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Calaveras County

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THOMAS MILLER

 

 

††††††††††† The vast majority of Californiaís citizens can scarcely realize what problems met the pioneers of 1849 as they came to the Pacific coast from the east, with its thriving towns, cities and villages, containing all known comforts.The found here a region of wild forests and unbroken lands, mile after mile of which had not yet been traversed by white men.With the incoming tide of humanity there sprang up a collection of mining camps.Many of the men hoped here rapidly to gain a fortune.They were people who came from good homes in the east and who had due regard for the rights and privileges of others; but there also came to the state during the subsequent years, a lawless element, determined to gain a living and to acquire wealth by robbery and violence, no crime being too atrocious for their perpetration.However, the men of wroth at length brought into subjection this lawless element and succeeded in laying the foundation for a commonwealth which is now the pride of the nation.Mr. Miller arrived here a young man full of hope and courage, of vigor, energy and determination.He is now the only surviving pioneer settler of Angelís Camp, having outlived all who came to the town in the days of its earliest development.

††††††††††† He was born in New York City on the 29th of February, 1824.His father, John Miller, was a native of Ireland and was educated for the priesthood, but changed his plans on entering the church and was united in marriage to Miss Mary Duffey, a native of the Emerald Isle.Unto them were born four children.Mr. Miller is now the only survivor of the familyThe father died then Thomas was only six years of age, and the mother passed away four years later, so that he was left an orphan when only ten years old.A Mrs. Baker, a Scotch-Irish lady, took him to her home and there he remained two years, after which he entered upon an apprenticeship to the ship carpenterís trade, following that pursuit for two years. However, he was possessed by a spirit of adventure and courage and connected himself with the crew of a pilot boat in New York harbor.The last pilot boat on which he sailed proved to be too light for the heavy seas which she had to encounter.Her captain was washed overboard and the others had a narrow escape from death, so that all the crew abandoned the vessel and Mr. Miller went to sea on the ship Sutton, of New York, on which he sailed for two years.He was afterward a steward on a number of different vessels, which visited ports in various parts of the world.He sailed for nine years, without experiencing even the smallest accident, and in 1849 he made the voyage around Cape Horn on the Harriet Lawrence, landing at San Francisco in December, 1849.

††††††††††† Gold had been discovered by Marshall and all was excitement.He, too, decided to join in the search for the precious metal and went to Stockton, whence he proceeded to Angelís Camp.There were only two log cabins in the direction and Mr. Miller took a claim on Angelís Creek, near the present site of the town.The men were all novices at mining, but they soon learned how to prosecute their search for gold and how to separate it from the sand and drift so that they could take out an ounce a day.Some of the men, thinking that was a good dayís work, would abandon their labor when that amount was secured; but others got from two to three ounces daily.Mr. Miller made his largest find in Dead Horse Gulch, where he obtained a six-ounce nugget, and the same day he took out four ounces additional.He continued to engage in mining most of the time until 1856, spending three years in that way on Indian Creek, in partnership with Dr. Kelley.Subsequently he purchased a quartz mine for two hundred dollars and also bought one hundred and sixty acres of land at Albany Flat.He purchased oxen and tools and turned his attention to farming, which he carried on with success.He had also taken up five hundred acres of land, which now lies near the corporation limits of the town of Angelsí, and this he has subdivided, selling a part of it.On the tract affine high school building has recently been erected near the humble residence of the respected pioneer who for a half century has resided here.He has sold other lots, but still has a number of valuable ones.In 1863 he disposed of his farm and has since engaged in lending money, in which he has met with excellent success, being careful in placing his loans, treating those with whom he does business with much consideration, so that he has been very fortunate in receiving the interest money and in getting back the principal.

††††††††††† In early life Mr. Miller was a Methodist, but later he came disgusted with what he considered the miserly manner in which the members of the church contributed to its support.He therefore absented himself and attended the Catholic Church, where he saw much more liberal giving.He therefore resolved to return to the faith of his fathers, was confirmed and is now a devout communicant of the Catholic Church.He has ever been a liberal contributor to movements and measures which he believed to be of public good and would prove of benefit to the town.He has been a life-long Democrat in his political affiliations, but has never sought or desired office, nor has he joined any fraternal societies.He has ever favored law and order and is an excellent representative of the good and brave men who came to California in 1849.He has depended upon his own resources, and by following honorable business methods and manifesting untiring industry he has work his way upward until he is now the possessor of a fortune.

 

 

Transcribed by Gerald Iaquinta.

Source: ďA Volume of Memoirs and Genealogy of Representative Citizens of Northern CaliforniaĒ, Pages 81-83. Chicago Standard GenealogicalPublishing Co. 1901.

© 2010Gerald Iaquinta.

 

 

 

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