There are two versions of this family picture, taken yesterday just after lunch at First Christian Church in Chariton. In the first (above), Nash Niedert (third from left in the back row in his mother's arms) was present but becoming impatient --- it already had been a long day. In the second (below), he had left the lineup and was a happier camper.
With two absent due to illness, this is the family of my late cousin Ernest Miller, who died Sept. 18 not far from his long-time home in Chicago at the age of 93. Funeral services were held in Chicago Sept. 30 and on Saturday --- a beautiful fall morning --- the family gathered under whispering pines on a hillside in the Chariton Cemetery to inter his ashes next to the grave of his wife, Leona (Pierschbacher) Miller, who died during 1998.
Ernest, who spent as much time as he could until no longer able at the Miller farm in English Township, always attended First Christian Church while in Lucas County, so Pastor Linda Elder officiated during graveside rites and the congregation invited everyone for lunch after. A V.F.W. honor guard from Albia and volunteer bugler provided military rites (Ernest was a U.S. Navy veteran).
Ernest's and Leona's daughters are seated in the center here, Laura Miller Morici with husband, Peter, standing behind her, on the left; Nancy Miller Deahl and husband, Benjamin, on the right. To the left are the Morici grandchildren, Giovanni Morici standing behind his wife, Aly, who is holding their son, Luca; and Janet Morici Niedert, with and without Nash. Her other son, Vincent, woke up ill Saturday morning and remained at home in West Des Moines with husband and father, Tony, to recuperate. To the right are the Deahl grandchildren, Sgt. Elizabeth Deahl and Rachel Deahl.
Ernest and my late mother were among 40 Miller first-cousins, grandchildren of Mary Elizabeth (Clair) and Joseph Cyrus Miller, all of whom lived in Lucas County and knew each other well. When this photograph was taken on Aug. 22, 1924 --- their grandmother's birthday --- four had not yet been born, including Ernest's younger siblings, Warren and Elizabeth. Ernest is sixth from the left in the front row here, looking over the shoulder of my uncle, Richard Miller.
Today, only two of the 40 are left --- Ernest's baby sister, Elizabeth (Miller) Jordan, now of Texas; and Esther Belle (Miller) Steinbach, of Cedar Rapids.
In an odd twist of circumstance, another family funeral was being held at the same time Saturday morning --- the memorial Mass of Christian Burial for Esther Belle's son-in-law, Richard H. Wibe, 75, at St. Ludmila Church in Cedar Rapids. He died Oct. 8 in West Bend, Wisconsin, survived by his wife, Louise Steinbach Wibe, and two daughters. His ashes, too, will come home to Chariton --- for burial in Calvary Cemetery.
It would be interesting to know how many descendants of those 40 Miller cousins --- a generation now passing --- are scattered from coast to coast. Hundreds. Relatively few of us, however, still live in Lucas County and it's unlikely many of us would recognize each other if we met. Which, of course, is one reason to take and share family photographs.