For as long as I can remember while doing genealogical research, one of the most obvious pitfalls that makes research even more difficult and disheartening is how many people do not have the correct records associated with an ancestor, especially when it’s your own. I am not here to judge, nor cast the first stone at someone who has made an error in their connection to an ancestor. I myself, in the beginning, went down many a wrong path, but by way of mentors that provided teachable moments, educating myself along the way and changing my research patterns and resources, I now rely on records and the best of what I can find to support the connections of my family, either more recent or distant. For those ancestors who are still a bit mysterious, I leave them that way until I can find more concrete evidence of how we are either connected or who their family line really is.
With all of that in mind, my last post revolved around a deed that named all the children and wife of my 6x great-grandfather, Johannes Mueller (John Miller). My John Miller is a prime example of wrong associated information and records being assigned to him “living” out on the internet. I cannot give you a definite number of how many family trees on Ancestry and other web sites I have seen inaccuracies associated with him, (I’ll take a guess at literally thousands). That includes my John Miller either being born in the wrong location or dying in the wrong location and/or the wrong dates. Also, having him married to the wrong woman. This post will be about showing how I made my ancestors’ life in records provide the truth about his life and his death.
Just a word about records and sources here… Some primary source records include birth and marriage certificates, deeds, leases, diplomas or certificates of degree, military records, and tax records.
For example, a primary source for your birth date is your birth certificate.
Secondary sources are documents, oral accounts, and records that are created some length of time after the event or for which information is supplied by someone who wasn’t an eyewitness to the event. A secondary source can also be a person who was an eyewitness to the event but recalls it after significant time passes.
Some records may be considered both primary and secondary sources. For example, a death certificate contains both primary and secondary source information. The primary source information includes the death date and cause of death. These facts are primary because the certificate was prepared around the time of death, and the information is usually provided by a medical professional who pronounced the person dead.
Other information considered a secondary source on a death certificate is usually provided by an informant, which could be a family member or someone who knew the deceased.
With these items in mind, here are some source records for John Miller.
Record #1 (Secondary Source)
From the Little Tulpehocken Christ Church Records:
(Courtesy of Familysearch©)
You may be asking yourself why would the above record be a secondary record. It’s because it is a record that was recorded after the event happened, which based on the next record occurred in a different location.
Record #2 (Secondary Source)
From the records of Rev. John Casper Stoever, Jr., who began recording baptism records in 1730. The 4 surviving children of Jacob Mueller and Catherine Charlotte Loechner:
Note that John Miller was baptized by the Rev. Philip Boehm. Rev. Boehm is my 7x great-grandfather on my mother’s side.
Recorded Stoever Baptisms – Taken from Notes and Queries – Historical, Biographical and Genealogical Relating Chiefly to Interior Pennsylvania – Edited by William Henry Engle, Annual Vol. 1899
Harrisburg Publishing Company – 1900
Record #3 (Secondary Source)
This record came from a correspondent of mine, Romaine Stauffer, who manages the memorial page on Find A Grave for John Miller.
Romaine references the following information on that page:
On December 31, 1762, John bought from his father, Jacob, the 176 acre farm for which he (Jacob) got the patent from the Penns in November 1762 (Pat. AA4-84). Berks County deed 6-337 records the transfer of the property from Jacob Miller to his son, John Miller.
Record #4 (Secondary Source)
Here is a map and the descriptions of the patents for Jacob Miller from the online warranty township map for Jefferson Twp., Berks Co., PA:
(Courtesy of the PA Archives )
You can clearly see under the #97, the patent number AA-4-84, so this backs up what Romaine has on John’s Find A Grave memorial page.
Record #5 (Primary Source)
The will of Jacob Miller, written 29 Jan. 1766 clearly states the 4 surviving children, John Jacob, John, Elizabeth Barbara and Matthias, the very same ones with the recorded baptisms above:
(Courtesy of Familysearch©)
Record #6 (Primary Source)
John Millers’ Will, written 9 Oct 1796 also gives ample support to the patent above as seen by the reference to the same tract of land that John Miller is bequeathing to his son, John:
(Courtesy of Familysearch©)
Notice the name Casper Stump in the paragraph above? If we look back at the warranty map, you’ll see the name Casper Stump next to the #97 tract:
This is further supporting information that cannot be dismissed.
On a side note, the same will of John Miller written 9 Oct.1796 also mentions John’s wife Justina:
Based on other secondary source information, John Miller’s wife was Justina Katherin Brossman. Her name was sometimes listed as Justina, and other times listed as Katherin.
Record #7 (Secondary Source)
These are the cemetery transcriptions from the Christ Little Tulpehocken Lutheran Church Cemetery. You see John Miller (Mueller), b. 9 Nov 1733 and listed under remarks is listed as son of John Jacob. John’s wife Justina (Katherin) Mueller is listed below him:
From the book, “250 Year History of Christ Little Tulpehocken Church, Jefferson Township, Berks County, Pennsylvania, 1730-1980″ by Herman M. & Jennie M. Lutz – West Lawn Printing, 1980.
So, following the record trail of John Miller’s life and death, we clearly see there can be no mistake of who his parents were, who he married, where and when he was born and where and when he died.
There are so many John Millers that can be confused with one another, that you have to be very diligent about obtaining the correct records for your John Miller ancestor. One of the most common John Miller mistakes I have seen is the John Miller b. 1735 and d. 1826, which just happens to be my wife’s Miller ancestor, who many have have confused with my John Miller. See my post here regarding the confusion of these two Miller families.
Christ Little Tulpehocken Church – Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission historical marker
Cheryl, my wife and my best friend…your love and support is what sustains me every day!