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Friday, November 7, 2014


Just some miscellaneous items of interest for you while I'm working on the 3rd Somerset County, MD, article: 
Donegal in Autumn
1.  From The Ulster Foundation’s early November newsletter:

For anyone interested in Scots-Irish families and DNA analysis,
check out Barry McCain's blog
and the Scots-Irish DNA Project website: 
Over 500 families are currently participating in the project.
Those of you whose ancestors were Highland Scots or Redshanks
will find it particularly interesting.

2.  I also now own (thanks to my brother!) the following book: Researching Scots-Irish Ancestors: The Essential Genealogical Guide to Early Modern Ulster, 1600-1800 by William Roulston.  As you know, researching Scots-Irish records is quite a challenge because there are very few records and most are only available through PRONI (see below), but this book promises to make great strides in aiding our research (thanks Bill!).

3.  Of course, what we really need is for the Public Records Office of Northern Ireland (PRONI) to allow the microfilmers in to copy their voluminous archives!  Very few records are available online, but at least the electronic "card catalogue" is now available and will hopefully make searching out our Scots-Irish ancestors just a little easier:

  •  (name search)
  • (search catalogue)
  • (browse catalogue)

Except for the name search, I can't say that it looks super user-friendly (, but if any of you have luck with a search, let me know!

If any of the online addresses in this article don’t come across as "hot links,” you will have to cut and paste them into your search engine’s Search Box.

Hope you are all having a lovely Autumn, wherever you are! - donna

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Colonial Somerset County, Maryland - 2

Somerset County, Maryland
Most of Somerset County is flat, tidal plain. Its rich soil, sparse population and comparative religious tolerance lured many immigrants, including the ancestors of our William Miller. For an interesting history of this area, look up "Somerset County, Maryland; A Brief History."

In the previous post we learned a little about what life was like in the 1600s and early 1700s in Maryland in relation to tobacco farming. Prompted by a suggestion from one of our wonderful members, Chalmers Williams, I have done more research on this topic which has helped answer a question I have had: Why did our Miller’s leave Somerset County and move northward to Newcastle County, Delaware and eventually right next door into Cecil County, Maryland. The excerpt below may hold the answer [emphasis added].

 “One problem with growing tobacco is that it rapidly depletes soil fertility and as a result, a piece of land could only be used for four or five years. Colonists lacked the means to fertilize the soil, and the few attempts to do so with animal manure reportedly produced a harsh, foul tasting tobacco. Instead, they adopted an approach from the Chesapeake Indians and abandoned the old fields for about 20 years. During that interval, nature restored soil fertility and tobacco could again be grown there. With this approach, new crop land had to be regularly prepared to keep a plantation operating. Historians estimate that about 50 acres were needed to keep one worker continually raising tobacco. As a result, plantations tended to be large, averaging about 250 acres. This created a settlement pattern of farms widely dispersed over the landscape. Because most colonists lived along or near the water and the Chesapeake provided excellent water highways for ships, the planters had little need for markets or towns, since they could buy goods directly from ships… Minimal town development is a highly distinctive feature of the colonial Chesapeake, a feature closely related to the focus on growing tobacco… While medical science has revealed the serious health problems associated with tobacco, there is no doubt that this crop built Maryland, greatly influenced the society that developed here, and is an undeniable part of the state’s rich cultural heritage. It is also a cultural legacy that forms the very roots of Southern Maryland’s extraordinary human traditions.” 

Our Millers are mentioned in several Somerset County, MD, lands records, including the one mentioned in the letter below which Chalmers Williams graciously shared with me. Remember, David and Jane Miller are the parents of Abraham Miller and grandparents of our William Miller:

"On 25 Nov 1693David Miller and his wife Jane (or perhaps Janet) of Somerset Co. sell by receipt of an indenture land to John Steel. This land is 100 acres out of a 600 acres tract called “Spalding” that David Miller acquired from Edmund Howard. Howard acquired Spalding in 1682, and though it is difficult to read, it appears that David Miller entered into an indenture with Howard in May 1688.  David Miller paid him 18,000 pounds of tobacco for Spalding, completing his required payments in 9 Jan 1692. (Somerset Co. Deeds, Liber L 1, p.78, and Liber L 1, p144.).  *Spalding is located “between Bogerternorton and Assateague  Bay...Cypress Ridge." 

It is pretty likely that the Miller's grew their own tobacco and, as was common in that day, used it for bartering as in the above example. Then, as time passed and the soil gave out, some of the Miller's moved northward. This is corroborated by the Wiki article from last month's post which mentions that towards the end of the 1600s, settlers in southern Maryland starting moving north and west to find better soil (some turning to growing wheat, which did not deplete the soil as radically as tobacco).

This could very well be the reason why some of our Miller’s eventually left Somerset County, MD, and moved to northern Maryland.

In the next post, we will move backwards in time and ask the question:  Why did the Miller's come to such a remote location as Somerset County, Maryland in the first place?

*This entry is somewhat puzzling as Assateague Bay is in the far eastern portion of Worcester County, Maryland.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Colonial Somerset County, Maryland - 1

Our Scots-Irish Miller’s arrived in Somerset County, Maryland in the latter part of the 1600s. The following description could be very similar to what they experienced:
“In the 17th century, most Marylanders lived in rough conditions on small family farms. While they raised a variety of fruits, vegetables, grains, and livestock, the cash crop was tobacco, which soon came to dominate the provincial economy. Tobacco was used as money, and the colonial legislature was obliged to pass a law requiring tobacco planters to raise a certain amount of corn as well, in order to ensure that the colonists would not go hungry. By 1730 there were public tobacco warehouses every fourteen miles. Bonded at £1,000 sterling, each inspector received from £25 to £60 as annual salary. Four hogsheads of 950 pounds were considered a ton for London shipment. Ships from English ports did not need port cities; they called at the wharves of warehouses or plantations along the rivers for tobacco and the next year returned with goods the planters had ordered from the shops of London.

Outside the plantations, much land was operated by independent farmers who rented from the proprietors, or owned it outright. They emphasized subsistence farming to grow food for their large families. Many of the Irish and Scottish immigrants specialized in rye-whiskey making, which they sold to obtain cash.” (

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Bradford's of Adams County, Ohio

Below is an old letter (possibly written between 1998-2000) found at the Rootsweb. It concerns different Bradford families in Adams County, Ohio.  I cannot vouch for the accuracy of all the information, especially of any connection to Governor William Bradford of the Plymouth Colony, but it is for certain that the David Bradford below (in bold) who married Barbara Grimes), was for sure the brother of our Rebecca Bradford Miller. Perhaps more research is needed into this branch of the family who went to Adams County. If any of you followers or new readers descend through this branch, or if any knows of the writer of this letter, Joe Bradford of Justin, Texas, please do let me know.   Sincerely, Donna Snider


County Hall, West Union, Adams County, Ohio
“[William Bradford] came to Adams Co. and is buried on Lick Skillet Road. William is the father of this branch in Adams Co. His children were: Eveline b. 1801, Clarinda 1803, Benjamin 1804 See Note #1, David 1806, Samuel 1808 your query, Sophia 1809, Eliza 1811, Sarah 1813, Jane 1815, Rebecca 1818, Mary 1820, Margaret 1824.  Note #1 Benjamin married Nancy Ann Burbage. The Burbage family came to Adams County from Berlin, Worcester Co. Maryland in 1816. ZadakiahBradford married into the Burbage family (Tabitha Burbage) in Worcester Co. Maryland.

Family of Samuel Bradford 1808-1877:  Samuel married Eliza N. Chase Dec 3, 1837. Eliza was b. Oct 22, 1822 d. Dec30 1894. Buried in the Bradford family lot "A". Children were; William 1841-1912 married Naomi Brookover, Martin 1843-1869 was a doctor Parkison 1845-1919 married Lizzy Marvin Marshall 1849-1877, Amos 1850-1904 married Kate H. Power, Samuel Case 1853-1937 married Naomi Tinkler, John 1854-1855, Benjamin Cyrus 1857-1950 married Gertrude Davis.

Adams County, Ohio
There is another Samuel Bradford near his age in Adams County. He is Samuel Grimes Bradford b. Dec 3 1813. His parents were Samuel G. Bradford who married Ruth Shoemaker in Aug 11, 1811 in Adams Co. Capt Samuel G. Bradford was the son of General David Bradford and Barbara Grimes. Capt Samuel Bradford died Aug 13, 1813 (War 1812). General David Bradford 1765-1854 who married Barbara Grimes was the son of Samuel Bradford 1727-1782 and Brother to William Bradford 1770-1862. Most of this family us buried in West Union Twp. Adams Co. This Samuel Bradford 1727-1782 married a Sarah Bradford (daughter of Samuel Bradford of Red Lyons, PA)"

In another e-mail from Dean (Jul 97) he says: "I know of at least 3 different Bradford families who lived in the Adams Co(town of Manchester) and Brown Co. (town of Aberdeen) Ohio. One family if (sic) Gov. William Bradford. Many of them are buried in Aberdeen (across the river from Maysville KY). The government once relocated a cemetery, and during the relocation the Bradford family was researched. This is the family of Samuel Bradford who came from Red Lyons, PA. He served in the Delaware army during the Revolutionary War. I also know of 3 different Bradford families in Scioto Co. which is adjacent to Adams and Brown County.

Another Bradford I want to place is Samuel Bradford of Worcester Co. He has many descendents. Samuel's family migrated to Marion Co. KY and established the town of Bradfordville

 Happy New Year! Joe Bradford
Justin, Texas

Sunday, August 10, 2014


 Dear family - I hope that these 4 quick *videos bring you joy and excitement about getting going on your own family history. If you can dedicate even 5 minutes a day on the computer, you, too, will find miracles!

(*sorry these aren't hot links, but they are worth the few extra seconds to cut and paste 
into your URL address box - thank! 

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":