Category Archives: Brick Walls

Rev. War Pensioner Jacob Miller and Son Martin

A while back, I told about my quest for the parents and family of Martin Miller of Muhlenburg County, Kentucky. Martin was born in Pennsylvania about 1785. He was a resident of Botetourt County, Virginia when he married Catherine Whitmer, daughter of John and Catherine Whitmer who migrated to Virginia from Frederick County, Maryland. Not many years after their marriage, Martin and Catherine, along with her parents and extended family, migrated once again to Kentucky.

By analyzing land deeds and plotting out properties for Miller in Botetourt County, I was able to determine that a possible father for Martin was Jacob Miller. There were two Jacobs living there in the same time period and both were old enough to have grown children. There was Jacob who married Margaret and there was Jacob who married at least twice, the first time to Sarah and the second to Elizabeth.

I have to admit the search for Martin’s parents hasn’t been an easy one, as it has stretched out over a number of years. Finally, a viable candidate appeared in Virgil White’s Genealogical Abstracts of Revolutionary War Pension Files: Index, published in 1993 by National Historical Publishing Company:

Jacob Miller, born about 1759 and from Northampton County, Pennsylvania, served as a private during the war. After the war, he removed to Botetourt County, Virginia and then about 1813 on to Franklin County, Tennessee, where he died on 10 Nov 1832. His wife’s name was Elizabeth, but no children were named.

This Jacob looked not only to be a good candidate for Martin’s father, he seemed like a good match to be the Jacob Miller of Botetourt County who married (1) Sarah and then (2) Elizabeth. He was old enough to be Martin’s father, came from Pennsylvania, lived in Botetourt County and left the area in roughly the same time frame as Martin Miller and the Whitmers, although he went to Tennessee instead of Kentucky.

Now I knew where he went to! Never having worked with Franklin County, Tennessee records, I first prayed that Franklin was not a burned county. It wasn’t. However, probate records didn’t go back far enough to include Jacob’s estate and he wasn’t found in the will books. I next look at land deeds – land records were intact back to 1790, even though the county wasn’t formed until 1807.

There were a number of Millers found in the deed index, including Jacob. There was also a solitary listing for a Martin Miller. . . I had found a mini-gold mine for Jacob’s family. After years of searching, another brick wall tumbled down. First, I wanted proof that I had the right Jacob Miller and that he indeed was the father of Martin.

Martin Miller Deed pg1

The opening portion of this document recorded in the deeds of Franklin County, Tennessee first identifies “I, Martin Miller of the state of Kentucky, and the county of Muhlenburg. . . .appoint and place in my stead my worthy friend Phillip Williams of the state of Tennessee and county of Franklin. . . .to grant and convey. . . .all of my part of the land of Jacob Miller deceased. . .

by order of the circuit court. . . . .I have hereunto set my hand and seal this 13th day of October 1837. Martin Miller + Seal.

There was another Miller document found in the court minutes of July 1837:

Jacob Miller Land Estate

This was the circuit court order dividing up the land in the estate of Jacob Miller, deceased. Martin received lot #7 in the top right hand corner. The widow Elizabeth’s dower was set off in the bottom left corner. The other boxes indicated the pieces of land given to Jacob’s other children.

To make a long research story short, from these documents, other land deeds and further research, I was able to piece together the spouses and children of Jacob Miller, Revolutionary War soldier:

Jacob married (1) Sarah (MNU) about 1783, probably in Northampton County, Pennsylvania. Sarah was born, say 1763 and died between the 1797 land deed filing and 11 June 1805 when Jacob married (2) Elizabeth Ritter, daughter of Michael Ritter.

Children with wife Sarah:

1. Martin, born 6 July 1785, probably Northampton County, Pennsylvania; died 5 May 1863, Muhlenburg County, Kentucky; married Catherine Whitmer.

2. Henry, born about 1788, possibly Maryland; died after 1860, possibly in Muhlenburg County, Kentucky; married Susannah(MNU).

3. Jacob, born 1 July 1790; died 12 June 1844, Sullivan County, IN; married Mary Borders.

4. Catherine, about 1792, probably VA; died after July 1837, possibly in Jackson County, Alabama; married Phillip Williams.

5. Michael, born about 1794, probably Botetourt County, Virginia; died after 1834.

6. William, born about 1796, Botetourt County, Virginia; died after 1837.

7. Daughter, born about 1797, VA; died before 1837.

8. Daughter, born about 1798, VA; died before 1837.

9. Daughter, born about 1799; died before 1837.

10. Daughter, born about 1800; died before 1837.

Children with wife Elizabeth:

11. Nancy, born about 1805; died after 1870, probably McLennan County, Texas; married Sampson Thompson.

12. Eve, born 16 May 1806, Botetourt County, Virginia; died 8 Mar 1876, Crawford County, Illinois; married Austin F. Hubbard.

13. Elizabeth, born about 1807, Botetourt County, Virginia; died about 1853, Franklin County, Tennessee; married Linsfield Berryhill.

14. Barbara, born about 1812, Virginia or Tennessee; died before February 1836, Franklin County, Tennessee; married Miles Sanford Francis.

15. Sarah, born about 1817, Franklin County, Tennessee; died after July 1837; married Mr. Hostetler.

16. Rebecca, born 23 Mar 1818, Franklin County, Tennessee; died 25 Jan 1896, Itawamba County, Mississippi; married Joseph A. Francis.

17. Leanna, born 15 May 1819, Franklin County, Tennessee; died 15 June 1876, Bollinger County, Missouri; married Miles Sanford Francis, widower of her sister, Barbara.

18. Daniel, born 7 May 1822, Franklin County, Tennessee; died 27 May 1900, Shelby County, Alabama; married Martha L. Dalrymple.

19. Susannah, born about 1823, Franklin County, Tennessee; died after 1837.

Although one brick wall came down, another took its place as I still have no maiden name for Sarah and, while I think I have a lead as to Jacob Miller’s parents in Northampton County, Pennsylvania, as of now there is no solid proof. That’s not to say that it doesn’t exist.  This brick wall is also on my “to do” list for Salt Lake City.







Blyther – New Update

Since I posted about the Blyther family, I have been in touch via U.S. mail with a descendant. She didn’t know much about the family history, but she did have a book, she said, about the family, and she mailed me several pages from it.

It turns out that Inez Parker Wright compiled a short history of the family. In it was a death date for Helen Marr Blyther Parker, which I didn’t have. She was last found in Rye, New York in the 1925 state census. By 1930, Inez was back in California. Helen died 16 Jan 1930, so I checked the California death index on line and found that she died in Alameda County, CA.

I also discovered that Barbara Blaisdell Parker did marry and had two sons, who are living today. More cousins to hunt!

Finally, the 1920 census listing for Robert and Ruth Blyther Campbell in California showed a brother-in-law, James Hannah, age 80, living with them. I had no idea who he was, but as I went searching, I found he married Mary Elizabeth Blyther in 1864 in Boston, MA. Here was the missing Mary Elizabeth Crouse/Blyther who disappeared after the 1850 census! The marriage record showed her as Elizabeth Hannah marrying James Hannah, but I suspect that might be a clerical error since it gave her parents as Benjamin and Rebecca Blyther and her birthplace was given as Calais, Maine. Benjamin was the only father she knew, but I still tend to believe that she was a daughter of Peter Crouse because the 1850 census lists her birthplace as Canada, rather than Maine. However, with no marriage date for Benjamin and Rebecca, I can’t be positive.

The record also states that this was a second marriage for Elizabeth; I can’t find a record for her marrying a Hannah before James so the name of her first husband is unknown for the time being.

James and Mary Elizabeth Hannah followed the path of the other Blyther sisters and went to California. James and Mary E. are enumerated in the 1880 census of Oakland, CA. He is 41 and she is 44; there are no children in the household. Since their oldest child would be only 14 or 15, based on date of marriage, it appears they had no children. Mary E. Hannah died in Alameda County, CA on 2 June 1893. James survived her by many years, dying on 24 June 1921, also in Alameda County, CA. I have not found their burial places yet, but James’s death certificate might give me that answer.

With the exception of Elmer Ford’s three daughters, I have been able to account for most of the Blyther descendants! A few more leaves have been added to the empty branches.


Welcome to Empty Branches on the Family Tree

I have been doing genealogical research for 33 years,  but have only recently decided to blog about some of my experiences. My own family lines are Slovak, colonial New England and Danish/Swedish. One side of my husband’s family hails from Germany via colonial New York and the other is a mixture of German and British who settled in the colonial South. Like most everyone else, I have run into many brick walls, which led to empty family tree branches. The focus of this blog is to share some of the successes I’ve had in breaking through the stumbling blocks to fill more of the family tree. One of my emptiest branches was that of Anna Elisabeth Johnson, my maternal great grandmother who, according to my grandmother,  was from Copenhagen, Denmark. It took 33 years for me to make real progress. Tomorrow I will begin to tell the story of Anna Elisabeth’s family and how I found them.