren.  Several more liberal Brethren churches were formed after “schisms” within the Brethren church.

David Miller son Stephen

From the History of Kosciusko County, published in 1887, we find the following:

David Miller Stephen 1

David Miller Stephen 2

David Miller Stephen 3

David Miller Stephen 4

Stephen died on October 24, 1926 in Syracuse, Kosciusko County, Indiana and is buried in the Syracuse Cemetery in Kosciusko County.

David Miller son Stephen stone

Stephen and Mary had eight children:

  • Ella Miller (1862-1926) married Andrew William Strieby
  • Michael Ferman Miller (1864-1938) married Olive Kirkendall
  • Samuel B. Miller (1866-1914) married Anna
  • Marion Sylvester Miller (1868-1933) married Martha Brower
  • Charles Miller was born in 1870
  • Emma Miller (1875-1947) married Frank Bushong
  • Earl Miller (1868-1933)
  • Hattie Viola Miller (1886-1972) married Ed Fisher

Matilda Miller was born on October 5, 1845 and she died on October 7, 1861 and is buried at the Baintertown Cemetery, with her parents.


For a simple Brethren man, David Miller was mighty complex. He died slightly over 100 years before I was born. Ironically, he had been entirely forgotten by his descendants in that intervening century – just 4 generations.  How quickly people forget.

I was the 5th generation to be born. Only his granddaughter, Evaline, my mother’s grandmother, was remembered by my mother, who was the only person to convey any family history to me. Mother never knew any of the Miller cousins, and there were hundreds upon hundreds, many of whom lived just a few miles up the road from where she was raised.

Now I realize that in part, not knowing her Miller cousins simply had to do with time and distance, but the other part was that untold story of division within the family. This family was twice divided in as many generations.

By the time my great-grandmother, Evaline Miller Ferverda was born to John David Miller, son of David Miller in 1857, the David Miller estate lawsuit was well underway. David’s children filed suit after his death, in 1855, pitting all of his children and widow against one daughter, Susan, and her husband, Adam Whitehead.

By the time Evaline died, in 1939, there had been two estate battles with divisive lawsuits.  Just before her father, John David Millers death, his son would petition the court for a guardianship and John David’s death in 1902 signaled the beginning of a war that made the Hatfield-McCoy feud look trivial.  It’s no wonder mother didn’t know any of her Miller cousins.

It also didn’t help in terms of knowing relatives that the Brethren Millers didn’t drive automobiles at that time.  They utilized horses and buggies for the most part.  Furthermore, Mother’s father, Evaline’s son, had broken with the Brethren Church and married a Lutheran woman.  They drove cars and were “modern,” including the fact that his wife worked and drove her own car no less.  Clearly, they didn’t fit in an extended Brethren family.  From their perspective, they were progressive.  From the Brethren perspective, they were outcasts and black sheep.

Making matters even worse, David Miller turned black sheep himself and married Martha Drake, a Baptist. Not unexpectedly, David’s youngest children were raised Baptist, not Brethren so there was a “not Brethren” and “progressive Brethren” (yes that’s an oxymoron) part of the family that the traditional Brethren part of the family probably wished to disavow.  Wow, things get complex quickly!

The Brethren Miller families seemed to cluster in different churches, probably in no small part to avoid each other.

The Miller family, twice divided by estates and bifurcated by religious differences would never recover – and a generation or two later didn’t even know they were related.

David certainly tried to take care of his family. He moved them to the frontier and patented land that he subsequently sold to his 3 sons. The daughters? Well, I guess they were expected to marry well.

David’s children were educated enough to read and write, including his daughters who signed receipts for their portion of their inheritance.

David married at least 3 times, and probably 4. His two eldest children were likely from his first marriage to an unknown spouse before his marriage in 1805 to Catherina Schaeffer, widow of Peter Gephart. David and Catherina had 7 more children before she died about 1826.

He married Elizabeth probably between 1830 and 1831, after the census and before leaving for the Elkhart County frontier.

Elizabeth was in her early-mid 50s when she married David who was 4 years younger, so there were no children from that marriage.

All of David’s children moved with him to the frontier, at least all of the children we know about. His daughter Susan was born in 1802 and Hester may have been born about 1800. They were both married in Ohio, but they came along on the journey to Elkhart County.

In addition, Elizabeth may have had her own children that moved with the family to Elkhart County, so it may have been a very blended family by that time.

David’s last marriage in 1839 to Martha Drake, a Baptist woman, was something I had never once considered as a possibility. Brethren simply did not marry outside the faith, and if they did, the spouse quickly converted. Martha didn’t. I wonder if this was a constant source of friction within the marriage, or if they had an understanding before the marriage. It’s also possible that he withdrew from the church, depending on the level of pushback he received. I would love to know, but none of that information filtered down, to the best of my knowledge. Were it not for the “vanity books” of the early 1900s published in many localities, we wouldn’t even know that juicy tidbit about the “mixed” marriage. You can tell by the way that verbiage is written, beginning with, “both of his parents were Christians,” that the topic had been brought up before – and the answer people were given.

I wish we knew something more of David, the man himself. We have nothing written in his hand, except receipts – and thank Heavens for those. The only personal story we have is of David and the Indian Chief.

David’s life was amazing. He grew up in the shadow of the Revolutionary War and Indian massacres. He helped his father tame the frontier in Bedford County, then floated down the Ohio where he did it a second time, in previously unfarmed and untamed wilderness in Clermont County, Ohio. He saw the land he cleared be lost due to the military bounty land, and then recovered, and he helped his father once again in Montgomery County to build a farm and a mill out of frontier land.

I find it utterly amazing that as a man, aged 50, half a century, at a time when men that age were considered “elderly,” he set out to tame the frontier once again. He probably felt he had a great deal of experience and after surviving 50 years on 3 frontiers, probably nothing much frightened him. The word that comes to mind is brave, unquestionably brave.

David lived for another 20 years on his Elkhart County land, on the Elkhart River, where the Indians told him would be a good location, beside their village. By the time David died, their village, and the Indians were gone, and Elkhart county was no longer the frontier.

David is buried on his land, in what was surely called the Miller Cemetery for years, probably up until Baintertown came into existence, after 1860. Not long afterwards, the name “Miller Cemetery” was forgotten, as was David. Relegated to nothing more than an almost illegible name on a tombstone along the Elkhart River in the back of a cemetery, buried 165 years ago on a cold winter day that was probably much like the day I visited 160 years later and found David’s land, his history and details of his life, once again.

What a story was waiting to be told!

A man who fathered at least 12 children,  11 of whom grew to adulthood.  A man who was married either 3 or 4 times, buried either 2 or 3 wives, lived on 4 frontiers and tamed 3.  David had at least 90 grandchildren, at least 22 of whom were born after his death.  He buried at least 12 grandchildren in the cemetery on his own land, probably digging their graves himself.  He rests beside two of his wives, among his children and grandchildren today.

David Miller Baintertown today

Thankfully, David’s story is no longer lost to his descendants.  He lived a remarkable life.

David Miller Bainterown today 2



I receive a small contribution when you click on some of the links to vendors in my articles. This does NOT increase the price you pay but helps me to keep the lights on and this informational blog free for everyone. Please click on the links in the articles or to the vendors below if you are purchasing products or DNA testing.

Thank you so much.

DNA Purchases and Free Transfers

Genealogy Services

Genealogy Research

16 thoughts on “David Miller (1781-1851), Tamed 3 Frontiers, 52 Ancestors #126

  1. AMAZING! If you haven’t I hope you consider writing a book. 🙂 I saw something that reminded me of a source that I had that might interest you, which is about Elkhart County, Indiana. It is called “Pioneer history of Elkhart County, Indiana : with sketches and stories”. I know my Stutzman line is in the book, so maybe there are some of those other lines in the book as well. You can read the book through Ancestry. http://search.ancestry.com/search/db.aspx?dbid=27689 I also found some other books through Google Books, which are free to read.

    “A Twentieth Century History and Biographical Record of Elkhart County, Indiana” https://play.google.com/store/books/details/Anthony_Deahl_A_Twentieth_Century_History_and_Biog?id=eBcVAAAAYAAJ

    “A Standard History of Elkhart County, Indiana: An Authentic Narrative of the Past, with Particular Attention to the Modern Era in the Commercial, Industrial, Educational, Civic and Social Development, Volume 1”

  2. Magnificent post!
    And you even managed to include the coinage of the portmanteau word “beaucolic” which I found wonderfully evocative.

  3. Pingback: Catharina Schaeffer (c1775-c1826) and the Invisible Hand of Providence, 52 Ancestors #127 | DNAeXplained – Genetic Genealogy

  4. Nice job. I am researching this family as a prospective new patriot for the Daughters of the American Revolution. Would you have the source for the Feb 25 1823 receipt to Catherine Miller? It would help me cite her date of death as post 25 Feb 1823. Thank you so much!!

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

  6. Peter Studebaker, Jr. (son of Peter Studebaker and Anna Magaretha Aschauer) was born Abt. 1740 in Frederick, MD, and died 1790 in Westmoreland, PA. He married Mary Miller. Peter Studebaker, Jr. and Mary Miller’ children were:
    ix. Clement Studebaker, b. Abt. 1775, d. date unknown. (Frederick Maryland became Washington County Maryland)

  7. I think the last portion of this is in error:

    “Samuel B. Miller was born in 1816 and married Rose Ann Bowser. He died March 1, 1877 and is buried at Baintertown. They had seven children:
    Emanuel Miller (1838-1921) married Nancy Maurer”

    …..in that Emanuel Miller and Nancy Maurer were my great great grandparents. Emanuel was born to:

    John J. Miller (son of John B. Miller, if I recall accurately)
    Elizabeth Crowell Miller

    The annual John J Miller and Elizabeth Crowell Miller reunion is still a big event to this day, although I’ve never personally attended.

    The Samuel B. Miller information may well be accurate but the entry for Emanuel Miller may be conflating Samuel’s son with another Emanuel Miller of Elkhart County. My mother still has photos of Emanuel and Nancy out in front of their barn near North Webster, Indiana as Nancy scatters feed to the chickens. (I was amazed that Nancy didn’t stay still for the photo. There is obvious blurring from the motion.) The last time I drove that road, the barn and house were still there. I used to visit Emanuel’s and Nancy’s elderly daughter (“Aunt Belle”) living there in that same house with her daughter and son-in-law in the 1960’s. I think Belle was their youngest child. I think their son, Samuel Miller, was the last to die. He moved to California and farmed around 1920. Emanuel’s son John H.(?) Miller was my mother’s maternal grandfather.

Leave a Reply