Thomas (1864-1938), John (1868-1904), and James Miller (1869-1928)

  1. Thomas Miller taken in Munising Michigan studio 2. John Wesley Miller taken in London Ontario studio 3. James Miller taken in Marquette Michigan studio 

The next three boys of Thomas Miller and Catherine Young

The Upper Peninsula of Michigan on the south shore of Lake Superior doesn’t have much to offer; it’s remote, has harsh winters and poor farmland. However, the Upper Peninsula thrived from 1890 – 1920. Iron was discovered and the mines drew in workers.  It was during this golden age that Thomas, John Wesley, and possibly James moved there.

I have no diaries or newspaper articles that suggest why they decided to leave home and go to Michigan but can make some  guesses. First of the there seems to be a general migration of people from Ontario to Michigan. Most of the good land at home was already taken and purchasing a farm may have been impossible. There also may have been a general desire to leave home; go on an adventure and leave the expectations or constraints of family. Perhaps they decided they didn’t want to be farmers and the Upper Peninsula offered an opportunity for a different kind of occupation. In the 1900 census Thomas is in Munising working as a saloon keeper.  John, also a saloon keeper, is getting married in Escanala at the same time. I haven’t been able to locate James but he was in Munising at one point to have a professional picture taken.  I like the idea that they ended up fairly close to each other. It suggests that as children they worked and played together and wanted to continue that closeness.

The picture of John taken in London, Ontario is an image of a hale, hearty, and prosperous business man. This depiction may not be correct because in 1904 John dies of apoplexy (which could mean heart attack, stroke, or aneurysm) in the Marquette hospital.  Two years earlier he married a waitress, Minnie Helger.  (Did he meet her because she was a waitress at his saloon?) Thomas is the informant on his brother’s death registration. I can imagine how devastated he was. Shortly after John’s death he and his family left Michigan and headed out to Cutknife Saskatchewan.

Thomas is thought to have married Catherine Ferguson in about 1892. There is the birth in 1896 in Munising, Michigan of a nameless child born to Thomas Miller and wife with a last name of Ferguson and in the 1900 census there is a Thomas Miller with wife Catherine and child, Alfred T in the same place. I’m pretty sure this is our Thomas.

As I mentioned by 1906, just 2 years after the death of his brother, Thomas and his family are living in Cutknife, Saskatchewan, a small village west of North Battleford. He is farming on his land close to his wife’s family and his son is going to school. In 1911 and 1921 they lived in Hillsdale, Saskatchewan. After that records are sparse for Thomas. I was unable to find any death record of their deaths although Thomas is believed to have died in 1938

James Miller is similar. The only records I can find of him is the picture taken in Marquette, Michigan, family information that he died in Marquette in 1928 and his mother’s obituary that says he’s living in Wisconsin in 1909.

I was also unable to find any mention of John’s wife after he died.

Please contact me if you have any information on these families, if you have any questions or if you’d like to know where I found this information.

Just the facts on Thomas, John and James


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