Garrett Miller the Loyalist, UEL, Captain 1738-1823

To leave the land of your birth and board a ship, not knowing what the future holds, only hoping for something better, Watercolor ship by Wendy Harty February 2021

He was called The Loyalist? The marks of military engagements were on his body! And he took a musket shot to his shoulder! Herein with these three statements is enough for me to put flesh and bone to my story and I’m obsessed with putting the puzzle pieces together. Genealogy is one big migration story. I’m also interested in the social and political situations that were happening. You don’t know who you are until you know where you came from and the Miller family one is a story of adverse situations and an uncertain future with a mix of pure grit. Garrett Miller’s second wife was Elizabeth Switzer born to Irish-Palatines in Ireland. When she became his wife she became an instant step mother to his sons, born by his first wife, Catherine, her cousin. But what of Elizabeth? She lived a long life of 82 years survived epidemics, the American Revolution, a land dispute, a wilderness march of 300 miles with three small children, a refugee camp and resettlement. But it is Garrett Miller found in the annals of history and not much is written about Elizabeth. In a book Garrett Miller is called The Loyalist and it was written by W. Bowman Tucker called “The Romance of the Palatine Millers: a tale of Palatine Irish-American and United Empire Loyalists, written in 1929. So I turn to Garrett’s story my 6th great grandfather. Once again the story repeats of a war torn Germany. His grandfather, Johann (Hans) Martin Mueller was born on April 12, 1677. Martin’s parents would tell of the smell the smoke as the French armies came and torched 30 towns along the Rhine River and the mother would shed tears as that same French Army trampled through her carefully tended garden, just because they could. It would mean hunger, and displacement. My 7th great grandparents Martin and wife, Margaretha Agnes Gloecker married November 23, 1699, and would be mates for the next 54 years. It is no wonder, once again this family made the decision, after that disastrous winter of 1709 in Germany to forge a new life. On the Four Board of Trade lists of the first 6,520 Palatines to arrive in England, 1709, Martin Mueller’s name is listed with wife, a sons of 8, 6, and 5 and a daughter 2. Adam Miller, my 7th great grandfather was born before they left. Born in 1700, Adam would be the son listed as a son of 8 years. The Mueller family moved to the Southwell Estate, along with the Switzer and Ruckle and Guier families and all intermarried in their tight knit German community under the Castle Court Matrix. They would also Anglicize their name from Mueller to Muller to Miller.

Adam Miller married Mary Lawrence, daughter of John Lawrence and Margaret Ruckle in 1730 at Limerick, Ireland. Ten children were born at Courtmatrix, Ireland. It was during this time that John Wesley visited Ireland, bring the Methodist religion to the people. In his journal he wrote of April 20, 1748, “I spent an agreeable hour with Mr. Miller, the Lutheran Minister and there are no records, no birth or baptismal records but that Mr. Miller administered to the needs of the Palatines In Ireland.” Is this Mr. Miller Adam Miller? the father of the three boys my story follows. History doesn’t reveal but at age 14, Garrett my 6th great grandfather heard the Reverend Wesley preach and there was a great religious revival. John Wesley spent time in their home, visiting with his father Adam and he would welcome preachers to his home just as his father had. Wesley wrote of these people the women are industrious and clean. The men are tall, stout fellows, calm and of a stern severity. He wrote about a pious Mr. Miller, unfortunately he didn’t give his first name. The three Miller brothers; my 6th Great grandfather Garrett born 1738, Peter in 1740 and Jacob, 1742, were written up in the history books and all three immigrated to America at the same time. It’s a wonder that so much history survived because as loyalists they had no papers with which to prove anything because those that called them Tory or Traitor, scattered them!

After a very rough 3 month sea voyage the three Miller boys landed in Baltimore. Garrett Miller arrived, 34 years old, a shoemaker by trade. He’d left his two boys, Martin and Michael with relatives in Ireland, after his first wife, Catherine Switzer died at age 24. Garrett Miller arrived in the Camden Valley in 1773 and bought land for $110 pounds with a house, crop in the ground, stock and 188 acres. He married my 6th great grandmother, Elizabeth Betsey Switzer, age 19 at Camden Valley, New York, when he had this home to bring his bride to.

The year 1774, whether you were a German speaking farmer, a merchant or owned a tavern you probably didn’t want to pay to taxes on tea to support the coffers in London. At the same time you liked being part of the British Empire, the power house of the world. And with memories of the wars past, you appreciate being able to live a British ruled land. Yet, you her murmurings – notions of independence from Britain and of a British tea party where some hotheads threw the tea in the harbor and vowed not to drink tea anymore. I try and picture the conversations going on? Who would you support? The radical Americans or the British who had helped your family in Ireland? I’m sure it wasn’t an easy decision and which ever you chose, there will be enemies. Garrett and Elizabeth Miller and a large extended family would suffer severe punishments for holding beliefs that other Americans rejected.

Before I continue with their story, the little monkey in me is going out on three branches. One of the limbs will break but it was worth the research to understand the political of the years leading up to the Revolutionary War. There were two Garrett Millers in New York. One would be mine, the other not, thus the broken branch reference. The other Garrett Miller was called the Immigrant. He would die two years before the war, but in his will left his property to his daughter, Elizabeth Miller. She married Philip Roblin who was a friend of the British government. When he joined the British army in 1779 and was captured he was kept in chains for 13 weeks. The farm with 100 acres cleared and the Miller’s Mills which Elizabeth had inherited were burnt. The loss claimed was 10 acres of orchard, house, 2 lots in New York city, 4 horses, yoke of oxen, 15 sheep, 35 bee hives, wheat and furniture. Everything at Smith’s Cove was confiscated. Elizabeth fled New York and ended up living beside my Garrett Miller in Canada, in 1796. They were not brother and sister, perhaps just coincidence, that her father shared the name of Garrett Miller, and many speculated they were, which I have now disproven.

On the other branches I find Garrett’s brothers that travelled to America with him. Uncle Jacob Miller joined the militia in the city of New York. He signed his allegiance to his Majesty King George III. He was a wealthy merchant in New York City. His wife would tell her children while fleeing from New York the bullets were falling about her. She protected the head of her youngest with a frying pan. The family with 6 children made it safely to Halifax, Nova Scotia where once again Jacob prospered.

The other branch is Uncle Peter Miller, the other brother of Garrett’s. Peter had a military commission issued by General Johnson. Coming from Ireland, he settled at Cambridge, Albany County, New York till 1775. He never joined the Patriots and also stayed loyal to the British. He came to Canada with Captain Sherwood and served in colonel Peters Corps under Major Teske. His property before the war was 100 aces at Camden Valley leased forever. Of this Peter declared he had cleared 16 acres, then bought 200 more acres on March 14, 1774, fenced and cleared. His family after he had marched away to Canada with Captain Sherwood, were turned out of the farm, with loss of 2 horses, 2 colts, 6 cows, 2 oxen, some sheep and hogs, farm utensils and hay – all confiscated! His wife saved the furniture according to his statement but neither history nor family could reveal to me how. His statement of February 15, 1778 was signed at Montreal before the United Empire Loyalists Land Commission and signed by Peter Miller. Peter’s industry, thrift and ability were apparent in the mere 5 years he was in America. Peter had step children born in Ireland when he married Agnes Benor, widow of Peter Lawrence and they had 2 more born there. The littlest born in Camden Valley was only 4 when the Revolutionary War broke out. After escaping to Canada they reached Sorel, Quebec and stayed until 1784. Peter would live at St. Armand, Mississquoi Bay, Quebec, 40 miles south of Montreal on a farm adjoining the US border. Peter, at age 44, from the years 1784-1819 cleared this new land he had been granted for his military service to the British of 900 acres, and recouped is losses. He became a rich farmer, The family would welcome into their home the Methodist Circuit Riders. His son, called Captain Charles Miller built a stone house on this land in 1806 and gained his title in the War of 1812 and the rebellion of 1837. It is here in St. Armand, that another 4th great grandfather, Isaac Gibbs, would cross the border and come to farm in 1792.

Another of Garrett’s brothers, John, stayed in Ireland. His two sons, Adam and Robert would come to Canada later and establish a stationery business in Montreal. It was a very prosperous venture and they took on a partner to build a paper mill. This man was dishonest and they lost heavily. Robert stayed in Montreal and rebuilt his business. From the Miller family I trace circuit riding preachers, doctors, privateers, lawyers, politicians, and even a famous painter.

And what of Garrett and Elizabeth Miller. My next blog/podcast will cover more than you ever wanted to know of the Revolutionary War, a land claim that went badly, and a home in Canada built with only an axe, a cross cut saw and an auger.

2 thoughts on “Garrett Miller the Loyalist, UEL, Captain 1738-1823

  1. These posts are incredibly interesting to me. I too have ancestors who lived in Limerick. I “found” them years ago when I first became interested in my genealogy. My maiden name was Miller. I don’t recall any Garretts but there could well be some. I do remember the name Peter. I will try to resurrect those notes.


    1. No way Janet, my Moms maiden is Miller! But these blogs are on my dads side! When your looking I have Barnett’s from the Siege of Londonderry and another Miller/Roger family from Ireland??


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