The Mecklenburg Müllers

The back of Frederick Miller’s (Ernest’s brother’s) tombstone reads: We Rest Gently in Our Chamber // We are Free from Everything // Dear Children, Good Night // God Has Done Everything Well

My 2nd great-grandmother, Anna Maria Auguste Bluhm, married Ernest August John Miller on December 14, 1905 in Cambria, New York. I’ve shared the Bluhm family’s story before: Anna’s great-grandparents, Carl August Bluhm and Charlotte Sophia Bratsch, were innkeepers in the village of Blumberg, Germany, and her parents, August Bluhm and Friederike Benz, left Neuenfeld for the town of Cambria, New York in 1884 with their five children. But Ernest’s story–and the Miller’s story in general–has always been more difficult to research. Ernest was born on February 22, 1877 in Germany, and his father’s name was (probably) Fred Miller; anything beyond that, I couldn’t tell you.

But that wouldn’t make a good story, and as these stories usually go, I found a clue a few weeks ago that finally led me to the Miller family. I’ll set the scene: I’ve been trying to help an AncestryDNA cousin match find her birth parents, and it looks like we’re related through my dad’s side of the family tree. While researching last month, I stumbled on a shared cousin match between us, and after a few hours of scanning the records available online, I decided that he was likely related to my great-great-grandfather, Ernest Miller. The question, of course, was how. I traced my new cousin match back three generations to a Frederick Miller, and his obituary listed four living siblings: Charles Miller of Pendleton; Mrs. John Abraham of Rochester; Mrs. William Greenwald of Newfane; and Ernest Miller of Cambria.

Saturday, November 18, 1939 // Lockport Union-Sun and Journal

The Ernest Miller listed in the obituary had to be my great-great-grandfather, but while I now had the names of his brothers and sisters, I still didn’t know anything about Ernest’s parents or his life in Germany. A search for his brother Charles led to a lot of information about the Miller descendants in New York, but there was no trace of their parents; I received similar results when researching John and Caroline (Miller) Abraham. Ernest’s older sister, Mary (Miller) Greenwald, proved to be the missing piece in the puzzle; in the November 18, 1939 edition of the Lockport Union-Sun and Journal, I found an article titled “Newfane Couple to Mark 50th Wedding Anniversary: Mr. and Mrs. William A. Greenwald Have Made Home in Vicinity All Married Life:”

The distance from Germany to Wright’s Corners must have seemed a long one to a German boy of 20 who could speak no English, but the trip came about naturally enough and on Monday William A. Greenwald and his wife will celebrate 50 years of married life, all of which has been spent within a mile and a half of the farm to which he first came.

Born in Pommern, Germany, Mr. Greenwald went to work at the age of 18 at Meckinbor, another German town. Those were happy years for him for he enjoyed his work farming and there he courted Mary J. Miller.

But before long the girl’s parents, Mr. and Mrs. Fred Miller, were talking of going to America, where their son, Charles Miller, was already located and doing well. If Miss Miller was going, Mr. Greenwald was going too but he couldn’t wait for the Miller family for that Fall he was due to be called for army service.

So in the Spring of 1888 Mr. Greenwald started out alone and with a dollar in his pocket looked up his future brother-in-law in America who soon found him a job working on the Jacque farm at Wright’s Corners.

That Summer he was lonesome and everything seemed strange but in the Fall the Miller family arrived in Pendleton and on November 20, 1899 the couple was married in the Trinity Lutheran church, Lockport.

Mr. Greenwald worked on the Jacque farm for two and one-half years and later on a farm at Corwin station but within ten years from the time he came here the couple was located on a farm on the Hatter road. First working it on shares, Mr. Greenwald was owner before long and later bought a second 40 acres of adjoining land.

Mr. and Mrs. Greenwald still make their home on the one farm and their son, Paul, lives with his family on the other. They harvested thousands of bushels of apples and other fruit there this Fall.

Mr. Greenwald became a naturalized American citizen in 1893.

The golden wedding celebration will include a family dinner in the evening and a reception afterwards. Mr. and Mrs. Charles Miller and Mr. and Mrs. Frank Greenwald, who attended the wedding will be among the guests.

The couple has three sons, Carl, Reynold and Paul, all living in the town of Newfane and there are nine grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.

Mr. Greenwald will be 72 in December and Mrs. Greenwald was 68 in October.

Thanks to the article, I now had Ernest’s father’s name (Fred Miller) and an area in Germany to search: Meckinbor, which I believed to be a misspelling of Mecklenburg. And I did find them: in the 1870s, the Miller children–Caroline Johanne Friederike, Carl Johann Christian, Marie Johanne Caroline and Ernst August Johann–were living in the small village of Groß Varchow with their parents, Friedrich Johann Martin Müller and Auguste Sophie Dorothea Dreyer. I found the red-roofed church each of the children was baptized in, and I found a network of connections to the Miller–er, Müller–families in the Mecklenburg Lake District (the district even has its own coat of arms, complete with a crowned bull and a griffin). It’s a story seven years in the making; my advice? Keep checking your DNA matches and reading old editions of your ancestors’ local newspaper–you never know where you’ll end up.

Great Varchow
Kirche von Groß Varchow

13 thoughts on “The Mecklenburg Müllers

  1. Congratulations on breaking through this brick wall! I also have Muellers from Mecklenburg, Germany. I need to take some time to look at my DNA matches and more newspaper articles. They settled in Chicago, so I haven’t had as much luck with the big Chicago newspapers as you have!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! I’m sure there’s a connection there, but I don’t know of any Muellers/Millers who lived in Chicago (yet!). And I know I’m fortunate with the newspapers–small-town life makes it easier to track everyone. I have more luck with directories and phone books in the big cities–that could be a substitute for newspaper articles? I bet the search in Chicago makes you a better researcher–and much more patient!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thanks! Luckily I had the names of all the Muellers in Chicago from a baby book in the family, so having the names and birthdates going back to the 1850’s was a huge help. I haven’t had much luck crossing the ocean yet! I just need some time to concentrate on the search in Germany.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I just started searching in Germany too, and it’s been overwhelming. Start with Family Search–they have baptismal records from Mecklenburg that helped me!

        And you’re lucky to have that baby book–I have very few sources like that myself!

        Liked by 2 people

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