Sunday, June 27, 2010

Will We Ever Know?

[pictured above - Sloop Ship "Constellation" at]

A fascinating and persisting family legend (I call it a legend, as we have no hard proof yet) is that William Miller was a boat-builder. Some say that he build sloop ships during the Revolution for General George Washington's Chesapeake Bay campaign, but decades of research has not turned up any proof of this. [Would love to find it, though!].

The legend goes on to say that after their move to Fayette County, Pennsylvania, he and his sons built flat-bottom boats along the Youghigheny River a. That might be easier to prove--see a previous post dated August 27, 2009, as well as the research I did in Salt Lake City below:

Page 116: Boats loaded with iron from the Union Furnace sometimes left in fleets of three boats at a time for a southern delivery. Itemized lists of iron and the names of the boatmen for each boat were carried on the books of Mr. Meason
and always headed "Adventure to Pittsburgh," "Adventure to Kentucky," or "Adventure to Limestone," in accordance with the intended destination of the boat. The wharf and boat yard at the mouth of Dunbar Creek were busy places. The teams from the furnace kept the saw mill supplied with logs, which furnished a crew of boat builders with material from which flat boats, sometimes called Kentucky boats, were built in lengths from twenty to forty-five feet. Some of the old timers who worked in the boat building crew were Joseph and William Miller, John Winnings, Christopher Taylor, Uriah Springer and his brother, Crawford Springer. The last two were grandsons of Hannah Crawford, widow of the ill-fated Colonel William Crawford, who lived nearby. Closely allied with the Union Furnace and Isaac Meason, is a commercial triumph, which adds still more luster to the historic record of old Fayette County. The claim for that achievement has now stood undisputed for more than a century, and the admission must therefore stand unchallenged for all time.

#2: 975.11 H2 K2W (SLC) "The Swedes and Dutch at New Castle" (Delaware)
There are land records dated 20 May 1735 that name both a
William Miller and Joseph Miller!! No other info. This is too early to be our William, but could these be uncles? Also, Abraham Miller, William's father is mentioned often, and there are lots of references to the Springers and theCrawfords mentioned in the records of this county. Could these families have had a long neighbor/business relationship in Delaware, Maryland and Pennsylvania?

We certainly need more research done on the Miller's and boat-building, but these are surely fascinating clues.


If any of you have family history stories, research, pictures, etc., that you wish to share on this blog, please email them to me at: and I will post them in the future. Thanks! - Donna


  1. Legend or not, I'm going to go ahead and believe he was a boat builder, because boat building is cool.


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