The Early Millers of Wisconsin

Lester, Haschall & Others of the 19th Century - Updated Feb. 24, 2001)

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Lester Phelps Miller, an early settler of Wheatland, Wisc.

Lester Phelps Miller was born Sept.16, 1809, in either Connecticut or New York State, to Evi Miller and Laura Perkins Miller, who moved westward from Brimfield, Mass., to settle in Vernon Township near Augusta, N.Y.

Lester and his wife, Orpha Hinman Miller, had a dairy farm with 60 cows on land in Oneida County, about four miles from a section of the Erie Canal that is not far from what is now Utica. Orpha was born Jan. 1, 1815, in Stockbridge, N.Y., to Truman Hinman and Abigail Hinman; some of the Hinmans owned land that became part of Utica. Orpha and Lester married Jan. 8, 1835, probably in or near Oneida County.

A grandson, Howard C. Miller (son of Haschall), recalled in a letter written Oct. 25, 1948, when he was 80, that his grandfather "kept 60 cows. My father as a boy worked for him sometimes. All the hay was cut with scythes. The mower had not been invented. The grain was threshed with a flail. . ."

At the age of 46, Lester moved his family to Vernon County, Wisc., becoming one of the first settler families of the town of Wheatland. Wheatland was in the extreme southwest corner of Vernon County, near the Mississippi River. The nearby villages of DeSoto and Retreat, which have now faded from all but local memory, were sites of famous battles during the Black Hawk Indian Wars.

The Millers settled in Section 17 of Wheatland in 1855, two years before the town government was formed. A letter written by Lester to a daughter, Eugenie, probably written about 1873, said, "Mother's health is poor and has been ever since she was thrown from the buggy waggon. I went down to Ontario week before last with mother; she stood the journey very well. Found Haschall's family well, and they are doing well.We shall start for your place on the 15th, if we are well. . ."

In 1870, the Census put the value of Lester's farm at $1,500. He died July 18, 1876 at the age of 66. He is buried in Walnut Mound Cemetery in Vernon County, near the faded village of Retreat. Also buried there is Orpha Hinman Miller, who died May 12, 1893, at the age of 77. Their graves are marked by a stone that looks like a cannon.

The children of Lester Phelps Miller and Orpha Hinman Miller were:

* Lester Jay Miller, born Oct. 12, 1835, in New York State, presumably Oneida County. He married Julia Lawrence, daughter of James and Mary Lawrence of Crawford County, Wisc., and they had two daughters, Julia and Emma. He was a farmer and served as Postmaster of the Red Mound Post Office in Vernon County.
* Orin Smith Newton Miller, born March 10, 1837, in New York State. He drowned in the Erie Canal at the age of 8 and was buried in the Knoxboro Cemetery in Oneida County with his grandparents and many other Hinmans.
* Haschall Phelps Miller, born June 7, 1840, in Oneida County. His life is covered elsewhere on this page.
* Selencas Cassender Miller, born Nov. 1, 1842, in Oneida County and died Dec. 15, 1914. Known as Cas, he served in the Wisconsin Volunteers during the Civil War and later obtained a government pension. The pension file contains a wealth of information about his military service and his family. He married Marietta A. Ogden Oct. 24, 1868, and they had seven children: Fred C, Alice M., Leah J.; Orin M.; Grace A.; Mabel and William E., all born between 1869 and 1885. Cas and Marietta, who died in 1934, are buried in Brookside Cemetery in Jackson County, Wisc., with three of their children.
* Gertrude Celestia Miller, born March 1, 1844 in New York.
* Levander Faxter Miller, born in March, 1847 in New York.
* Orpha Adna Miller, born March 14, 1849 in New York.
* Flora (or Florence) Eugenie Miller, born March 6, 1851 in Wisconsin.
* Truman Douglas Miller, born May 17, 1861 in Wheatland. He married Cora Belle Bryant, who was born in Owatonna, Minn., and who died in Eunumclaw, Wash., in 1933. * He died in Eunumclaw in 1942. They had a daughter, Carmen Bonita, born in Souris, N.D., in 1907.

Haschall Phelps Miller, M.D., Horse and Buggy Doctor

Haschall Phelps Miller was born June 7, 1840, in Oneida County, N.Y., to Lester Phelps Miller and Orpha Hinman Miller. His family moved to Vernon County, Wisc., when he was 15.

He attended Viroqua High School in the Vernon County Seat of Viroqua and then Allamakee College in Iowa. He graduated from Rush Medical College in Chicago in 1866 and commenced the practice of medicine in the village of Ontario in Vernon County. He later moved his family and his practice to the larger town of Norwalk, where he was held in high regard and delivered most of the town's babies.

Haschall married Harriet Elizabeth "Hattie" Cottrell in 1866, the year he started his medical practice. She was the daughter of Stephen D. Cottrell and Cynthia Pierce Whitcomb Cottrell and was born in 1847 in Ohio. Their two-story, wood house at 211 Hettman in Norwalk still stands. A small building that housed his medical office has been moved a few blocks away, but the barn that kept his buggy and sleigh out of the weather still stands.

The Norwalk Star reported his death at the age of 74 in its Jan. 30, 1914, edition, saying in part, "Few men would be more missed in the community than will Doctor Miller. Although no longer active in business or social circles, he was a most familiar figure in the community and possessed a wide acquaintance, gained through his long service to humanity as a practitioner. He was well informed on a great variety of subjects and kept posted on current topics.. ."

Two and one-half years later, the newspaper reported the death of his widow at the age of 69, saying in part she had been "for many years a highly esteemed resident of Norwalk." Both Haschall and Hattie are buried in Pilgrim's Home Cemetery overlooking the town from a hillside a few miles from where Irish immigrants John and Bridget Nolan farmed. in Monroe County.

The children of Haschall Phelps Miller and Harriet Elizabeth Cottrell Miller were:

* Howard C. Miller, born in 1868, and lived with his wife, Ida, on a farm at Viroqua and died at the age of 92 in about 1960. He was a minor league baseball pitcher of local renown and ran a country store at Ontario and taught school. Howard and Ida had a daughter, Flossie, who married Norwalk dentist Dr. Howard Kundert in 1908; the Kunderts had three children, Paul, Doris and Karl.
* Harvey S. Miller, whose wife's name was Helen. They had a son, possibly named Haschall, and a daughter, Barbara. He was a railroad brakeman who died in a train wreck near Chicago in 1914.
* Lester D. Miller, who died as a child.
* Bessie Phelps Miller, born Nov. 22, 1879, in Ontario. She was a school teacher in Minneapolis, where she died Aug. 8, 1958. She never married.
* Bertha Orpha Miller, born Nov. 7, 1879, in Ontario. She married Lewis Elmer Nolan April 12, 1900 in Tomah, Wisc., became a teacher and lived in Cass Lake, Minn., where she died Feb. 23, 1959. Her life, and that of Lewis Elmer, is covered on another page.
* Mary H. Miller, born in 1878. She married Luke Syverson and lived in Aurora, Ill., where she died. They had an adopted daughter, Lois.

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Additional Sources of Information

* "Memoirs of Vernon County", on file at the Vernon County Historical Society at Viroqua, Wisc.
* "History of Vernon County", on file at the Vernon County Historical Society.
* Walnut Mound Cemetery Records, kept by Chester H. Ames of DeSoto, Wisc.
* "Generation Ancestor Tables, Book 4", published by the Central New York Genealogical Society in Syracuse, N.Y.
* 1840 and 1850 Census of Oneida County, N.Y., Vernon Township.
* National Archives, military service records of Selencas Cassender Miller.
* Monroe-Juneau-Jackson Counties Genealogical Workshop Newsletter.
* Bible, Church and Cemetery Records of Oneida County, N.Y., Vol. 5, compiled by DAR and on LDS microfilm. Includes Knoxboro Cemetery.
* Norwalk, Wisc., town records.
* 1870 and 1880 Census of Vernon County.
Norwalk Star, Jan. 30, 1914, and July 14, 1916.

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