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The James Miller Plantation on the Catawba River

When I first started looking for family on Ancestry.com I wanted to find where my dad’s family came from before Florida. We knew it was South Carolina, but that was all we knew. My search wasn’t easy because my dad was the fifth James Miller in the line, and it’s a common name, so there are James Millers all over the place.

I finally tracked them down to Lancaster County, South Carolina until 1870 when they were in York County. While looking for more details over the weekend I found an 1825 map of Lancaster County.  It was excellent quality and high-resolution and when I zoomed in on the details I realized it included the names of families who lived there.

I recognized many names I from the U.S. Census reports I’d been studying. And then I was amazed to find my family! “Jas Millers” was labeled on the east side of the Catawba River, just north of Twelve Mile Creek.

JasMillerMap

Lancaster County is south of Charlotte, North Carolina along the South Carolina/North Carolina state line. The county was named for Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. Both counties are populated with Scots-Irish immigrants. Stephen Miller was born in the area in 1740. He was the first of four generations of Millers born in Lancaster County.

After General Tecumseh Sherman’s “scorched earth” policy scorched through Lancaster County at the end of the Civil War circumstances were pretty bleak. The family owned $1700 of real estate in 1870 but they were counted in neighboring York County not Lancaster County where they’d previously lived.

My next search will be for land and tax records. Until I find something to the contrary, it’s my guess the family home was destroyed during the war but they still owned the land. I don’t know if they lost the land because they couldn’t pay the taxes, or if they simply abandoned it because they couldn’t make a living on it anymore, but for one reason or the other they left South Carolina for a better opportunity. Soon after 1870 the family moved south to the area that would become Kissimmee, Florida.

James Miller, born on the Catawba River in 1824 died in Florida in 1875. He was just 51 years old. He is buried in Rose Hill Cemetery in Kissimmee, Florida.

There’s much more to this story, but I don’t have time to tell it now. I’m moving. After the dust settles and the boxes have been recycled I’ll write more with more pictures and details.

Jan

PS – Yes, that’s President Andrew Jackson’s birthplace just a few miles east of the Miller Plantation. He was born in 1767 and in 1825 he’d just lost a 1824 bid for president. He would win in 1828.

 

 

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Posted by on January 6, 2015 in Miller

 

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My Family Moves to Florida

My dad’s birthday was yesterday. He was James White Miller V and was born July 10, 1932 in Kissimmee, Florida. He liked to tell people he was from Kiss-a-me, and then he’d pucker up. He died in 1989 and thinking about him this week inspired this post about my Florida ancestors.

In 1842 the US Congress enacted the Armed Occupation Act with the purpose of populating and protecting the eastern shore of the Florida peninsula. It was like the Homestead Act that settled the plains that we learned about in U. S. history. Someone occupies and defends 160 acres of land, builds a dwelling, cultivates the land and after five years they own the land free and clear. The act was only in effect nine months and less than 1,200 permits were granted. As far as I can tell no one in my family took advantage of it but it was part of the process that encouraged settlement in Florida.

Ask me about Oklahoma history and I can rattle off all kinds of facts and figures and trivia, but Florida not so much. My dad was born there, so I know a little as it pertained to his life, but not much about the really olden days. Turns out bunches of the early pioneers to Florida came from Georgia, which makes sense, since it’s the closest state. Some of my ancestors were in that mass of Georgians who moved south.

My grandmother Kathryn McKay was born in Illinois in 1905 and her family moved to Florida just after 1910—as near as I can figure—but my Miller and Bass great grandparents came much earlier. The Millers came from York County, South Carolina between 1870 and 1875. Census records show they were quite the land holders (and slave owners) in Lancaster County, South Carolina for decades leading up to the Civil War. One of my ancestors, Stephen Miller—born in 1740—died at Belaire, Lancaster, South Carolina. I can’t find any town or city by that name, but when I googled it, the name Belair turned up a lot in the Lancaster area. I wonder if Bellaire was the name of their plantation. A few generations later, census records suggest the Millers lost the family home during or after the war. In the 1870 census, six years after the war ended, the James Miller family was counted at Ft. Mill, South Carolina in York County. And five years later, in 1875, my great great grandpa, James Miller, died and was buried in Rose Hill Cemetery in Kissimmee, Florida. He was just 51. His son, James White Miller II would marry Honoria Quary Mills and become an early sheriff of Osceola County.

As to my other Florida great grandparents Quinn Bass married Jane Richards in Sumter, Georgia in 1845.Their son William, the first of 13 kids (I think), was born in Florida in 1848 according to the 1860 US Census.That year the family was counted in Brevard County which had a total population of 246. U.S. Census records show Quinn and Jane were counted in Brevard County in 1860, Orange County in 1870, and in Osceola County in 1900. At first I wondered why they moved around so much during those years. They were living on the frontier so new arrivals had to build a house from scratch—probably a log cabin—to live in. It was not an easy thing to “move” unless there was a very good reason for it so I started doing some digging.

I’ve found a wonderful website, part of the Newberry Library in Chicago that has an Atlas of Historical County Boundaries. I use that page frequently. There is a map of the United States and after you click on one of the states you’ll get a state map and when you click on “View Interactive Map” you’ll get a map of the state with the date the territory was established and counties in place at the time. You can change the date to show how the counties changed through the years. Here’s what Florida looked like in 1825.

Did you know most of the east coast of Florida was part of Mosquito County? As accurate as that is, it’s probably a good idea they dropped the name as more counties were created.

Anyway.

As I clicked through the years and looked at the county boundaries I found there is a little sliver at the top of present day Osceola County—a sliver that includes Kissimmee—that was first part of Brevard County, then part of Orange County, and finally ended up in Osceola County. I tend to think Quinn and Jane Bass set up housekeeping somewhere along that sliver in the vicinity of Kissimmee and the future St. Cloud and were in the same general area all those years. In 1867 their daughter Effie, my great-grandmother, was born there.

Effie Bass married James White Miller II in 1885 when she was 18 years old. They had three children, Corrie Elizabeth (Aunt Corrie to my dad), James White III (my grandpa) and Honora Jane, who died when she was two years old. The baby was named after her two grandmothers: Honoria Quary Mills Miller and Jane Richards Bass. She died in 1899 and so far I haven’t found anything that tells me why or how she died. Five years later, in 1904, Effie died at the age of 37.I don’t know how she died either.

Sheriff Miller married again, to Marion Miller Butler (yes, her maiden name was Miller), who was born in Vicksburg in 1863 in the midst of the Civil War. Union soldiers quartered at her house during the war and called her “Little Reb.” In fact, her middle name was Rebella. Grandma Miller, as we would know her, lived to the ripe old age of 101. She received a birthday card from President Kennedy when she turned 100. He would be assassinated later that same year.

The McKays were the last of my grandparents to arrive in Florida coming shortly after 1910. After the previous generation settled Whiteside County, Illinois, Donald Graham McKay (his father was born in Nova Scotia) decided to take his family to Florida. He was anticipating, and hoping to take advantage of, the land boom which continued into the 1920s.

The McKays were the first of my ancestors to arrive in Florida by car, traveling from Illinois in a Model T. My brother remembers hearing they had to spend some time in Georgia (Atlanta or Macon I think) to have the axles rebuilt to fit the ruts that formed the roads in the south. Evidently the width of a bale of cotton and the wagon that carried it dictated the width of the ruts of roads in the south. I don’t know what determined the width of roads in the north, but it wasn’t a cotton wagon.

In the 1930 the kids were all grown, and Donald and Olive McKay lived on Poinsettia Avenue in Orlando. Their home was valued at $20,000 on the 1930 census, easily the most affluent home in the area. They lived just around the corner from their daughter Gertrude and her family. Robert Dyer, his wife—we called her Aunt Gertie—and their five kids lived around the corner on Sheridan Avenue. The house on Sheridan was always our first stop when Dad took us home to Florida for vacations.

So that’s how my family got to Florida. They started arriving in the 1840s and my dad left when he joined the Air Force after he graduated from Orlando High School in 1949. He met my mom while he was in the service. That is a story—totally romantic—for another day.

Do you know how your family got to where they are now? I’d love to hear your stories.

Jan

xo to you Dad! 🙂

 
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Posted by on July 11, 2014 in McKay, Miller

 

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A Lard is a Lord

Did you know that the name Lard probably came about from a mispronunciation and then misspelling of the name Laird, which is Scottish for the title, lord.

My great great grandmother was a Lard. Judi—maybe Judith—Isabell Lard. Some family notes called her Bell. She was born just after the Civil War, 1867 to be exact, in Waterloo, Lauderdale County, Alabama.

Lauderdale County is the county in the upper left hand corner of the state of Alabama.  That’s the northwest corner. The southern border is the Tennessee River. Waterloo was one of the original town sites established when the county was created in 1818, just a year after Alabama Territory was established. Waterloo, on the bank of the river, flooded and moved a few times through the years but the little town is still there. Pickwick Landing Dam was built upstream from Waterloo and the Tennessee Valley Authority intentionally flooded the area to create Pickwick Lake.

Waterloo also has the dubious honor of being the starting point for the Trail of Tears where the Cherokee, one of the Five Civilized Tribes were forcibly marched from their native lands in the southeast to newly laid out Indian territory, now the state of Oklahoma. The Indian Removal Act was signed in 1830 by President Andrew Jackson and Indian removal started in 1831. The Cherokee were the last to be removed, leaving their native Alabama homes in 1838.

Lauderdale County is kind of “home base” for my Scott family heritage, and July 28, 1885 Judi Lard married into the Scott family, when she wed William Charlie Scott. William Charlie is the grandson of John Scott who was the first Scott to settle there. Charlie and Judi Scott had the first of their eleven children there, including my great grandpa, Avery Albert Scott.

But back to the Lards. Judi was the daughter of James S. Lard II and his wife Nancy Qualls. He was known as Jim, and he was born across the state line in Hardin County, Tennessee. The word is he, along with a couple of brothers, came “from the north” to Alabama to escape their father who was a mean man.

That “mean man” was James Swan Lard Sr. who was born in Rowan County, North Carolina just after the American Revolution. Sometime before 1809 the Lards, like the Scotts, moved west into Tennessee and January 14, 1809 James Lard Sr. married Elizabeth “Betsy” Shons in Davidson County, Tennessee. James and Betsy had a son, Nathaniel Washington in Bedford County, Tennessee in 1816. Another son, Richard, was born in Williamson County, Tennessee in 1825 and ten years later in 1835, James Swan Jr. was born in Hardin County, Tennessee.

James Swan Lard Sr. was born in 1789, the son of Nathaniel Swan Laird. Nathaniel is the immigrant ancestor of this line and he was born in 1755 in the Orkney Islands, Scotland. These islands are north of the far north east shore of Scotland. They are separated from the mainland by about six miles of seaway. The history of the islands goes back to ancient times and they were under Norwegian rule in the 8th and 9th centuries. The Vikings used the islands as a base of operations for their pirate raids into the Scottish mainland and Norway.

Sometime after 1755 Nathaniel Swan Laird came to America. I don’t yet know if he came alone as a young adult, or came as part of a family group with siblings and parents. He was, however, a patriot during the Revolutionary War. I don’t know where he would have landed, but he ended up in North Carolina and that is where is was married in Rowan County. He married Agnes Scott January 17, 1781, Since my Scott historical research only extends to Buncombe County, North Carolina where John Scott was born in 1800 I have no idea if Agnes Scott might be a part of my primary Scott line.

Charlie and Judi Lard Scott came to Oklahoma about 1900-ish and the last of their children were born here in 1902 and 1904. The rest of the Lard family remained in the vicinity of Lauderdale County/Hardin County along the Alabama/Tennessee state line but I’m sure many descendants have spread out to other areas since then.

There’s more to the story of the Lard/Laird family in the Orkney Island and here in America, but this will do for now. I’m writing this because I recently met a 6th cousin along this line.  He descends from Richard Lard, born in 1825, older brother of James Swan Lard Jr. Their father, James Swan Lard Sr., is our 4th great-grandfather. I wonder if he’s heard anything about James Sr being “mean.”

I’d love to hear from anyone out there who knows more about this line, these people and these events. My new-found cousin tells me Richard, his 3x great-grandfather fought for the Union in Tennessee for six months at the beginning of the Civil War. Then he deserted and later fought for the Confederates. Those are the kinds of stories that bring history alive for me.

Let me know if you have anything to add.

Jan

Nathaniel Swan Laird > James Swan Lard Sr. > James S, Lard Jr. > Judi Isabell Lard (Scott) > Avery Albert Scott > Lela Mae Scott (Rose) > mom > me.

 
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Posted by on June 29, 2014 in Scott

 

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John and Mittie Rose

My grandpa Thomas Ed Rose had blue eyes. His dad, Thomas Will Rose also had blue eyes. And based on this picture it looks like his dad, John Henry Rose also had blue eyes.

This is the John Henry Rose family, circa 1892. John was born in 1860 and Mittie was born in 1863. The kids are Ora Pearl, born in 1883, and Thomas William born in 1885. Their third child, John Wesley, was born in 1887. He died when he was four, about 1891. This was taken after he died and based on the apparent ages of his siblings it looks like this was taken not long after he died.

John and Mittie Rose Family

I love that little smile on Will’s face. He was my great grandpa and I remember he always had a twinkle in his eye and that little boy smile seems just right.

John and Mittie are buried in the Lexington Cemetery and I’ve seen their slate gray granite headstone many times. Just recently I came across a little story written by their youngest child, Melva, who was born in 1907. Suddenly they became real people to me, not just names etched in stone.

So here it is. A family biography about John and Mittie Rose written by their daughter Melva Rose Duffield who died in 1999.

ROSE-BRYANT

John Henry Rose, the third child of David and Mary Lucinda Wright Rose, was born April 4, 1860 in Shelby County, Texas, where Lucinda’s parents, Harden and Hepsebeth* Wright, lived. They moved immediately to Van Zandt County where David’s parents, William and Elizabeth, lived. John’s older sister was Mary Etta and his brother was William Thomas. Sometime about 1863, they moved to Johnson County where two more daughters were born, Margaret J. and Sarah A.E.

Mary Lucinda died about 1868 leaving David with five small children. He married Martha Anne Conley, a girl of sixteen. Coping with five children and soon having another was very hard for her and an active eight year old was too difficult to handle. John often went with his father, who was a teaming contractor. They hauled some of the logs which were used to pave the first streets in Ft. Worth. When John was fourteen, he left home to be on his own, working for other people on farms and ranches. He worked in Van Zandt, Bosque and other counties, but by 1890 he was back in Johnson County working for Mrs. Martha Russell, a widow.

Sallie Bryant was the third child of William Jefferson and Margaret Josephine Cochran Bryant. She was born in Murfreesboro, Tennessee on January 18, 1864, while her father was in a prison hospital in the North**. She had an older sister named Leni L. and a brother, William E.

When the war was over and Jeff returned home, he wanted to add the name Ida to Sallie because a nurse named Ida Lake had been very kind to him in the hospital.

Times were very hard after the war and Jeff was not well. He bought a mill from his father-in-law, Levi T. Cochran in Marshall County, Tennessee, and operated it for several years. It was both a grist and lumber mill. During this time, five more children were born: Robert Wesley 1866, Mary Francis 1867, Bootie 1869, Samuel Davis 1871 and Maxey B. 1874.

By this time, many friends and relatives were moving to Texas and Jeff and Maggie decided to go along. They found fertile land at Blossom Prairie about nine miles east of Paris, Texas in Lamar County. Clearing the land for cultivation was very hard and Jeff was not strong. The boys were not large enough for much help. Another child was born July 17, 1878 and died August 3, 1878. Jeff died September 10, 1878. Both were buried at Blossom Prairie. Maggie could not manage the farm with all the children so she moved to Johnson County to be near her sister, Eliza E. Cummings (Mrs. J.C.) and family who had come to Johnson County earlier.

One day, in early 1882, while he was looking for a stray animal, John went to the home of Mrs. Margaret J. Bryant. Her daughter, Sallie (nicknamed Mittie), answered his call at the door. After a brief conversation, he asked if she were married. She wasn’t and he asked to call on her. Love blossomed and they were married Easter Sunday April 4, 1882.***

John had a horse and saddle, but no buggy. He borrowed a buggy and they went to get married. The horse was frightened by some­thing beside the road and ran away under a fallen tree. The buggy was broken but they were miraculously spared.

They farmed in Johnson County until about 1892. Three children were born there: Ora Pearl 1883, William Thomas 1885, John Wesley 1887. John Wesley died in 1891 with spinal meningitis.

The family moved soon to Ardmore, Indian Territory. Two more children were born there. Dollie 1896 and Ollie Bessie 1899. Outlaws were very active and they were far from schools so they decided to move to Lexington, Cleveland County, where Melva Lucille was born in 1907. In 1910, they moved to Comanche County, Oklahoma, but were nearly wiped out by a drought. They moved back to Lexington where they lived until John retired. They moved to Norman so Melva could finish high school and college. Mittie died in 1931 and John died in 1936. Both are buried in Lexington Cemetery.

Melva married John B. Duffield in 1931 and moved to Texas, first to Longview, Gregg County, then to Three Rivers, Live Oak County and last to Houston, Harris County.

Wesley Bryant married Rhettie Franks November 19, 1893 and lived in Johnson County near Alvarado until he died in July 1931. Rhettie died in 1942. Both are buried in Buel Cemetery.

Some of the Bryants and Cummings lines are still living in Johnson County.

 by Melva Rose Duffield

*Hepsebeth was Lucinda’s step-mother. Her mother, Mary Nail, died when Mary Lucinda was 5.
**During the Civil War, William Jefferson Bryant was a Confederate. ***Easter Sunday was April 9 in 1882 and online records indicate they married on April 9.

Thanks to Don Rose for putting this story online so I could find it. He descends from James Rose, a younger brother of my 3x great-grandfather David Rose. I found it on his Rose family tree on Ancestry.com.

I am all about context when exploring my family tree and I couldn’t help researching the details of the story. I learned a lot about Mittie’s father’s Civil War experience and imprisonment. I also followed the Rose family back to Buncombe County, NC at the same time my Scott family was there during and following the Revolutionary War. The families took different routes to Oklahoma, but connected for good when my grandparents Ed Rose and Lela Scott met and married.

More about all that in future posts.

Any cousins out there who have stories or memories to share? I’d love to hear from you.

Jan

 
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Posted by on April 1, 2013 in Rose

 

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Finding the James White Miller Family Roots

There are still more family threads to untangle, but I have tracked down all of the James Whyte/White Millers.

Yay!

Check it out.

Miller Family Tree Page One

On this page the Millers started in Lancaster County, South Carolina before the Civil War. They moved to Osceola County, Florida, and my dad made his way to Oklahoma. The spouses moved to Florida from Illinois and Georgia as children, and one moved from South Carolina with her husband.

All of the folks on this page are buried at Rose Hill Cemetery in Kissimmee. That is, all except dad. James White Miller, born in 1930, died in 1989, is buried at Resthaven in Oklahoma City.

I’ll post the next page in a few days. In the meantime, if you have questions, anecdotes, or stories to share about any of these folks, I’m all ears. I’d love to add them to the family story.

Jan Miller Stratton

 
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Posted by on November 14, 2012 in Miller

 

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