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John William Miller
(1861-1904)

 

John William Miller was born in 1861 near Austen, Preston County, WV, the son of Hezekiah and Keziah Ellen (Fawcett) Miller

As a young man, John migrated to Athens, Athens County, OH, where he may have found employment as a miner in the region's booming coalfields. 

At the age of 24, in about 1886, John married 18-year-old Effie D. Hatfield (1867- ? ),  the daughter of Henry and Elizabeth (Doud) Hatfield. Her birthplace has been given as both Columbus, Franklin County, Ohio and Marion County, WV. The marriage took place in Athens County, OH.

The Millers went on to have seven children -- Tye Howard Miller, Charles Edgar Miller, Junior E. "June" Miller, Agnes Heiman Riley, Annie G. Miller, Arthur "Ott" Miller and Catherine "Callie" Adams. 

Son Tye is known to have been born in Athens in 1886.

Circa 1895, Effie made her home in Athens County, though John's whereabouts that year are not known. They returned to West Virginia within a few years. In 1900, John and Effie lived in Preston County's Reno District with his children and widowed mother. His occupation was listed as a coal miner. 

 

~ A Grisly 'Christmas Eve Murder' ~

Tragedy struck the family at Christmas 1904. At that time, John had been living and working away from home at the Irona Mine in Preston County. The town was considered "a small mining village of about two hundred inhabitants," said the Preston County Journal

During the afternoon of Christmas Eve, John and five fellow miners, all Italian immigrants, "were all drinking," reported the Journal. As the evening arrived, they went to the Miller residence. An argument ensued, and John, "a powerful man physically," pushed four of the men out the door. The fifth man, still inside the dwelling, drew his resolver and shot at John, striking him in the base of the brain, killing him instantly. John's 10-year-old son, presumed to be Junior, watched with horror as the events unfolded. 

 

Tragic headline in the Preston County Journal, Dec. 29, 1904

 

Book listing Camp Ground burials

The Italian group fled, but it was some time until neighbors were notified. A Dr. Pratt arrived after some delay, and pronounced John dead at the scene. Oddly, the police were not informed, a concerned citizen in Kingwood tried without success to round up a search party, and Irona townspeople made no effort to identify or detain the alleged perpetrators. 

Lamented the Journal reporter, "The citizens seemed to have taken no account of the murder nor attempted to detain them there, which was the great mistake. Any citizen of that community could have detained them there until an officer could have been gotten." The newspaper article concluded saying John was about age 40, had been born "on a farm near Austen and was a son of the late Hezekiah Miller. He leaves a wife and seven children to mourn their loss." 

John was laid to rest in the Camp Ground Cemetery near Tunnelton, Preston County. No stone is known to mark the grave. John's name does not appear in a comprehensive list of burials in Janice Cale Sisler's book, In Remembrance: Tombstone Readings of Preston County, West Virginia, volume 1.

 

~ Effie's Second Marriage, to Charles Danks ~

Effie remained a widow for a few years. On May 4, 1908, when she was 38, she married 46-year-old Charles A. Danks (1862-1918), the son of Joseph A. and Mary (Parill) Danks of Kentucky (or Maryland). Rev. J.H. Hess of the Kingwood Methodist Episcopal Church oversaw the nuptials.

It was a second marriage for both, and he brought three known children to the marriage -- Sheridan Danks, Billie Danks and Oscar Danks. 

The Dankses also went on to have one daughter of their own, Jessie Danks.

When the federal census was taken in 1910, Effie and Charles made their home in the Lyon District of Preston County, where they labored as farmers. Living under their roof were children from all three of their combined marriages.

Effie was made a widow for the second time, after 11 years of marriage, when Charles died of a stroke. At age 56, his passing occurred on Aug. 12, 1918, in Newburg, Preston County. He was laid to rest in the Helen (or Helm) Cemetery, location not yet known. A search of Preston County newspapers, on microfilm today at West Virginia University, failed to locate an obituary.

The federal census of 1920 shows Effie living with 10-year-old daughter Jessie in Preston County's Lyon District. Effie was listed by the census-taker as age 50, but in reality she was 53. She had no occupation. 

 

~ A Third Marriage, to Samuel McGee ~

 

Preston County Journal, 1931

Effie married for a third time at age 56 when she wed farmer Samuel E. McGee (1850-1931) on Nov. 13, 1923. He was the son of Ephraim and Nancy (McGinnis) McGee of Ohio and stated his age as 69 on the marriage application. The ceremony was performed by Rev. O. Dale King of the Methodist Episcopal Church in Kingwood.

In 1930, the census shows 65-year-old Effie and 79-year-old Samuel living in Kingwood, on Bud's Creek Road. He naturally was marked as "retired." Their residence was in the Hopewell section of Kingwood.

Suffering from stomach cancer, Samuel died at home in Hopewell at the age of 80 on Feb. 27, 1931. After funeral services at the Bethlehem Church, he was laid to rest in the Bethlehem Cemetery in Preston County's Valley District. Reported the Preston County Journal, he "had been in failing health for several years, but only during the last six weeks had he been in a critical condition."

 

Preston County Journal, 1948

While sources do not show that he has a grave marker there, a "B. Frank McGee" and his wife "Mahala" rest there for eternity.

Effie died of a coronary embolism on Dec. 28, 1948, at the age of 89, at the home of her married daughter Callie Adams in Staten/Grantsville, Calhoun County. She had outlived her first husband by 44 years, and survived three husbands in all. Callie was the informant on her death certificate. Effie's tired remains were laid to rest in the Maplewood Cemetery in Kingwood, with Rev. R.B. Riffle, pastor of the Church of Christ of Morgantown, leading the services.

The Preston County Journal noted that Effie "was a resident of Preston county over sixty years." Among her survivors, the obituary listed her brothers William Hatfield and James Hatfield of Kingwood, and Mrs. Mary Smoot of Columbus, OH.

She is listed in the book of Preston County burials, In Remembrance, and appears to have been interred under the name "Effie Hatfield Miller Danks."

 

~ Son Tye Howard Miller ~

 

Preston County Journal, 1960

Son Tye Howard Miller (1887-1960) was born on July 15, 1887 in Athens, Athens County, OH. As a boy, he and his parents and siblings moved to Preston County, WV, the longtime home of his father's family.

Tye married Nelle Kathryn Kelly (1893- ? ) in about 1908. He was age 21 at the time, and she was 15.

They had a dozen children -- Harry Kenneth Miller, Mabel F. Spicer, Evelyn Naomi ("Emaline") Felton, Ralph E. Miller, Phyllis Margaret Miller, Adalaide Elizabeth Miller, Jacquelin Ruth Miller, Nelle Katherine Miller, Enzia Louise Miller, Doris Anne Miller, James Howard Miller and John Allen Miller.

Tye was a longtime engineer for the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, making his home in Rowlesburg, Preston County for 51 years. Circa 1949, at the time of death of his mother, he was mentioned in the newspaper obituary. Said the Preston County Journal, he was a member of the Methodist Church of Rowlesburg, the lodge of Masons at Rowlesburg and the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Firemen.

In ill health for about a year, said the Journal, Tye passed away at the age of 73 on June 27, 1960 at Preston Memorial Hospital. His remains were laid to rest in the Maplewood Cemetery in Kingwood. At his passing, noted the Journal, he was survived by 22 grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.

Son Harry Kenneth Miller (1909-1986) was born on May 14, 1909. He married Laura Lyon and lived in Rowlesburg.

Daughter Mabel F. Miller (1912- ? ) was born in 1912. She married (?) Spicer. They lived in Columbus, Franklin County, OH, and were there circa 1960.

 

Daughter Evelyn Naomi Miller (1913-1996) was born on June 4, 1913. She married Charles Bartley Felton on Oct. 29, 1935, when she was age 22, and he 21. Charles was a native of Kanawha County, WV, but a resident of Terra Alta, Preston County, at the time of marriage. The nuptials were performed by Rev. Arthur Lazenby at the Methodist Episcopal Church in Rowlesburg. The Feltons later were residents of Wheeling, Ohio County, WV. Evelyn passed away at the age of 83 on Oct. 9, 1996.

 

Son Ralph E. Miller (1915-1981) was born on May 2, 1915. He married Helen Maxine Wotring ( ? - ? ) and had two sons -- Ralph Edward Miller II and Christian Lee Miller. They made their home in Cumberland, Allegany County, MD circa 1960. Ralph passed away at the age of 66 on Dec. 8, 1981.

Son James Howard Miller resided in 1960 in Columbus, Franklin County, OH.

Daughter Adalaide Elizabeth Miller (1919-2002) was born on May 15, 1919. She married Pierpont Morgan "Dutch" Harman ( ? - ? ) in 1938, when she was age 19. They resided in Morgantown, Monongalia County, WV. The Harmons had four children -- Elizabeth "Libby" Harman, Thomas Morgan Harman, Edward Lee Harman and Catherine E. "Kitty" Harman.

Daughter Jacquelyn Ruth Miller (1921-2007) was born on April 21, 1921. She wed Warren Gamaliel Hare ( ? - ? ) on July 5, 1941, just a few months before our nation was plunged into World War II. They had three sons -- Warren Allen Hare, Robert Howard Hare and John William Hare. The Hares resided in Rowlesburg in 1960.

Daughter Nellie Katherine Miller (1923-2004) was born on Aug. 31, 1923. She married Leon McCreay ( ? - ? ) in 1945. In 1960, the McCrearys made their home in Cottontown, Sumner County, TN. Nelle died on April 7, 2004.

Daughter Doris Anne Miller (1927-2001) was born on Nov. 21, 1927. She married Charles William Caniford (1923- ? ) on Jan. 14, 1949, in Rowlesburg, when she was age 21, and he 25. Charles, a native of Manheim, WV, was the son of Charles T. and Cleta (Heaton) Caniford. They went on to have three children -- Charlene Caniford, Charles W. Caniford Jr. and Thomas Caniford. The family lived in Strausburg, OH. Doris passed away at the age of 73 on April 15, 2001.

Son John Allen Miller (1933-1994) was born on Nov. 20, 1933. He married Joyce Ann Dick. They had three daughters -- Brenda Jo Miller, Catherine Dawn Miller and LeDonna Miller. John died on Oct. 22, 1994, at the age of 61.

 

~ Son Charles John Edward Miller ~

Son Charles John Edward Miller (1890-1951) was born March 17, 1890. His second middle name may actually have been "Edgar."

Charles married Ivy E. (?). Her maiden name is believed to have been Iva Ethel Hester, and if so, they were wed on June 12, 1911, at Flemington, Taylor County, WV, when he was age 22, and she 21.

They had one known daughter, Nola Burl Miller.

 

West Virginia Penitentiary at Moundsville

Charles was a coal miner. Circa 1949, when his mother died, the family was living at Flemington.

At some point between 1949 and 1951, Charles got into trouble with the law and was sentenced to a term in the West Virginia Penitentiary in Moundsville, Marshall County.

Suffering from melanoma, he died in prison of a hemorrhage on March 29, 1951, at the age of 60. His remains were buried in the Toms Run Cemetery.

Ivy's fate is not yet known.

Daughter Nola Burl Miller (1914- ? ) was born on March 8, 1914.

 

~ Daughter Agnes (Miller) Heiman Riley ~

Daughter Agnes Miller (1892- ? ) was born on July 10, 1892. She was married twice, and had nine children, born over the span of nearly a quarter of a century, between 1909 and 1935.

At the age of 16, in January 1909, prior to marriage, she gave birth to a daughter, Mildred Miller. 

Agnes later married her first husband, August A. "Guss" Heiman (1881-1918), the son of German immigrants August and Mary (Housecamp) Heiman of Preston County. Guss was a local coal miner. They resided in Kingwood and had three children -- Mary Heiman, Leona Heiman and Bernard Heiman. 

Sadly, during the deadly influenza epidemic that swept through our nation during World War I, Guss became a victim, and when added to a case of pneumonia, he died at the age of 37 on Oct. 16, 1918. His remains were laid to eternal rest in the Howesville Cemetery. No stone is known to mark his grave today.

After several years as a widow, Agnes married again to John Thomas Riley Sr. (1881-1960) in about 1921. He was the son of Ray and Jane (Keller) Thomas.

They had five more children -- Daniel Edward Riley, Hugh Charles Riley, John Thomas Riley Jr., Caroline Agnes Riley and Martha Lee Riley. 

In 1949 and 1960, when Agnes' mother and brother Tye died, respectively, the family made its home in Washington, Washington County, PA.

Suffering from heart disease, John died at the age of 48 on Sept. 25, 1960. 

Daughter Mildred Miller (1909- ? ) was born on Jan. 24, 1909. She obtained a delayed birth certificate in 1944, during World War II, and gave her maiden name as "Heiman" which she apparently was using.

Daughter Mary Heiman ( ? - ? )

Daughter Leona Heiman (1915- ? ) was born on Oct. 12, 1915.

Son Bernard Heiman ( ? - ? )

Son Daniel Edward Riley (1922- ? ) was born on Aug. 17, 1922.

Son Hugh Charles Riley (1924-1977) was born on Jan. 26, 1924. He never married. He died in November 1977.

Son John Thomas Riley Jr. (1929- ? ) was born on Feb. 25, 1929.

Daughter Caroline Agnes Riley (1934- ? ) was born in 1934.

Daughter Martha Lee Riley (1935- ? ) was born in July 1935.

 

~ Son Junior Elsworth "June" Miller ~

Son Junior Elsworth "June" Miller (1895- ? ) was born Feb. 21, 1895 in Austen, Preston County. When a young man, he was of medium height and slender build, with red hair and brown eyes.

He married Elsie Clara Wright (1891-1939), a native of Thomas, Tucker County, WV and the daughter of Amos and Martha "Alice" (Liston) Wright.

The couple made their home in the Howesville section of Preston County and had five children -- Bernice Lorraine Buchanan, Barton Wiles Miller, Wade C. Miller, Blair A. Miller and Glenn Osborne Miller.

When the United States prepared to enter World War I, Junior was required to register for the military draft. At the time, he stated that he resided at Bretz, WV and was employed as a "motorman in mines" for the Elkins Coal & Coke Company. He disclosed that he had a wife and two children to support.

 

Preston County Journal, 1939

The federal census shows the family dwelling in Kingwood, Preston County, with four children in the household and June earning a living as a coal mine laborer. Within a few years, however, the Millers' marriage fell apart, and the couple separated. Junior moved out of the family home and relocated to New York State.

In 1933, when daughter Bernice sought to marry, Elsie signed her consent, and the fact of Elsie's marital separation was noted on the marriage license.

Tragically, suffering an infection at age 48, Elsie was admitted to the Kingwood City Hospital. She was unable to recover, and died there on June 12, 1939. She was laid to rest in the Camp Chapel Cemetery, said the Preston County Journal, following funeral services at the Howesville Methodist Church, led by Rev. Orin D. Curtis. Alice Wright, her mother, was the informant for her official West Virginia death certificate. 

Junior is last referenced in the known historical record circa 1949 when, still in New York, he was mentioned in the Preston County Journal obituary of his mother. His fate after that is unknown to his grandchildren. More will be added here if learned.

 

James and Bernice Buchanan
Courtesy Linda (Miller) Bunnell

Daughter Bernice Lorraine Miller (1914-2003) was born on May 7, 1914 in Preston County. She married James Henry Buchanan (Aug. 23, 1908-2008), one of 11 children of Joseph Eli and Elizabeth M. (Adams) Buchanan. James was a native of Hur, Calhoun County, WV but at the time of marriage was a resident of Clarksburg, Harrison County. The wedding was performed on April 24, 1933, when Bernice was age 19, and James 25. Rev. N.L. Casey, of the Methodist Episcopal Church of Tunnelton performed the nuptials. The family made its home in the Bunner Ridge community near Fairmont, Marion County, WV. They had two known offspring, Gloria Buchanan and James Buchanan. When the federal census enumeration was made in 1940, the Buchanans lived on Speedway Avenue in Fairmont, with James employed as a mechanic in a local glass factory. Bernice passed into eternity on July 12, 2003 at the age of 89. James survived her by five years. He succumbed just five months before his 100th birthday on March 16, 2008. Bernice and James rest side by side in the Grandview Memorial Gardens in Fairmont.

 

  • Granddaughter Gloria Buchanan (1937- ? ) was born in about 1937 in Fairmont. She was married and had one daughter, Catherine Virginia Combs.
  • Grandson James Allen Buchanan (1938- ? ) was born in about 1938. He grew up in Fairmont. He married Mary Harsh, daughter of Cecil and Martha Hursh. They lived in Fairmont and produced three children -- Candy Anderson, Dawn Murphy and James "Buck" Buchanan. Tragically, their daughter Candy (1961-2010) -- married to Todd Anderson and a certified nurses aide for Fairmont General Hospital -- died of cancer at the age of 48 on Nov. 22, 2010 at her home in Smithfield, WV, with burial in Mannington Memorial Park Cemetery and an obituary published in the Fairmont Times-West Virginian.

Son Wade C. Miller (1917-1983) was born on Jan. 27, 1917. At the death of his mother in 1939, he and his brothers went to live with their widowed grandmother, Martha "Alice" (Liston) Wright, in Kingwood, Preston County. The United States Census shows Wade and his brother Blair laboring as coal miners in 1940. Blair married Leora Mae Shaffer ( ? - ? ). They had three sons -- Richard Lee Miller, Timothy Allen Miller and Thomas Ward Miller.

Son Blair E. Miller (1920-1944) was born on April 20, 1920. At the age of 20, in 1940, he made his home under the roof of his widowed grandmother Alice Wright in Kingwood, Preston County, and earned income as a coal miner. He resided in Howesville, Preston County and married Elizabeth ( ? - ? ). They produced one daughter, Joan Elizabeth Miller. During World War II, Blair served as a private first class in the 143rd Infantry, 36th Division of the U.S. Army. Tragically, while in action in France, he received a fatal wound and died on Aug. 27, 1944 at the age of 24. His remains were returned to West Virginia for burial in Grafton National Cemetery in Taylor County. [Find-a-Grave] On May 30, 1968 -- Memorial Day -- Blair's name was included in a column in the Morgantown (WV) Dominion News, which said "We pay humble tribute to them and express our gratitude for these sons of Monongalia and Preston counties who have died in the line of duty..."

Bird's eye view of Clarksburg

 

Son Glenn Osborne Miller (1923-2003) was born on Oct. 20, 1923 in Howesville, Preston County. At the death of his mother in 1939, and his father having abandoned the family, Glenn and his older brothers were brought into the home of their widowed grandmother, Martha "Alice" (Liston) Wright, in Kingwood, Preston County. At the age of 22, on Jan. 26, 1946, Glenn married 20-year-old Ruby "Jean" McCabe (April 15, 1925-2016), a native of Tunnelton, Preston County and the daughter of Samuel Paul and Cecile Gertrude (Wolfe) McCabe. Rev. V.C. Wilson officiated at the ceremony held in Clarksburg. At the time of marriage, Glenn resided at 719 Speedway in Fairmont and Jean at 419 East Pike Street in Clarksburg. Their three children were Linda Jean, Randall Glenn and Shari Ann. They made their longtime home on Crooked Run Road in Clarksburg, Harrison County, WV. Glenn died at home on Jan. 20, 2003. Jean outlived her husband by 13 years. She joined him in death in Salem, WV on Aug. 30, 2016. Both rest in the Grafton National Cemetery.

 

~ Daughter Anna G. Miller ~

Daughter Anna G. Miller (1898- ? ) was born on Sept. 11, 1898. Nothing more about her is known. 

She may be the same person as "Mrs. Dessie Everetts of Newburg" as mentioned in family newspaper obituaries over the years. Dessie resided in Newburg, Preston County, circa 1960.

 

~ Son Arthur "Ott" Miller ~

Son Arthur "Ott" Miller (1901-1954) was born on Jan. 21, 1901. 

On Nov. 29, 1922, when he was 22, and she 36, Ott married Pearl Lanham (1885-1964). Rev. Ben F. Donley, of the Kingwood Methodist Episcopal Church, performed the ceremony at Tunnelton, Preston County. They were 14 years apart in age. 

Pearl, a native of Howesville, Preston County, was the daughter of Sheldon and Irene (McGinnis) Salisbury.  She brought a daughter to the marriage, Irene Lanham. 

 

Ott's obituary, 1955

They had one daughter of their own, Lucille Maria Temple. The Millers resided in Howesville, and were members of the Howesville Church of Christ. 

During World War I, Ott served in the U.S. military. Later, he was a coal mine operator for many years. 

Afflicted with heart blockage and a urinary infection, Ott passed away at the age of 54 on Feb. 1, 1955. He was interred in the Maplewood Cemetery in Kingwood. 

 

Preston County Journal, 1964

Pearl outlived her husband by nine years. She died on Sept. 22, 1964, at the age of 79. She was laid to eternal rest beside her husband. At her death, said the Preston County Journal, she was survived by one grandson, as well as a brother William Salisbury of Akron, OH and a sister Ruth Heiskell of Dayton, OH.

Stepdaughter Irene Lanham made her home in Tunnelton, Preston County, in 1955.

Daughter Lucille Maria Miller (1924- ? ) was born on Dec. 14, 1924. On July 13, 1946, when she was age 21, and he 23, Lucille wed Lantz Elwood Temple (1922- ? ), the son of Floyd and Goldie (Weaver) Temple. The wedding took place in Reedsville, Preston County, by the hand of Rev. Foster Leroy Jones. In 1955, she lived in Tunnelton.

 

~ Daughter Catherine "Callie" (Miller) Adams ~

Daughter Kathleen "Callie" Miller (1902- ? ) wed Joseph Adams (1898- ? ), the son of Grant and Harriet Adams, and a native of Harrison County, WV. They were wed in Clarksburg on Aug. 24, 1923, when she was age 22 and he 25. Rev. F.C. Miller, a Baptist minister, performed the nuptials. 

The Adamses went on to have at least one daughter, Stella Adams. 

The federal census of 1930 shows Joseph, Catherine and daughter Stella making their home with Joseph's parents in rural Calhoun County. Joseph's occupation was marked as a farmer. Their niece Velma Stutler, age 10, also lived under the Adams roof.

In 1949, Callie's aged mother died at their home in Grantsville, Calhoun County, WV. The Adamses resided in Everettville, Monongalia County, WV in 1960, when Callie was mentioned in the newspaper obituary of her brother Tye.

Daughter Stella Adams (1921- ? ) was born in 1921.

 

Copyright 2008, 2010, 2017 Mark A. Miner

Minerd.com extends its gratitude to Patricia Murphy and Linda (Miller) Bunnell for sharing information for this biography.