Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Cousin "Pete" Miller passes away in Spokane, Washington

Pete Miller (1945-2019)
We're sorry to report that we've lost another Miller family member.

Freddy Paul "Pete" Miller passed away on Tuesday, February 19, 2019, in Spokane, Washington.  Pete had been suffering the past few months, the victim of mesothelioma.  He was 73.

Cousin Pete was born February 24, 1945 in Wenatchee, Washington, the second child of Fred and Charlotte Miller.  He was their first child born in Washington state after they relocated from Nebraska to the the Pacific northwest in the early 1940's.   Pete's sister, Jean, was born in 1943 in Chadron, Nebraska, where Fred and Charlotte had married in June 1942.  

Pete was the oldest of the three Miller boys.  His younger brothers, Wayne and Charlie, were both born in Ione, Washington.

Pete, like the rest of his siblings, grew up in Metaline Falls, nestled along the Pend Oreille River in northeast Washington.  He lived there the rest of his life.   Pete met Judy Newman, and they were married July 29, 1966.  Their two children, Paul and Rhonda, were both born and raised in Metaline Falls.

Like his dad, Pete worked many years for the cement plant.  After it closed, he went to work at the Box Canyon Dam a few miles south of Metaline Falls.  After retiring, Pete and Judy found great pleasure in camping and the outdoors – but their greatest joy came from their children and grandchildren.

Pete loved his family and was proud of them.  I believe he also found great joy in the area his parents had chosen to make their home.  The Pend Oreille Valley and the Colville National Forest region is one of the most beautiful areas of the United States.  Those of us fortunate enough to have visited there understand and appreciate the quality of life that abounds there – particularly for raising kids.

Pete was just a few days shy of his 74th birthday when he passed away.  Immediate and close family members gathered on his birthday to celebrate his life.  It was a good life.  And Pete was a good man.  I suspect his namesake grandfather, Pete Miller and wife Dora, are joined by Fred and Charlotte looking down and reflecting on Pete's life, saying, "Well done."  

Our hearts go out to Judy and the Miller children and grandchildren, as well as to Jean, Wayne, and Charlie.  

All of us are the better for having known this wonderful man.

We are told that a memorial gathering will take place in the spring.

Rest in peace, cousin Pete.

Saturday, November 3, 2018

In search of family......and finding them!

"Müller" and "Miller" families pose for this photo taken September 15, 2018 in Thaleischweiler-Froschen, Germany.  Left-to-right are Roland Kurz, Lydia Leis, Max Leis, Karen Miller, Andrei Krug, Eduard Leis, Nelli Leis, and Rosalia (Müller) Leis.  You'll find a few more photos/information in our Miller Family Gallery of photographs.

Most family researchers work long and hard to find family and get to know them.  Usually, it's a search for ancestors – often family they never knew:  a great-grandmother long since deceased or a great uncle  whose life was shrouded in mystery.  That process of finding and learning more about ancestral families is what excites genealogists, professional and amateur alike.

Sometimes, however, it's a search for living relatives with whom we've lost all contact, perhaps for decades.  In some cases, we discover "cousins" we never knew we had – family far away, perhaps in a different culture, with a different language.  Such is the case here.

First however, a short disclaimer.  As yet, we have no evidence that absolutely confirms a close relationship between the Miller family from Whitney, Nebraska, USA and the Müller family from Karaganda, Kazakhstan, now living in Germany (Above photo).  No matter, We've met these good people – and we consider them family.  Perhaps DNA testing will help confirm our relationship.

But let us explain.

We've dabbled with family research for about half a century.  Retirement 15 years ago allowed a bit more time to pursue this passion – and that's when we created a few family history websites, including this one.  Then, one day in June of 2010, I received an e-mail from a young lady in Germany who wrote that she had visited my website about Unterdorf, Russia, ancestral village for our Miller family line.  

"My great-grandfather Friedrich Miller was born in 1869 in Unterdorf..."

Lydia Leis was in search of information I might have about her family.  I was delighted to learn of  another Miller descendant whose ancestors came from Unterdorf.  And with several Miller families in that small Volga River village, there seemed a likelihood that Lydia might be a distant cousin!

Still, it was a long shot.  We exchanged a few e-mails, and she gave me permission to post a photograph and information about her great-grandfather, which I labeled Reaching Across the Sea -- Finding a Cousin?  But we discovered no new information that might link our families.  And then......nothing. It seems that both Lydia and I became caught up in life activities – immediate family, friends, jobs, activities.  My web posting received little response from our "Whitney" Miller family, despite a gathering of our clan in Chadron the following summer (June 1911).  While it was a splendid reunion, the excitement of a possible relationship with another "Müller" family from Unterdorf faded. 

Fast forward seven years to October 21, 2017.  An e-mail arrived from a name and address I did not recognize. Nonetheless, I opened it...

"Dear Larry,  I am Nelli, sister of Lydia Leis from Germany..."

It revealed plans for visiting America, spurring visions of finally meeting other Miller family members whose ancestors also came from Unterdorf, Russia.  This happy prospect spurred my enthusiasm for re-visiting Miller family research.  

While Nelli and her husband were not able to make that trip to the United States last year,  wife Karen and I began planning our own trip to Germany!  While we had several objectives:  visit Monet Gardens in France, the American Cemetery at Omaha Beach, do the "Sound of Music" tour in Salzburg, and re-visit Rothenburg (a favorite place of ours on the Tauber River), my primary motivation was to visit Lydia, Nelli, and their families in western Germany.

We did just that in September 2018, and – for me – it was the highlight of our nearly three-weeks in Europe.  In the future, I'll be writing more about our visit with the Müller and Leis families who left Unterdorf, Russia, for Kazakhstan, where their families lived for generations before they "returned" to Germany whence their ancestors came centuries ago.  This, while our Miller ancestors set sail for America in the early 20th century. 

You'll find additional photographs and information in our online Miller Family Gallery.

Friday, August 11, 2017

The lessons of Tiananmen Square

Cousin Bruce Miller recently shared a story that we think is worth including on Miller Archives.  He referred to a speech given by a former Chinese student activist about events that he had experienced at Beijing's Tiananmen Square some 28 years ago.  We hasten to add that cousin Bruce was working in China when the popular nationalist protest occurred, forcibly suppressed by Chinese troops after the government invoked martial law.  Bruce began his piece with a refresher about that fateful event.

Bruce Miller
Dear Folks:

...Should memory not serve you, that bloodletting in Tiananmen Square in Beijing on the nights of June 3rd and 4th, 1989, was precipitated when a malevolent and evil totalitarian one-party government murdered hundreds – perhaps thousands – of its own innocent citizens who were petitioning for nothing more than the right to assemble, speak openly, and campaign for the establishment of basic freedoms and equalities that we Americans have long taken for granted.  That malevolent one-party state still ruthlessly rules the destiny of the Chinese people today.

I was in Shanghai, China that Sunday morning of June 4th, 1989, on a university campus where I had been teaching English for nearly two years.  How vividly I recall speaking with several of my students on the central plaza of the university that morning as the sun rose and awareness of the massacre on Tiananmen Square was taking hold.  One middle-aged professor who had been my English student, with tears streaming own his face, told me "Mr. Miller, what can we do?  The government's police and army have all the weapons, what can we do?!"

And that, in summary folks, is the strongest argument that I can propose to resist until our last breath the efforts of those in positions of power and authority in our statehouses, our federal governemtn, our colleges and universities, and sadly, even many of our churehes and religious institutions, to take away our right to freely keep and bear arms!

We have a national administration and President in place today that strongly acknowledges our 2nd amendment rights enshrined in the Constitution, but the time may well come, and likely will, when "liberal" leftist politicians will again gain ascendency and undertake once more their efforts to disarm our citizenry.

Look around, folks, even in our "democratic" world, citizens have been effectively disarmed and accepted the lie of big government that "we'll protect you – society is better and safter if only have arms!"  (It's a given that the first thing totalitarian governments always take away is the right to bear arms.)

In summary, remember, freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction!



Monday, July 31, 2017

The children of Alex & Mildred Miller - Summer 2017

Taken at the time of a Lusk (Wyoming) High School reunion in the summer of 2017, these are (left-to-right): Jerry Miller, Jeanette Gleed, Charlene Miller, Bruce Miller, and Connie Merchen.  Thanks to cousin Bruce Miller for sharing this photograph.  A nice looking group, don't you think?  For a higher resolution image, visit our Miller Family Gallery.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Another clue on the Eckerdt trail…

We found this funeral remembrance card neatly tucked between the deteriorating pages of an old German book at the end of our bookshelf.  The book — undated, but I would guess a turn-of-the-20th century vintage — is printed in the Gothic looking old German script.  The front introductory pages, as well as pages beyond 246, are gone.  The heading on page 3 reads:  "Geschichten des Alten Testaments" or "History of the Old Testament."  It likely earned its dog-eared pages through use in the Pete and Dora Miller home in Whitney, Nebraska, and was likely the repository of many  newspaper clippings and other mementos over the years — all long since gone.  So finding this was a pleasant surprise.

The card honors Helene Eckert (Eckerdt), the second wife of Conrad Luke Eckerdt. 

Conrad's first wife is believed to have been Maria Dorotea Wilhelm.  About her, we know almost nothing, since it is believed that she died giving birth to her only child — Dorotea (Dora) Eckerdt.  Dora was born in Schwed, Russia, on January 8, 1892.  Her father Conrad  then married widow Helene Neuwirth sometime in the 1890's.  By the time Conrad Eckerdt and his wife Lena left for America in 1905, they had three children.  A daughter (Dora) by Conrad's first wife.  A son (Henry) by Lena's first marriage.  And their own son, Alex, born in 1900.

In the United States, while living in Longmont, Colorado, Dora Eckerdt met and would later marry Pete Miller on March 21, 1909.

Finding this remembrance card of Lena's rekindles our interest in learning more about Conrad Eckerdt and his first wife, Maria Dorotea Wilhelm, cold though that trail might be!

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Cousin Cece (Miller) Kennedy dies May 16th at age 72

We’re sorry to report that Cecelia Lou (Miller) Kennedy passed away last Saturday (5/16/15).  She had been in failing health the last few years and was recently admitted to the hospital.  She had been living for some time with her brother, Albert (Mike) Miller, and his family in Ione, Washington.

The daughter of Albert and Edca Miller, Cece was born September 8, 1942 in Milford, Nebraska. Early in life she spent some time in the Chadron area and Whitney, where her grandparents, Pete and Dora Miller lived.  Cece graduated from Ione (WA) High School and was married to Leslie Kennedy.  She is survived by two daughters, Anita and Leslee, who live in the Ione area. and by four granddaughters, one grandson, and two great-granddaughters..

We understand that no funeral service is planned.  Cece’s immediate family, including her sisters Betty Jo and Mary Dot, and brother, Mike, will gather in Ione, Washington, this June to celebrate her life.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

New Miller memorabilia shared by cousin Mike Miller

Another treasure trove of family history was revealed this week when Washington cousin Mike Miller visited us and brought along a box chock full of artifacts, photographs, letters and other documents related not only to his father, Albert Miller, but also to Pete and Dora Miller.  They are, of course, the two key people for whom this web site was created.

These items take on increased importance for the family, since so much memorabilia that belonged to Al Miller fell into the hands of a non-family person who, unfortunately, has been unwilling to share any of it with uncle Al's children.  That's a separate and tragic story.

Remarkably, these several items are in wonderful shape.   Precious letters written to Albert in the Pacific during his Marine Corps service in World War Two.  Newspaper clippings.  And several photographs that most of us have never seen.

Among them is this photo (at left) of Pete and Dora Miller taken in about 1945 in Chadron, Nebraska.  Behind them is a home we immediately recognized as the Denton residence at 217 Ann Street in Chadron.  

There are several others, which we'll soon post in our Miller Gallery.

Thanks to Mike Miller for sharing these photographs and allowing us to scan them and post them in the Miller Gallery!

Friday, July 13, 2012

Remembering Charlotte Miller...

We were saddened by the news that Charlotte Miller had died last week.

According to her family, she passed away on Sunday, July 1, 2012, while being transported from her home in Metaline Falls, Washington, to the hospital in nearby Colville.  She was 87 years old.

Charlotte and brother Gerald
“Aunt Charlotte,” as she was known by so many of us, was a product of the tough Depression years.   But we never heard her complain about how tough things were – and they were plenty tough for the Flock family of northeast Nebraska, where she was born and raised.

Charlotte Lavonne was the 12th of 13 children in the family of Lyman and Charlotte “Lottie” Flock.  Born at Loretto in Boone County Nebraska on September 13, 1924, her family moved to nearby Bartlett and eventually to the community of Spalding, Nebraska, where Charlotte began school.

Lyman Flock “did a little bit of everything,” Charlotte once told us.  He worked in the wheat fields, at the Gambles store in Spalding, and on a road repair crew.  Whenever and wherever he could find a job during those early years of the 1930’s, Lyman went to work – including work as caretaker for the cemetery.  Complicating things was Lyman’s health, which took a sharp turn for the worse in 1934. He suffered from “double pneumonia” and kidney failure.  Lyman died on May 7, 1934 at 62 years of age.

His wife, Lottie, was left with little more than several children who needed to be fed and cared for, including their 9-year-old daughter Charlotte, and Gerald, who was the youngest in the family.

Within months, the widow Flock—along with her youngest children, Charlotte and Gerald – moved to Chadron, where her older sister, Mary, and family lived.  Charlotte attended school at both Chadron Prep and the city school system.  And it was in Chadron some years later that she met Fred Miller from nearby Whitney.

They wed on June 2, 1942, but with the United State in the throes of World War II, it was just a matter of a few months that Fred was drafted and was on his way to basic training with the Army Air Corps in California.  Their first child, Jean, was born in Chadron in 1943.  After training in Lincoln, Nebraska, and then Chicago, Illinois, Fred was assigned to installations ranging from Kearns, Utah, and Indianapolis, Indiana, to Fresno and Glendale, California.

Charlotte and Jean were able to join Fred when he was assigned to duty first at Moses Lake, Washington, and later at Ephrata.  Their second child, Pete, was born in nearby Wenatchee in February of 1945, and Fred was discharged from the Army Air Cops nine months later -- on Armistice Day of 1945.

After a short stint back in Chadron after the war, The young Miller family packed up and headed back for Washington, where Charlotte’s mother and other family members were living.  It was the summer of 1947.  While Fred worked at a variety of jobs, two more Miller children were born:  Wayne in 1948 and Charlie in 1950.  Both were born in Ione.

Within a few years, Fred and most of the boys were working at the Lehigh Cement plan in Metaline Falls.  And it’s there that the Millers made their home and raised their family.

Charlotte and Fred were able to watch their children grow, marry, and have families of their own.  Delightfully, the children all have remained in eastern Washington, where they’ve raised their own families.  Watching their children and grandchildren grow up – and then having them near in their later years – was a joy.

From their modest house perched on a hillside overlooking the Pend Oreille Rive at Metaline Falls, Washington, Fred and Charlotte enjoyed the home that they had created for themselves and their descendants in this beautiful region of America.  They camped, fished, celebrated birthdays and enjoyed the fruits of their labors.  The above photograph was taken when Fred and Charlotte celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary.  Left-to-right are:  Pete, Charlie, Jean, Fred, Charlotte, and Wayne.  Thanks to Pete Miller for sharing these photos. 

We've added this and a few other photographs of Charlotte, Fred, and the Fred Miller family in our Miller Family Gallery. 

Fred died suddenly in late December of 2005.

And now, almost seven years later, Charlotte will join Fred as her ashes are scattered along the landscape of the Pend Oreille valley.

Monday, February 13, 2012

The Millers of Lusk visit Whitney - ca. 1944

Mildred and Alex Miller and family -- Jeanette, Connie and Bruce -- in about 1944. 
Every now and then we come across a photograph that effectively captures the activities of our Miller ancestors.  Sometimes it's just a standard pose, and occasionally it's a creative bit of 20th century photo journalism at work!

This photograph shows the Alex Miller family while visiting Alex's parents, Pete and Dora Miller, in Whitney -- probably around 1944 or 1945.  A frequent backdrop is shown -- the Whitney elevator building that was adjacent to the Chicago & Northwestern Railway tracks.  At left you can see the wooden bench that sat outside the house, which was actually owned by the Whitney Irrigation District.  For many years, Grandpa Pete Miller was the "ditch rider," keeping tabs on irrigation gates that regulated water flowing from Whitney Lake.

Although Alex and family had lived in Crawford, it was in Lusk, Wyoming, that they finally chose to settle, building and living in a basement home for many years before adding on an upstairs.

We understand that dwelling in Lusk is still in the family, occupied by a grandson of Alex and Mildred Miller.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

A new glimpse of grandpa Pete Miller

Sharing photographs has long been a joy of ours, and rummaging through a large number of photos shared by cousin Dori Derrick Savage during the recent Miller Family Reunion has been particularly enjoyable.

That's when we happened upon the photograph here of grandpa Pete Miller, taken in 1955 in Whitney, Nebraska.  He was 69 years old and appeared to be healthier and more robust than he would be during the subsequent two years.  Despite medical treatments in Omaha and Denver, he would not survive the cancer that afflicted him.  He died June 2, 1957 at the age of 71.

While there were several other people included in the original photograph shown here, we were so taken by grandpa Pete's smile and laid back manner, we thought we'd focus just on him.  We'll include the original photograph -- along with several other new ones -- in the Miller Gallery in coming days.

By the way, this picture was taken in front of the small stucco house that sits on Missouri Street, just across the street west from where Connell Oil Company did business in Whitney for so many years.  It was the final residence for Pete and Dora Miller, the German-Russian immigrants who sought...and found....a new life in the United States.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

54 Miller family members gather for reunion

It's been about as wet a June as old timers in Nebraska can remember.  And Miller family members got a good sampling of all that rain last weekend when we gathered in Chadron for a family reunion -- the first in 23 years.  But Mother Nature did give us a respite on Saturday (6/26/11) for the picnic at Wilson Park in Chadron; it warmed up nicely and we enjoyed sunshine for the entire afternoon.

And while the weather was a topic of considerable conversation, it was really memories of years-gone-by that dominated the conversations among cousins from Washington, Texas, California, South Dakota, Kentucky, Wyoming, Colorado, and Oklahoma.  Ironically, none of the participants was from Nebraska, which provided the nostalgic setting for the reunion.

Some of the Wyoming and South Dakota Millers were able to drive in and then return home that same day;  others arrived as early as Wednesday (6/23/11) to camp and enjoy the beautiful surroundings of Chadron State Park.  There were young and old (gulp) alike, and as nearly as we could determine, everyone had a great time getting reacquainted -- and, yes, even acquainted -- with Miller relatives.

The main event was the picnic at Wilson park, the same location that many of our parents and cousins gathered back in 1988.  Of all those aunts and uncles, only aunt Charlotte Miller of Metaline Falls, Washington remains, and she was unable to make the trip to Chadron for this reunion.  

All five children of Alex and Mildred Miller attended the 2011 Miller Reunion in Chadron.  They were among these 10 grandchildren of Pete and Dora Miller who came to the reunion from eight states.  Shown (L-to-R) are:  Linetha Miller Davis, Larry Miller, Judy Bird Callaway,  Pete Miller, Mike Miller, Charlene Miller, Bruce Miller, Jeanette Miller Gleed, Jerry Miller, 
and Connie Miller Merchen.

In all, some 54 descendants/family members of Pete and Dora Miller showed up for the gathering.  They included children or grandchildren of these Miller aunts/uncles:  Marie, Alex, Fannie, John, Bertha, Fred, and Albert.  Nearly all of the group showed up for a group photo, which you'll find in this 2011 Miller Reunion gallery.  

Judy Newman Miller of Metaline Falls put together color-coded name tags that helped folks identify each other, and Brad Miller of Wheat Ridge, Colorado, brought a box full of reunion T-shirts, complete with a QR code that some of the younger generation might be able to put to use (or even some of us geezers with smart phones.)  That QR code links to this web site. 

Country Kitchen of Chadron catered the event with a nice spread of roast beef and chicken, along with potato salad, cole slaw, and rolls.  Kids had fun playing soccer and badmitton, while the older folks visited.

There were lots of pictures taken, too, and we attempted to get shots of each family group, as well as a composite photograph of everyone.  We missed a few, but there were also lots of candid shots taken throughout the afternoon.  We'll be posting many of those images in our new 2011 Miller Reunion gallery, and we'd like to include any photos that you'd like to share.  Just drop us an E-mail.  

About a dozen Miller cousins gathered at Warring Memorial Church on Sunday morning for the 9:00 o'clock service.  That's the  same church that was so much a part of Grandma Dora Miller's life.  It's a beautiful little church, but struggling to keep alive and vibrant.  We Millers nearly outnumbered the regular congregation.  Especially delightful was the social gathering in the church basement after the service.  It was a time when older cousins could visit with local folks -- like Mary Daniels -- who well remember Pete and Dora Miller and their children.  The pastries the church ladies provided were very tasty, surpassed only by the wonderful conversations that took place between Miller family members and Whitney citizens.

A few cousins wandered around Whitney, trying to recapture memories of the village in happier times -- when the Millers lived here, and there was a vibrant sense of community.  There once was a high school, pharmacy, bank, lumberyard, movie theatre, filling stations, grocery store, newspaper, and a hotel. You'll find more about Whitney in a companion web site named Whitney Reflections.   A community band once provided entertainment for area residents, and Whitney Lake was a hub for recreational activities.  Now, almost all of that is gone, and the lingering water tower casts a long shadow over a community that is struggling to survive.  The school closed its doors last month after 125 years in Whitney, and although it's already been explored, we believe that the lonely bank vault on a downtown corner contains the secrets and memories that many of us want to recapture -- but never will.

The enormous rainfall in Nebraska has pushed the weeds and cactus out of control, so it was a bit tricky navigating around the Whitney Cemetery after we left the church.  But we found the stones for Dora and Pete Miller and other family members buried in the cemetery about a mile north of Whitney alongside Nebraska Highway Spur 23A.

Charlene Miller of Lusk, Wyoming, created a beautiful wreath that was placed on Pete and Dora Miller's tombstone by Paul Miller and Karen Galey Miller.

Most of the group journeyed westward to have lunch at Fort Robinson State Park, another locale that undoubtedly was frequented over the years by Pete and Dora and many of their 11 children.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

It's a "fer piece" from Alaska to the Lower 48!

Since the Miller Family Reunion took place last weekend in Chadron and Whitney, we've had a chance to visit with a few folks who attended -- and others who weren't able to be with us.

Then a few days ago, we received a note from cousin Debra Derrick Marsh in Anchorage, Alaska, who said she missed being able to attend the reunion and acknowledged that the "the distance between us and the States sadly makes it difficult to be a part of family events."

Thanks to Deb Marsh of Anchorage for sharing this family photo.  In the back row (l-to-r) are:
Jack Marsh, Lindsay Marsh and Riley Marsh; in front of them are Whitney Gobbi, Debra 
Derrick Marsh, and Madeline Duran; in front of them are Jack Duran, Piper Gobbi, Nicole Duran, and Aidan Duran; in front are Justen & Ryan Gobbi, baby Zoe Duran, & John Duran.
Deb's parents, Dick and Kathy Derrick, lived in Alaska for many years before returning to the states.  Deb and her family remain in Alaska, as does her brother Rik.  Sister Dori and family -- from Rapid City -- were able to participate in the reunion.  Perhaps next gathering, we'll have them all!

Deb was also kind enough to send along information about Rik, who returned to Alaska in 2004 after living in Colorado area for several years.  She says he's "loving every minute of it!"  Working as a night manager for a local Safeway store allows him to enjoy his days in the outdoors -- especially hiking and rock climbing.

Rik's in the process of writing short stories, detailing his many climbing and guiding adventures.  He is the dad of Kirsten and Christopher, who live in Cheyenne, Wyoming.

During the reunion, we were tickled pink that so many cousins came from so far away to join us -- but there were others just simply unable to make the trip.  So Deb's sharing of photographs of her family is extra special.

Perhaps it will spur other cousins who were unable to attend to share recent family photographs with us.  We'll be more than happy to include them on the Miller Archives web site.

Not only our Alaska cousins, but more from Washington, California, and Texas couldn't make it.   Some of them have new grandchildren, spouses, etc., and it would be fun to catch up with them and their activities!

So let us hear from you.  E-mail your photos and information to galeymedia@gmail.com.  Thanks!