Janet's thread

A weblog, mostly about knitting but other topics appear

Misleading Record April 17, 2017

Filed under: Ancestors,Ancestry,Genealogy,Mary Elizabeth Murdock — Janet @ 4:33 pm

I have spent hours puzzling over a record in the 1880 U.S. Census.  1880 is the year my grandmother Mary Elizabeth Murdock went from her home in Crown Point New York to Newark Ohio.  Why did she go?  I’ve been asking this question for a long time.  Yesterday I asked my 90 year old sister again if she knew – no.  Ditto with my 91 year old sister.

The 1880 Census record for Charles Dana Miller shows a household of 4 – himself age 42, a daughter Lucy age 14, a son Charles D age 13, and a sister/son Elvz Miller age 42 whose occupation is Keeping House.  Obviously this record has inconsistencies.  Charles the head of the household did not have a sister of this age nor a son 2 years younger than himself nor a sister-in-law who would fit this description.  Being a widower with 2 children he would need a housekeeper.  Housekeepers were usually female.  But was this  person in fact my grandmother Mary Elizabeth Murdock newly arrived from Crown Point?  That had always been the family story.  Was this a case of careless Census recording??


Trying To Solve A Mystery April 15, 2017

Perhaps mystery is too strong a word, but I’m trying to figure out why/how my grandmother, Mary Elizabeth Murdock, went from her home in Crown Point New York out to Ohio in 1880 and subsequently married my grandfather, Charles Dana Miller.

Charles had been a widower since his young wife had died in 1869 leaving him with 2 young children.  Charles lived and worked in Mount Vernon, Knox County.  He was a member of a large family, being the 9th child of James Miller and Sarah Warner.  James and Sarah had migrated from Vermont to Mount Vernon Ohio earlier in the 1800’s.  Crown Point New York borders Vermont and it is possible that the Crown Point Murdock family would know some of the Miller family who had migrated West.  Family contacts or friends.

What I am postulating is that my grandmother as a 17 year old girl heard word that my 42 year old widowed grandfather wanted a housekeeper or a tutor for his teenage children.  Up to that point possibly the children had been looked after by members of Charles’ extended family or by his deceased wife’s family.

So I am consulting the U.S. Census records for the years 1870 and 1880 to see if I can find any trace of the children Charles Dion Miller and Lucy Jewett Miller.

IMG_2909         here’s my big chart 24″ x 36″, 9 generations starting with me and then read from left to right, my parents and then my grandparents

Dad's childhood home Buena Vista Hill Newark Ohio

Dad’s childhood home Buena   Vista Hill Newark Ohio  

This is the house where my grandparents lived.  I’m told it’s still there.


The First Two Children – Lucy and Charles Miller April 13, 2017

As I’ve written before in my blog posts about my grandmother, she married a widower with 2 teen age children.  I haven’t found any subsequent information or references to these two children.  I’m curious.  One would think that they would continue to figure in their father’s and new stepmother’s lives.  But I don’t recall ever hearing anything more about them.

Somewhere in various bits of family letters etc. I do recall coming across a very tender and loving letter written by my grandfather to Lucy when she was about 10 – I’ll search for that letter – I hope I can find it.

Also I vaguely recall that his siblings helped look after the infants Lucy and Charles.  The widowed Charles had a large number of siblings, some of whom might have helped in this sad situation.  Specifically, his sister Volney might have taken on the young children – again I think I found this somewhere – now to find it again.

I’ve turned to Ancestry.com to gather more information.

Lucy Jewett Miller b. 1866 d.1929   At age 29 (in 1895) she married Clifford Stanley Kerr.  Clifford was a year younger.     She is buried in Cedar Hill Cemetery Newark

Charles Dion Miller   b. 1867   d. 1960


My Grandmother Mary Elizabeth Murdock, Another Snippet April 11, 2017


In 1882 at age 19 my grandmother married Major Charles Dana Miller.  There was a big difference in their ages.  At 46 he was old enough to be her father.  They went on to have 5 children – Myrtle in 1884, Ruth in 1886, Dana in 1887, Joseph in 1891, and Roy in 1893.  Major Miller, though in ill health as a result of injuries incurred in the Civil War, was an active member in their local community of Mt. Vernon Ohio.  For health reasons, they spent a certain amount of time in Florida.  Was this an asthmatic condition?  But it was in Mt. Vernon where he died at the still young age of 61 in 1898.  Mary became a widow with 5 young children.

I recall being told that he had an encounter with a burglar in the cellar of their home in Mt. Vernon.  Gun shots were exchanged and a bullet shattered a glass jar used to preserve fruits and vegetables.  He was cut by a piece of glass, blood poisoning developed, proving to be fatal.  That’s the story in my memory.

Alternatively I have subsequently read that his death was due to skin cancer.  Quite different.  That is the cause of death given in the book about his service in the Civil War – Struggle for the Life of the Republic.

Reading the obituary published following his death, the writer indicates that Charles was a man of small stature/light frame and nervous temperament.  This implies that he was not 100% healthy at the time of his enlistment in 1861, at age 25.  Despite this he served valiantly until his honorable discharge in 1964.  Over the years  he went on to father 7 children.  In later life he spent time in Florida, for health reasons.  Near the end he returned to Newark and failed  more rapidly.     I think this sounds like cancer.  Or possibly his problems with asthma and chronic bronchitis just lead to an early death.

Questions – family mysteries.


Mary Elizabeth Murdock April 10, 2017

bennett-mr               IMG_0013   My paternal grandfather Major Charles Dana Miller – this is the man my grandmother Mary Elizabeth Murdock married in 1882.  He fought in the Civil War – Mary Elizabeth Murdock was born in 1863.  So the man who was to be my grandfather was a soldier fighting in the Civil War when my grandmother was born.

Mary married a man many years her senior.  How did this come about?  Family rumor has it that she went West in 1880 from Crown Point New York to Mt. Vernon Ohio to look after Charles’s young children after their mother died.

IMG_0014  Mary Elizabeth Murdock, 1882 (?)

Charles was born in 1836.  So he was 27 years older than Mary.  He was a widower with 2 children.  They married in Chicago in November 1882.

Questions – how did this sequence of events happen?

Well, Mary went West shortly after her own mother died and also her younger sister.  A time of sorrow and upset.  Mary had recently graduated from Albany Normal School (State Teachers College) – so she was a qualified teacher.

But my research in ancestry.com reveals that when Charles’ wife died the children were young teens, age 14 and 13, not infants needing a carer.  So if she went West to be a carer she would have been more of a housekeeper than a nanny, and possibly a tutor for the children.

And furthermore, there were Murdocks who had previously migrated from Crown Point New York to Mt Vernon Ohio.


Genealogy – Blog 3A – Reflections on the Life of Grandma Miller July 10, 2015

Filed under: Grandmothers,Grandparents,Mary Elizabeth Murdock — Janet @ 1:23 am

Grandma Miller – Mary Elizabeth Murdock, 1863-1954      Her life spanned nearly a century.  Born a farm girl in Crown Point, New York, on the shores of Lake Champlain – not far from where I went to college in Middlebury Vermont.   Born shortly after the Emancipation Proclamation in the middle of the Civil War.  She grew up in Crown Point and after finishing high school, she went away to Albany New York to attend the Normal School/College there, a distance of a little over 100 miles, an estimated 2 hour drive in 2015.  In the l870’s how would Mary have travelled?  Was there train service?  She pursued a 2 year course of studies so she was probably only 16 or 17 when she graduated with her teaching qualification.

Back in Crown Point, Mary Elizabeth’s mother, Lucy Anna Warner, died on March 2, 1878.  She was only 35 years old.

Mary had a younger sister, Isabella born in 1869.  Isabella had a short life – sadly she died at age 11 0r 12 some time after the U.S. Census in June 1880.

Mary was trained to be a teacher, about the only occupation for educated women, at that time.  Family rumour has it that Mary responded to an advertisement for a woman to look after the 2 children of Charles Dana Miller, a widower in Newark Ohio.  The children were in their early teens.  Presumably the advertisement was for a tutor and the teaching duties could be combined with housekeeping.  The father in question had been a widower for some time since 1867 or 1868.  The 2 infant children were subsequently looked after by one of his sisters.

IMG_0014     Mary Elizabeth Murdock, 1880?

to be continued