Letters with Miller Family History



Inez Miller, Beth Miner and Minerva were sisters in NY State, daughters of Wallace, a cousin of Walter Miller Sr.   Inez wrote in the early 70's... Beth into the 80's, and  anything pertaining to family history from their letters will be printed below so researchers can glean what they want from it. 


Eunice Baker and Hazel Potter, portions of letters way below,  are sisters of Walter Casey Miller...daughters of Walter and Eliza Miller..


Sometime in July a woman from western NY came to South Otselic, visited Drake Miller's grave, found no one at home at Elsie Lambs, but wrote that she had been there.  Her husband was Duane Miller, a great-grandson of a John Miller, Drake's son who with his family and her wife's relatives left Columbus some time before 1850.  This would mean that this John was a brother of Lewis Miller, the old grandfather of Casey's father who came to Dakota from Otselic with them in the 1880s.   None of us had ever heard about cousins living this close to us.   If my grandfather knew of this uncle, he never told our fathers, Elsie or I.  Grandfather was a friendly, outgoing man not like others in our family who never told anybody anything.  He had two uncles nearby, Hiram and Stephen and we believed that was all of Drake's children.   Turns out there were other boys and a half dozen or so girls also!!!   Mrs. Duane sent me a copy of a letter written in 1850 by the only unmarried girl, Anne, to her nephew, Asa Draic. She tells how her father, Drake, had just sold his land in Columbus and gone to live near Hiram in Otselic.   Drake was 75 in 1850.  Her letter is a masterpiece - philosophical, almost literary, which leads me to wonder HOW, in the hills of Columbus, she ever had that much education.  She says she has always believed she would be the one to look after the old folks until the end of their life - apparently they had sort of ditched her.  She was to spend the summer with "Albert"  apparently a brother, and then "go home with Francis"  in November.   I think this was to where she is writing as she speaks of Francis working for an uncle and bringing his grandmother Tillotson to see them.       John Miller's wife was Phoebe Tillotson (editor: or Tellotson)  so Francis is probably their son.   The genealogist in Sherburne has looked through the cemetery records for me and finds no trace of Anne nor Albert nor ANY Millers excepting a child of Lewis and Minerva named Walter.  Anne tells in her letter about this child's death.  She says he had abscesses on his arm caused by playing in cold water.  (?!?!)   This caused his death.     He died before Lewis and Minerva left Columbus for Otselic.   This genealogist  also tells me that two old ladies named Tillotson, came to see her recently, from out that way.   We have an old county map with roads and houses' owners names on it - 1850 - and there are several Tillotsons.    But on the county map of 1865 they are gone.    A whole bunch of Columbus neighbors went to Chautauqua Co and just over the line in Pennsylvania, there is a Columbus, PA where some of them settled.   I have asked Mrs. Duane to send me any names, dates, etc.    She never replied.  


We knew about Drake living his last years in Otselic but not when he came there.  The old map shows Hiram's place on what we call the Ridge Road.  We drove by it last month.


(Hiram Miller, 1828-Dec 1892)


Inez  Miller


Bernice Glass Dale was a cousin of the relative who came to see Drake's grave, and about the same degree of lineage from Drake that the SD Millers are.... the material she enclosed came from an 84 year old uncle, Charles Judson Miller, who compiled it in 1940. It goes this way:

1. Drake - 12 kids

John (2), Lewis, Hiram, Stephen, Anne and the rest (6 girls)

3. Asa Draic I - died at 27

4. Asa Draic II born after father's death. 13 kids

5. Charles J, son of the second wife

5. Maude, his older half sister

6. Bernice

and we go

1. Drake

2. Lewis

3. Lucien, Henry, Charles and Eunice Abbie

4. Walter Sr - Wallace (Charles)

5. Walter Jr - Inez etc

Bernice says none of them ever knew we existed nor Walter Sr. and his family. She wants all our names, births and deaths to add to the old uncle's records. Beth thinks she has them - from Eunice - but I'm not sure she has. I'm sure Casey's father wrote me once that he had a Family Bible. Ever see it?

This Charles J. had obtained from our Chenago County Courthouse the complete record of Drake's land purchases and sales from the time he came to Columbus and bought Lot #21 till he sold what was left of it to Hiram in 1850. Lewis owned part of Lot 21 too and sold it to Hiram. There are also the census records of the family in Columbus and Otselic in 1850 and 1855. The geneologists value those two censuses highly because they gave the names and ages of all in each household and no other census ever did. According to the 1855 census, Ann was then living in Otselic. So she must have gone to live at Hiram's after the old folks died. They went to Iowa in 1864. Hiram was then 56 and I think he had considerable gumption to pull up stakes, sell his land here and go to Iowa at that age. He didn't marry till he was 30 so his two youngest children, Olive A. (Nettie) and Olive L. (Zettie), were only 9.

There is a xerox page from an Iowa history book, about Hiram. It says he owned 275 acres of land in Oelwein, Iowa. Back in NY remained his eldest son Dr. Edgar Lake Miller. My father knew that he had a cousin who was a dr. in Brookfield, NY but never saw him (It is about 6 miles from Sherburne to Columbus but farther from Otselic which is 10 or 15 from Columbus). The piece about Hiram also says that "he was an educated man" and taught school in the winter. That was when all the "big boys" were in school and they had to have a man teacher to clean house for them. I'd still like to know WHERE Hiram and Anne got such good educations for their time and locality.

There is also a Zerox page about Dr. Edgar taken from a history of Madison Co and giving Drake's father Lemuel and grandfather Stephen. It says then that Stephen and Lemuel lived all their lives on the Hudson and that Stephen's father, Johann Meuller came from Holland and settled on the Tappen Zee near Tarrytown. The TZ is a wide part of the river, there, named by the Dutch and Tarrytown was the "Sleepy Hollow" of Washington Irving's tale of the Headless Horseman. Do you remember his picture in it of the old Dutch burghers eating, smoking their pipes and telling tales? Irvings home was at Terrytown.

Elsie doesn't like to believe that the Millers were Dutch Meullers at first but it seems proof enough to me when it is in a printed history.   Inez Miller


Letter from "Inez Miller, NY"

We had a visit from two long unknown cousins in Western NY. One, Pauline Marlett, is a school principal, and they brought her grandsons Karen and Norman, 12 and 8 or 9. The other was Bernice Dale who sent me the dates about Drake and Hiram (Iowa). She had a photo collection along which was one of Hiram and wife. I was surprised to find him a larger man than any of our family. Had a full beard. Our great grandfather was clean shaven. Hiram, you remember was the one Anne went to Iowa with and two other sisters and all of Hiram's children except Dr. Edgar went too. One sister was Abigail Thompson, a Columbus famly. So we MUST have cousins around Olewein, Iowa. If I knew of any DAR chapter there they could look it up.

Pauline and Bernice are cousins, mothers, both daughters of Asa D. Miller, Drake's great grandson. We enjoyed them both. It is a 5 hour drive to Jamestown NY so they had to start back about noon. They wanted to go to Brookfield cemetery and try to find Dr. Edgar Lake Miller. It is northeast of here, 5-8 miles, not far from Drake's land in Columbus township. We searched a big cemetery but found no Dr. Edgar. Papa knew there was a cousin who was a Dr. there and Bernice had a page from Madison Co. history about him. We checked with the authorities and he is not there. What became of him?  Did he go to Iowa to visit family and stay there?? There is no mention of children but we found a stone, not too ancient, of an Adelbert Miller, who had sons, one of whom was a Dr.

Love, Inez


I was quite interested in one letter to the reference to the Universalist Church. ALL Clarks were of that Denomination. I never heard of it until I went away to school, having lived all my life in a little town with only a Methodist and a Baptist Church. I knew about Catholic and Episcopalian but had never been in them. When I told Mother that Cortland had a Universalist Church, she said "That is the Denomination in which your father believes". I got him to talk about it and realized I would find it comfortable too, but have never lived where there was one.

There is a branch of the family still living in Mayville, NY. They are all descended from Drake Miller. (They spell it Draic). We have met several of them as the cemetery where he is buried, Mariposa, NY, is near S. Otselic and they have come to view it.

I found in my notebook a legal paper signed by Henry Miller (always "Uncle Hen" to us) certifying that he had received $4,049.50 from the will of Silas Clark, lately deceased. It is dated Nov 20, 1883.

Beth Miner (Mrs. Floyd, "Bucky")

editor: (The discussion is about a picture of Inez with her mother's writing on the back of it... "them")

Mother had a lot of them. There is one like it on Beth's desk in the living room. The little one might be some of those New Millers. It is very old and is stamped Alfred Center on the back. Alfred is out in the western part of NY near where they lived. Old Lewis may have had it and taken it with him to Dakota or given it to Uncle Lute (Casey's uncle, Eliza's brother). Fred had one when he came east, of Nathan Clark, Minerva Miller's brother. He thought it might be Lewis but it isn't. We had one like it...a bearded man. Walter Sr. wrote me once that he had an album of old family pictures and the Family Bible too. Fred now has them.

Minerva's second husband, Frank, Patty's father, is dead.
She was 16 when M and Frank were married. He drives school bus, paints and has a package store down the road out of town. Patty's husband, Dick Marstera was a naval lieutenant. When he retired he took teacher training in Industrial Arts and taught at Greene ... then became a principal in the town where they live now. Then he stepped up to Ass't County Supt of schools in four counties. Alexis is adopted as is Paul. Patty is ass't librarian in their school.

Walter Sr's grandmother died before the others went to Dakota. Lewis Sr. lived only about two years out there. I wonder how long Uncle Hen had been out there before Lucien etc. came? Quite a time, I think. We have a picture of his little house at Rondell.

My mother and Casey's mother used to write when they were both young Miller wives. After life got busier the correspondence lapsed. Many years later, Walter saw a fishline ad from So Otselic and wrote the firm asking about the family. Elsie's brother Arnold was in their office. The letter was given to him. I wrote to Walter ...this was while Eliza was still living. she was overjoyed to learn that mother was still living. She was older than my father who had recently died, though Walter hadn't known it until I wrote. We didn't have the Dupree address before hearing from him. At the end of Walter's letter to us he said "God Bless You". My mother said "He's the first one of the family to say that".

Eliza had sent her a picture of Fred and Cully and later a card picture after Eunice arrived. So, seeing this one of me with mother's writing brings back memories. My middle name was my grandmother Adams's and her mother, Louisa Stocoell Foote... they called her Vi. Grandmother's name was Louisa Sophia. She died about 6 months before I was born.

Inez Miller


The name Dye rang a bell as either Walter Sr or Eunice once told me I think, that there were relatives of that name. There were always Dyes in Otselic but I never knew any Spaldings there, though it is a well known name in Sherburne and other nearby towns. Utters are still around. One of the early towns just northwest of Sherburne is Lebanon and there have always been Utters there. Isn't Acineth a pretty and unusual name? Much nicer than Samantha which was fairly common in our locality in the late 1800's. Perhaps that child of Adam (5854) and Polly Chamberlin, named Cenith (5859) WAS Acenith too and Samantha was originally named for her? I know about Governor Geo Yeardley coming to Virginia. I think he was the one who introduced representative government there by organizing the House of Burgesses. He may also be the one whose grave I've seen in the old church yard at Jamestown, VA around the ruins of the original church.

I've never seen a picture of Samantha. I hear quite often from that "new" cousin in Jamestown NY who sent all that info about Drake's children. I like her so very much.

Later: I find that Asenath - with an s and an a, is in the Bible. She was Joseph's Egyptian wife! If the Briggs went to all that trouble to change Samantha's name, how on earth did she happen to have the book about her REAL grandmother's family?

This isn't a Miller tale but about Polly Fox's father, Thos Cole. Polly was our grandmother Miller's grandmother, married to Deacon Allen Fox. Both his father and Polly's were Rev. soldiers but I can't prove the descent for grandmother's mother died before her parents did so she wouldn't be in Allen's will if he had one. She is buried next to her father but it says "wife of Chas Arnold", not "daughter of Allen Fox".

I know about the Rev great-grandfather and the Foxes are all in a book but only down to Allen's father - But Thomas Cole is buried at Sherburne and in a row beside him three women, two of whom, it says on the stones were "consorts of Thos Cole". The third is his wife who died after the consorts. One relative figured out that old Tom didn't live with his wife for some time before their deaths. The Coles and Foxes came from Western Conn about the same time the Clark's did.



Just found one more footmark on the Miller trail, especially of Anne. I had a letter from the "new" cousin, Mrs. Duane M. I asked what became of Anne and she replied "Oh, she went to Iowa". Hiram, the son of Drake, where Drake went to live in Otselic, went to Oelwein, Iowa in 1864, three years after Drake died and Anne went too. Oelwein is north of Cedar Rapids. Hiram lived to be 80 and it was his son who was the dr. in Brookfield, NY...name was Edgar Lake Miller, and the Madison Co. History mentions him and says he was born in Columbus and was the son of Hiram. Probably TJ went out there when the Homestead Act was passed. He was smart, for Iowa is a lot better land than Otselic. Twenty years later when old Granddad Lewis came to Dakota, Hiram was still alive. He died in 1888 but I don't imagine he ever saw Lewis or even knew he was there. H. was 80 then. He had other children so probably we have cousins in Iowa. Inez Miller


Eunice Abbie Miller was the only sister of Uncle Hen and our respective grandfathers.
The Millers were all "horsey". They get it from the Clarks. Major Walter Clark rode into New York from Connecticut with his wife Eunice on horses and the next generation stayed on them. Our great-grandmother, their daughter Minerva Miller, rode all her life and her saddle mare, Old Kate, outlived her. Her brother Silas who "kept the store" at Columbus, used to ride way to Otselic, a good 20 miles, wearing a cape, like Washington or a highwayman. He was a little guy, never married. Casey's grandfather was a horse trader and both my grandfather and father owned beautiful horses. As long as I lived at home I had a fast road horse and drove every night after school. I never rode...neither did my father. He also had big expensive work horses, fat as butter. Then there was Emmett Clark, their Columbus cousin. He came to S.Dak. once with his boy, Fred - hired a wagon and drove out to Uncle Hen's, stopped in front and said "Is this South Dakota?" Henry knew him immediately. He owned an imported Belgian stallion and used to bring him to our house to breed. Several years ago I went to Connecticut and hunted up a distant cousin there. Antionette Clark. She had been out here to visit Emmett and Ann and had once met my father and mother there soon after they were married. She told how, every night after supper, the men would go back to the barn to "worship the horses". So you see, what's bred in the bone stays long in the flesh. Incidently, we still have kin down in Connecticut though their names aren't Clark anymore. The first Clark in Conn was quite a distinguished ancestor for any number of his grandchildren either were governors of Conn or married governors. I have a book about them.

We have a cousin named Ceta whose grandmother was Eunice Abbie Miller Thompson - sister of our grandfather. She can remember when Uncle Hen came east and when her uncle Clarence visited Walter Sr.

Inez Miller


There is an old lady in this locality who is the same to Casey and me, for instance, as we are to each other. There was one sister in the Miller family; Eunice Abby. She had a daughter, Mable, cousin to our fathers. Mable had two sons and a daughter. The boys are both dead but the daughter, Ceta Thompson Underwood, still lives near us in Plymouth. She is a couple of years younger than I am. When children, we lived on adjoining farms. Beth Miner


Grandfather Miller used to tell a story... their old homestead was on a hill.   The road wound down it and up another, both steep and about 3/4 a mile away arrived at the little church where they used to have "singing school"  on winter nights.  My grandfather had a date with his girl but when ready to leave, discovered that Uncle Hen had taken his horse and rig to take HIS girl to singing school.   So grandfather walked to the church, took the horse out of the church sheds and left the other couple to get home the best way they could.     


Branding of course, is out of my experience but you fed as many as we used to do in threshing time before the days of combines.  It was a big deal to me, as a kid, and I used to hurry home from school if it was a weekday to sit on the stone wall around the barnyard and watch.  Some man who owned a threshing machine and power, made the rounds each fall and all the neighbors "changed work"  or teamed up in a sort of "bee"  till it was done.   And you had to feed them ALL.  The power, when we lived on our old home farm, was a three horse treadmill.


Our home farm had been cleared from wild land by my mother's grandfather and was north and down into a valley, from the old Miller place.  But at the time my parents were married, my grandfather Miller lived on an adjoining farm also in this same creek valley "under the hill".   We lived, until I was old enough to go to high school, in much the same way people - parents - had lived 50 years earlier.  Running water in both house and barns was the only "modern"  feature, and a telephone the last two years there. 


Today is Beth's 66th Birthday.  They are celebrating at the lake.  It is a pretty little lake.  Bucky developed it and there are homes all the way around.   Howard and Martha have a lovely house, Bucky's is a prefab and Meredith and Lee have a lot to build on.  Howard has a sailboat.  Bucky likes to fish.   Inez Miller

Clarissa and Silas Clark, brother and sister, never married - lived "over the store".  They were brother and sister to Minerva, Lewis Miller's wife, Casey's great-grandparents, Luciens parents.
1989  from Beth Miner, Sherburne, NY       Elsie is in the nursing home.  Her one remaining brother, Arnold, still lives in South Otselic, he is 80, but in good health.   The triplets arrived safely April 28, two boys and a girl.   They are Frank Evrett Alexander, Matthew Robert Paul and Alexandria Minerva,  last name Marsters.    Their father Paul is a statistician.
Uncle Hen's birth date is 2-16-1840, died June 13, 1913, in Aberdeen.  Buried in cemetery with other Millers.   He was Lucien's brother.  Eunice Baker writes:  Casey was too small to remember him but I remember him so well.  When he visited us it was a special time for me.  I guess he fussed over me and I ate it up.  Cully and Fred were a bit too wild for him to enjoy.  Hazel was four years younger than I.  No doubt Hazel received some attention too but I thought he was the best.  He was a short, spry jolly man with a mustache.  I remember him singing a song "Where has my little Dog Gone?"    I heard him sing it often.  He would take me by the hand and we'd walk uptown in Tolstoy and he'd ask me what I wanted.  Anything I would see that I desired he'd buy.  I remember in particular one time I spied a spray of artificial flowers that took my eye.  He bought them for me.  It was a very happy time for me when he visited.   I was about nine when he died following surgery and I went to the funeral with dad.  He lived at Warner just south of Aberdeen then.  I recall he owned a hotel there.   He also owned a quarter of land north of Tolstoy at the time of his death.   Fred was almost two years older than I was and probably remembers more about him.  I think he must have been a lonely man but always seemed such a jolly kind man.     I have heard that he sowed some wild oats when he was young and lived in NY.  Gossip has it that he had a daughter but didn't seem to want to marry the mother but came to So. Dak.  Maybe there was another reason, I don't know.  I think he did visit NY relatives one time after coming to SD.  I remember how heart broken I was at his funeral and I've hated funerals ever since.   


The picture of mother's father is the only picture I have of him.  I've had it a good many years.  He died about 1919 or 1920.  Grandpa and his brothers were tall Norweigans.  He was six feet tall when young.  Mother's mother was a shorty.  I wonder if Cousin Ella near Aberdeen has a Tolvstad family tree.  Her father was grandpa's brother.


Cousin Ella and husband Elmer Locken have made some trips to WI to visit him there.  Mother was born in Whitehall, WI.  About Dad and mother's marriage, I don't know where you got your dates.  I have a copy of their marriage record from Brown County.  They were married March 21, 1900 in Redfield.  We used to tease mother because they were married in a leap year.  I have a letter that mother wrote to dad in 1899.  I guess he called her "gypsy"  for that is how she signed it.  I have an old picture I received from Ella that was taken of a group of young and not so young ladies just outside the Tolvstad home near Verdon.  Mother, her younger sister Annie, an older sister, Martha, and their brother (Ludwig - Lute) 's wife... altho I think it was of Anna before they were married.  Uncle Lute took the picture.  There are some neighbors also in the picture.  


I have one tintype photo I think of dad's sister Minerva when she was very small.


Mother didn't value the Miller relics.  When she was married they lived with dad's father and mother for eight years using all of their old furniture and she didn't have much of her own choice even afterward for many years.  By that time the family was getting large and they couldn't afford much.  We did have a Victrola phonograph and finally a piano.  She must have treasured the piano until we lost it when they moved out of Tolstoy.  All in all our mother was an exceptional person, always cheerful and never complaining.  She had a tough row to hoe. 


I correspond with Ceta Underwood in rural Norwich, NY.  Inez Miller keeps in touch with her cousin, Ceta.  Her maiden name was Stanton and her grandparents, Thompson (Dennis).  Her Miller ancestor was Eunice Abby.   She is about my age.  


I have a very old letter from an "Evelyn"  to her Aunt Minerva (our great-grandmother)  that is interesting.  The uncle, Nathan Silas and Aunt Clarissa were Minerva's brothers and sister.  They are all Clarks.


Lois Forwell Lewis of Brooklyn, NY mentions the Spalding Book in one of her letters.   The other letters from Lois's daughter Mary, Dad's mother's family.... they lost their mother when they were young.  Most of the family were adopted by different families.  Our grandmother was adopted by a Mrs Briggs who also changed her given name from Acenith (or Asenith)  to Samantha.  One brother, Charles, was adopted by a family by the name of "Dye"  and the youngest, Millie, by a family who was better off financially than the others.  I can't remember their name.   Aunt Millie's married name was "Strong".  Her husband, Fred Strong and Aunt Millie are buried in the Armedale Cemetery near where Jessie Kittles land is.   That is where our grandparents, our great-grandfather Lewis and also dad's brother Leis are buried... also Henry Miller, Dad's uncle.    Our grandmother is there also.  Uncle Chas Dye lived in Madison Minnesota and I accompanied Dad when he went to his funeral there.  I was about eleven.   The next spring I went to stay with Aunt Retta Dye for two months after our 6 Mo. school term ended in Tolstoy.  I attended school in Madison for that time... two months.  Aunt Retta was a seamstress.  I know there is a picture in one of the albums of Lois Farwell when she was young.  About the connection between our grandmother and the Spaldings - I believe either our grandmother's mother or grandmother was a Polly Spalding.  she married a man with a surname of Utter which the Spaldings didn't seem to rate well and so all that is said of her was that "She is dead."   I often wonder if there was a chance of getting in touch with any of the Brooklyn relatives.  They come from grandmother's sister "Betsy".   Betsy was the only one in the family who was old enough to fend for herself when her mother died. 

  1972 Eunice Baker

Family History regarding our grandmother Samantha... her birth was June 8, 1843.  She and Lucian were married in Otselic, NY on Feb 9, 1865.  She died in 1907.  I was so young that I don't remember her at all.  Lucian died in 1908 and I have no recollection of him alive, but I remember his funeral quite distinctly.  It was held in a large room in the home, and I sat on my father's lap.  The coffin was in the center of the room.  


Eunice Abby was born in S. Otselic March 28, 1842.  Our grandfather Lucien had four brothers and one sister, Eunice Abby.  Two of the brothers died young, Walter C. died in Columbus NY on Jan 30, 1850 and Silas C died in Otselic NY 1862.  The above Walter died at 11 years.  

About Clarissa Clark, our great-grandmother's sister, she was Minerva Clark (Lewis Clark's wife)  sister.    I don't believe she married.  Dad used to say he was part Irish and I wondered if the Clarks were Irish, but they could have been English.    1981 Eunice Baker


Cousin Esther's  (from Belle Fourche) Grandmother on her mother's side was a sister of our Grandmother Tolvstad.  Their names were Sven and her grandmother married a Johnson... our grandmother married a Tolvstad so there were no Johnsons in our family.  Her grandmother Johnson was Aunt Randena.  She had two boys and I don't remember their names.... and daughters, Josie Ellison (Esther's mother), Maggie (Burt), Emma... Aunt Randena's husband had died.  Then she thought she could marry Grandpa Tolvstad and together they could take care of all of the children, but according to Mama, she and grandpa couldn't hit it off, so she moved back to N.D.         I guess there never was a picture of Minerva.  We always had Minerva's big braid of hair in a frame.  I tore most of the old pictures in the album in two and mama had a fit.  I told her I couldn't stand how they looked.  I also chewed the tips off the ears of her favorite spotted horse statue she always kept on the piano.  I was pretty young but most have been a good climber to get to the top of the piano.   Cousin Ella says she has a lot of information on Grandpa and Grandma Tolvstad as they took a trip to Norway 3/4 years ago.   I would like to know when both grandparents came to Dakota Territory.  I remember Grandpa Miller's hair-do and mustache, and I remember Uncle Hen had reddish curly hair too.  He was Grandpa's brother.

 Hazel Potter, 1977

(click for)
Eliza's letters to Walter Sr. 99-13
ONAKA HISTORY the Walter C. Miller family as written by Hazel Miller Potter

Walter Miller's parents and grandparents were of English, Holland Dutch and Irish origin but more or less Yankees from New York State. He was born at Beaver Meadow, NY and at the age of 3 years, with his parents and an elderly grandparent, came to what is now Brown County at Rondell, South Dakota on the James River in 1882. Here he grew up and was educated in the country and in Aberdeen as he grew older. Eliza Tolvstad's parents were born in Norway and both came to Whitehall, WI. Here they met and were married and with their family of five small children, came to what is now the Armadale Island area on the James River with several Tolvstad families in 1883. They had several Indian scares in the early years. They were educated in a country school but their father taught them at home until they were about 8 years old. Later he taught a small country school near Verdon. Eliza and Walter were married at Redfield in 1900 and lived at Rondell in the Miller Home with his parents. Here Lewis (Cully), Fred and Eunice were born. After Walter's parents passed away in 1907, he felt he should sell out and go West to find a new home. He traveled on the M and St L RR as far west as Tolstoy. Here he had a home and a Livery Stable built. He moved his family by train to their new home. In about a year, the Livery Barn burned and he had a Saloon and Pool Hall built. Also here, Hazel, Walter (Casey), Verna, Donald, Delbert and Inez were born. After Prohibition, he built the large garage and dance hall on the East side.

In 1919 he decided he must take his family to a farm as the boys seemed to spend most of their time out on various farms. So, he sold the town property and moved N.E. of Tolstoy or N. W. of  Onaka. Here the family lived until 1925 when he moved to the Brown place about two miles west of  Onaka. Here they lived until 1929 when he and the boys felt they must find more room for the cattle. After checking Western SD they moved to South of Dupree and here spent the rest of his life in ranching with the help of his boys.

Walter was County Commissioner of Ziebach County for about 24 years. Eliza passed away in 1956 after a stroke, and Walter in 1960 of a heart attack. Some of the grandchildren continue to live there.

After the family moved to Onaka area, Hazel decided to come home from Aberdeen where she was in high school. In 1926-27 she enrolled in the newly completed high school on the second floor, as a Senior. She also worked for her room and board at the small Hotel, run by Hermans. School opened with Mr. Jenson, Supt.  and Esther Jacobson, Principal and girls BB and she taught math and general science; Helen Dexheimer, English, Latin and Caesar and debate. There were 5 Seniors, Ralph Ligafelter, Minervin Sieverson of Eugene, OR, Ida May Jenson (Ramberg) of Bismarck and Hazel Miller, and Pauline Davidson of Delta, CO. We had a paper, Onaka Oracle, that was put out quarterly. Ralph was Editor. It had many happenings of the school such as basketball games, plays, debate and Onaka town happenings. The only really outstanding event aside from Graduation was the taking of a Skip Day, without permission. Minervin Sieverson and Hazel Miller hastily took off before the bell rang and with a bunch and Minervin's father's old Model T touring car, took off for the Creek West of Faulkton to fish and have a lazy time for a whole day. Most of our day was spent changing flat tires and each of these had to be patched! We arrived home by evening, happy in the fact we got our Skip Day, but no fish.

Hazel was fortunate to have the teaching job at school, north of Onaka offered for the coming year. So upon going to 6 weeks of summer school in Aberdeen and taking the exams, my teaching was launched. Eunice had taught several years so Hazel benefited by her experience and material. Hazel rode Fred's horse the first two months from home to pay back borrowed money for summer school. Later Hazel drove a Model-T Ford coupe while roads were good and stayed with Nellie Brown at  Onaka and walked to school when winter was on, arriving there by 7:30 a.m. to get the building warm and school work on board and read for the children. After two years here, Hazel taught at the South Clark School for six years. The teaching years were busy, interesting years and she loved working with the children. The games at noon and recess were ball, steal sticks, prisoner's base and horseshoes, where everyone profited by fresh air and exercise and learned good sportsmanship. Most country schools had no play ground equipment and children of all ages took part. The years sped by so fast and in 1934 Hazel was married to Rolland Potter of Seneca. They made their home at the Potter place East of Seneca and raised three children, Willard of Warner, Bruce of Seneca and Adella  Martschinski of Aberdeen. Rolland suffered many years with cancer and Hazel decided to go to Pierre School of Practical Nursing in 1954 to be able to be employed at the newly built Hospital at Faulkton, to help with the mounting expenses. Here she worked for 22 happy years, very busy, but rewarding. Rolland passed away in 1968 but though the family was all in their own homes, Hazel continued to make her home in the old place and enjoyed having the 11 grandchildren come to see where the family spent 46 years together.

new author:  (Probably Eunice, Hazel's oldest sister)

Today I canned chokecherries and all the while I was putting them thru the colander I thought of the days when Mama worked with the wild fruit, chokecherries, plums and buffalo berries, squeezing them through the colander until by the end of the season, what fingernails she had left were paper thin. And Fred, picked as long as there was fruit. His favorite were the chokecherries, so he could eat the syrup on his pancakes. Bless his heart and Mamas loyalty to any member of the family's wishes, as long as it was possible for her to find the makings. She would do her part to furnish the enjoyment. I only wish I had a picture of her, with her back to the cook stove and part of a cup of coffee in her uplifted hand, thinking. And, all at once, taking off, that she had to get out to feed and water her chickens. The day I was out there and looked out the kitchen window, to see a little white leghorn hen moving across the wind swept yard, with what seemed like a never ending line of her brood trying to keep up with the mother. I asked Mama how many chicks she had with that little leghorn and she said eighty-some! She was just a super human in her day to day operations and almost no one around to appreciate her accomplishments. Bless her soul wherever it is, and I guess we all well know where it is!

The names of our parents are Walter Clark Miller and his wife, Eliza. Walter C. Miller came to Brown County south of Aberdeen at a community called Rondell. He was a 3 year old small child. His father Lucien and mother Samantha and his grandfather, Lewis Miller. They came from New York State where the ancestors of Lewis Miller a hundred years or so earlier had come to this country from England and Holland and settled on the Hudson River. Eliza our mother was from Whitehall, Wisconsin. Her father Nels Tolvstad had come to America from Norway as had his wife Antionette. I think they were married in Wisconsin. I understand that they came to America in their early 20's. They settled in Brown County and later to a small town called Verdon. Eliza's mother died young at 20 years of age leaving five young children, the youngest a daughter Louise, also died as a child.

Walter C. Miller and Eliza Tolvstad were married in 1900 at Redfield and lived with Walter's parents for about seven years until they both passed away. Three children were born to Walter and Eliza at their home at Rondell. Lewis was born in 1901, Fred in 1902 and Eunice in 1904. After Walter's parents deaths, Walter decided to leave the family farm and moved farther west. They came to Tolstoy on the RR early in 1908 and Hazel was born July 17, 1908. Walter C. Junior was born in 1910, Verna in 1913, Donald in 1915, Delbert in 1918. Delbert was eight months old when that disastrous flu epidemic of 1918 in the fall took so many lives in our country. In 1920 Walter C. Miller Sr. decided to leave his home in Tolstoy and move to a rented farm north of Tolstoy called the Dickhout place. That is where our youngest sister Inez was born.

Going back to when our parents came, it was in the early 1880's when Walter was 3 years old. He was born Feb 26, 1879 in New York State. Eliza was born in Whitehall, WI Dec 17, 1878.

The family moved to Tolstoy in 1908 about the time the M and St. L RR was built and came through Tolstoy. Our father built a new house and we had a good home. That house was moved to Aberdeen later and still is there and I'll try to get a snap shot of it as it looks today. I have seen it from a distance and the front of it, what I could see, looked very much as it did in Tolstoy. Actually our life was not a difficult one while we were children. Of course we had no indoor plumbing but our home was new and very comfortable for that time. We had five rooms downstairs and two bedrooms upstairs. We had an open stairway in the dining room and mother said she never needed to dust the railing as we spent much time sliding down the banister. I had a very happy childhood. We children were allowed to visit our friends in town but were always told to be home before dark. We three older children were closer to an age as my closest sister to my age was four years younger than I and so I usually played with my two older brothers until Hazel became older. I think I was a Tom Boy and played all the rough games the boys played. We didn't enjoy the advantages of children today in education as the first three grades had one small building and the 4th through the 8th grades had their schooling in whatever building happened to be empty on Main St. The two room building was built when I was in the upper grades. Also we had but 6 months of schooling until I was in the 7th or 8th grade when we began to have 8 months of school. The upper 4 grades usually had a male teacher which was almost necessary to control the several male school children, some of whom were quite large teenagers.

I have my report card when I was in the second grade the year being 1911, October. We had six months of school and Ella Royatze, from the Springs, was my teacher. I treasure this report card. The writing is still very clear.

Some of the days we enjoyed most during the years were at Christmas time when the school and Sunday School put on a Christmas program in the Town Hall and we could have  a Christmas tree. We didn't have a Christmas tree at home, but we children hung up our stockings which were filled by "Santa" during the night and we were excited to claim them as soon as we awoke on Christmas Day. I knew that I'd always have a new dress for the Christmas program each year. Mother and Aunt Annie made all of our clothes. Another memorable time of year was May Day when we distributed May baskets to our many friends in the evening. We spent many hours preparing our baskets which were hand made and by filling them with goodies.

We seldom went any distance from Tolstoy unless we took the train to relatives who lived a few towns on the same M & St. L. (Schulers).

As teenagers during the winter months we sometimes walked a mile or so South of town to a slough which was frozen, to skate. We also had the opportunity of roller skating in a hall above the garage. Our oldest brother, Lewis, was very adept at ice skating or roller skating.

Hazel, I'll send you this as it is for you to add your contribution and correct some of my above experiences.


Dupree Family about 1947
L: Howard Schuler, Casey's best from from Tolstoy,  Donald, Buck and Eva with Sally, Florence, W.C. Miller Sr,
W. C. (Casey) Miller, Jr., and on the right, Howard Schuler's father.   In front, Karen and Ann. 







USS Dennis

USS Fogg 


Fowler Menu


Don's Army Service

Delbert Miller

POW  WWII  Ancestors   "It All Began"  
La Veta, CO  Pottery  Lefse  "....And an Electric Chair"

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