Monday, June 26, 2017

The Cyrus Miller family comes home to stay


The after-lunch pass-off in Hy-Vee's parking lot just before Memorial Day may have looked a little peculiar to passersby --- me scurrying away with two big towel-wrapped packages under my arms. But I'm happy to report that as a result, this lovely ca. 1890 portrait of my great-grandparents, Joseph Cyrus and Mary Elizabeth (Clair) Miller and most of their children, now has been added to the Lucas County Historical Society collection.

My Cedar Rapids cousins Esther Belle Miller Steinbach, as donor, and her daughter, Kathy Steinbach Shelton, as courier, are responsible. Kathy drove the portrait --- as well as one of her Brennaman great-grandparents --- down for delivery during the annual grave-decorating marathon. Cyrus and Mary were Ester Belle's grandparents; great-grandparents to Kathy and I.


The whole family is here save Great-uncle Jeremiah Miller, who wasn't born yet, and another son who died in infancy. Cyrus is seated in the center with Mary at his right. The daughters standing are (from left) Cynthia (Abrahamson), Dora Emma (Taylor), Elizabeth Mary (Mason) and Adda (Dachenbach). My grandfather, William Ambrose Miller, is seated at the right. Mary Elizabeth is holding daughter Easter (Brennaman), born Easter Sunday (6 April) 1890. James Clair Miller --- Esther Belle's father --- is at his father's knee. Jeremiah was born later, on 30 April 1892.

Years down the road, Uncle Clair married Vesta Brennaman and Aunt Vesta's brother, Frank, married Easter Miller. So descendants of those two siblings are double cousins.


Obviously the Millers, old and young, were wearing their Sunday-go-to-meeting best when the portrait was taken. I've always found it interesting that Dora Emma and Elizabeth, who obviously treasured their necklaces, were wearing them, too, when this photo of scholars at Sunnyside School (located at the "T" due east of what later became Williamson) was taken during December of 1889. You can see, when you locate him, that my grandfather was wearing the same suit and tie.

The teacher, seated in the foreground here, is R. J. Woody.

Seated in the front row are (from left) Dora Emma Miller, Maude Brown, Anna Lawson, Louella Brown, Myra McDowell, Adda Miller, Otis Brown, Frank Patterson, Jimmie Brown, Chas. McDowell, Arthur Bungar and Lawrence Avitt.

The older boys standing at the back are (from left) James Brown, John Williamson, Patres Johnson, Charles Savage, Harry Miller (a great-great-uncle of mine), Dick Foster, Patres Lawson (or Edgerton, Granddad wasn't sure) and Dave Johnson.

Standing in the middle are (from left) Gaybrella Webb, Elizabeth Mary Miller, Cora Carson, Ida Patterson, Samantha Foster, Cora Patterson, Cora McDowell, Cora Williamson, Mattie Savage, Willie Miller (my grandfather), Willie McDowell, Laura Miller (Shockley; she had been adopted by Jeremiah and Elizabeth Miller), Harry Edson, Lena Foulks, Harvey Savage, Effie Avitt and Harry Foster. There's a glitch in the identifications in this row. Granddad neglected to identify one of the boys standing to his left, and I don't know which one, so the sequence may not be right.

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