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Tag Archives: South Carolina

Loyalists Cause Havoc in North Carolina

This little scrap of paper with info written by my Aunt Dorothy Ann Miller Oropeza is the brief beginning of our family research.

It starts with James Miller born in South Carolina in 1824.

CCI_000010 (2)

Here’s a transcript.

Great Great- Grandpa (these indicate the relationship to my dad and his sister)
James Miller, born April 27 1824 in So. Carolina
Married March 20, 185? To Honoria Q (Quary) Mills
Born  Feb. 8, 1830 in So. Carolina
Son was:
Great Grandpa
James Whyte Miller
Born Feb. 19, 1858 in So. Carolina
Grandpa
James Whyte Miller Jr.,
Born June 30, 1895
Died Oct. 8, 1935
Married to
Kathryn Elizabeth McKay on June 29, 1927
Don’t know anything about the first James Miller – where born etc.
Honoria Q Mills; grandfather was Rev. Dr, Thomas Mills
Born in England, an Episcopal Minister

This is the earliest picture I have of these ancestors, Honoria Q. Mills Miller. Based on the style of clothes, I think this was about 1860.

Honoria Q. Mills on American Saga

And here is my dad’s grandpa.  He was one of the first sheriffs of Osceola County, Florida.

On the white horse is my grandpa, my dad’s dad who died in 1936. The girl holding the puppy is Aunt Corrie. The woman inside the fence is Effie Bass Miller, my great grandmother, and the man on the black horse is Sheriff James W. Miller, my great grandpa. There was another daughter in the family, Honora Jane, born in 1897, she died in 1899 at the age of two.

Sheriff James Miller and Family.

The house was in Kissimmee, Florida. This picture would have been taken about 1900 or shortly afterwards. My grandpa was born in 1895, and his mother Effie died in 1904.

Effie Bass was born in Florida in 1867. Her family migrated from Georgia about 1849. The Bases were previously from North Carolina, and Effie’s great grandfather was born in 1766. He was too young to fight in the Revolutionary War, but evidently he and some of his cousins and brothers were Loyalists and were arrested multiple times for raising a ruckus and causing havoc around the countryside in an effort to aid the British war effort.

In history I learned those loyal to the crown after the war went to Canada or back to England. Evidently there were many who stayed in place and created problems during and shortly after the war. I don’t know when the Basses moved from North Carolina to Georgia, but maybe it was an attempt to avoid the law.

Going back further, I think these Basses were at Jamestown shortly after the settlement was established. That is a story for another day.

Jan

 
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Posted by on July 17, 2017 in Miller

 

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Happy Birthday, Dad!

James White Miller VI

Here’s my dad just as he was about to graduate from Orlando High School in 1949. This is a page from his senior Memory Book.

James W Miller HighSchool

Look at those saddle oxfords! And the cuffs on those short sleeves. Signs of the times.

JamesW Miller Memory Book (2)

He was born July 10, 1930 in Kissimmee, Florida. He died April 14, 1989 in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.

The first James White Miller was born April 27, 1824, on a plantation on the Catawba River in Lancaster County, South Carolina. I think Belair was the name of the family home which was established by his father, James Miller who married Sarah White.

James Miller 1825 home site The Millers went from South Carolina to Kissimmee, Florida where they remained until my dad joined the Air Force. He was stationed in Wichita Falls, Texas, and during a weekend pass he and a few buddies decided to see how far it was to Oklahoma City.

While cruising downtown the four guys ran into four girls who were on their way to the bus stop after a movie. My mom was one of those girls and that’s how my little branch of the Miller tree ended up in Oklahoma.

Happy Birthday Dad. I’m so glad you made that random trip to meet my mom.

Jan

 
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Posted by on July 10, 2017 in Miller

 

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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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