I come from long lines of love! My mom and dad were married for 57 years. Josiah and Emily Atkinson Miller my great grandparents united the north and the south after the Civil War of 1860-1864 by marrying. They celebrated 50 years. Josiah had a sister (my Great great Aunt Angeline Rachel Miller) who married and celebrated more than 50 years with her William. I think she chose wisely.
Angeline Rachel Miller was born May 11, 1837 in Meadville, Crawford County, Erie, Pennsylvania, the seventh child in a family of ten. She was two years older than my Great Grandfather Josiah and his twin Joseph. Angeline was a pioneer moving to Wisconsin Territory when it was not yet been admitted for statehood. When Angeline was nine years old the family travelled to Wisconsin and in 1850 she is found with the Miller family on the Census of Medina Dane, Wisconsin with her father, Wendell 54, mother Elizabeth 52, George 25, James 23, Lucinda 18, David 16, Angeline 13, Josiah and Joseph 10, Lorain 5. Alexander, her older brother, aged 30 had married Rhoda Ormsby, his first cousin, daughter of Elizabeth’s sister, Esther. Chauncy C. Miller, aged 28 had also married Emily Wilkins, and had moved west to St. Paul, Minnesota, listed as carpenter. Chauncy would die in California.
Angeline’s relatives (especially her father Wendell Valentine Miller fought on the American side of the Revolutionary War “Don’t Give Up the Ship” blog). Her grandfather Blair carried George Washington’s personal papers back to Mount Vernon. Angeline identified with her Scots/Irish roots on later census forms from her mother’s side, but she was also 1/2 German from her father’s roots who came to American amongst the Palatine refugees. She went to school in Oxford, Wisconsin as stated on that 1850 census. Angeline came from a very poor but religious family. Angeline was blessed with a very lovely singing voice. From a young age she joined the Methodist Church and the old hymns were her comfort. Her mother, Elizabeth Blair died on a cold wintery day on February 3, 1853, in Oxford, Wisconsin. Angeline was only 16 years. She would have comforted the grieving twins aged 13 and a little sister Lorain only eight years old. Angeline and her sister Lucinda would take over the household, until Lucinda married two years later. Wendell her father would remarry his wife Elizabeth Blair’s, brother Smith Blair’s widow, Maria. In the 1860 census of Oxford, Angeline is 23 years old listed as housekeeper, with her father and step mother, brother Joseph 20 and sister named Eliza (not Lorain) 15. The Civil War was about to break out in 1861.
Later that year on Christmas Day, December 25, 1860, , her father, Wendell, on his birthday, gave his blessing for Angeline to marry William Henry Harrison Smith.
He came from a rich and unreligious family who had fought for the British during the Revolutionary War. Talk about opposites! The Smith Family had moved from Delaware to Indian Lands, Marquette, Wisconsin on the 1850 census. They had both attended the same school in Oxford, Wisconsin, described as the best a small rural country school could provide. He would attend the academy at Lodi. As the Smith family made their way from Delaware where William had been born in 1838, they saw a family being separated and sold for slaves so Mr. Smith turned in his good horses for the Negro family and some mules. When they got to free country, Smith offered to let them go but they stayed with Smith as freemen and helped settle the homestead in Wisconsin. They lived on the Smith farm and took the name of Smith. When it came to time for William Smith to fight in the Civil War he was declined because one leg was 1/2 inch shorter than the other. Later, someone reconsidered and he joined the 48th Wisconsin Co. E under General John A. Logan and Colonel Uri B. Pearsall. He mustered into the army, February 14, 1865 the same day and in the same company that Alexander Miller, Angeline’s brother did, and William Smith was listed as corporal. He was honorably discharged December 20, 1865. The Regiment stole from the countryside they were fighting through to keep fed. The 48th Wisconsin was organized and Colonel Uri Pearsall would remain William’s lifelong friend. Uri Pearsall was the Lieutenant Colonel of the Ninety-ninth US Colored Infantry that built the dam across the Red River in May of 1864. After this feat he was Colonel of the 48th Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry, and brevetted Brigadier General in 1865 for “meritorious services during the war”. Uri after the war moved to Kansas where he prospered dealing in lumber, flour and cattle. I’m assuming besides being friends they also had business dealings.
The first three children were born in Oxford, Wisconsin: A daughter, Gertrude Olivia born December 20, 1862; another daughter, Edith born October 10, 1866 and a son Wendell Franklin (Wennie F) born July 14, 1872. Before he was two years old, Wennie passed away March 27, 1874 in Oxford. The family packed up and moved from Oxford to Augusta, Wisconsin because Angeline’s older sister Lucinda Miller married to George Murray Bell had a store there. The Smith’s welcomed another daughter Ethel Elizabeth on September 8, 1875 there. The two sisters, Angeline and Lucinda, were together again and raising their children as cousins; Gertrude, Edith and Ethel, with Lucinda’s Florence, Harry, Margaret Kate, and Clara. Close by was another brother, David Perry Miller.
William H Smith and his wife Angeline would prosper there in Augusta, Wisconsin being over thirty five years in the grain and general produce business. He also was a member of the Methodist Church for 45 years. William was an ardent prohibitionist. He was one of the first four who voted a straight prohibition ticket and worked to further the cause. Called the Prohibition Party organized in 1867 after the Civil War, they ran candidates in the 1872 presidential election. A heavy emphasis on the evils of alcoholic beverages but also advocated for public education, government accountability and a liberal immigration policy with the right to vote regardless of race, color or sex. The Smith’s were of the mind that alcohol abuse led to chronic illness, job loss, spouse and child abuse and impoverishment. The best way to reduce societies ills was to eliminate alcoholic consumption. He wouldn’t live to see prohibition in 1919 or the women’s vote in 1920 but he tried!
Angeline Smith and David Miller were at their father’s bedside, when he passed May 14, 1889. Wendell Valentine Miller lived a long life of 92 years, had buried two wives, Elizabeth Blair and Maria King Blair and one son Joseph Miller from the Civil War.
After the patriarch of the family Wendell Miller died, some of the Miller families moved west. Lucinda Blair Miller Bell moved to Marietta Village, Lac Qui Parle, Minnesota. David Perry Miller moved to Fort Henry, North Dakota, Alexander was in Oregon, Josiah was in Oklahoma. William and Angeline remained in Augusta. He was a member of the GAR – The Grand Army of the Republic an organization formed to help the widows and orphans of fallen Union servicemen. William also belonged to the I.O.O.F or Independent Order of Odd Fellows where he believed in extending any “brother” or family a helping hand as their purpose was to visit the sick, relieve the distressed, bury the dead and educate the orphan. The couple put this into active practice and welcomed Louise Dahm who they fostered. Louise would grow up on Stone Street with them and become a high school teacher. I think Angeline chose well. The Smith’s would celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary on December 25, 1910!
In August the next year, William Smith became ill from pneumonia and kidney trouble. He passed quietly age 73, ill only a short time. His obit is glowing: “Indeed he was always willing to minister to those in sickness or sorrow, often being generous beyond his means. He was true to his principles, true to his friends, and loved by every child that knew him. He loved all nature, loved to live and was not only the father but best friend of his children and foster children that his warm heart welcomed to his home.
Angeline Rachel Miller Smith would go live with her daughters for the next 5 years after William’s death. Edith Smith married to WF Anderson who had moved to Winnipeg, Manitoba and Ethel Smith. The promise of the free 160 acre, homesteads, religious freedom, and opportunity brought thousands of hopefuls to Western Canada. The completion of the across Canada railroad allowed for settlement of the remote, harsh terrain and I believe WF Anderson listed as salesman was in grain sales. Ethel Smith remained unmarried and was secretary to Ralph Connor, the author. Connor wrote religious books: Glengarry School Days and the Man From Glengarry, also Blackrock The Sky Pilot, The Major and the Doctor. Ethel lived to be past 99 years living in Seattle, with the oldest daughter Gertrude Olivia who had married Reverand G.W. Pepper. Ethel and Edith escorted their mother’s remains home when she died July 31, 1916 at Winnipeg, back to Augusta on a Wednesday evening and held the funeral services the next day with Rev John Haw. Angeline Rachel Miller Smith was laid beside her husband and infant son, Wennie, (Wendell) beside her father Wendell Miller in the family plot.