Friday, August 28, 2009

"What Do You Mean 'Squirrel Scalps'?!"

According to author, Christopher Knauss, "During the period of the settlement and Revolutionary War, Cecil County developed into a farming community at the head of the bay. The main exports were animal skins, tobacco and other agricultural products, usually shipped from the town ports that developed at strategic locations. Farming was so important to the economy that squirrels and crows became a destructive problem and legislators put a bounty on their head. As money was scarce, citizens were allowed to pay their taxes with squirrels and crows." (from Maritime Cecil County by Christopher Knauss; italics added).

Early records from Cecil County, Maryland show that our ancestors joined in the great squirrel hunt! The following names show up on "Constable George Catto's List of Persons Paid for Squirrel Scalps Burnt in the Year 1761": Abraham Miller, William Miller, James Miller and Andrew Miller (History of Cecil County, Maryland" by George Johnston).*

These old records are actually invaluable, as they indicate that the Miller clan was apparently living in Back Creek Hundred during this era, as they also show up in the list of "Taxables in Back Creek Hundred in 1766," where we see Abraham and Andrew listed, as well as Benjamin with "one slave and one dog", and William with "two dogs."

This is also the era that Abraham worked as an Overseer of Roads.

The Millers show up even earlier in "The "Taxable Persons in Cecil County in 1752" list.

And if you guys are up there watching, that wasn't me feeding those varmints this afternoon...that was just someone that looked like me!

[* Note: My brother Bill and I once spent an entire day in the largest genealogical library in the world in Salt Lake City. We were there for hours, poring over endless records looking for any tidbit of information about William Miller. At that point in time, we had almost no information about him. Near the end of our time there, Bill found the above record. I'll never forget how disgruntled he was that for all our efforts, the best we could turn up was a record indicating that our ancestors were squirrel scalpers!]

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