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Francis Milton Miller, autobiographical account

17 August 2009 Leave a comment

Source: Francis Milton Miller, [Untitled], autobiographical account, Luster Earl Colley genealogical collection, Reference 003.

Reference 3

[Autobiography of Francis Milton MILLER copied from a handwritten account preserved by Vida Catherine MILLER COLLEY, granddaughter of the said Francis Milton MILLER. This copy was typed from a previous typescript copied from the original:]

I Francis Milton MILLER was born November 8th. 1838 in Benton County, State of Missouri.

Father: My Father was William MILLER who was born in State of Kentucky. My Grandfather Henry MILLER was from North Carolina. My Grandmother Hannah (BISHOP) MILLER was from South Carolina.

Mother: My mother Levina (WILLIAMS) MILLER was born in Georgia. My Grandfather Howell WILLIAMS was from South Carolina. My Grandmother Rachel (RADCLIFF) WILLIAMS was from Georgia.

Sisters: My two Sisters (twins) Paulene Jane and Levina Caraline MILLER were born January 10th., 1842. My Mother died at the birth of those twin sisters and was buried where she died in Polk County, Mo. After Mother’s death I with my baby sisters were taken to Grandfather MILLER’s in Benton County to live.

About the year 1845 my Father went to Texas and served a while with the Texas Rangers. He returned to Benton Co., Mo. and married a widow Rebecca MYERS who had two children Mary and George MYERS. This was about 1847. I was then taken to live with my Father and Stepmother and the Stepsister and Stepbrother. While my two sisters remained with Grandfather MILLER who before his death made them by his will equal sharers of his estate (with his own children).

At or near the age of ten years I commenced attending such schools as we had in those days. We had only what were termed subscription schools and my recollection is that they were very poorly managed and equipped. Among my first teachers were Annie REYNOLDS, Guilford B. PARK and Joseph MONROE.

When I was about sixteen years old my Father removed to Henry Co., Mo. near Leesville. My teachers there in the public schools, which were then being organized by law were Fenton G. REAVIS, James N. THOMPSON of near Leesville and Joel TOWNSEND who taught what was then termed a high school at Sardis Seven nine West of Calhoun in in Henry Co. To this last mentioned school I attended only about two months, with Walter S. REAVIS as chum and schoolmate. We boarded at Wm. L. AVERYs and attended school until corn gathering time came and called home. I was very much disappointed in this as I had been promised that I might attend this school all winter. As I could not return to school Mr. REAVIS would not let Walter go back alone (He was two or three years younger than I) This was about the fall of 1858 about the first of October I made up my mind that the best thing for me to do in order to get a better education which I very much desired, was to leave my Fathers house and work for wages till I could secure enough to continue my studies. Whether this was right or wrong I set out to accomplish, leaving home after the family were all asleep at night, As I fully believed I would be refused permission to go had I requested it.

I went to Warrensburg in Johnson Co., MO. and hired to a farmer near the town to cut corn for a few days at $1.00 a day. I soon went to work at a saw and grist mill owned by Wm. GRANGER on Black Water Creek near Warrensburg. I was now getting $20.00 per month with my board. I worked all winter there still with the intention of going to school as soon as I could accumulate enough money. But I soon discovered it was a slow process saving money at such wages. And in the spring, about April I concluded to go to my Grandfathers and help take care of my twin Sisters as Grandfather was old and poor and the girls often had to work out in the farm crops. A widowed Aunt (Jane LUSK) also lived at Grandfathers. She had a small Son (Silas) who was not able to do much work. I accordingly lived there about two years helping with crops in summer and teaching school in the fall and winter. During my stay here I joined the Christian Church Leesville under the preaching of G. W. LONGEEN. During this time I became acquainted with an orphan girl Catherine GILLEY, near my own age, who lived with her Aunt Sallie (SAYLOR) WOLF. I fell deeply in love with her and on my 22nd. birthday, November 8, 1860, we were married by Joseph MONROE a justice of the peace. This ended my intentions and efforts to attend school any more. I now engaged in farming on rented land with dwelling house furnished. I had however entered 80 acres of government land on which I soon built a log cabin and in which we were living when the Civil War broke out in 1861.

Our first child a girl, Alice Carey MILLER, was born on December 27, 1861.

In 1862 the Mo. Militia (E.M.M.) were enrolled and organized and I was elected 1st. Lieutant (Lieutenant) of Co. G, 60th Regt. Our Head Quarters were at Warsaw, Benton Co., Mo. We did considerable service in protecting our homes from marauding parties of bush whackers and etc.

Sometime in 1863, the M.S.M. cav. vols, were organized into N.S. service. I left the E.M.M., which had been partially disorganized and sent home, on July 2nd. 1863, and joined Co. E. 6th. Regt. as private, as this Co. was on its march from North Mo. to Springfield Mo. I did this because it was not safe for men to stay at home for many were killed at home in the presence of their families. I bid good bye to wife and baby and many friends and went with my Regt. to Springfield where we were stationed. Sometime in Aug. I was detached in a squad of 20 to escort an inspecting officer through Cassville, Newtonia, and Carthage and back to Springfield. This was a hard ride for 3 or 4 days and part of the nights as the officer had one of the best and easiest riding horses in the Army and we were on the gallop a greater part of the time with out one nights rest. After returning to Springfield, I was again detached to go in an escort for a Telegraph Co. to repair lines that the rebels had cut away down east near Lebanon and before I got back to Springfield I was taken sick and had a long siege of pneumonia and typhoid fever. Near the 1st. of Oct. I began to recuperate somewhat. The Regt. Surgeon sent for my Father who with my Stepmother brought a carriage and I was granted a sick furlough and was taken to my home in Benton Co., Mo. where I lay for months not able to get out of bed.

On the 21st. of October 1863, our 2nd. child a daughter (Ida May) was born. Before this baby was a month old we were left alone in our log cabin and wife had to nurse me and her two babes and keep up fires and all the chores belonging to such a family. She even had to cut wood and carry it in to keep up fires. I don’t think a woman ever lived who toiled with more patience and devotion for husband and children than did Katie Miller. Fortunately she kept up and bravely brought us through the winter to the 1st of March when I was ordered to report to my Regt. at Springfield, Mo. I had gotten so I could walk with the aid of crutches. The order seemed imperative and I was taken to Warsaw, Mo. and took the stage coach for Springfield. On arriving the Regt. Surgeon was very much surprized to see me on crutches as he had a report that I was able for duty and was having a good time with my family at home. But the mistake had been made and I had to stay with the army till the Surgeon said I was not likely to be able for duty for a long time if ever. So they made application to have me discharged and on June 13, 1864 I received my discharge and giving my crutches to a comrade who had a leg amputated I took a cane and on the stage coach I landed at Warsaw and out home on horse back riding a womans side saddle as my right hip was paining me so I could not ride astride. I had never received a cent of my pay for either the E.M.M. or the M.S. Cav vol service, so we were in very straightened circumstances financially and as it was not safe for even a cripple to stay at home in the country districts I moved to Warsaw (where was a garison of N.S. Soldiers) and taught school. School in Shawnee bend just across the Osage River from Warsaw. I soon made collection of what the U. S. Gov. and the State of Mo. owed me for my services, and with the proceeds bought a house and lot in Warsaw, Mo., where I managed to work in various offices writing to earn a rather scanty living for myself and family. I was soon appointed Postmaster here and thus was living a little more independently until LINCOLN was assassinated.

Walter Scott MILLER was born December 16, 1865.

When Andrew JOHNSON became president, I did not agree in many things with his policy and being frank and outspoken in my opinions and after the reconstruction the Bourboan and Valandingham Democrats were largely in aseendancy I was after serving as P>M> only 2 or 3 years removed to give place to an Ohio Carpetbagger, Valandingham Democrat.

As no charges had ever been preferred against me, except for political reasons, this made me pretty sore. I now took any odd jobs I could get to support my family. I wrote some in the County Clerks and Recorders offices and worked with William B. LONGAN in getting up abstracts of titles to land in Benton Co., Mo. The first work of the kind that had ever been done in the county. I was getting $40.00 per month which was considered pretty fair wages for those days. While thus engaged Dr. W. S. HOLLAND bought out the store of Holland, Dums and Lay and wanted me to work for him in the store and as I was inexperienced in the business he offered me only $25.00 per month and what goods I used at cost. Gave me a day and a night to consider the matter. I at first thought of refusing the offer as it was $15.00 less per month than I already getting, but after deliberating with my wife and as I wanted to learn the mercantile business, I concluded to accept the job and began immediately to try it for at least one month.

At the end of the month the Dr. proposed to sell me an interest in the store and offered to buy a farm of 160 acres, which I owned some 10 miles out in the country and to loan me enough money besides to pay for a third interest in the store. So I concluded to make the deal. As never expected to live on the farm any way as it was poor and rockey. He allowed me $500.00, and loaned me $1200.00 at 10% interest to pay for the 1/3 of a $6000.00 stock of goods. We went into contract to run one year in the partnership and then if not satisfied we were to invoice and divide the goods, profits, etc.

Francis William MILLER was born May 25, 1869.

At the end of the year, he proposed to sell out the whole business to me and I took him up. HOLLAND loaned me enough money at 10% interest to pay for his share of the stock of goods. (general merchandise) and also recommended me to the Merchants of St. Louis, where we bought our goods in those days.

Willis Holland MILLER was born April 2, 1871.

I ran this business with fair success for 2 or 3 years, until competition became pretty strong and I did not feel that I had sufficient means to successfully meet it. I there-fore began reducing my stock with the intention of removing to some small country town and closing out entirely as soon as I could find a farm or some land I could buy to make a farm.

Nellie Catherine MILLER was born November 2, 1872.

So in the fall of 1873, November 3, I removed to Lowry City, St. Clair Co., Mo. with my family and the remnant of my stock of goods. I rented a rather small store building, putting the goods in the front and my family in the rear part of the building. I bought a small amount of dry goods, groceries, etc in order to fill up so the people would trade with me as there was another general merchandise store in the town. I took produce for the goods and even took fence rails at $3.00 per 100 as I was aiming to buy a piece of land as soon as I could look around a little bit.

I ran a whole lot of the goods off during the winter of 1873 and 1874. And about May 1st. 1874, I bought 80 acres of raw prairie land from John S. HUBBARD paying $3.00 per acre for it. The following is the description of its locality. The E 1/2 of S.W. 1/4 of section 6, township 39, range 25.

During the summer of 1874, I still lived in Lowry City, My wife attended to store trade while worked on our new farm. I had the rails we bought delivered on the land. I fenced a few acres and broke quite a bit of sod, but raised no corn and very little fodder as it was an exceedingly dry season. I also built a two room house and smoke house and moved onto the farm in October 1874. No one raise any corn to amount to anything so we had a hard time getting through the winter. My old friend and teacher Guilford B. PARK let me have two loads of corn of a crop he had got over on the Osage bottoms. We paid 65 cents per bushel. This was all the corn I could find to buy so I hauled wheat from Warsaw at $1.00 per bushel to feed our team and cow and one hog through the winter. Every body had to pay $1.00 for seed corn that was shipped to Clinton from Iowa, No R. R. station nearer than Clinton yet.

This was a fine season and every body made a bouncing big crop of corn and fair crop of oats, potatoes, etc.

On July 20, 1875, Clarence Alvin and Clara Mabel our twins were born increasing our already large family to ten in all.

In the fall of 1875 I taught a 3 months term of school for $25.00 per month.

By the spring of 1877, I had succeeded in fencing the whole 80 acres and had broken out near half of it and was cultivating it in corn. I had gathered up and raised several head of cattle, hogs and sheep and a few head of horses. I had no barn yet but had a long shed board up at sides and ends and covered with hay for a while and afterwards covered with clap boards which I hauled from Benton County. I had also hauled from the same locality the lumber to build the shed.

Almira Myrtle Born, November 25, 1877.

I now took membership in Park Grove Christian Church, and wife and daughters Alice and Ida and Son Walter also baptized and took membership. I had belonged in younger days at Leesville, then Warsaw, Mo., then to Park Grove. We hauled our fire wood some 4 or 5 miles from near the Osage River where I cleared up land for all the timber that would not make 4 good rails to the cut.

My son Walter was now getting large enough to drive a team, and as we had two teams we gathered in our supply of wood pretty fast. We mowed wild prairie grass in summer for hay as we had no meadows yet. There was yet plenty of open prairie land and we took the grass free without any one to say us nay. Every body did this until people began to buy and improve the lands along in 1880.

In Sept. 1880, I bought another 80 acres of land adjoining mine. West 1/2 S.W. 1/4 of section 6, township 39, range 25, for $5.00 per acre. This tract was fractional containing 85 40/100 acres or the whole S.W. 1/4 of the section. People about this time began to use barbed wire for fencing and I was one who objected for much to its use as a great many horses were maimed by, but I soon concluded to fence the balance of farm with it. I had already taken a great deal of t;ouble and paid out considerable money for to get a hedge fence around the first or east 80 acres. I afterwards was sorry I had, for we found that a good fence could not be made of it, and in a few years, we began to dig and pull the Bois De Arc hedge up root and branch and replace it with woven wire which made a good safe fence.

Near this time we built the Park Grove Christian Church having previously worshiped in the R. G. school house.

In the fall of 1885, I began building a larger house as our family had grown in numbers to eleven and were very much crowded. I built a two story house on the South and connected it with the old one, I hauled the hard lumber 12 miles from the Pevely Bend on Osage River.

By the fall of 1886, we had finished and moved into the new house still using the old part for kitchen and dining room.

In August 1890, we concluded as we had now a pretty good dwelling, we would try building a barn. So I tried the lumber yard near us for fair prices on lumber, but could not get them low enough to suit me. So went to Willow Springs in Howell Co., and bought a car load of pine lumber and had it delivered to Lowry City for a great deal less than I could buy it near home.

I bought all the lumber except the shingles which I concluded I could get cheaper and better at Lowry City than at Willow Springs.

hired Mr. FIELD a carpenter of Lowry City, Mo., at $1.50 per day and he, my boys, and myself put up the barn 24 X 60 ft. with 16ft. posts and twelve ft. shed on South and North sides, making the total width 48 ft. After finishing the barn we had ample room for all our stock and grain and hay to feed them with.

July 29, 1894, all at home. Se notes in old book.

August 19, 1894, Clarence joined church.

Clarence Alvin died August 11, 1896.

We were getting everything arranged pretty well to take care of our stock, except we lacked water convenient. So in the fall of 1903, we began to dig a well in the barn yard. We hired M John BOND and his 2 boys to dig and wall the well at $1.50 per ft., he to furnish material and tools and I to board them and two horses. Mr. BOND said he could get me plenty of water at 35 ft., but when they got down the 35 ft., there was no sign of water. So I hired to go on down to 50 ft. depth at same figures and still they got no water. They had struck pretty hard stone to dig or blast, so I offered them $2.00 per ft. to go on till they would find water. But the digging was so hard and expense to keep tools sharp and etc., that let them quit after they had got down 52 ft. They walled the 52 ft. with stone clear from the bottom to the top.

I then hired two men with a 6 in. well auger to drill down in the center of the dug hole 53 ft. more, making 105 ft for total depth of the well and water that was rise 8 ft. deep in the dug part. I paid the drill men $1.00 per foot, making the well cost me about $132.00 just for the digging. I next bought a wind mill that cost me with pump, tank and all thing complete about $90.00 and we had plenty of very hard mineral water that the stock did not like, but I ran tiling from the barn into the well and the large barn roof soon filled the well to brim with good soft rain water.

In the spring of 1907, I took stock in the Mt. Zion Telephone Co, and we built a telephone line from Lowry City to Mt. Zion and bought and put a telephone in our house, I believe there were 10 phones on this line. We had free exchange with all farmer lines centering in Lowry City.

In the fall and winter of 1909, we built the Christian Church house in Lowry City which cost when completed between $1500.00 and $2000.00. It was a frame vaneered with brick. Our family had transferred our membership from Park Grove Church and of course was under obligations to help pay for the building and incidentals of the new Church, which we did to the best of our ability.

This Church had just recently been organized by the labors of Bro. John I ORRISON and by Bro. John H. JONES. The Lowry City Church was organized with very few members, probably 35 or 40. The Church building was dedicated I think in June 1910.

About the 1st. of the tear 1910, we, the whole family, I may say got in the notion of selling our farm, for many reasons, the principal reason being, I was getting too old to labor hard and long enough by myself to take care of the live stock and keep up the farm, and for many other reasons we need not mention here. So we put the farm in the hands of real estate agents to sell, asking $50.00 per acre, but after a short time we reduced the price to $45.00.

So in Feb. 1810, R. L. CRAWFORD and Larue READING, agts, made a sale of the farm to Danl LEWIS of Smithville, Clay County, Mo. at the $45.00 per acre. LEWIS to pay $2000.00 down and gave his note for balance of price, payable in 3 yrs. at 6% int. semi annual, with privilege of paying part of principal at any int. pay period. LEWIS gave me a deed of trust to secure payment, he and wife signing it.

On the 1st. of March, he having completed so far with all requirements, Wife and I made and delivered the warranty deed. We to give full possession the 1st. of April and allowing Mr. LEWIS’s hands to move into one of the houses immediately so they could go to work on the farm. We advertized a public sale to take place 19 of March 1910 and on that day sold all our live stock, farming implements, and part of our house hold goods and began to make preparations for moving to Carrollton as we had made arrangements with my son Willis to move into his residence and he to live with us. He had kindly come down from Carrollton and helped with the sale and about packing our goods, getting car and etc.

On April 1st. or near that date our car arrived at Carrollton and the family a day or two later. Willis and I had already gone on to get everything ready. We thought we might stay with Willis two or three years on his place or until we would find a home suitable to all of us. But I concluded I did not like the town of Carrollton or the surrounding country for a permanent home. So I about the 1st July 1910 went to Kansas City and rented a residence at 2441 Agnes Ave. and by the 4th. moved into it. All except Clara and Myrtle who concluded to stay with Willis and make their home there. I looked over Kansas City quite a good deal hunting a piece of property to make us a home. After some 3 months renting we found the place we concluded would do. On the 25th. day of October 1910, Newton J. KELLY made me a warranty deed to the South thirty nine feet of lot 3, Block 5, in Central Park addition to Kansas City. I paid him $3,700.00 cash. We moved into this property about November 1st. No. 2608 Chestnut.

In the spring of 1911 I bought and set out some peach, plum trees and grape vines and spaded up the back yard or most of it for garden, and found no trouble in raising near all the vegetable we needed.

On March 1st. 1913, Mr. LEWIS paid all the balance of the price of the old home stead and we own not a foot of land except lot we live on in Kansas City, a small lot in Lowry City Cemetery.

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The History of Henry and St. Clair Counties, Missouri

17 May 2008 Leave a comment

Source: ´╗┐The History of Henry and St. Clair Counties, Missouri, Containing a History of These Counties, their Cities, Towns, etc., etc., reprint of 1883 edition (Clinton, Missouri: Henry County Historical Society, 1968), page 1185.

[Butler Township]

FRANK M. MILLER

farmer and stock raiser, section 6, was born in Benton County, Missouri, November 8, 1838. His father, William MILLER, was a Kentuckian by birth, and a son of Henry MILLER, a native of North Carolina. The maiden name of his mother was Levina WILLIAMS, of Georgia. The subject of this sketch was reared in Benton County and there received a common school education. He followed school teaching in that county for about five years and then engaged in merchandising at Warsaw for five years. In 1873 he came to St. Clair County and now owns a farm containing 165 acres, all well improved. In 1862 he enlisted in the Enrolled Missouri Militia, and was discharged in 1864. Mr. M. held the office of deputy United States Assessor, for the counties of Hickory, Benton and Camden for some time. He was also postmaster at Warsaw under LINCOLN. He is a member of the Christian Church. November 8, 1860, Mr. MILLER was married to Miss C. GILLEY, a native of Tennessee. They have nine children: Alice C., Ida M., Walter S., Francis M., Willis H., Nellie C., Clarence A. and Clara M. (twins) and Alma M.