Thursday, March 7, 2013

Discovery and Remembrance -- Part I


I have noted previously that one motivation sometimes admitted to as a reason for pursuing the study of genealogy is the hope of perhaps finding and confirming relationships to famous people.  This post is the account of how I happened to stumble into such a discovery. 

One of the mysteries I had in my maternal Carpenter genealogy was finding information about the early American roots of the family of my gg-grandmother, Ruth Ann Miller.  Ruth was born in Cumberland, Rhode Island on August 23, 1828 to Eber Miller and Abby (Hunt) Miller.  

I knew that the Millers lived in Cumberland, Rhode Island for at least two generations before Ruth was born, because her father, Eber, and her grandfather, Asquare (referred to in some genealogical research as "Squire"), are both buried in Rhode Island Historical Cemetery -- Cumberland 3 on Dexter Street in Cumberland.  Ruth is also buried there with her husband Samuel Carpenter.

Cumberland Cemetery No. 3, Dexter Street, Cumberland, Rhode Island  



Cumberland Cemetery No. 3, Dexter Street, Cumberland, Rhode Island

Asquare Miller gravestone (Ruth's grandfather)

Eber Miller's gravestone (Ruth's father) 

The gravestone of Ruth Ann Miller, wife of Samuel Carpenter

I also knew that the home my mother grew up in at 551 High Street in Cumberland  had come into the Carpenter family through the marriage of Samuel Carpenter to Ruth Miller in 1852 (see, This Old House post of February 8, 2013).  I did not know much more than that until very recently.

The former Miller/Carpenter home at 551 High Street, Cumberland, RI
My early Carpenter ancestors were among the founding families of Rehoboth, Massachusetts (circa 1638 - 1643).  Rehoboth was one of the early towns in Massachusetts to incorporate (1645).  While the town is now geographically much smaller, at one time it encompassed the locations of Seekonk, Massachusetts and East Providence, Rhode Island.  It also included parts of what is now Attleboro, North Attleboro, Swansea and Somerset, Massachusetts as well as parts of Barrington, Bristol, Warren, Pawtucket, Woonsocket and (importantly for this account) Cumberland, Rhode Island.  [It is no wonder that the name of the town means “enlargement” in Hebrew – it was a large space capable of supporting a rapidly expanding population.] 

Seal of Rehoboth, Massachusetts
A couple of months ago while looking for information about Rehoboth, I stumbled across a reference to early families in Rehoboth.  It included my Carpenter ancestors, but it also noted that among early Rehoboth residents were families with the last name Miller, Millerd or Millard – all spellings seemingly used interchangeably for the same related family.  Further digging led me to the conclusion that my gg-grandmother, Ruth Miller, whose family lived in Cumberland, Rhode Island, was connected to the Rehoboth Millers/Millerds/Millards.

An article in The Detroit Society for Genealogical Research Magazine (Vol. XXIII, No. 1, Fall 1959) provided the crucial key that unlocked the mystery of the early roots of the family of Ruth, Eber and Asquare Miller of Cumberland, Rhode Island -- the long-term owners of 551 High Street in Cumberland depicted above.  The Millards of Rehoboth, Massachusetts by Frances Davis McTeer and Frederick C. Warner stated that all the Millers, Millerds and Millards found in the vital records of Rehoboth descended from one John Millard, Sr. who was a proprietor of Rehoboth in 1643.  The authors present a well-reasoned and clear correction of a 1916 Millard genealogy that stated, “There is no proof beyond circumstantial evidence that John Millard Jr. and the first Robert Millard were sons of John Millard Sr.; but neither is there the slightest reason to doubt that they were.”  [Giddings, The Millard Ancestry of  . . . , p. 248.]  However, the precise relationship of Robert Millard to John Millard Sr. of Rehoboth is not essential to this account, because the relationships examined here proceed from the descendants of Robert Millard, whether or not he is actually the son of John Millard Sr.

Based on the extensive research of McTeer and Warner in The Millards of Rehoboth, Massachusetts, there is little question that ROBERT MILLARD, almost certainly the older son of John Millard Sr. by John's first wife, was married to Elizabeth Sabin at Rehoboth on December 24, 1662.  They had ten children (four girls and six boys) all of whom were born in Rehoboth.  Among the six boys were Nehemiah, born June 8, 1668, and Ephraim, born in 1676.  [More will be said about Nehemiah in Part II of this piece tomorrow.]

EPHRAIM MILLARD married Experience White in Mendon, Massachusetts on February 10, 1701/2 and they had eight children (six girls and two boys).  One of the boys was Daniel Millard, born July 15, 1713.

DANIEL MILLARD/MILLER married Hannah Thayer in Rehoboth on September 7, 1735.  In or around 1754 Daniel and Hannah moved to Cumberland after they sold 49 acres (formerly the land of Daniel's father) to one John Barney by deed acknowledged in Providence on September 28, 1754.  Both Daniel and Hannah lived in Cumberland until their deaths there in 1798 and 1788 respectively.  The inscription on "Elder Daniel Miller's gravestone indicates he was pastor of the First Baptist Church of Cumberland for over fifty years.  [Apparently around the time they moved to Cumberland, Daniel changed the spelling of his surname to "Miller" from "Millard."]   Daniel and Hannah had ten children (seven girls and three boys).  The first six, including son Peter Miller, were born in Rehoboth.  The other three were born in Cumberland.

PETER MILLER was born on June 16, 1745 in Rehoboth.  He married Anna Aldrich, daughter of Capt. Jonathan Aldrich and Patience (Gaskill) Aldrich, on November 13, 1766 in Cumberland.  [More will be presented on Anna Aldrich in future posts.]  Peter and Anna had eight children, all born in Cumberland.  Among their four daughters and four sons, was a son Squire ("Asquare" according to his gravestone pictured above and in family documents I possess).

ASQUARE MILLER was  born September 12, 1775 and he died in Cumberland on May 7, 1825.  Asquare married Amey Bishop and they had at least four sons (Namon, Aurin, Eber and Asquare, Jr.).

EBER MILLER was born on April 24, 1805 and died in Cumberland on March 21, 1877.  He is buried in Cumberland Cemetery No. 3 along with his father Asquare, his mother Amey and his wife Abby.  Eber  married Abby Hunt and they had at least two daughters -- Ruth Ann born on August 23, 1828 and Cornelia born in 1833.  RUTH ANN MILLER is my great great grandmother.  She married Samuel Carpenter on April 12, 1852. 
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Photos of Cumberland Cemetery No. 3 and all gravestones by the author, John D. Tew (April 2010).

Image of the Seal of Rehoboth, Massachusetts is used here under a claim of  fair use because the image is only used to illustrate the appearance of the seal and the year of incorporation.  Seal found at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:RehobothSeal.png 

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Copyright 2013, John D. Tew
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