Sunday, August 18, 2013

CENTENARIANS IN THE TREE: Dewey Miller

very once in a while you will find someone in your family who lived to be 100 or close to it. If you find one of these people, be sure to look for newspaper articles about them. Newspapers loved to run stories about people who defied the odds and lived to a grand old age. I have found two such people in my family tree, and articles about them have helped me break through some brick walls caused by common surnames.  Here is an example of one of them:

DEWEY MILLER (1787-1887)

New York researchers are blessed by having access to Old Fulton NY Postcards (www.fultonhistory.com), a free database of historical New York newspapers. I have found an enormous amount of family information on this site, including an article entitled “An Old Man’s Tea Party” published on October 22, 1887 in the Batavia NY Spirit of the Times.  In this article, I learned that a gigantic party occurred in Bryon, Genesee, New York, to celebrate Dewey’s 100 birthday and that a history of Dewey’s life was read to the crowd.  I discovered that Dewey was born in Pittsfield, Massachusetts and that he had two wives—Electa and then Sally. (1). I learned further that Dewey’s father:
  • Was from Connecticut
  • Was a soldier in the Revolution
  • Had fought at the battle of Stillwater
  • Was a blacksmith
  • Moved to Remington, New York, around 1792 [?--date hard to read]
  • Moved to Brookfield, New York, in 1800       (2)



Unfortunately, the article does not give the name of Dewey’s father,  although I believe it to be Aaron. However, the “tea party” article gave me numerous clues for further research.  Because the article references Dewey’s father’s service in the Revolution, I went to Fold3 (www.fold3.com). Here I found a Revolutionary War pension file for Aaron MILLER which was applied for by his son John (3). In this file is an affidavit by Dewey MILLER and his wife Sally. (4) There is also an affidavit by Silas and Betsy Ames verifying that Aaron MILLER’s funeral took place in June of 1829 in Brookfield, New York. (5)  Betsy Ames’ maiden name was Cutler—she was my 3rd great grand aunt.  There is also a reference to Aaron being a blacksmith. (6)


I then went to The History of Pittsfield (Berkshire County), Massachusetts from the Year 1734 to the Year 1800 on Ancestry.com (7) and searched for Aaron Miller. I found an Aaron Miller, jun. listed as a soldier under the command of Capt. David Noble, who marched to Cambridge on April 22, 1775 during the war with Great Britain. (8) On page 478, I found an Aaron Miller listed as a private from Pittsfield and one of Capt. Noble’s minute men. (9) On p. 488, an Aaron Miller is listed as a soldier who marched to Albany under Capt. William Francis on January 14, 1776. (10). On p. 497, there is a Census of Pittsfield in 1772 listing an Aaron Miller (11)

Interestingly, Christie's auctioned off a muster roll of the minute men who marched from Pittsfield to Cambridge under the command of Captain David Noble. The price realized was $4,780. (12) You can see an image of the muster roll at: http://www.christies.com/lotfinder/lot/american-revolution-lexington-4300489-details.aspx?intObjectID=4300489.

There is more research to do, of course, but I believe that Dewey MILLER was my 4th great grand uncle, and that Dewey’s father was Aaron MILLER, my 5th great grandfather.  I believe my 5th great grandmother’s name was Bethiah DEWEY (it seems probable that Dewey Miller was named after her). My 4th great grandfather was Aaron MILLER (born approximately 1789 in Massachusetts) and my 4th great grandmother was NANCY CRANDALL (born in Rhode Island). 

There are numerous  articles about Dewey MILLER on www.fultonhistory.com, and they are filled with clues as to Dewey's ancestors and his descendants.  Do you have ancestors who lived to be 100? They don’t have to be direct line ancestors; collateral relatives can give you the information you need to break through your brick walls. 



ILLUSTRATIONS BY:

Dover Publications, Inc., Mineola, New York, Electronic Clip Art, Victorian Decorative Letters, 1999.

Dover Publications, Inc., Mineola, New York, Electronic Clip Art, American Historical Illustrations and Emblems, 2001.

CITATION SOURCES:

(1) “An Old Man’s Tea Party,” Batavia, New York, Spirit of the Times, October 22, 1887, digital image 850103, Old Fulton NY Post Cards (www.fultonhistory.com: accessed 18 Aug 2013).

(2) Ibid.

(3) Aaron Miller, Massachusetts, Pension Number R. 7174, Record Group 15, NARA M804. “Revolutionary War Pension and Bounty-Land Warrant Application Files,” database, Fold3 (www.fold3.com: accessed 18 Aug 2013), Image #24781609.

(4) Ibid., Image #24781617.

(5) Ibid., Image #24781613.

(6) Ibid., Image #24781609.

(7) Ancestry.com. The History of Pittsfield (Berkshire County) Massachusetts : from the Year 1734 to the Year 1800 [database on-line]. Provo, UT: The Generations Network, Inc., 2005, (www.ancestry.com: accessed 18 Aug 2013), Original data: Smith, J. E. A.. The history of Pittsfield (Berkshire County) Massachusetts : from the year 1734 to the year 1800. Boston: Lee and Shepard, 1869.

(8) Ibid., p. 485.

(9) Ibid.., p. 478.

(10) Ibid., p. 488.

(11) Ibid., p. 497.

(12) Christie's, Auction Results, Fine Printed Books and Manuscripts including Americana, Lot 354, Sale 1388, http://www.christies.com/lotfinder/lot/american-revolution-lexington-4300489-details.aspx?intObjectID=4300489: accessed 18 Aug 2013.





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