Monday, October 20, 2014

Sketch of Hannah Bigler Miller

Hannah Miller, daughter of Jacob Bigler and Elisabeth Harvey Bigler, born June 24, 1820 at Harrison Co., Virginia. Little is known of her childhood and youth. Her mother died when she was about seven years old leaving three children, Henry, Hannah and Emeline. They stayed at the home of their grandmother Harvey until the marriage or their father to Sarah Cunningham. After this marriage other children were born, Adam, Mark, Andrew, Jacob and Sally.

In speaking of her childhood home Hannah mentioned the numerous negro children who lived near them and worked on the surrounding plantations. Her opportunities for schooling were limited due to the fact that children on the frontiers were expected to help on the farm and in the home for the maintenance of the family.

In 1838 Jacob Bigler and family accepted the Mormon gospel and moved to Far West where the body of the church was then located. At the time the Saints were being driven from place to place by their enemies. The following year the Saints were exterminated from the state Missouri and went to Illinois. The Bigler family located in Adams County. In 1839 they moved up into Hancock County about four miles from Carthage and carried on farming. They endured persecution and the privations incident to the establishment of the Latter Day gospel.

Hannah related an incident in the expulsion from Missouri. As they were nearing their day's travel, they decided to go farther. That very night the Haun's Mill massacre occurred. Had they remained there as they first intended, they would undoubtedly have met the same fate as did some of their friends. This occurrence left such an impression on Hannah's mind with so many other tragic incidents that transpired in her early life which in some girls would have developed fear and weakness, but to her was given courage and strength of character and she had no fear of friend or foe.

As a girl beaming with a cheerful disposition and a heart full of love and sympathy for others, she was ever ready to assist those who needed her help. In the early summer of 1844 she went into the home of Daniel A. Miller whose wife lay seriously ill. There were five young children ranging from three to ten years. Here Hannah nursed the sick mother, cared tor the children and did the work of the home. After months of suffering the afflicted wife (of Daniel A. Miller) passed away on Sept. 1st, 1844.

Hannah remained in the Miller home sometime after this death. The children dearly loved her and she in return loved them. Later their aunt Elmira Pond Milller took care of them until the 29th of Dec. 1844 when Hannah became the wife of Daniel A. Miller.

Joseph Smith, the prophet, and his brother, Hyrum had been martyred at Carthage and persecution of the Saints continued. Many of their homes had been burned and the inmates left destitute. Very often they were cared for by the Miller family. Aunt Hannah, as she was now lovingly called, always had house room and heart room for those in distress.

In Feb. 1846 most of the Saints were compelled to leave their homes and they crossed the Mississippi River on the ice. On the 1st of March of that year Daniel A. and his brother, Henry W., disposed of what property they could and fitted up wagons to move westward with the Saints to the Rocky Mountains. Aunt Hannah's first baby was just a few weeks old when they left their home. She also had the five motherless children of her husband's to care for. The weather was cold and stormy, the bleak winds howled through their wagon covers as they traveled day after day through a wild desolate country. Their progress was very slow. They had to make roads and build bridges over streams. The Miller families were in the advanced company of Saints. They formed temporary settlements along the way for those Saints who could go no farther and for those who should follow later on.

They traveled on till the middle of June when they reached the Missouri River. It was then decided that the Saints should remain here till the next spring. The Miller brothers bought a house and some land of a Frenchman near Misquito Creek about nine miles east of the Missouri River. Several families located here. At first it was called Miller's Hollow, but since it was headquarters for the enrollment of the Mormon Battalion, it later received the name of Kanesville in honor of Col. Kane. Years later it was called Council Bluffs. Aunt Hannah's oldest son was born here the 12th of Aug. 1847.

In the spring of 1848 it was arranged between the Miller brothers that Daniel A. should move on to the Great Salt Lake Valley while Henry W. remained in their new location until he could dispose of it.

The outfit for the move West consisted of four ox-teams, two yoke to each wagon, and a horse driven by Aunt Hannah Miller, one horse to drive the loose stock of seven cows, seventeen sheep, four pig, and five chickens. Two young men were added to the family as teamsters making eleven persons in all that Aunt Hannah cared and cooked for throughout the whole journey.

Her husband was appointed captain of one of the ten's. President Young was in charge of the whole company of Saints. They left Kanesville the first part of June and arrived in the Salt Lake Valley on the the 4th of September 1848. Aunt Hannah not only shared the hardships connected with that long tedious journey, but she also carried the greater responsibility of her large family while her husband was in charge of 50 persons and 20 wagons.

In the early part of October the Miller family moved 16 miles North of Salt Lake and settled at the place now know as Farmington. They soon had a two-roomed log cabin built of cottonwood logs, with lumber roof and floors, also lumber doors and window. Aunt Hannah later said that never before nor since was she happier than she was in that log cabin. When we consider the many weeks she lived in a . wagon, cooking food for 11 persons on a campfire, baking bread in a bake kettle, climbing in and out of the wagon, making beds down and rolling them up again, washing their clothes by a river or creek bank, drying them on the bushes, driving a team all day, besides watching five small children one less than a year old, in the wagon, could we wonder at her happiness when she moved into her two roomed log cabin?

She told of how her husband put up shelves in one corner of her kitchen where she kept her food and dishes, over which she hung a curtain. He also made some benches to sit on and a table. She told of their killing a beef late that fall and with the corn meal and flour they had brought with them, they had plenty to eat and some to spare to the four other families who lived here and were less fortunate. Aunt Hannah was a good manager and efficient housekeeper. She was left so much alone with her large growing family to discipline while her husband did missionary work, but she never complained. From the sheep they brought with them, the wool was taken, after which it was washed, picked, carded, spun and woven into cloth all in the home. This furnished much of the clothing for the family.

Grandma Miller was blessed with some things that many others did not have. She never failed to share with them. As time went on the Millers owned quite a large herd of sheep and a mutton was often killed for home use. Her children tell of how their mother would send them with a piece to this sister and a piece to that one. She would say, "I know she hasn't had any fresh meat for a long time and would like some." This was the case with everything that she had which others did not have. One of the outstanding features of her life was her generosity.

Her home was never too full to hold one more person and her table never too crowded to feed the hungry. Though cheerful, yet unassuming, she was a friend to all. Her greatest strength was that of a true wife and mother. To her were born ten children, four sons and six daughters. All but one survived her. She also reared seven motherless children of her husband's by his first wife besides caring for four others who lived several years at her home.

If there could have been any partiality shown toward any of the children, it was in favor of the motherless ones. She unselfishly did a mother's part toward them all. Neighbor's children loved to gather there and were always handed a slice of bread and butter whenever her own children were. Years later one of these children, now grown to manhood, in passing the Miller home said, “There lives a woman who is a mother to everybody."

Grandma Miller lived her religion every day of her life. She was always the same, staunch and true to her friends, full of humility and devotion. She accepted and lived every principle of the gospel.
Her death occurred at her home in her eighty-fifth year on March 13, 1905. The morning of her death she sat at her breakfast table. Later in the day she realized that the end was near and called for her children and friends . She greeted them warmly and apparently did not suffer pain. She said, "I feel so tired and want to rest.”
dmckay originally shared this to Larsen, Rainsdon, McBride, Edrington
06 Aug 2009 story
1838-1905 MO, IL, UT
scotthepworth added this to Scott Allen Hepworth family tree 13 Oct 2012
Public Comments (from all member trees)
jackson0501 Hannah had another sister who died and was buried in the apple orchard by her mother and younger sister. Hannah's brother, Henry W. Bigler, was a scribe for George Albert Smith who was one of the missionaries who taught the Bigler's and he lived with George Albert Smith in Nauvoo. Hannah's cousin married George Albert Smith (first wife). Her name was Bethsheba Bigler and she became the fourth general president of the Relief Society and matron of the Salt Lake Temple. Henry W. Bigler and Elizabeth Bigler, Hannah's brother and sister, joined the Mormon Battalion. Elizabeth had just married John W Hess. Henry was at Sutter's Mill in California when gold was discovered and wrote it down in his journal. There are several books written about him and he writes a good history of his life. He worked for 20 something years in the St. George Temple and did a lot of genealogy for the Bigler and Harvey families. In one of his diaries he mentions a very sacred experience he had with his wife and Hannah and her husband Daniel Miller. A diary of Daniel Miller is supposed to be in the special collects section at the Utah State University library. It is on my to read list!
sandyc46 Thanks for all the new info. It is much appreciated.

JanetteLusty Thanks. Daniel miller was my great great grandfather. He and Hannah as well as his brother Henry Miller ended up settling what was then Millers Island (now known as Antelope Islamd) in the middle of the great salt lake. Hannah married Daniel at about the age of 16 after his first wife died. She was living in his home at the time, probably to help with the children he had. Together they had several more children and then they welcomed many children into their home as "foster" children over the years. Hannah was known as a person who spent her life making certain that the widows and orphans always had food on their tables and late in her life she received a blessing wherein she was told that her descendants would never lack for bread on their tables because of her great service to make sure others did not go hungry.

No comments:

Post a Comment