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Miller Family History

  Contributed by cousin, Ken Miller, great grandson of Wilber Miller  
  First Generation:

William Miller b. March 27, 1796 m. Martha (Patsy) Timberman b. April 5, 1807

William Miller was a native of Tennessee (the 1860 FountainCo, IN census states his birthplace as KY) and came in early manhood to extreme northern Parke County, Indiana. A few years later located in southern Fountain County, Indiana. His life was spent as a farmer near Harveysburg. He married a member of the old Timberman (Zimmerman) family, and of their children Dr. John Miller was the eldest, the others being: Abram, Nancy, Samuel, Mary, wife of Robert Townsley; Washington, David, Sarah, Lucinda, wife of Hamilton Townsley; Ruth, James, Aaron, Nelson, Joseph and Edward.

Second Generation:

Dr. John Miller b. July 30, 1826, m. Eliza Bonebrake

John Miller was a farmer and a practicing physician when he left Indiana and traveled in the old-time covered wagon, with his family and medicine cases, to Cherokee County, Kansas. He had served in the Civil war before coming to Kansas, enlisting as a private in the Sixty-third Indiana Volunteer Infantry, took part in the battles of Fort Donelson and Pittsburg Landing, was then detailed for hospital service, and after two years became so ill that he was discharged for disability, with no expectation of ever regaining his health. But with a change of climate health returned and many useful years followed, his life being prolonged to eighty-two years and his death occurring in 1904, near McCune, Kansas, where he owned a farm and in which neighborhood he had ably practiced his profession. He belonged to the old school of medicine and made use of old remedies, their efficacy under his professional care producing marvelous results, as was particularly evidenced at one time when he successfully battled during an epidemic of meningitis and was the only doctor in this part of the state who never lost a case when called at the first symptom. He voted with the Republican Party. In his earlier years he was a Presbyterian, but later withdrew from that communion and united with a religious body that seemed to him of simpler faith. He belonged to the Masonic fraternity, and in that body, as everywhere, he was held in esteem.

Dr. Miller was twice married, and to his first union a son and daughter were born: Charles, who was a resident of Narcissa, Kansas, and Mattie, who married William Tucker and died in Sumner County, Kansas. His second marriage was to Eliza Bonebrake, who was born near State Line City, Illinois, and died in the same year as her husband at the age of seventy-six years. They had the following children: Wilber M.; Jacob, who was a resident of Wichita, Kansas; Thomas and Emma, twins, the former of whom lived in Idaho, and the latter was Mrs. John William Riggs, of Sumner County, Kansas; Oliver, who was in business at Houston, Texas; and Turner, who lived at Parsons, Kansas.

Third Generation:

A half century has slipped away since Judge Wilber M. Miller, one of Stevens County's representative men, came to Kansas, and thirty-two busy, fruitful years have passed since he became a resident of that county. He has been identified with the various developing agencies that have brought into being the leading industries of the state, and has been connected with public affairs and held judicial position for a long period.

Wilber M. Miller was born in Fountain County, Indiana, May 17, 1858. His parents were John and Eliza (Bone brake) Miller, the farmer who was a practicing physician when he left Indiana and traveled in the old-time covered wagon, with his family and medicine cases, to Cherokee County, Kansas. His father, William Miller, was a native of Tennessee (1860 FountainCo, IN census lists his birthplace as KY). He came in early manhood to Fountain County, Indiana, and his life was spent as a farmer near Harveysburg. He married a member of the old Timberman family, and of their children Dr. John Miller was the eldest, the others being: Abram, Samuel, Mary, wife of Robert Townsley; Lucinda, wife of Hamilton Townsley; Aaron, Nelson, Joseph and Edward.

Wilber was ten year old when the family settled in Cherokee County after which, for a short time, he attended a private school. In early youth he had many duties around the home, particularly as he was the eldest son and his father was engaged with professional calls, often many miles away.

Wilber was twenty years old when he started out for himself and went to Sumner County in 1875, although previously he had entered a tract of the Joy lands in Cherokee County and subsequently, in the litigation that followed against the Joy interests, assisted in winning the suit for the settlers. For a time Wilber engaged in farming and then accepted a job as driver for a freighting outfit and for a year hauled Government supplies from Wichita to points in the Indian country, like Fort Reno and the Cheyenne Agency. His wages for this dangerous work never exceeded twenty-five dollars a month. He knew how to make friends with the Indians, but was really afraid of them, for fear some Indian that did not know him so well might take him for an enemy and kill him. A freighter by the name of Pat Henacy was killed by Indians on the north bank of the Cimarron River just a short time before Wilber came along. He would save the leftovers from his meals, such as meat, pancakes, etc. for them. The Indians thought his lunches were fine. Sometimes when they knew he was coming, some of the squaws and their children would walk a mile to meet him. They would beg him for something to eat. He has seen them on the warpath several times, but one he remembers well. One evening he came to Fort Reno Agency with a wagonload of supplies. The Indian "Little Robe" was making a speech. He said the Indians would fight before they work.

Most of them were setting on crossed legs as they usually sat. There were about three hundred of them and the marshal had to make them move before Wilber could drive up to the agency to unload. He did not get unloaded till about four o'clock, then he was afraid to drive away and camp for fear some would come up to him that did not know him, so he camped on the north bank of the Canadian River, about thirty yards from some of their tents; turned the mules loose, six of them, then got on his horse, thinking he would go to the soldiers at Fort Reno, about two miles south. The river was bank full, with snow and ice floating thick all over it. Being afraid the horse could not make it he rode back, tied the horse to the wagon and thought he would swim it himself, so he went back a foot, looked at the river again, then decided the water being so cold, he might take cramps, so much ice and snow. He decided to take his chances with the Indians. Then he went back and waited. After dark, six Indians came up and were painted up with war paint and had their headgear of feathers. They were in their real war dress. They talked awhile to themselves, then they said to him, "brode," meaning bread. So he thought when he turned his back they would get him, but they did not harm him, so he gave them pancakes and even put molasses on them this time. They looked at each other and smiled, asking, "John, how you makem?" (The Indians called all white men "John." He tried his best to make them understand (him) so they went away for the night.

Elizabeth Massey was born April 24, 1865, in Sanlac County, Michigan. Her parents were William and Mary (Perro) Massey. The former being born in Sheffield, England and the latter in Montreal, Canada and of French ancestry. Mr. Massey came to the United States in 1835 and settled in Michigan. Mary Perro was first married to Lewis Commings. To their union were born three boys, Adolph, Joseph and Fred. Then Mr. Commings died. She went on the best she could to support herself and babies. She met Mr. Meno and finally married him. They had four children, Louise, Henry, Tarcel and Paul. Things were going quite nicely in their home, then Mr. Meno passed away.

Now having four more children the task was much harder than before, but she just tried that much harder to get along. Some of the first children were getting old enough now to help some. Then she became acquainted with Mr. William Massey and later married him and to this union was born four children, Mary, Elizabeth, John and Anna. They lived in Michigan until Elizabeth was about ten years old. Then Mr. Massey came out to buy land, to move to, and was making arrangements to buy the land where the business part of Kansas city now is for twenty-five cents an acre, when he heard of the big Chicago fire. He went back as quickly as he could get there thinking his home and family might have burned or were without food, but when he arrived the family was safe and the home had not burned, though they had put out fires in the barnyard and kept all the buildings wet, especially the house. During the fire it was so hot along the Huron shore that they would to out in the lake and throw wet blankets and quilts over their heads to keep from suffocation, there was so much heat and smoke. Even the deer and other wild animals went into the lake too. Massey's kept ten families in their home for awhile as their homes had burned. Then in April 1875 they started to move to their home in Sumner County, Kansas. They came out in three covered wagons, one fixed especially for Mr. Massey, as she was in very poor health.

It took six weeks for the trip. They were ferried across the Mississippi and Missouri rivers on big flat boats. The children remembered seeing the eleven thoroughbred horses and wagons on the boats. Mr. Massey was very proud of his horses and always gave them the best of care.

They arrived the year after the "Grasshopper Year" as it was always called. They lived with Will Massey, oldest boy of William Massey, for about a year until they could build their own home. William Massey had four children by a former wife.

Elizabeth helped her mother about the house but really spent most of her time with her father, as there were two girls in the house to help. Mrs. Massey regained her health by the change of climate. In the fall of 1880, Wilber (Miller) was working for a neighbor of Mr. Massey's.

The first time Wilber remembers seeing Elizabeth was when he went to Massey's on business and she had her sister Mary were pitching bundles to their father and he was stacking.

Well, the first time she remembers him was on Sunday afternoon he came to her home with Dod Winser. It seems as though they took quite an interest in each other but did not like for others to know it, until about eighteen months later, he (Wilber) finally broke the ice and began coming to see her. In those days about all there was to go to was Sunday school, singing-school, and spelling school.

Judge Wilber Miller was married in Sumner County, Kansas, February 7, 1883, to Miss Elizabeth Massey. Mr. Massey came to the United States in 1835 and settled in Michigan, and from there came to Sumner County, Kansas, in 1875 and died there in July 1891. The mother of Mrs. Miller survived until 1905. They were parents of the following children: Mrs. Mary Payton, of Cowley County, Kansas; Elizabeth, Mrs. Miller; John, of Cowley County; and Mrs. Annie Somerville, of Winfield, Kansas. The father of Mrs. Miller was married first to Mary Alifax, and their children were: William, of Blackwell, Oklahoma; Henry, of Sumner County, Kansas; Mrs. Sarah Meno, of St. Clair, Michigan; and Thomas, of Oklahoma.

On November 22, 1884, a little boy came to their house. They named him John William, after each of his grandfathers. Being the first child, he was very much prized by his parents and also by his grandparents. He was a very good child so long as he had his own way, but could not understand why they never gave him the moon to play with, when he cried for it.

Massey's moved to town (Oxford, Kansas) when Miller's moved onto the farm. They farmed there two years. Then they decided they would like to go west and take a homestead. So, Wilber and his brother Tom, came to Stevens County on March 20, 1886; filed on his homestead, the NE quarter of section 25 T 31 R 37 west pm at Garden City on March 25th. Tom also took a piece of land. They built a dugout on Tom's place, then they put out a big crop, having brought all kinds of field and garden seed with them and set out twenty cherry trees, then went back to bring the family. They were so happy to think they had a home of their own and were rushing around getting everything ready to leave, had their packing almost done, when one morning real early, there came a loud knock at the door. Before they could get to the door, in walked Dr. Stork, with a basket, set it down carefully and said, "Well, I hope you like it, but must be on my way as I have several more to deliver." In the basket they found another baby boy. They named him Fred Ray. All of this excitement happened on July 11, 1886. Thinking it best to become better acquainted with the young man before starting on such a long journey, they waited eleven days. They fixed a nice soft bed in the wagon for him and also made it large enough for his mother so she could lie by him most all the way. They packed their household goods and groceries for the trip, took wagon, two horses, harness, three cows, three calves, two dozen chickens, plow and fifth dollars. Their parents thought they were going out on a desert and would starve to death, so they put in more meat, flour, lard, etc.

They started July 23. Just south of Dodge City, Elizabeth wondered why Wilber stopped to water the horses at the well, when there were lakes of water ahead (mirage). It took eighteen days for the trip. The last day of their trip, they came to the Cimarron River. It was getting late so they decided to camp there, as there was no house to go to anyway. Wilber took the horses to the river to drink. While he was there a man rode up and wanted to know who he was, and so on. The man said, "if that is who your are, you have the best crop I ever saw. The neighbors are taking roasting ears from your field. There is corn, cane, millet, and a fine garden of new potatoes, beans, peas, onions, rhubarb, and watermelons. You have the best crop in the country." So at this good news, they just hooked up the team and camped on the old hill where they now live. Next morning they went over their crops and garden before they had time to think of breakfast. Everything was so nice it seemed a paradise, for there were poor crops where they cam from. They lived in a tent until they could haul lumber from Hartland, Ks. and build a good two room dugout with sod walls 28 inches thick, windows and doors cased, plastered inside, a car shaped roof with tarpaper then sod about four inches thick. They hauled from the Aubery well at this time. They built two half dugout stables, one for the cows and one for the horses. A little later Wilber and three neighbors went together and dug a well. As they were all strangers to each other, and all wanted the same privilege to the well, they pulled up the corner stone and dug the well right there, making the well on the corner of each man's place. Then there was the crops to care for. Then gather two long ricks of buffalo chips, piled to shed rain and snow. That was the only fuel here in those days. He stripped cane and took it fourteen miles to Zionsville to a molasses mill for half.

Wilber has plowed tree claims in Stevens, Grant, Stanton, Morton, and Finney counties. He has often found claims by tying a cloth on the wagon wheel, counting the turns, as he knew how many there were to a mile. He usually plowed ten acres at five dollars an acre. Once when he was away plowing, the mountain lions bothered around until he had to plow all night with the lantern on the plow handle to keep them away.

Wilber drove into Stevens County on March 20, 1886. When he left home he had one little black horse, and in the meanwhile, while freighting and while farming near Oxford, he had accumulated additional livestock, and when he came to Stevens County he brought with him as a start, a good team, four head of cattle, some hogs and chickens, household goods and some farm machinery. His first work here was to file on his homestead, this being accomplished at Garden City, the northeast quarter of section 25, township 31, range 37, Harmony Township. On this land he built a two-room dugout and plastered it inside and roofed it with tarpaper and sod, making a warm and comfortable dwelling. He built a similar shelter for his stock. For seventeen years Mr. Miller and his family lived in this lowly home, and then he erected his present four-room frame house, but the old dugout was used for storage purposes until some three years since. In 1918 his frame dwelling was replaced by a modern seven-room bungalow.

Mr. Miller broke out sod as soon as possible and put in a varied crop, millet, cane and garden stuff, and repeated the experiment in the following year to his satisfaction. From 1888 to 1893 he harvested excellent crops of wheat, but conditions under which it had to be marketed made the effect the same as a crop failure or a drought. The farmers used expensive machinery in many cases to raise the crop and then were compelled to haul it a distance of forty Miles and accept from 25 to 40 cents a bushel for the grain. It was this reason that caused many farmers at that time to turn to broom corn and to feed crops and cattle growing. With the advent of the railroads grain raising has been resumed and shipping facilities prior to the World war had become adequate. Mr. Miller never embarked very extensively in the cattle business for himself, but has been a large feeder of stock for others and it has been profitable. He has made a feature of raising horses and was very successful in this line and probably because both he and wife had taken so much interest in their horses they were able, with remedies of their own, to save their animals when an epidemic occurred among horses in 1911, when many of their neighbors lost heavily. After a residence of twenty years Mr. Miller began to acquire more land. His cheapest quarter cost him $35 and his dearest cost him $80. This land had been mortgaged and abandoned, and the taxes standing against it measured up to its full value at the time. He now owns three quarters of the section on which he lives, and despite the numerous public offices he has frequently held has always continued to live on his farm.

An incident occurred when distress among the settlers began to manifest itself in which Mr. Miller bore a clever and humane part. Being the owner of but one calf and needing the milk it was taking for the use of his family, Mr. Miller traded the calf for a shotgun, and his expertness with it enabled him to provide daily for a long period the jack rabbit meat consumed under his own roof. He also shot this handy "manna" of the plains for such neighbor families as were threatened with hunger, and delivered them at their door.

He was elected Justice of the Peace the next year after he came here (Stevens County). Elizabeth took sick with typhoid fever on Christmas day, 1887, and was bedfast for several weeks then she began to be up some. On the morning of March 4, 1888, she awoke, and saw a nice little bundle lying by her. Can you guess what it was? She unwrapped and unwrapped and finally found a tiny baby girl weighing two and one-half pounds. They named this young lady Mabel Netty. She was even the nicest daughter in the family. Before long Elizabeth was well again, taking care of her babies and house. She was a neat housekeeper and a good manager. One night after they had gone to bed and were fast asleep, they heard music but thought they were dreaming, when they awoke and looked out the window and saw several of their friends playing and singing "Old Black Joe." They were invited in for a lunch, then went on to visit other families.

In 1890, Wilber heard of a run for land at Pond Creek, Oklahoma. He decided to go, so he had Tom Campbell fix some strong springs on his shoe heels. He was at Oxford when the train pulled out with several boxcars loaded with people wanting land. The train was only running about eight miles per hour, and just before they pulled in town, a big fat lady with a boy about seven, dumped the boy off the train, then she backed across the car, made a run and jumped. She crawled through the fence, tore her clothes quite badly, but kept going on, the last they saw of her she was going over the hill. She was after a claim while the rest were after town lots. When the train stopped, they were all made to get off on the west side of the train. There were lots of ground staked off so they all started. Wilber was in the lead, saw some lots he liked and thought he would stop, but it seems like his springs kept jumping him on until he was almost out of town, but finally stopped himself on a lot. The wind was blowing terribly hard, the dirt was red and everyone looked like Indians. He stayed on the lot that night. He found his brother-in -law the next morning in a restaurant that had been move in overnight.

On April 14, 1891, another little stranger came to their home. Being a boy he was named Victor Rolland, by Colonel Sam Woods, about three weeks before he was killed in what is know as the County Seat Fight. Colonel Woods lived just one mile west of Miller's. They were here to see the "County Seat Fight" through and knew the four men that were killed and one wounded in No Man's Land. That was quite an exciting time for everyone. This is about the time when things began to change, crops were poor and lots of families evacuated, some coming back later and some never came back. The Millers were among the ones that stayed and toughed it out.

He (Wilber) would hunt rabbits and catch fish, as the Cimarron had plenty of fish and always running water, until the flood in 1918. They had a hard time. Sometimes they would wonder where the next sack of flour would come from. But they must have managed well for they never went hungry or without clothes. As time went on things began to change again. Big rains came. Everyone felt sure of a crop. Millers decided to go into the farming business strong, so they ordered another son. When he arrived on April 4, 1893, he weight more than any of the other children at birth. He seemed quite a man to begin with but still had childish ways. They named this fellow Melvin Wilber, His father's name in reverse, just to keep from calling him junior. He was the baby for six years.

In 1898 Wilber was elected Probate Judge of Stevens County on the Populist Ticket. This took most all of his time at Hugoton, though he was home as much as possible. Elizabeth took charge of the farming. John and Fred were old enough now to help in the fields. The care of the family and the farming was a large undertaking, the baby then being five years old. She could work in the field when necessary, but both were willing to work hard now, and get a little ahead as the hard times they had been through were still fresh on their memory.

It seems there was still more help needed on the farm so on December 28, 1899, another son came to help out. He was named Clyde Edison. He was really more care for awhile than help, but he seemed to like the farm, so decided to stay. The family thought he was pretty nice. He had dark eyes and dark curly hair and when he was a little older, he entertained the company with "snake stories."

Wilber was elected the second term as Judge, this time on the Democrat ticket. He owned a horse by the name of Bob. He drove this horse when he was out electioneering. Every time he met anyone, he would stop and talk awhile. Well, Bob lived to be an old horse but never forgot his training. Even though you never knew the person you were meeting, Bob stopped long enough to get acquainted; which made it quite embarrassing to meet a stranger.

They bought a four-room house and with the two room dugout had plenty of room for their family. On May 20, 1901, the stork made its last call, bringing a girl this time. Outside of it's turned up nose, and bald head, it was a pretty good-looking baby. Good natured, too, so long as it had everything it wanted. They called it Hazel Mary.

Wilber was elected Judge two more times on the Republican ticket. He served eight years or four terms in all. Colonel Woods, Just Peters, Fred Wessner and Judge Marten have pleaded law before him. He has performed several marriage ceremonies.

Judge Miller was reared to venerate the principles of the Republican Party and to support its candidates. Shortly after coming to Stevens County he was elected a justice of the peace, served as such for many years, and during this time rendered some noted local decisions, notably in the case of libel between Carpenter and Hogan, that had its preliminary hearing in his court and later attracted much local attention. He very frequently performed marriages. In 1898 he was elected probate judge as a Populist and served two years on the bench, and after an interval of two years was re-elected, and in all served through four terms. As an indication of the fusions of the old parties and the formation of new ones, largely made up of the constituent elements of the old, Judge Miller was elected to the bench the first time by the populist party, once by the democrats, and twice later by the republicans. Although he had frequently attended local conventions he was never present when nominated. He has always been a friend of the public schools and has been almost continuously an officer in district 14.

Elizabeth has been a nurse and doctor for several years, beginning when they first moved out. From about 1900 to 1908 she was up so much at night and away so much it was hard on her. By then they could get the doctor at Hugoton, but the doctors were few and far away. She would insist on them getting doctors but sill they came for her some until 1914.

Mr. Miller (Wilber) shipped the first load of wheat out of Moscow, over the Santa Fe Railroad. They built their new house in 1918. During this time they were very much in fear that their family would be broken by the World War; but it was not.

On February 11, 1920, Clara Miller, Fred's wife, died, leaving four children. The doctor ordered them away for fear there would be more deaths, so they came to live with their grandparents. This was a terribly sad time. (Clara had the severe flu, which developed during the war. She was recovering but she had a backset. Some of the others were taking it and she thought she would clean a chicken to make soup for them. It was too much for her in her weakened condition).

Later Mrs. Miller (Elizabeth) was taken to Rochester, Minnesota, for a serious operation. She had to have a nerve severed in her face. After this surgery she had little feeling on that side of her face.) After she came home she seemed to be doing very well when Mr. Miller (Wilber) took sick and was taken to Mayo Bros. having to have two very serious operations. (Wilber had a serious rectal surgery. It is called a colostomy. The Drs. said he might live 10 years, but he lived much longer.) (He lived until November 1945.)

In the summer of 1929 Mr. and Mrs. Miller, (Wilber & Elizabeth), Hazel and Ralph had a very pleasant trip in Colorado.

Marvin Hogan passed away May 27, 1931 which cast another shadow of sorrow over our family. (Marvin was the son of Mabel and Loyal Hogan. He was in the process of loading a caterpillar tractor onto a truck bed. The tracks started slipping on one side causing Marvin to lose control. The tractor flipped over and caught Marvin underneath, crushing to death).

Millers with some of their family took a very enjoyable trip to New Mexico, visiting Carlsbad Cavern and other scenery.

Mrs. Miller was baptized and joined the Baptist Church August 12, 192_. She had been sprinkled when about 15 years of age and had been a Christian ever since. She helped in church work whenever she could.

Mr. Miller joined the Baptist Church April 17, 1927 on Easter Sunday, but has really been a Christian in belief all his life.

Mr. and Mrs. Miller have really known Kansas from the start. He remembers Wichita when there were no walks only in front of the stores, and the stores no closer on Douglas Avenue than they are in Moscow now. Just a few buildings scattered in Wellington, and Dodge City was just a wide place in the road.

They had the largest house around here when the country was first settled, it being two rooms. Most all the big dinners were at their house. The men would all go antelope hunting in the afternoon.

They have had lots of good times and think it has been a great life. They are mighty glad they have come through life so well. Most of all, we are all thankful to our Creator that our immediate family circle has not been broken by death.

----Hazel Mary Miller McCue - Written in 1933

From cousin Ken Miller, who contributed this family history:

Additions in parenthesis were added when typed by Lillie Shinn Miller. This history is written in Aunt Hazel McCue's words. Where it speaks of the fire in Chicago and the family going into the Huron Lake to escape, it couldn't be right. Chicago is on Lake Michigan. Clyde says they weren't in Chicago but in another town on Lake Huron. Ethel Dale says she remembers grandma telling about being in the Chicago fire so-----. Also, the big flood of the Cimarron was in 1914. It is stated as being in 1918 here. - retyped in 1955.



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Last updated February 11, 2001