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Thursday, July 24, 2014

Our Colonial Ancestor, David Miller, and Cattle Brands

Colonial Williamsburg
 In rural colonial America, settlers allowed their, cattle, horses and pigs, to roam free, hence the need arose for identifying livestock. This was done by making slits or cuts in the ears and also by the use of “cattle marks” or brandings. 

Some counties registered these brands and the original records often times described the brand and even added a drawing of such. Here are two examples from South Carolina:

November 21 [cattle brand mark of spade]: This Day Came Jeremiah Varreen & Recorded his Marke for Cattle, Hoggs & being a Spade in both Ears. 
The very common spade shape used for
colonial cattle marks

March 14: This Day Came Mr. Stephen Fox & Recorded his Ear Markes for Cattle & hogs, viz. one Crop in ye Left Ear and a Halfpenny under ye Right Ear and has under lasches under both Ears & Burn’d Markes with an [drawing of a cattle brand mark resembling a C].

The following is a transcription of a similar record for our Miller’s and their Emmett (aka Emmott)  in-laws, and while the detail is missing, these records do place our ancestors in Somerset County, Maryland in 1689.

Remember, David Miller (below) is Abraham Miller’s father and our William Miller’s grandfather.  Abraham Emmett was married to David’s sisters:

Cattle Marks (1685-1723); Somerset Co., MD 
Contributed to the USGenWeb Archives by Osiris Johnson  
Copyright.  All Rights Reserved.
Transcribed by Osiris Johnson  
 from CR 50,078 of the Maryland Archives
---------- Page 14 ----------
William Law - 28 June 1689
James Smith - 17 December 1688
Lawrence Connor - 18 July 1689
Abraham Emmett - 30 July 1689
John Emmett Junr  - 30 July 1689
Josias Emmett - 30 July 1689
John Steel - 30 July 1689
David Miller - 30 July 1689
William Owens - 7 August 1689
William Carey - 12 October 1689
Thomas Davis of Church???k of Nansumum county but formerly of Somerset county in the province of Maryland give to Lewis Knight - 13 April 1686
Lewis Knight gives to William Porter - 12 December 1689
William White - 18 December 1689
William White - 18 December 1689
William White - 18 December 1689
Stevens White 18 December 1689
Read more about cattle marks at:                                                  

Sunday, June 1, 2014

A Clue As To Why Our Miller's Left Ireland

The countryside near Lifford, Ireland
In the previous post we read about the Miller's pastor in the tiny village of Ballindrait which is near the larger town of Lifford, County Donegal, Ireland. The following excerpt from In The Days of Laggan (ordering information at end of post) give us a fascinating slice of history, as well as clue as to why they left their home and came to America:

"In 1654 "The Presbytery" divided into three sub-Presbyteries, or "meetings," as they were called, viz., Antrim, Down and Laggan, and three years afterwards these were further subdivided, two additional ones being formed, viz.. Route and Tyrone.

"We know nothing of the proceedings of the Laggan Presbytery during the first eighteen years of its existence, though it is evident that a record of its meetings during these years was kept, for the old Minutes, which are still happily to the fore, and which date from the 21st of August, 1672, begin with the words, A continuation of the Register Book of the Presbyterie of the Lagan'.

"What became of the Minute Book of which the existing one is a continuation we cannot tell; it was probably lost during the times of trouble and persecution that the Church passed through in after years, or perhaps it met with the fate which the old volume that still exists once narrowly escaped: In the year 1681, the High Sheriff of Donegal was eagerly seeking for it, in the hope that it might contain some entries that would incriminate certain members of the Presbytery who were at this time on their trial for keeping a public fast, and for which offence they were imprisoned for eight months in Lifford gaol [jail]. The Sheriff's quest was disappointed by the energy  and prudence of Mr. Trail, minister of Ballindrait, in whose hands this book then was, and who being at a meeting of the Presbytery in St. Johnston, and hearing there that the authorities were searching for it, mounted his horse in all haste, and riding home, had it conveyed to a place of safety. Had the lost volume escaped the ravages of time, it would no doubt have told us of some interesting events that must now be for ever untold, and of some good men whose names and memories are now unknown. It is evident that there was not any lengthened interruption of the meetings of the Presbytery between the time covered by the lost volume and the opening of the existing one, such as was afterwards between the years 1681-90, as we find in the Minutes of the meeting held at St. Johnston, on the ___? of August, 1672 — the first of which we have any official record — references to several appointments made at the previous meeting: amongst others, “Master John Heart reports that by reason of the straits of the poor of his own congregation, he could not bring in the collection formerly appointed by the meeting." From this date onward, for almost ten years, the meetings of the Presbytery were held without interruption and with the utmost regularity, up till persecution in 1681 put a stop to them for almost the next ten years, during which time even meetings for public worship were suppressed and most of the ministers compelled to fly from the country." 

I am quite certain that had the Minute Book survived, we would have found the names of our Miller ancestors in it, as well as that of Ninian Dunlap, David Miller's father-in-law. Remember, David Miller was the grandfather of our William Miller and father of Abraham Miller (use search box to the right to find other posts about David Miller and Ninian Dunlap).

So, escaping religious persecution could have been a leading cause for so much migration to America from this area and during this time period. In fact, this is precisely why the Rev. Traill left Ireland:

" It is probable that upon his release from prison [in Lifford near Ballindrait] in 1682 Traill went directly to Maryland where he knew he would be among friends. The records of Somerset County, Maryland, show that he acquired 133 acres on the Pocomoke River near Rehoboth on May 8, 1686, and it is probable that he was the founder of the Presbyterian Church at Rehoboth. He was evidently held in marked esteem as he received bequests from John White in 1685 and from John Shipway in 1687. In November, 1689, he was one of the signers of a petition to William and Mary asking "protection in securing our religion, lives and liberty under Protestant Governors." Somerset County records show that in February, 1690, he gave a friend a power of attorney to convey land, which was doubtless done as an incident of his return to Scotland, where on September 17, 1690, he became pastor of the church of Borthwick, near Edinburgh." (source: 

Other historical records bear out that Somerset County was a popular location for the Rev. Traill's congregation to settle: "Maryland authorities encouraged settlers with both a liberal land policy and religious tolerance, attracting... others to settle in Somerset County in the early 1660s... Whether they came together on a single ship or separately over a period of years, Presbyterian families from Lifford in Co. Donegal settled in Somerset County before 1680. In a later petition, twenty of them wrote as '... the greatest number of us born and educated in Ireland under the ministry of Mr. William Traill (sic) presbiterian minister formerly at Lifford'." (Source:

In previous posts we learned that this is where our Miller's immigrated, and that David Miller and Ninian Dunlap were part of the above-mentioned twenty petitioners.  From the excellent research done by fellow family historian Chalmers Williams, we know that the earliest date we have thus far of David Miller living in Somerset County, Maryland is 1688, and that Ninian Dunlap was also living in Somerset County, Maryland, at least by 1689. 

It seems very obvious that the Miller's and their in-laws followed their spiritual leader to America. They were probably very sad when, in 1690, Rev. Trail returned to his native Scotland, no doubt prompting the petition of 1706 mentioned above wherein these settlers, including David Miller, sent out a plea for a new pastor (see:

Click here for one place to order "In the Days of Laggan":

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Ballindrait - The Home of Our Miller's and the famous Reverend Traill

Now that we know for sure that our William Miller’s forefathers came from in or near the village of Ballindrait (which is near the larger town of Lifford in the Laggan Presbytery, County Donegal, Ireland), it is interesting to learn the history of this area. The Miller’s no doubt came to this area of Northern Ireland from their homeland in Scotland, along with many thousands of others, for the “planned process of colonisation (sic)” ( of Ulster.  Therefore, it is of interest to read about the history or this era.  

From the Book In The Days Of The Laggan Presbytery we read:  “The place that had the distinction of giving both a local habitation and a name to the second Presbytery established in Ireland, is not, as might have been expected, situated in either of the ultra Presbyterian Counties of Antrim or Down, but in dark and distant Donegal. It should be remembered, however, that there are two Donegal’s — an outer and an inner. The former, which is almost wholly Roman Catholic, and from which the County to a large extent takes its character and complexion in the eye of the public, consists of the extensive mountainous districts that lie along the western seaboard, and at some points run far inland. The latter consists of the more flat and fertile country that lies between the mountains and the river Foyle and the eastern boundary of the County. It is largely Protestant, and from a very early period in history has been known as the Laggan, i.e., the low or level country. In the days of the Ulster Plantation, from 1607 onwards, this district, on account of its fertility and also from the fact that the undertakers or persons who obtained the grant of estates in it, were chiefly Scotchmen, was largely peopled by immigrants from Scotland, whose descendants, unto this day, till the fields their forefathers then acquired, and keep to the Presbyterian principles they brought with them from their native land” (source:   
The River Foyle

You will remember from previous posts that we know our Miller’s were part of the Reverend Traill’s congregation in the village of Ballindrait.  This brave man is mentioned in the history of Laggan Presbytery: “Mr. Trail of Ballindrait was, as is shown by his evidence before the Privy Council regarding the Fast kept by the Presbytery in 1681, an able and honest man. When asked why he had not taken the oath of supremacy (which required any person taking public or church office to swear allegiance to the King of England as Supreme Governor of the Church of England, and failure to do so was to be treated as treasonable), he replied that he had never been asked to take it, adding "that he considered it juggling with the King and much more with God to take an oath that is capable of a sound sense, and yet to keep that sound sense in his mind, but let the sense be written down together with the oath, and that will clear the matter." " Besides," said he, " I lie under the punishment imposed by law for refusing the oath of supremacy." When one of the Committee asked — "What is that?" Mr. Trail replied, "I want all preferment." Whereupon Lord Lanesborough asked, "Would you take it if they would give you a good benefice ? " and Mr. Trail replied, " No, my Lord, I have not said that yet. I am content to be as I am without that."

(to be continued)

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Happy Mother's Day!

happy mother's day to all!!

from donna

Monday, May 5, 2014

More Information From Member, Don Lancaster

Here is more information from follower Don Lancaster about his ancestors in Cecil County, MD: 

I believe Foard is interchangeable with Ford.

We are trying to see if there is a connection between the Lancasters and the our Millers via the Fords (see previous post for more information). 

PLEASE NOTE:  The last paragraph below mentions that William Miller was co-owner of a mill with Richard Ford in Cecil County, MD.  The land record that I have (which I will try to publish in the next post) says that William and Rebecca own this land that they previously purchased for a "water mill" and are selling it to Richard Ford and to William's brother, Benjamin Miller in September 1780.

Hispaniola & Bullen's Range is another piece of the history of the Fords, Biddle, and Alexander Family through William Bouldin.

His son Richard and Mary Hews daughter, Mary Tamizon Bouldin, married Richard Foard part of that property was willed to his wife and Richard Foard, sister Tamizon Foard, married Eli Alexande brother of David and son of Martin Alexander.

Another Brother of Richard Foard George and John, George had two daughter’s that married into Bouldin family and John Foard, son Richard Sr daughter Sarah married a Biddle sister of my 4th Grt Grandmother Lydia Rebecca Foard Lancaster.

I also have an Abraham Miller that I don’t think is of the Millers of Washington Co Md he married a Mary Zeller abt 1808.  This date is of when it was filed so they may have married before abt 1804.

I have a Jesse Hollingsworth of Cecil Co Hollingsworth,  make a very large land transaction to a John Miller of Washington Co in 1792  we believe that Daniel B Miller is the Father of Abraham.

Also Mary Zeller Miller remarried 1810 to a Nathaniel Cromwell and she dies in 1824

My Lancaster family married into the Ford Family as I had said before the grandfather of this marriage was an Uncle to Sarah Husbands and she married a Col Henry Hollingsworth brother of Jesse Hollingsworth.

And the Richard Ford Jr, co-owner with William Miller on that mill was brother-in-law to the Lancaster/Ford Marriage.  My 3rd Grt Grandfather was John W Miller Born 1805-1887, and he named his son’s Daniel W, John Luther, Jacob Andrew, and David Zeller miller.

Thanks for the information Don (I thought I posted this last year, but I just found it in "Drafts"...sorry Don!).

Contact Don Lancaster at:   or

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

William Miller's Ancestors From Ballindrait, County Donegal, Ireland!

In the last post we read that William Miller's grandfather (and Abraham's father) was David Miller who had studied under the tutelage of William Trail of Lifford, County Donegal, Ireland.

The following excerpt from an article entitled "From Lifford to Chesapeake; The Advent of the Scotch -Irish in America" by John F. Polk, Ph.D., Havre de Grace, Maryland, pinpoints exactly where Rev. Trail's first assignment was...just about 3 miles away in the little village where our Miller's no doubt lived:  "William Trail moved to Ireland and was finally ordained in 1673 at Lifford ["county seat" of County Donegal, Northern Ireland]. He served as minister in Ballindrait until his departure for America a decade later." (

A lovely garden in Ballindrait
(Picture courtesy of:
Ballindrait is a small, peaceful village nestled in the rolling countryside. There are a handful of tiny villages all from 1 to 2 miles away, including Baile an Droichnid, Gortin, Rossgeir, Brownfield, Killindarragh and Ardnaglass, but an online search reveals that Ballindrait was home to the only Presbyterian Church in this area. As this is the church we know our Miller's attended, if they weren't from Ballindrait, they were no doubt from one of these surrounding villages.  

Wouldn't it be lovely to visit this beautiful countryside in Ireland and know we might be walking where they walked?! More on this wonderful story in our next post.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Our Miller's of Lifford, County Donegal, Ireland

Below is a copy of an actual 1706 document held at the Public Records Office of Ireland (PRONI) and graciously made available through the Ulster Ancestry organization.  

This letter actually lists David Miller, the grandfather of our William Miller and father of Abraham Miller. David was living in Newcastle County, Pennsylvania [later Delaware], and apparently he, his family and friends were appealing to Presbytery in Scotland, their "mother church," for aid in building their congregation there in America.

This is a critical document because it contains the "motherlode" of all genealogical research--the identification of where our immigrant ancestors came from! We read that "...the greatest number of us [were] born and educated in (sic) Irland under the ministry of one William Traill, a (sic) presbiterian minister formerly of Lifford, Co. Donegal [Ireland]..." We not only learn that the Miller's were from Northern Ireland, thus being part of the Scots-Irish Ulster plantations, but we can actually pinpoint the town they hailed from in Ireland! Jackpot!

As you examine the signers of this letter, you find not only the name of our ancestor, David Miller, but also his brother, Alexander Miller, as well as Abraham Emott (a brother-in-law of David and Alexander, having married their sister, Jane), and Abraham's brother, John Emott.

So our Miller ancestors came from Lifford in County Donegal, Northern Ireland! For more information about their connection to the Reverend Traill, enter "Traill" in the search box of this blog.

Here is a youtube video that will give you a taste of what this village looks like now! Wouldn't it be lovely to be able to visit there in person? Someday... (it might not come through as a hot link, so you''ll have to cut and paste this website address into your server's address box):