Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Will the real John Miller please come forward!

Two John Millers in Cooke County in 1860.There were two John Millers in the 1860 Census in Cooke County. So, which John Miller was killed in the Great Hanging?

Diamond refers to a "John Miller" who was tried and hanged. Miller was also mentioned in Diamond's account of the DeLemeron (DeLamirande) case. Clark does not have a Miller on his list. McCaslin states that the Miller who was hanged was "John B. Miller". (We believe this to be in error and feel that his middle initial was "M" – John M. Miller.)

There are two John Millers in the 1860 Cooke County Census:
1. John Miller #1: On page 232, household 183, there is a John Miller who is a 39-year old carpenter, born in Kentucky, $960 in real property and $1200 in personal property. He is a single head of household with three young girls who were all born in Missouri: Nancy L., age7; Mary E., age 5; Luella A., age 3. (This family does NOT show up in the 1870 census Cooke County Census.) This John Miller was listed next to William Boyles on the census page and was also on the same page as William Rhodes. William Boyles was instrumental in bringing several other men into the Peace Party -- Martin & Leffel.

Three Victims of the Gainesville Hanging are on this census page. 1860 Cooke County, Texas page 232, household 183

William R. Rhodes
His wife, Amanda
His children:

John Miller with daughters:
Nancy L.
Mary Elizabeth
Luella A.

William Boyles
Wife, Elizabeth, and children on next page.

2. John Miller #2: On page 242, household 335, there is a John B. Miller, single, age 25, born South Carolina and appears to be a son in the household of Elisha & Mary Miller, who were also born in South Carolina.

More on John B. Miller #2
The 1860 census was taken the 6th of July, 1860. Several months later, on the 27th of September 1860, a John B. Miller, marries Mary Eubanks in Gainesville. This is probably the above John Miller #2 who in the census listed his middle initial as "B". We don't believe him to be the John Miller who died in the Hangings. (Mary Miller marries James Hooper in April of 1863. McCaslin feels this Mary Miller is the widow of his John Miller. Was this the Mary Eubanks Miller who was married to John B. Miller?? -- We don't know. John B. Miller also had a younger sister listed in the census by the name of Mary, who this 1863 Mary Miller marriage could be for.) John B. Miller & wife, Mary, cannot be found in the 1870 Census for Cooke County. So either he died or moved. Was this John B. Miller the one who died in the Hangings? Probably NOT. The other John Miller listed in the census is a better candidate because we know he died in the fall of 1862 prior to November 24th.

John Miller #1
According to probate records, John M. Miller died in the fall of 1862, sometime prior to Nov. 24, 1862, when the Cooke County Court appointed an administrator & appraisers for the estate of John M. Miller. (Cooke County, Texas Probate Book 1, page 327) Also on that same day and same page of the probate Book, the probates and wills of the following Gainesville Hanging Victims were entered: Alexander D. Scott, A. R. Dawson, Curd Goss, John M. Crisp, John M. Miller, Rama Dye, and Samuel Carmichael. It's as if the court listed all the Hanging Victims together on the same page.

Cooke County, Texas Probate Book 1, page 327

The Hanging Victims were entered in the following order:

Alexander D. Scott
A. R. Dawson
Curd Goss
John M. Crisp
John M. Miller
Rama Dye
Samuel Carmichael
John M. Miller

The Court records show that this John M. Miller died leaving two heirs: Nancy L. Miller and Mary Elizabeth Miller. The girls ages at the time of the probate were 10 years & 8 years old, respectively. The names and ages fit two older girls in the John Miller #1 census record. The youngest daughter, Luella, is not mentioned in the probate. Sometime previous to this time, Luella was sent back to Missouri to live with her grandparents.  This John M. Miller was not married at the time of his death because no surviving wife is ever mentioned in the probate records and the girls are called orphans by the judge.

In Diamond's account of the DeLemeron (DeLamirande) trial; Bradley (confederate spy) said that he had gone to DeLemeron and telling him he was a brother to the John Miller who was killed in the Hanging. The family (parents, brothers & sisters) of the 25 year old John B. Miller #2 lived in Cooke County and would have been known by county residents. So, it seems that there would have been some risk posing as someone who lived in the county and would have been known or familiar to other residents of the county. But John M. Miller #1 was from Missouri and did not have brothers who lived in the area.

In summary, we feel that the John Miller who was a victim of the Great Hanging, is the John M. Miller (#1) listed in the Cooke County Probate Book and in the 1860 census records as the single head of household with the three young daughters. In 1860, he lived next to William Boyles and William Rhodes, who also became members of the Peace Pary, so this John Miller would have had the opporunity to know about the Peace Party from his neighbors. Finally, we know from his probate that this John Miller died in the fall of 1862. He left two daughters living in Cooke County, Texas, who then became orphans.  A third daughter was with grandparents in Carroll County, Missouri.

UPDATES on John M. Miller:
Orphan Daughters of John Miller
John M. Miller Biography


Stephen Wollard said...

I am a descendant of John Miller and until now, I did not know that his middle initial was "M". I have information to support the fact that he was hanged in October of 1862 and this tragic story has been passed down in his family through correspondence and obituaries. Luella did not die in 1862 as written within "The Real John Miller..." story. She lived to be nearly 90 and was my great-grandmother 2. Nancy L., the eldest also lived to be very old. The girls can be found in 1870 Census with their grandparents Sandusky (with that name) in Carroll County. In fact, James Sandusky was a wagonmaker and built the wagon that brought them home from Texas by John Miller's brother Thomas. Anyone can contact me at for answers to questions. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

Yes, I believe the John M. Miller is the man hanged. I copied some records from his probate file a number of years ago in which were included a bill for carpentry work that he had done as well as a sad note that requested that his daughters be taken to family in Missouri.

Anonymous said...

I've followed the Miller story, because my ancestors were Millers from MO. and living in Cooke Co., but not related. It is a tragedy what happened the the families, especially this one.