The following is an article written by Beth Laney-Smith found in the September 14, 1950 issue of the ‘Pageland Journal’. Beth is the author of the new book, The Voices of Pageland.
As illustration of how one man came to the new Carolina area and began both a dynasty and an economic spiral, the family of Miller from Jefferson has been selected for investigation. It is also interesting to note the ramifications of kinship developing from marriages among the various families through the years.
George Miller, the first Miller in the Carolinas, had come down from Penepec, Pennsylvania somewhere around 1760. By ancestry he was Black Dutch, but like most of the Dutch in America, the family had come by way of England.
On Sept. 20, 1760, George Miller bought land lying on both sides of Lynches River from James McManus. The deed covering this transaction is recorded at the court house in Wadesboro, and it lists the land as lying in Anson County, witness to the fact that the boundary line between North and South Carolina was not yet settled. (Indeed, dispute over this boundary line continued until after 1800!) George Miller made his home in Lancaster County between Lynches River and Taxahaw. He married Elizabeth Singleton and had three sons—George II, William, and Michael–and three daughters–Sarah Jane, Millie, and Barbara. George II lived and died in Lancaster County, beginning a branch of the Miller family in that area. William moved to Alabama, Perry County, where he died about 1841. Michael lived in the Jefferson area and began the branch of the family from which descended the present group of Millers.
Between 1810 and 1819 there was a Miller’s Store at what is now Jefferson operated by Michael Miller, who was born in 1784 and died in 1874. He lived in a double log cabin located on the hill back of the Miller cemetery, where he and his wife Frances Welsh, set up housekeeping. Later, he had constructed and moved into the house presently occupied by Miss Fannie Lowery in Jefferson, which is pictured in this edition. This same Michael served as Lieutenant in the War of 1812. He had four sons—Steven, Jackson, James and John S., who was the youngest; and two daughters—Mosley, who married Alexander McMillan, and Harriett, who married John R. Welsh. By a second wife, Emily Cook, who lived until 1915, he had two daughters, Mary, who married John Lowery, and Laura who married Sandy Baker of near Jefferson.
Names of these four sons are still echoing down to us in present day. The most celebrated probably was James, who was captured and killed by the yankees just a few weeks before Lee surrendered, and after whom the James M. Miller chapter of the U.D.C. was named. Following his death, his entire family moved West, where his descendants are to be found today.
Major John S. Miller, born in 1818 and dying in 1888, served in the Civil War under General Wade Hampton, and carried his title with him until his death. Major Miller amassed a fortune in his lifetime and left several monuments to his achievements in the form of gracious homes. His own house stands today as the second oldest in Jefferson and is still celebrated as a noteworthy example of the Low Country Colonial school of architecture. It was designed and built at sometime prior to the Civil War by William Crow from Union County, whose grandson, Major W.C. Heath, lives in Monroe today. The Major Miller home is occupied by Mrs. J.W. Miller, widow of one of the Major’s sons.
Of Michael’s other two sons, Jackson Miller moved to Texas and took his entire family except one son, Dr. Robert Miller who is the father of Jefferson’s Ed Miller. Steven, remaining son, died on his plantation near Lynches’ River in 1852. He produced two sons–B.F. Miller of Lancaster, and John Miller who died of typhoid fever in the Confederate Army. Of his two daughters, Louisa married Dr. I.H. Blair of Monroe, and Jane married Thomas McMillan.
Returning to the Miller Store begun by Michael in the early 1800’s, the business was inherited by Jackson, Steven, and John S. They dissolved their partnership and Major John S. Miller bought the business.
Major Miller married Elizabeth Fletcher and had three sons–William Michael, John Fletcher, and James; and three daughters–Mary Frances, who became Mrs. Bud Evans; Elizabeth Jane who became Mrs. Calvin Evans; and Susan Alice, who became Mrs. Lewis Gardner, wife of the man whose diary is spoken of elsewhere in this edition.
John Fletcher, who was born in 1863 and died in 1898, married Flora Garland, producing two sons, Carroll and Everett, who live today in Jefferson. His daughters were Rosa, Charlotte and Mildred. William Michael, known locally as Billy, married Sarah Barrier, and their children were: William Walter, who died quite young; Maude, Mamie, Ruth, and Margaret. James married Hattie Gregory and had no children.
The name of Miller is continued today in Jefferson’s business world in the firm of Miller Brothers, which sponsors a ginning and fertilizer business. The Cotton Shops, and the newly organized Fashionable Shop. The sons of Carroll Miller, Joe and John Carroll, conduct the Miller business activities in 1950–continuing a tradition begun by a Miller almost 150 years ago.