Mystery of Harvey Miller

Here is a photo that was part of my father-in-law’s collection of family pictures:

HarveyMiller
Harvey Miller

This photo easily dates in the later part of the 1800’s. It measures 2 1/4 inches wide by 4 1/8 inches long. It doesn’t appear that anyone has cut this photo to a different size than the original.

This young man is clean shaven, appears to be in his young 20’s and looks to have some of his best clothes on, with a white collared shirt, tie and vest under his coat. The coat has a small narrow collar and lapel. The young man’s hair is very neatly combed and parted. He may also have just gotten a hair cut as his hair is more than tidy. It has that “fresh haircut” look about it.

Unlike some of the other old photos in my collection, this one has not one inscription on the back, it has two, but are either of them correct?

There is no photographer’s mark on either side of this photograph and the back is pink paper.

HarveyMillerEdsGreatGrandmothersBrother
Reverse side of photo

There is no indication who wrote “Harvey Miller” or the “Have”?? in the top right corner. However, I recognize the second inscription that says “Ed’s mother’s grandmother’s brother.” That is the handwriting of my mother-in-law, Ruby, who passed away two years ago.

Some time after Dave’s dad, Ed, passed away in 2002, Ruby started to label the backs of old photos that she had. I imagine that at some point Ed told her that Harvey Miller was the brother of his great grandmother, Louisa Miller, who married John C. Williams as his first wife.

Ed knew his grandfather, as John didn’t die until 1926, but Louisa died quite young in 1883 in Hopkins County, Texas. John remarried to Ellen Connor. John and Louisa’s daughter was Minnie Mae Williams, Ed’s maternal grandmother.

The mystery here is in identifying Harvey Miller and determining whether or not he was the brother of Louisa Miller.

First, just by photo clues, I would date this picture of Harvey to the 1890’s. His hairstyle, lack of beard, type of collared shirt and tie and the collar/lapels of his jacket all suggest that the photo dates to the last decade of the 1800’s.

The Miller family migrated from Muhlenberg County, Kentucky to Hopkins County, Texas around the time of the Civil War. Perhaps they even migrated westward because of the war.

Michael Miller and Elizabeth Hendricks were the parents of Louisa Miller, along with nine other children, six of whom were sons. However, their first child, was born in 1838, followed by Sarah and Louisa in 1841 and 1842 with their tenth child, Elizabeth, born in 1858.

Furthermore, their sons were Wilson Turner, James L., Jacob, Lenard, Joab and Benjamin F.  Although I know of no middle initial for Jacob, Lenard or Joab, these children consistently show up with the same given name, none of which is close to “Harvey.”

On top of that, none of these children would have been anywhere in their 20’s even in 1890 by itself, never mind the rest of that decade.

So, I think it is safe to say that Harvey was not Louisa’s brother. However, he might easily be a nephew, given the fact that she had six brothers.

Let’s take a look at them:

Wilson Turner Miller married and had two sons before he died at the young age of 26. However, neither were named Harvey – they were John Franklin and Levi Allen Miller.

James L. Miller was born about 1846 and appears in the 1850 and 1860 censuses, but hasn’t been found after that time. He may have died in the Civil War or died young of some other cause.

Joab Miller married Sabra Fannie Drake about 1865. They had four children born between 1866 and 1873 – Lottie S., Thomas, Cynthia and Joseph H., born in 1873. Joseph H. could possibly be Harvey.

Leonard Miller was born in 1850 and died in Hopkins County, Texas at the age of 14.

Jacob Miller was born about 1852 and appears only in the 1860 census.

Benjamin F. Miller married Mary Ellen Marrs and they had four children born between 1876 and 1889: Myrtie Levinia, James M. Joseph H. and Bennie May.  Benjamin’s son, Joseph H., could also possibly be Harvey Miller. Joseph was born in 1880. He is a little young to be in his early 20’s even in the late 1890’s, but the man in the photo could be maybe 19 if the picture was taken in 1899.

Further research into Joab’s son, Joseph H., and Benjamin’s son, Joseph H., turned up documents giving the full name of each. Joab’s son was Joseph Harvey Miller and often appeared in records as “J. Harvey Miller.” Benjamin’s son was Joseph Hamilton Miller.

Therefore, the young man in this photo is not Ed’s great grandmother’s brother, but her nephew. That means that Louisa Miller Williams’ daughter, Minnie Mae Williams (and Ed’s grandmother) was a first cousin of Harvey Miller. They were contemporaries in age, with Harvey born about 1873 and Minnie Mae in 1879.

Harvey married Clara Causey in 1899 when he was 25 years old. It is possible that this photo was taken on his wedding day or sometime near it. Minnie Mae likely attended the wedding, as she lived in Sulphur Springs, the Hopkins County county seat,  at that time.

The photo would have then passed from Minnie Mae to her daughter, Pearl, who was Ed’s mother.

Mystery solved? I think so.

3 thoughts on “Mystery of Harvey Miller”

  1. This is a great example for those of us who struggle with photo identification. Thanks for laying it all out so clearly. (And I’m glad you were able to put it all together.

  2. Linda, Could you send me some more information about this Harvey Miller? I think he could be my great-grandfather. Thanks!

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