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With time, family stories can seem to become fact. Immediately following is a story (in blue) that became family lore. After that is a story derived from documents, most considered original sources.

(This short history was written by a family member in about the 1970s. It should be noted that according to "Birth & Death Notices Chapman Newspapers 1884-1901", the William H. Miller family moved to Dickinson County, Kansas and purchased a farm near Sutphen Mills. A transcription by the Dickinson County, KS, Historical Society, lists William H. Miller, Simon Miller and Caroline Van Dyke as buried in the Miller Family Plot, Liberty Cemetery, Fragrant Hill Township, Dickinson County - JES):

William Henry Miller
B. 1831
D. 9 Nov. 1884
Minerva Biggerstaff
B. 1836
D. 8 May 1896
Buried in Ithaca, NE

William, born of Dutch ancestry in Pennsylvania moved to Bradner, Ohio near Bowling Green and there practiced the trade of shoemaker. He married Minerva Biggerstaff, daughter of Elijaha Biggerstaff of Scotch ancestry, in Bradner, Ohio.

William became active in the Masonic Lodge and is reputed to have carried the charter for the Bowling Green Order No. One into the state on foot or horseback. He served as first Recording Secretary for the Lodge.

In 1882 or 1883, Mr. Miller joined several of Minerva's Biggerstaff relatives in a migration to the state of Nebraska to take up homesteads. William rented a boxcar to move his family and all their belongings.

The family's first shelter was a sod hut. They broke the sod for a corn crop and the first yield was prodigious. However, so was the yield across the state so they were not able to sell their crop for a profit. The enormous cobs were stacked in piles to be used for fuel.

A year after arrival in Nebraska disaster struck in the form of a typhoid epidemic. Only Mother Minerva and Naomi were spared the illness. Naomi was eleven years old and remembers bearing arm loads of the scratchy corn cobs to stuff the fire, tending the babies who were sick and caring for them after they survived.

Father William, oldest sister Tracy and younger brother, Dorsie, all died of the grim disease. Mother Minerva was faced with the horendous future of widowhood alone on the prairie.

The Masonic Lodge with which William had affiliated came to Minerva's assistance, helping to bury the three whom she had lost.

The Simon Miller Family

Simon Miller, b. abt. 1809 in OH; d. Nov. 1854; m. bef. 1833, Elizabeth. Their children are:

  1. William H. Miller b. 22 Sept. 1832 in OH; d. 7 Nov. 1884 in Dickinson Co., KS; m. 21 Sept. 1854 in Wood Co., OH, Minerva J. Biggerstaff, b. 1836 in OH; d. 8 May 1896 in Saunders Co., NE. Their children are:
    1. Sina Minerva, b. 25 Nov. 1852 in OH; d. Nov. 1888 in Saunders Co., NE; m. Albert Louis Powers, b. Dec. 1845 in OH.
    2. James Franklin, b. 10 July 1858 in Wood Co., OH; d. 5 June 1920 in Hancock Co., OH; m. 15 April 1877, Ella Aller.
    3. Caroline May (Tracy), b. 21 June 1860 in OH; d. 23 Nov. 1888 in Dickinson Co., KS; m. 8 May 1878 in Wood Co., OH, John vanDyke in OH.
    4. Louisa Eliza, b. 18 July 1868 in OH; d. 25 May 1940 in Scottsbluff Co., NE; m. 26 Jan. 1886 in Chillicothe, KS, Dean H. Kelley, b. 14 April 1857 at Bradner, OH; d.4 April 1942 in Scottsbluff Co., NE.
    5. Simon W. (Dorsie), b. 1 Dec. 1884 in OH; d. 23 Nov. 1888 in Dickinson Co., KS.
    6. Neoma, b. 15 April 1873 in OH; d. 2 Nov. 1957 in Nez Perce Co., ID.; m. 4 Nov. 1890 in Dickinson Co., KS, Wm. Mitchell, b. Mar. 1866 in IL; d. 1956 in Nez Perce Co., ID.
    7. Ruth Ann, b. 9 10 Sept. 1874 in OH; d. 7 Sep. 1942 in Lancaster Co., NE; m. 1. 22 Jan. 1890 in Dickinson Co., KS, John VanDyke; divorced Aug. 1892 in Saunders Co., NE; m. 2. 14 Apr. 1895 in Saunders Co., NE, James H. Teachman b. 22 Apr. 1856 in NY; d. 18 July 1933 in Lancaster Co. NE.
  2. Mary A., b. abt. 1835 in OH.
  3. George W., b. 26 Feb. 1837 in OH.
  4. John L., b. 10 July 1839 in OH.
  5. Jacob, b. 21 June 1841 in OH.
  6. Eloise/Louise, b. 24 Aug. 1843 in OH.
  7. Harriet T., b. 30 Apr. 1846 in OH.
  8. Leah L./Sarah, b. 9 Aug. 1849 in OH.

1850 U.S. Census
Scott P.O., Sandusky Co., Ohio
Dwelling 272, Family 276

Name Age Sex Occupation Place of Birth
Simon Miller 41 M Farmer Ohio
Eliz Miller 42 F PA
William Miller 17 M Farmer Ohio
Mary A. Miller 15 F Ohio
Geo. W. Miller 13 M Ohio
John Miller 10 M Ohio
Jacob Miller 8 M Ohio
Elisha Miller 5 M Ohio
Eliz Miller 1 F Ohio
Harriet Miller 4 F Ohio

The oldest son of Simon Miller, William H., met Minerva Biggerstaff in about 1850. Although William and Minerva lived in different counties - Sandusky and Wood - the townships where they lived - Scott and Montgomery - were in close proximity. According to both census and family records, the couple had their first child, Sina, in the early 1850s. In the 1860 Census, enumerated 17 July, Sina is listed as 9 years old. In the 1870 Census, she is 17 and in the 1880 census, enumerated 8 June, she is 28. William and Minerva were married 21 September in 1854 in Wood County.

In census records, both Simon and William H. Miller are listed as farmers. Simon Miller died intestate in November of 1853. Shortly after his death, Elizabeth Miller was in court with a guardianship case concerning her children. According to Elizabeth Miller Guardianship documents in Sandusky County Probate Court dated 1 April 1854: "This day it appearing to the satisfaction of the Court that it is necessary to appoint a guardian for Eloisa Miller aged 11 years August 24th 1854, Harriet T. Miller aged 8 years 30 April 1854 and Leah L. Miller aged 5 years 9th August 1854... Ordered that Elizabeth Miller be appointed guardian for said minors...". As for the boys, according to Daniel Shively Guardianship records in Sandusky Probate Court dated 1 April 1854: "This day personally appeared in open court Geo. Miller aged 17 years 26 Feb. 1854 and John L. Miller aged 15 years 10 July 1854 and made choice of Daniel Shively for their guardian - once the Court offering of the Choice he is appointed. And being necessary that a guardian be appointed for Jacob Miller aged 13 years 21st June 1854 - ordered that Daniel Shively be appointed guardian for the above minors...". Wilson Teeters was named administrator of Simon Miller's estate.

By 1860, circumstances changed. Jacob Miller was able to return to his mother's household. Elizabeth remarried. She and her family were listed twice in the census. On July 19, the family was living on Sandusky County, Scott Township, Fremont Post Office, Dwelling 1809, Family 1708:
Name Age Sex Occupation Place of Birth
Henry Wilkins 55 M Blacksmith New York
Elizabeth 40 F Ohio
Louisa Miller 16 F Ohio
Sarah Miller 11 F Ohio
Jacob Miller 19 M Farm Hand Ohio

In the second listing, enumerated July 23rd, Elizabeth is listed living next door to Daniel Shively. Her family is Dwelling 1914, Family 1807. The Shively's are Dwelling 1915, Family 1808. The Miller boys are no longer living there.
Family Name Age Occupation Place of Birth
1807 Jacob Miller 19 Farmer Ohio
Elizabeth Wilkins 54 Ohio
Eloise 17 Ohio
Sarah 11 Ohio
Henry 55 Farmer New York
1808 Daniel Shively 50 Shoemaker Pennsylvania
Catharine 49 Ohio
John Solomon 17 Ohio
Elizabeth 15 Ohio
Daniel Shively 20 Farm Hand Ohio
Rebecca 14 Ohio
Hannah 13 Ohio
Martin 12 Ohio
Joseph 10 Ohio
Mary 8 Ohio
Rhoda 4 Ohio

In 1857, William H. Miller purchased two tracts of land in Wood Co., OH from William Vanlue and wife. The first tract was NE1/4SE1/4 of S35 T5N R12E and NW1/4SW1/4 S36 T5N E12. The purchase price was $350 and the deed was quit claim. In the 1860 census, William and Minerva Miller lived in Freedom Township in Wood County, while Minerva's father, Samuel Biggerstaff lived in Montgomery Township in Wood county. William began to accumulate wealth with the value of his real estate at $600 and his personal estate at $20.

The family of William and Minerva continued to expand.

1860 Federal Census
State of Ohio, Wood County, Freedom Township,
Enumerated 17 July

Dwelling Family Name Age Occupation Place of Birth
1470 1442 William Miller 40 Farmer Ohio
Minerva 36 Ohio
Sina 9 Ohio
Franklin 3 Ohio
May 6/12 Ohio

William and Minerva were at home in Freedom Township of Wood County. Their fortunes continued to be good. By 1870, the couple had four children - Sina, James Franklin, Caroline, and Eliza. William placed the value of his land at $5,000 and his personal property at $500. It was also a time of change for by the fall of 1870, Minerva's father, Samuel Biggerstaff, and siblings Samuel Biggerstaff Jr., John Biggerstaff, Mary (Jesse) Smith and Clarinda (Peter) Keiser had relocated to Saunders County, Nebraska to homestead.

In about 1875, oldest daughter Sina married Albert Powers. The couple soon had two children, Ruth and Samuel. In the late 1870s, Albert and Sina decided to join the Biggerstaff family in Nebraska.

William and Minerva made the decision to move west as well. Their older children were starting families. On April 16, 1879, the couple sold their farm for $9,000. They opted, however, to relocate to Dickinson County, Kansas instead of Nebraska.

1880 Federal Census

State County Township Family Name Age Relationship Place of Birth
Nebr. Saunders Green 78 Powers, Albert 30 Ohio
Sina 28 Wife Ohio
Ruth 5 Daughter Ohio
Saml L. 3 Son Ohio
Menerva 1 Daughter Nebr.
Ohio Wood Montgomery 12 Miller, Wm. H. 48
Minerva 45 Wife
Louisa 13 Daughter
Simon 9 Son
Neoma 7 Daughter
Ruth 5 Daughter
James F. 23 Son
Elen 19 Daughter-in-law
Maggie 3/12 Granddaughter
Ohio Wood Freedom 72 Van Dyke, John H. 26 Ohio
Tracy C. 20 Wife Ohio
Nora E. 1 Daughter Ohio

Son James opted to remain in Ohio. The family moved to Sherman Township, Dickinson County, Kansas in the spring of 1883. The household included daughter Tracy and her family. Disease visited their farmstead in November of 1884 and within several days, William, Tracy and Simon (Dorsey) were dead. From the Chapman Star, 28 Nov. 1884: "Four members of the Miller family have died within two weeks," and 5 Dec. 1884: "Mr. Miller, who bought the Rob. Fordice farm near Sutphen Mills last spring, died recently; his son died a short time later, and also a young man living with the family."

Minerva decided to stay in Kansas. On 17 March, 1885, she purchased 120 acres of land (n 1/2 se14 & sw14 S16 T11S R3E) in Sherman Township of Dickinson County. In the 1885 Kansas State Census family members were: Miller, Minerva, 49; J.F., 27; Eliza, 16; Naoma, 12; Ruth, 10; Van Dyke, Nora, 5; William, 4; Mable, 1; and Miller, Hope, 1. Minvera witnessed the marriages of three daughters:
Groom Bride Date of Marriage By Whom
Dean H. Kille (sic) Eliza Miller Jan. 24, 1886 J.M. Wishart
Jno. VanDyke Ruth A. Miller Jan. 22, 1890 W.H. Zimmerman
W.H. Mitchell Naomi Miller Nov. 4, 1890 W.H. Zimmerman

Naomi and her husband, William, decided to seek their fortune in Idaho and moved shortly after their marriage. The union of Ruth Ann and John Van Dyke, Tracy's widower, did not go well. The couple had a daughter, Hazel, but John began drinking and the couple separated. Minerva sold the farm on 1 March 1890. Minerva, Ruth, Eliza and her husband, Dean, moved to Saunders County, Nebraska near Minerva's Biggerstaff family. Shortly after moving to Saunders County, Ruth A. Van Dyke filed for a divorce. In April of 1895, she married James H. Teachman.

Minerva lived long enough to see the birth of Ruth and James' son, William Allen, in March 1896. From The Ceresco Courier, 3 May 1896: "Mrs. M. Miller, mother of Mrs. J.H. Teachman and Mrs. D.H. Kelley, died at the home of the latter on Sunday evening. She had been sick for some time and her death was not unexpected. Mrs. Miller was a sister of Samuel and Elisha Biggerstaff. She was buried Tuesday at Ithaca."

Selected Estate Documents

Minerva J. Miller

Know all Men by these Presents:
That Samuel Biggerstaff as principal, and James H. Teachman sureties, all of the County of Saunders, in the State of Nebraska, are held and firmly bound unto L.E. Genver the County Judge, in and for said County, and to his successors in office, an to all persons herein concerned, in the penal sum of Fifteen hundred dollars for the payment of which well and truly to be made, we do jointly and severally bind ourselves and our lawful representatives.
Witness our hands and seals this 12th day of June A.D. 1896.
The Condition of the above obligation is such, That whereas the above named Samuel Biggerstaff has been appointed by the County Court of the County of Saunders Nebraska, Administrator of the estate of Minerva J. Miller deceased, last of said county, who died intestate on or about the 3rd day of May 1896, to administer all and singular her goods and chattels, moneys, rights, and credits, according to law...

Petition For Letters of Administration

In the matter of the estate of Minerva J. Miller
Your petitioner Ruth Teachman one of the heirs of the said Minerva J. Miller, late of said county, deceased, respectfully states that said Minerva J. Miller departed this life on the 3rd day of May 1896.
That she was immediately preceding her death, a resident and inhabitant of said county, and was possessed of real and personal estate in said county of about the value of $1,000.
Your petitioner further shows that no last will and testament of said deceased has been discovered, nor is your petitioner aware of the existence of any such instrument, and your petitioner believes that said Minerva J. Miller died intestate that she has no surviving husband but left the following children surviving her:
Name Age Residence
James F. Miller 38 Cloverdale, Ohio
Eliza Kelly 27 Ceresco, Nebr.
Neoma Mitchell 23 Tekoa, Washington
Ruth Teachman 21 Ceresco, Nebr.

Also the following grandchildren whose parents death occurred prior to that of the deceased.

Name Relationship Residence
Samuel L. Powers, Manerva Powers, Tarcy Powers, Mollie Powers Children of Sina Miller Power (Deceased) Itaca, Nebr.
Nora Ellen Van Dyke, Wm. Van Dyke, Mabel M. Van Dyke Children of Caroline T. (Miller) Van Dyke (Deceased) Kansas

Wherefore your petitioner prays that letters of administration may be granted to S. Biggerstaff upon the goods, chattels, rights, and credits of said, Minerva J. Miller deceased.
State of Nebraska
Lancaster County SS Ruth Teachman

Ruth Teachman being first duly sworn deposes and says that she has read the foregoing petition knows the contents thereof and the statements contained therein are true. Ruth Teachman
Subcribed in my presence and sworn to before me this 9th day of May 1896. Elmer W. Brown

County Court, Saunders County, Nebraska
In the Matter of the Estate of Minerva J. Miller Deceased.
To the County Judge of the County of Saunders, in the State of Nebraska:
The petition of S. Biggerstaff of the County of Saunders, State of Nebraska, Administrator of the estate of Minerva J. Miller last of the town of Ithaca in the County of Saunders, State of Nebr., deceased, respectfully shows:
That on or about he 12th day of June, 1896, your petitioner was appointed by the County Judge of said Court, by letters granted and issued for that purpose, administrator of the Estate of said deceased, and took upon himself the burden and office thereof; and that about 8 years or more have elapsed since the appointment of your petitioner, as aforesaid, he is desirous of having a settlement of his final account this day filed, and a decree of final settlement thereon, according to law.
That the heirs at law and next of kin of said deceased, with their respective ages and places of residence are as follows:

J.F. Miller; 47 years; Clover Dale, Ohio
Naoma Mitchel; 38 years; Nez Perce, Idaho
Eliza Kelley; 36 years; Ceresco, Nebraska
Ruth Teachman; 30 years; Ceresco, Nebraska
Nora Skaggs (Van Dyke is crossed out); 26 years; Carier, O.T. (Oklahoma Territory)
William Van Dyke; 24 years; Amadark, O.T.
Mable Fitzgearld; 21 years; Benton(?), Ill.
Samuel Lewis Powers; 27 years; Ceresco, Nebr.
Manerva Rudiger; 26 years; Memphis, Nebr.
Altany Powers; 21 years; Ceresco, Nebr.
Mary Lehrs; 18 years; Nez Perce, Idaho

Your petitioner therefore prays this Court for a final settlement of such account as filed; for the assignment and distribution of the residue of said estate to the persons thereto entitled, according to law, and for his discharge from his duties as administrator of the said estate, and that for these purposes a time and place be fixed for examining, settling, and allowing such account; and that a citation may be issued, and such notice thereof ordered given, as the law may require, and as to the Court may seem proper.
Dated Sep. 9th, 1904
The State of Nebraska
County of Lancaster - ss. S. Biggerstaff

Indian Mound Cemetery (Saunders County, Nebraska) Burials

For more complete information go to the Saunders County GenWeb Cemetery Website. This is an excellent website and there may be family members I missed. Volunteers of the Saunders County Historical Society are indexing death notices and obituaries from the local papers. For more information, contact the museum staff.

Name Cemetery Information
Manerva J. wife of Wm. H. Miller Indian Mound d. 3 May 1896
Anna E. Biggerstaff Indian Mound d. 22 July 1891 68 years 3 months 16 days

Liberty Cemetery, Fragrant Hill Township, Dickinson Co., KS

Name Cemetery Information
William H. Miller Fragrant Hill d. Nov. 17, 1884, age 52y 1m 26d
Simon W. Miller Fragrant Hill d. Nov. 23, 1884, age 13y 11m 23d
Caroline T., Wife of John H. Van Dyke Fragrant Hill d. Nov. 23, 1884, age 24y 10m 2d


Return to Shurtliff home page.

Go to the Samuel Biggerstaff family tree.

Go to the Biggerstaff-Miller census page.

Go to the Luke Nicholas Teachman home page.

Go to the Luke Nicholas Teachman time line.

This page was created by Joan Shurtliff on August 19, 2002. It was last updated on 21 February 2013.