Friday, July 2, 2010

John M. Miller Biography

The following biography was written by S. M. Wollard, a descendant of John M. Miller. Please see the previous posts, Orphan Daughters of John Miller and Will the real John Miller please come forward
Thanks to S. Wollard, the real John M. Miller and his family has finally come forward!

John M. Miller (1821-1862)

John M. Miller was born near Campbellsville, Green County, Kentucky in the autumn of 1821. He was the son of William Lindsay and Nancy (Puryear) Miller, both natives of Kentucky who had married in 1818. John was raised in a family of two sisters and five brothers: Elizabeth, Louisa, Francis M., Thomas, Jesse, Edwin and William E. The Millers moved from Green County to Adair and Taylor Counties in Kentucky before migrating to Missouri. After a brief stay in Howard County, they eventually settled in Carroll County around 1848.

John, like his father was a carpenter by trade and in 1850 was found living with both his family and in the household of another carpenter by the name of Malcoger R. Flora. John, as his younger brother Francis, was also a school teacher. Descendants of John claim that he was musician and taught music lessons. Even though some records indicate that John was illiterate, he was apparently well educated and gifted musically.

John married Martha Jane Sandusky on January 18, 1852 in Carroll County, Missouri. Martha’s family lived next door to the Millers and her father James was a wagon maker. James and Margaret (Campbell) Sandusky had arrived in Carroll County in the 1830s migrating from Kentucky; Martha being born there in 1832. The Sanduskys were partially responsible for bringing a minister and building the first Christian Church in Carroll County.

John and Martha Miller had three daughters: Nancy L., Mary Elizabeth, and Luella A. All were born three miles northwest of Bogard, Missouri in an area called Bogard Mound.

In October of 1852, John and his father William purchased 40 acres of land in Carroll County. It is not certain when, but apparent that John had staked a claim in a land venture in Texas. He, along with several others during this time, registered land in Grayson, Collin, Montague, and Cooke Counties in an area known as the Cross Timbers. This group of emigrants was of mid- and deep-southern heritage, but predominantly northern unionists. The Peters Colony, as it was called, was settled in 160 and 320-acre parcels at a time prior to and during the Civil War.

On August 24, 1857, Martha Miller died unexpectedly by choking on food. She was 35 years old and was buried in Carroll County. Whether planned, it is not known, but John and his daughters moved from Missouri to Cooke County, Texas shortly after Martha died. By 1860, the widower and his daughters were living near Gainesville. He had built a cabin on 320 acres and his daughters kept house. He owned $2160.00 in personal and real property.

At this time, the Civil War had begun and tensions in northern Texas were on the rise. Even though Cooke and neighboring counties were chiefly “non-slave” holding counties, slave-holding secessionists controlled public affairs. These men were long-standing residents who owned large tracts of land and viewed Texas as a republic; and were skeptical with the addition of numerous colonists moving into the area. News about the war seemed to spread through these northern counties before newspapers managed to put it in print. Suspicions grew and in September of 1862, it was confirmed that there was a secret organization in the midst known as the “Peace Party.” This institution was made up primarily of “Unionists”, who at a moment’s notice, were prepared to aid the north in defeating southern sentiment, gaining access to ammunition and land.

In the early morning hours of October 1, 1862, several groups of secessionist men rounded up suspected unionists and brought them into Gainesville where they were held by guards. One after another, they were tried and some found guilty of insurrection and treason. After deliberation, approximately 40 of these men were hanged over a three week period. A lot of these men were simply farmers who had joined the Peace Party to have an association that would offer protection for their families.

Unfortunately, John Miller was a unionist and was one of the last to hang on October 19, 1862. It is likely that he was buried in a shallow grave near the Pecan Creek in Gainesville, Texas. According to Nancy (Miller) Brand’s obituary, she and her younger sister escaped on that rainy October morning through the timber and took refuge at a neighbor’s home. Before John was tried and hanged, he had asked a man named William Mitchell to look after his estate and see that Nancy and Mary Elizabeth were sent back to Missouri to be with family.

Instead, Mr. Mitchell sold off John’s land in parcels and kept the money. He worked the orphaned Miller girls very hard and did not allow them to attend school. This went on for years and then according to court records, a Judge John E. Wheeler stripped Mitchell of guardianship, deeming his actions illegal. Mitchell was ordered by the court to pay the new guardian, a Mr. John H. Harrison, the sum of $160.00 as a settlement. Mr. Harrison alerted the Miller family in Missouri of the circumstances relating to John’s death and the ordeal that his daughters had suffered . John’s younger brother Thomas, in a covered wagon presumably built by James Sandusky, went to Texas and took the girls back to Missouri. By 1870, all three Miller girls were living with their Sandusky grandparents.

Nancy Miller eventually became a school teacher and in 1878 married Daniel Brand, a native of Pennsylvania. They had two children: Harry and Bernadotte. Daniel was a painter, newspaper man and clerk after serving in the Civil War. He died in 1905 and Nancy in April of 1941. She was 88 years old.

Although the author is close, the remainder of Mary Elizabeth Miller’s life is uncertain at this time.

Luella A. Miller married Theodore Barnett in January of 1874. Theodore was born near Petersburg, Boone County, Kentucky in 1846. They raised six daughters: Lenora, Mary, Susie, Nanny, Stella, and Gertrude. Theodore died in October of 1899. Luella lived alone or with a roommate for years before moving to Bavaria, Kansas to stay with a daughter. As many older people do, Luella fell and broke her hip, dying shortly afterward of pneumonia at the age of 89. She was brought back to Carroll County on a train in 1944 and buried with her husband in the Mt. Zion Cemetery in Bogard, Missouri.

Reference: The majority of this biographical sketch was taken from Profiles in Ancestry, 2006, by S. M. Wollard.
1. Some believe that the youngest daughter, Luella, was still in Texas at the time of John’s death and may have passed away prior to the mid-1860s. She was listed in the 1860 Cooke County, Texas census; however, I believe she was sent back to Missouri because of the possibility of Indian attacks and the wild frontier.

2. It was thought by some that John had remarried in September of 1860 to a woman named Mary Eubanks. There were two John Millers in Cooke County, Texas at this time. The other man, John B. Miller most probably married Miss Eubanks; however, he too died in the early 1860s. She then remarried a man by the name of James Hooper in 1863.

1870 Census showing the Miller daughters living with their maternal grandparents, James and Margaret Campbell, in Carroll County, Missouri.

Source Citation: Year: 1870; Census Place: Wakenda, Carroll, Missouri; Roll M593_766; Page: 398B; Family History Library Film: 552265

Obituary for Nannie (Nancy) L. Brand, daughter of John M. Miller, that tells of her story during the Gainesville Hanging tragedy.

The death certificate for Nannie L. Brand, daughter of John M. Miller can be found at

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