Minter Buse Miller|
Thomas E. Johnson
by Richard R. Wilt
The second son of Benjamin and Sarah Black Miller is my great great grandfather, Minter Buse Miller brother of Lewis Miller.
Minter was born on his father's farm in on the head waters of Hacker's Creek. Not much is known about Minter's life while growing up and doesn't appear on any records until he meets and marries Frances Fitzpatrick, a young beautiful Irish lass. Frances was the daughter of David and Margaret Powers Fitzpatrick. Minter and Frances were married in Barbour County on January 18, 1855. Their first daughter was born on December 13, 1855 and they named her Margaret. Margaret only lived for a short time and passed away on January 18, 1856 in Barbour County, VA. Minter and Frances had their second child on May 13, 1858 and she was listed as being born in Upshur County, VA. The second child was born on May 13, 1858 and they named her Harriett.
Frances' family sold their farm located at the mouth of Yankee Run in Upshur County and removed to Gilmer County. The rumor was David was a southern sympathizer and decided to sell out and move his family away from Upshur County where most of the citizens leaned toward the Union. Minter also moved with his wife and new child to Gilmer County.
Soon after their move to Gilmer County, Frances became ill and died when her daughter, Harriett was about nine months old. Being distraught and having a small child to care for Minter moved back to Upshur County where he engaged in an arranged marriage with a lady from a well to do family of Randolph County. Her name was Elizabeth Alexander and was nearly fifteen years older than Minter.
Minter and Elizabeth were married on October 3, 1859 With the marriage came a substantial dowry. With this dowry Minter obtained a small farm in Upshur County near the small town of Kesling Mills.
Soon after moving back to Upshur County in late 1859 tensions were building between the north and the south and much of this tension effected families in Upshur County. Many decided to sell their farms and move south and west to counties that were leaning toward the Confederacy. Minter having money started buying some of those farms. Over the next five years Minter became a substantial land owner.
When the war started Minter joined the 133rd Upshur County Militia which was the home guard dedicated to the Union. He maintained his farm while fighting in several engagements with the Confederate while in the Union militia.
After the war Minter continued with his farming in Upshur County. He grew wheat and cattle and by the early 1870s had become a prominent respected farmer in the area.
In the fall of 1871 Minter had gone into a partnership with a fellow farmer by the name of James Lewis. They were both growing sorghum to process into molasses. One owned the sorghum press and the other owned the horse to operate the press.
They both had sorghum to process. During the operation the two men began to argue over who should get a larger share and a fight ensued. The men were throwing rocks at each other and Mrs. Lewis stepped in to stop the fight and was struck by a rock and died from a blow to the head. Mr. Lewis went directly to the county sheriff and there was a warrant issued for Minter for the murder of Mrs. Lewis.
Minter panicked and ran from being arrested for murder. There was an indictment and read "State of West Virginia Vs Minter B. Miller indicted for murder on May 17, 1872" with an order of Alias Copias issued for the 1st day of the next court in the fall of 1872.
Minter vanishes and shows up in Ohio where he transferred all of his holdings in Upshur County to a man by the name of John Miller. His wife, Elizabeth and Harriett remained on the 65 acre farm at Kesling Mills. No record of Minter Buse Miller can be found after the sell of his holdings in Upshur County. Harriet, Minter's daughter grew up on the Upshur County farm living with her step mother, Elizabeth Alexander Miller. When Harriet was in her teens she became involved with a young man, Noah Alfred Alexander, her stepmother's nephew. Harriet became pregnant and had a son, Luther David Miller on July 18, 1874.
When Luther was three years old Harriet met and married Charles Wesley Robinson on October 27, 1878. To this married a girl, Lora May Robinson was born on July 15, 1879. Harriet became ill with Diphtheria and passed away on December 28, 1880. This left Charles with two small children which he felt he could not care for. Charles left Luther with Elizabeth and Luther remained on the farm at Kesling Mills living with Elizabeth. The Jacob Shreve family of Robinson Run, Harrison County, WV were family friends and offered to take Lora into their family. Lora grew to be an adult with the Shreve family until she married John Nelson Stiles on February 3, 1897. John and Lora attended the same school, Long Run School, located at the mouth of Long Run on Bingamon Creek.
Someone must have known where Minter was because in 1883 a letter was sent to Charles W. Robinson, Harriet's husband.
This letter came from a Frank C. Warnick, a Realtor in Philadelphia PA with a deed enclosed informing Charles of the deed made out to Luther and Lora of the farm located at Kesling Mills. Luther and Lora were the grandchildren of Minter. He was never known to have used the name of Minter B. Miller again except when he filed for land in Arkansas where he had to use his correct name in an attempt to claim an extra section of land. Under an agreement at the end of the Civil War, all honorably discharged Union Soldiers were eligible for an additional section of land under the Kansas Land Grant. He did receive one section of land in Kansas under the name of Thomas E. Johnson. (this is how I made the connection of the two names). Inquiries were made by Geo W. O’Neal Timber & Realty Company. This letter was written on September, 1909 to John N. Stiles, husband of Lora May Robinson Stiles
John.N. Stiles. esq
RFD. 2 Box.10, Worthington, W.Va.
Dear Sir:- I am in receipt of your valued favor and replying beg to say that from my information that Minter B. Miller was not a normally Discharged Union Soldier, but served in the Militia and was never discharged but disbanded. The heirs would have no rights to addition Homestead unless it should be known that he was normally discharged after to day service in the Union Army. In event you find any proof of such service kindly call my attention to same as he made a fractional Homestead entry in the state of Kansas in year 1871. There is probably a piece of land once owned by him in that security still vested in his estate, and his heirs because of a deed executed prior to his leaving there planning the said land in trust for his heirs. It seems that some of the land has been sold, but I am not sure that it all has been sold or not, but I am rather in the belief that his heirs have perfect title to a 61 acre tract appears he had less ...tract and sold same of trace the 100 acres seems to have been deeded away and quite claim or his heirs of recent years, yet there another trust and title to which possibly belongs to the heirs. What do you know about this, and have you the numbers of the land or survey of same. Did you wife sell or quit claim her interests to all lands owned by her father, or to merely one of the tracts? Thanking you for an early reply, beg to remain Very truly yours, (signed) G.W. ONeal
The reason given for the inquiry was that the family of Thomas E. Johnson had learned that there was a sum of money left in a bank in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania possibly belonging to his heirs. This letter originated in Harrison, Arkansas. Minter had left Elizabeth and Harriet in Upshur County. After arriving in Reno County, Kansas he met and married Sarah Samantha Diantha Wilson, the daughter of Andrew J. and Melissa Barton Wilson on July 16, 1872. To this marriage there were seven children:
Clinton, Essa, Charles, Margerete, Rose, Minter, and Henry Johnson.
1880 Census Pleasant Township County of Willson, Kansas June 13/14 1880
Johnson, Thomas head age 36
Sarah W F wife age 36
Clinton W M son age 7
Essa W F daughter age 5
Charles W M son age 2
Margt W F March daughter age 2/12
Johnson Boarding House in Hutchinson, Reno County, Kansas
It appears that Thomas left his wife and children with the family business of either a boarding house or small hotel. He again appears in Hutchinson, Arkansas in 1898 where he tries to obtain an other section of land with a women that is listed on the application as being his wife, even though he had left one wife in West Virginia and another in Kansas.
Using this information I began searching for Thomas E. Johnson alias Minter B. Miller.
Further research found that Thomas E. Johnson arrived in Los Angeles, California in 1903 where he was either the owner or proprietor of a Hotel or a Rooming House. He lived in Los Angeles until his death on February 17, 1904. He was buried by the Bresee Brothers Funeral Home in the Rosedale Cemetery located in Los Angeles, California.
I would like to put a marker on Minter's grave in California but have not had any luck to date. I have been trying to find someone living in the Los Angeles area and would be willing to check it out. I will continue to work with Rose Dale Cemetery Association but have not had any luck so far.
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