Happy Birthday George Leifheite Miller



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George Leifheite Miller (1830-1921)

George Leifheite Miller was born on 14 Oct 1830 in Nassau, Rensselaer, New York (probably near the town of Troy or the town of Alps) as the third child of Zachariah Miller and Catherine Leifheite. He had five siblings, namely: Eliza Margaret, John Robert, Mary Ann, Mariah, and Calvin S. Miller. George grew up in and around Nassau, Rensselaer, New York where his father was a tenant farmer. He lived with his parents well into adulthood and was found with them in the 1855 Census when he was 24-years old. His dad was listed as a farmer, but George was a laborer. Given the land situation in Rensselaer county, land ownership wasn’t an option for George there, so he had to find work outside of farming. It was said that he helped to haul logs to mill to build the first Rathbone-Sard company building in Albany, New York. Rathbone and Sard was Albany’s biggest stove manufacturing firm.

1855 New York Census, Miller family.

George Miller moved to Illinois in 1858. His first job in Illinois was working for a man named Ed Cole on his farm in Sugar Grove. He received $15 per month. It is probable that Mr. Cole was a relative through marriage since two of George’s sisters married into the Cole family. The first winter in Illinois, George shoveled gravel for the first hard road between Blackberry creek and Aurora, working all day he received 50 cents a day.

George L. Miller.

George’s descendant, Coralee, wrote the following story of what happened next.

“In 1851 gold was discovered at Pike’s Peak, Colorado. Eight years later, April 7, 1859, George Miller, Edward Thompson, and two other men from Illinois set out for Pike’s Peak.

They had a covered wagon, tent, two yoke of oxen, 100 pounds of sugar, rice, cornmeal, and beans. Before starting, Miller paid $5 to have a pair of boots made for him and also purchased a pistol. The group camped the first night at Little Rock Creek, and because the wagon was so filled with supplies, walked all the way to Colorado, averaging 18 miles a day.

Miller was driver and cook. In Iowa the travelers purchased meat for 7 cents a pound and eggs for 7 cents a dozen. Each day they picked up enough fuel for campfires at night.

By the time they reached Colorado, the gold rush had completely run its course. Discouraged, one of the men returned home. Another had died along the way. Miller and Thompson decided to venture on to California, which by then was booming.

On July 4, 1859 the two men reached Salt Lake City, Utah. They traded the oxen for a team of horses. Miller had his boots half-soled in that city, half-soled them again in California and wore them a year longer.

They saw many Indians along the way but were not bothered by them, except that the Indians often requested food and tobacco. One of the sights they saw made a strong impression. They met a government wagon coming back to the states with 15 children rescued from the terrible Mountain Mead Massacre. Miller never fired the gun that he had taken along for protection.

The two reached Marysville, California on September 4, 1859. Miller stayed there for eight years, mostly working at the Union Lumber Company. During that time Thompson went back to Illinois. Miller made a brief trip to Illinois by boat in 1867 but returned to California for three more years. In 1868 he met his future wife, Jane Cornell.”

George probably moved around Northern California working for the lumber company. In 1869, when his father died, George was living at Clipper Mills, Butte County, California.

Zachariah Miller, probate.

George Miller was a friend of Peter and Margaret Cornell. The couple tried to set George up with Margaret’s sister, but instead, Peter’s teenage daughter caught George’s attention. George married Jane Elizabeth Cornell, daughter of Peter Morris Cornell and Elvira Mary Palmer, on 09 Apr 1871 in Oroville, Butte, California. He was 40 and she was 17.

George Miller and Jane Cornell, marriage.

On 10 May 1869 the first transcontinental railroad was completed, and the Millers returned to Illinois by rail in October 1871. They saw the city of Chicago, which had started to burn on 8 October, in charred ruins. Living temporarily on a farm near Sugar Grove, Illinois for a year, the Millers bought a farm three miles north of Big Rock and started their family.

Jane and George Miller (photocopy provided by Dara Miller, 1999)

George Leifheite Miller and Jane Elizabeth Cornell had the following children:

  1. Calvin Andrew Miller was born on 26 Oct 1872 in Illinois. He married Cora Mable Brackett on 31 Jan 1895 in Kane, Illinois. He died on 18 Nov 1959 in Iowa.
  2. Frank Palmer Miller was born on 12 Feb 1874 in Big Rock, Kane, Illinois. He married Mary Stolp on 29 Dec 1897 in Sandwich, De Kalb, Illinois. He died on 16 Mar 1925 in Sandwich, De Kalb, Illinois.
  3. Elvira Jane Miller was born on 30 Oct 1875 in Illinois. She married Hoyt Brackett in 1896. She died on 04 Jun 1958.
  4. James Edward Miller was born on 03 Sep 1878 in Big Rock, Kane, Illinois. He was called “Ned.” He married Dell Wright. He died on 09 Aug 1961 in Illinois.
1880 Federal Census, George Miller family.

George and Jane lived on their farm north of Big Rock for 30 years and, in 1903, moved to the village.

George and Jane Miller family, 1914.

Despite marrying when he was already 40-years old, George and Jane celebrated their Golden Wedding anniversary in 1921.

George and Jane Miller, 50th Wedding Anniversary.

George Leifheite Miller died later that year, on 07 Dec 1921, in Big Rock, Kane, Illinois. He was buried on 10 Dec 1921 in West Big Rock Cemetery, Big Rock, Kane, Illinois.

Where is he in the tree?

Relationship chart, Leona Catherine Miller to George Leifheite Miller.
Pedigree chart, George Leifheite Miller.

Where can I learn more?

The Miller Family

Selected Sources:

“Big Rock Couple Married 50 Years: Mr. and Mrs. George L. Miller Celebrate Golden Wedding,” 13 Apr 1921, The Aurora Beacon-News, Aurora, Illinois.

“Story of George and Jane Miller,” Coralee Krueger.

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