The MILLER / SMITH Family of Millerton in Jackson Township
Photo of Millerton taken 01 JAN 2000 by Joyce M. Tice
Submitted to site by J. Kelsey Jones
A portion of the route traversed was down Wyalusing Creek to the Susquehanna, which was then crossed and the party made their way to the Chemung Valley, which they ascended to the site of what is now Elmira, then a city composed of three small huts. Colonel John Hendy occupied one of these, having first squatted near where the woolen factory is now located; from this place he was later dislodged and settled near the present site of Fitch’s Bridge.
In his search for a desirable spot in which to locate, Mr. Miller came up the Seely Creek Valley to the mouth of Mud Lick, proceeded up that little stream about two miles, then struck a southward course until he reached the point of settlement as noted above. There they resided about two years before discovering the site of Millerton, and lower down the junction of Seely and Hammond Creeks, a search for a lost horse and cow resulted in this discovery of a region which for many generations thereafter was to bear his name.
How the Miller Family eked out an existence in those days is not known, is probable, however, that they subsisted chiefly on wild game which was plentiful. It is a tradition handed down through several generations that Mr. Miller’s first field of grain was fenced in with four hemlock trees, and their farming must have begun on almost as primitive a scale as that of Robinson Crusoe.
Much might be written descriptive of the forays of wild animals, the difficulty of raising stock, the personal danger incurred, etc., and later many incidents in this connection will be touched upon. Wolves, bears and panthers infested the wilderness in which Mr. Miller’s home was located to an alarming extent, and eternal vigilance and activity was the price of existence. Sheep, lambs, and calves fell prey to the wolves, which would sometimes chase the dogs home and through the blanket hung over the cabin door to a place of comparative safety.
As the sons and daughters successfully arrived at years of maturity they married, but live Cain, were compelled to look elsewhere for life partners. They settled on land adjoining their parents homestead and sturdily struggled for the means of subsistence. Those Miller boys were no dudes, we may be sure, but they were liberally endowed with brains, muscles, and sand.
Samuel Miller married a young woman named Polly Garner, daughter of Billy Garner, who lived near Elmira or Newtown.
Joshua Miller found a wife back in Orange County, New York, afterward known as Aunt Dolly.
Garrett Miller, Jr., married Sally Batterson from near where Troy, Pa., is now located.
Nathan Miller married Fanny Kelly, whose family lived near the State Line.
James Miller married Becky Kinner, from the site of Pine City.
George Miller married Hannah Strock, from Southport.
Patience Miller married John Wilson, and they located on the Tioga River, for a second husband she married William Kinner, from Southport near Bulkhead.
Sally Miller married Samuel Smith.
Peggy Miller married a man named Beebe and they moved west.
The majority of these people were later settlers from Orange County, New York.
The first school here of which the narrator has any recollection was taught about 68 years ago (1823) by Ben Miller, in a back room of Samuel Miller’s little log cabin. For an attendance of twenty eight days he received twenty eight six pence (sixpence: a british silver coin of the value of six pennies) and traveled two miles through a pathless region back and forth in the deep snow. This was certainly seeking knowledge through extreme difficulties.
To obtain flour, the Miller boys would work by the day at Griswolds, Daniel Beckwiths and Jenkins just below Elmira, thus earning a quantity of grain, which once a year would be made into a cargo and conveyed by flat boat to Wilkes Barre, the nearest mill where it could be ground. These trips were very laborious, especially the return against the current. Corn meal was pounded out at home, Indian fashion, and it was common saying, when the cow laid out we had no supper.
In raising sheep and calves, to guard them against the wolves, bears and panthers a pen would be built for their protection adjoining the cabin, so constructed that should the varmints get in they were caged and could not escape.
The stalwart sons of Garrett Miller, Sr., as they approached manhood became expert hunters and marksmen. In their frequent encounters with savage wild beasts they were extremely fortunate, the only case of injury reported being that of Joshua, who had one hand badly bitten in a life and death struggle with a bear.
Samuel, the eldest used to say that he was never startled or alarmed but once in his life, he had been over in the Daggetts Mills area, and in returning struck the paths of panthers on Parmeter Hill. He took a circle around and found they were pursuing him and be started for Millerton on the run. Securing a dog he took the back track and treed the panthers and shot them.
What would those old hunters have thought if they could had placed in their hands Winchester Repeaters like those of modern make (Elmira Star Gazette, Elmira, New York, June 12, 1891).
Submitted by J. Kelsey Jones