CAPTAIN JOHN M. LE CATO
(reprinted in introduction)
letter from Matthews to Darby July 27 1981
reply from Le Cato
LETTERS REPRODUCED BELOW
letter from Matthews to Le Cato September 18, 1981
letter to Matthews October 20, 1981
letter to Le Cato December 30, 1981
letter to Matthews January 4, 1982
letter to Le Cato February 10, 1982
letter to Le Cato March 20, 1982
letter to Le Cato March 26, 1982
letter to Matthews April 14, 1982
letter to Le Cato April 17, 1982
letter to Le Cato August 27, 1982
letter to Le Cato September 15, 1982
letter to Le Cato December 6, 1982
letter to Le Cato January 24, 1983
letter to Le Cato February 13, 1983
letter to Le Cato March 7, 1983
letter to Le Cato April 19, 1983
letter to Le Cato May 21, 1983
letter to Le Cato September 20, 1983
letter to Le Cato October 3, 1983
letter to Le Cato October 7, 1983
letter to John White, National Museum of American History February 15, 1984
letter to Le Cato March 26, 1986
letter to Le Cato November 7, 1987
September 18, 1981
Mrs. W. Carey Matthews
703 Trinity Court
Evanston, Illinois 60201
Dear Mr. Le Cato,
Thank you for answering my letter regarding Ezra Miller. Many never answer. I realize what research means and the time it takes. At this moment I have 11 people seeking help on various ancestors.
I am enclosing a few pages on Ezra which are now part of our Miller-Alden-Clark-Cosbun genealogy. Many people have helped and gone out of their way to secure information. One example pertains to Ezra’s only son, Philip (Charles Philip was his full name). When I discovered that Ezra’s grandson had gone to Harvard, I wrote to the Archives at Harvard for all they had on Philip Lee Miller but the Secretary added a note that Philips parents died the same day. I then wrote to the library at New London, Conn since I knew the wife of Charles Philip (Grace Rumrill) had relatives including her brother, James, who had summer homes at New London. The Librarian had no death records but she walked to the Historical Society office and found a newspaper giving a long, “Obit” for Charles and Grace Rumrill Miller. Will enclose a copy. James Rumrill’s wife was Anna Chapin, daughter of Chester W. Chapin, Pres. of the Boston and Albany RR and James Rumrill was his son-in-law, became VicePres. Chas/ Philip called his Summer Cottage (or rather a big house). “Ironsides.”
Some of the enclosed records will be retyped. Please excuse errors and correct if you notice any. Do not return unless corrected.
Two of Ezra’s great grandsons, James Nathan Miller and Charles Philip Miller are writers. I correspond with Charles and he did not know he had Ezra for a great grandfather until I gave him proof. He went to see his Aunt, Mary Brittan Miller (granddaughter of Ezra) but she was failing mentally and could not remember that Ezra was her grandfather. Ezra was at least 51 when he married and was dead long before his grandchildren were born. However, the NY Times had a long “Obit” for Mary Brittan Miller who became a writer when she was 60. I own 2 of her books and they are extremely interesting. She wrote under the name of Isabel Botton.
Evidently the creative talent in Ezra was passed on to descendants.
Mrs. Beulah Glover of Walterboro sent me xerox records from her book showing Ezra and his activities before coming to Charleston. Somewhere, there is a record of Ezra’s death. The Cemetery in Brooklyn has not answered but I’ll keep trying. (answered 9-30-81)
I saw the “Charleston Mercury” from 1-1-47 thru 6-30-47 and hope to view the balance on microfilm soon.
Hope I have not bored you too much.
Hope M. Matthews
P. S. Please send 4 references to Ezra in Samuel Derrick’s “Centennial etc.” and description of the E. L. Miller. I’ll mail a check.
Additions and Corrections to E. H. T. Miller’s records (sent Sept. 1983 to Ann Potter by Charles Wesley Pflaum of Dale, NY).
Mary Brittan, wife of Ezra Miller, born Elizabeth, NJ 1810 (not about 1804) died Jan 27, 1872 NYC. buried Jan 30, 1872, Hillside. NJ in Evergreen Cem.
My family records say Ezra had 5 children (only 1 lived to maturity and left descendants) Charles Philip born 15 Nov, 1845
Charles and wife, Rebecca (Rumrill) dies same day, Aug. 19, 1887 per NY Times and New London Conn “Telegram”
Charles died A. M. and Grace at 2:30 P. M. Their sons: Charles Philip and James Nathan, both writers, 1983 for various magazines including Reader’s Digest.
Records of E.H.T. Miller gives to Chas. W. Pflaum, Prof. at Uni of Rochester, in 1962 to edit and publish and it has never been done. A nephew of E. H. T. Miller (E.H.T. Carver of Scottsville, NY owned them). Pflaum has promised to give the records to the Univ. of Rochester which has fine facilities for preserving M.S.S.
P.S. Have just read Douglas Waitley’s new book “Age of the Mad Dragons” giving a history of the steam locomotives. Ezra Miller or “The Best Friend” are not mentioned and he claims the Tom Thumb which ran in Sept. 18, 1830 on the B&O from Baltimore to Ellicott’s Mills (13 miles) was the nation’s first American made locomotive. If he is right then the records I have collected are wrong. Hope you can solve this.
H. M. Matthews
20 October, 1981
Dear Mrs. Matthews:
Between keeping up a personal life, doing research for various people and dealing with railway historical affairs, I have not been able to pursue the references to Mr. Miller as completely as I would have wished. I am enclosing some excerpts from Professor Derrick’s book which I hope will be useful.
I received your letter and the various enclosures. Mr. White of the Smithsonian is certainly one of the most knowledgeable men in the field of railroad history and I am glad to see that you have established a relationship with him.
Actually, you have contributed more to our museum than we have been able to give you and I am setting up a file on Mr.. Miller which should benefit future researchers.
The first patent issued in the United States numbered series was for a device to improve locomotive traction. I presume that was the one you referred to.
The “Catalogue of the Centennial Exhibition of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad” (1927) lists, under Railroad Development Pictures, 1831-1927 “105, E. L. Miller The second locomotive built by M. W. Baldwin. Built for Charleston and Hamburg Railroad. Six wheeled, single pair of drivers, swiveling truck, horizontal boiler, haystack or Bury fire box. Shown on fishbelly rails.
I attended this exhibition when I was a small boy, which partially accounts for my long fascination with railroads.
I will continue my research here as time permits and hope to hear that you efforts will be rewarded with a complete biography of this notable man.
Yours as always.
John Le Cato
December 30, 1981
Dear Captain Jim,
I followed your suggestion and wrote top have an inquiry regarding the place and death data of Ezra L (probably stands for Lee) Miller in 1847 or possibly 1848, inserted in the magazine, “Trains.” I offered to pay in advance as soon as I knew the amount to send. No answer and I wrote Nov 9th.
I, also, wrote to Mr. Al Langley N. Augusta, SC same day and enclosed a stamped self-addressed envelope. No answer.
Had a wonderful letter from John H. White Jr. answering my letter regarding a new book by Douglas Waitley who claims the Tom Thumb was the 1st Steam Locomotive built in the US. Enclosing his (Mr. White) reply and his article on “Pot Boilers.”
I am stuck and do not know where to search for Ezra’s death. The Green-Wood Cemetery, Brooklyn, NY (covers 438A) never will search its records unless you can give the date of death or within 2 weeks of it, but this time the superintendent searched all of their records and Ezra is not buried there. I hope to go up to Newberry Lib. soon and if it has the NY Times for 1847 (after Apr.) I’ll search.
I love the picture you sent showing the “Best Friend” taking the stockholders for a ride. Would it be possible to secure a good copy of this picture? I would be happy to pay you. I would love to frame it.
Thanks for all your interest. Happy New Year.
Hope M. Matthews
January 4, 1982
Dear Mrs. Matthews:
Sorry to hear that your research into the exact time and place of Mr. Miller’s death is running into so many snags. I am still trying to stir up something here, but most historians only refer me to “The Centennial History” which I have already covered. Well, I will keep trying.
You mentioned wanting a large copy of the picture of the “Best Friend” with the stockholders. I am not quite sure just what I sent, was it the black and white photo reproduction from “Centennial History” or something else? In any case, let me know for sure and also what size you want. Of course, the price increases rapidly for larger prints, so it might be well to check with a local shop to get a general idea what a print of the size you want would cost.
I don’t believe I ever sent you a print of the painting I made for a Charleston restaurant. If not, please keep it with my compliments. The restaurant caters to families with children and I tried to show some of the native birds and beasts that the train would have stirred up here in the Low Country. That too could be copies in a larger size if you wish.
All best wishes for the New Year and I hope that it will bring a successful end to your long search.
Very sincerely yours.
John Le Cato
February 10, 1982
Guess I never thanked you for your painting of “The Best Friend.” I have been swamped with inquiries about many of my ancestors and I cannot turn them down.
Please send me a larger size of your painting and I’ll mail a check. I;ll leave it to you but possibly one about 6 1/2 X 8″ would show your train better. The shop here which does fine work is miles away and with our present weather I am still staying home.
The other picture of Bets Friend was from Wm H. Brown’s First Locomotives in America, pub. 1871, showing the Stockholder’s Excursion Jan. 15, 1831 but the picture was in the “Centennial History of SC Railroad” by S. M. Derrick, pub. 1930 Columbia, SC. The State Co. It measures about 7X2 inches. A little larger would be better. No hurry but would like to frame it and your painting along with 2 which I received this week from John H. White, Jr. with his “compliments.” He sent photo’s of the original drawing and the reproduction made by the Smithsonian.
Thank you for all your interest. I have sent for the list of all newspapers being published in 1846 to 1848 in the New England and mid-West States. Then I will search for an obituary for Ezra L. (Lee?) Miller. I think he met with sudden death (accident or illness) while away from his Brooklyn Home. I’m a stubborn person and hate to give up.
Hope Miller Matthews
P. S. The first article in Reader’s Digest for January 1982 is by James Nathan Miller, great grandson of Ezra. Charles R. Miller brother of James also writes for the Digest, and Ezra’s great granddaughter, Mary Brittan Miller became a novelist at age 63. NY Times had a long “Obit” for her on Apr. 4, 1975. I own 2 of her novels and they are fascinating. She also wrote poetry under a nom de plume, Isabel Botton.
March 20, 1982
Dear Mr. Le Cato-
The lovely picture you painted of The Best Friend came today and very soon it will be framed. Also the interesting pictures from The Southern’s Picture Album. These will help to overcome the disappointment I received last week when I received a copy of “Transportation and the Early Nation” containing the papers presented at an Indiana American Revolution Bicentennial Symposium held Apr. 24-26, 1981 at the Allen Co.-Ft. Wayne Historical Society Museum at Ft. Wayne. If you have it then on pp. 135-156 John F. Stover, Emeritus History Professor at Purdue Uni gave a talk on Iron Roads in the Old NW:The Railroads and the Growing Nation. When he said the regular rail service was introduced by the B&O and started on July 4, 1828 and thus predated by 6 mo the first service of the Best Friend of Charleston on Christmas Day, 1830 and by more than a year the first steam train in NY State, pulled by the DeWitt Clinton, I was disappointed to say the least. I had received a letter from Dr. Stover regarding the first railroad in Ind sometimes ago and had told him that “The Best Friend” was the first Steam Locomotive built in the US to carry US Mail and passengers, as John H. White, Jr. had told this to me. Poor old “Best Friend.” Is she to be relegated to 2nd or 3rd place?
I’m enclosing a check for $5.00 which may not be enough to cover postage and cost of picture. Please let me know and I will send the additional.
Thank you so much,
Hope Miller Matthews
P.S. The new FTC head is James Miller III and I feel sure he is a great grandson of Ezra Miller. If you ever hear the name of his wife then I’ll know for sure. She would be Anne Tudor Gilbert. He and Ann had a son, James III who graduated 1962 from Harvard Graduate School of Business and a Dr’s Degree from MIT in 1965 or 66. Its been interesting to follow Ezra’s descendants as many have shown creative abilities. A granddaughter, Mary Brittan or Britton Miller, a poet became a novelist when age 60 and her “Obit” in NY Times, Apr. 4, 1975 (91 yrs old) was a long one. 2 great grandsons, Charles Phillip and James Nathan often have articles in various magazines, including Reader’s Digest. Historians used to laugh at Genealogists but no more as Genealogy is a History of people and Historians, Sociologists, etc. learn a lot-why people moved, their occupations, religions, etc. etc. Guess you are dizzy by now.
March 26, 1982
Our letters crossed and I see I owe you $1.00 for postage on your “Best Friend” painting. Enclosed is $1.00 and thank you.
Long ago I asked Congress to send a xerox of “BF” shown in Brown’s “History of the First Locomotive” opposite p 146 as what you sent was not a good xerox. Yesterday an answer came. The book is in the Rare Book Collection and the picture is oversize (whatever that means) a photo copy has to be made thru their Duplication Service. An estimate was enclosed which seems awfully high; 24.00 for an 8×10 inch or $14.50 for large photo direct print. Both included postage.
When you have a free minute let me know if your copy of BF in Brown’s book is clear enough to have a copy made and what the charge would be . I cannot afford the charges of Congress and if your place charges about the same I’ll have to forget it.
Our Newberry Library opens in May and I hope to spend a day there to look at Brooklyn Newspapers 1846-48, hoping an “Obit” is given for Ezra Miller.
Even if he died elsewhere his wife lived there or NYC until she died Jan 27, 1872 so I would assume Ezra’s death would have been mentioned in those papers.
Hope Miller Matthews
P.S. David P. Morgan, Editor of “Trains” wrote in January that he was placing a small excerpt from my letter (re Ezra Miller) to be placed in “Railroad Post Office” letters column and pass on to me any information elicited. Evidently nothing was received. If the Newspapers give nothing, I’m thru hunting for Ezra’s death.
James Miller III, now Chairman Federal Trade Commission, I am sure is a great grandson of Ezra. Ezra had 1 son, Charles Philip, who had 2 sons, Philip Lee and James Rumrill Miller b. 13 Mar.1880 NYC;m. 9 Oct.1907 Springfield, Mass. Marjorie Helen Coats & their only child, James Rumrill Miller b. 10 Apr. 1909, Princeton Graduate 1959 and Harvard Graduate School of Business Administration 1962, Doctor’s Degree Mass. I.T. 1965, probably married Ann Tudor Gilbert as their engagement was announced 22 Jan. 1965. If you ever see the name of James III’s wife as “Ann” we’ll be sure James Miller III is Ezra’s great grandson. Ezra’s IQ was passed on evidently as 2 great grandsons today are writers and a great granddaughter, Mary Britton Miller, a poet and novelist, died in NYC in 1978.
24 Gadsden Street
Charleston, SC 29401
14 April 1982
Dear Mrs. Miller:
It is too bad that our correspondence has been so unrewarding for you, as I have learned a great deal from it. I am still working on a project for Mr. White of the Smithsonian and you may be sure that anything of interest to you will be carefully noted and passed along. I wrote a greatly condensed account of Ezra Miller’s work for our local railroad club publication which is, incidentally called, “The Best Friend.” I am enclosing a copy. Our little paper goes to railroad historians all over the country, so we may yet turn up something.
I received the extra payment for postage, for which I thank you. Please let me know if your research bears further fruit.
John M. Le Cato
April 17, 1982
Dear Mr. Le Cato,
Thank you for the news on Ezra but in your article you are wrong about Ezra’s death in 1845. If I ever gave you that date I was asleep. The Brooklyn NY Directories give the following:
1840 – 1 Ezra l. Miller, Willow St. near Orange.
1841 – 2 Ezra L. Miller, 91 Clark St.
1842 – 7 Ezra Miller, 89 Clark St.
1847 – 8 Ezra L. Miller, 89 Clark St.
1847 – 8 Ezra Miller was alive as the Directories were distributed in June and probably printed in April or May and the information secured before then. The last letter I have from Ezra to my great grandfather, Horace Allen Miller is dated Brooklyn Sept. 29, 1844. He was in Brooklyn July 7, 1846 when his Patent for Warming Bldgs. with Steam was issued (Vol. 2, No. 2 Scientific America, Oct. 3, 1846).
The 1850 Census for Brooklyn shows Mary B. (Brittan or Britton) Miller, age 40, head of her household, b. NJ with Mary 11, and Charles, 5 (both children b. NY). Mary, widow of Ezra d. Jan 27, 1872 buried Jan. 30, 1872 near Elisabeth, NJ inn Hillside Cem. with her parents and many of her relatives but Ezra is not there. Ezra and Mary’s only son, Charles Phillip b. 15 Nov. 1845; at Brooklyn per his Civil War Records in Nat’l Archives; a lawyer, graduate of Columbia Uni. Law School, married 19 Sept. 1874 Springfield, Mass. Grace Rumrill, whose brother, James A. Rumrill married Anna Chapin, daughter of Chester Chapin, Pres. of the Boston and Albany RR. James became Vice-President of the Road, no doubt after he married Anna Chapin in 1861, the year James Augustus Chapin graduated from Howard Law School. It’s interesting how Ezra’s son. Phillip, became related to the railroad Chapin. Phillip named his summer cottage at New London. Conn., “Ironsides.”
I am sending to NY for a Court Search to see if Ezra left a Will or died Interstate. It will cost $15.00 but worth it if it ends my search for Ezra’s death. Possibly early Brooklyn Newspapers (Brooklyn Intelligenser) for 1847 and 1848 might give Ezra’s “Obit”. He is not buried in the Green-wood Cem (438 Acres) as the Superintendent searched for me. I think he died away from home possibly in a railroad accident.
If you ever find when and where RR accidents occurred ca 1847-48 let me know and I’ll give you any new information I find.
Hope Miller Matthews (I’m not Mrs. Miller but Matthews)
P.S. Is the picture in Brown’s book in color or black and white? I assume it is black and white.
April 27, 1982
Dear Mr. Le Cato
Have had much to do regarding my husband’s estate that there has been no time for hunting Ezra L. Miller’s death date and place. The article you had published is wrong regarding his death as being 1845. His last invention was patent dated July 7, 1846 and our family records give 1847 for death.
I only noticed yesterday your note on the reverse side that I could get a copy of the Langley’s book for $1.00 plus postage. I’d love to own a copy so please send and I’ll mail you a check as I have no idea what the postage will come to.
My last attempt to find Ezra’s place and date of death will be to locate newspapers published 1847 – 48 in Brooklyn, NY hoping there is an obituary for Ezra. I wrote to library of Congress Aug. 24th and hope the newspapers for 1847 – 48 are there and someone for a fee will look. One of their staff looked thru all the issues for 1847 for Scientific America where Ezra’s Inventions were published, but found no “obit”. Of course, he could have missed it but by 1847 (17 years after the “Best Friend” ran) probably Ezra was forgotten. I do know that he dies poor but in 1838 had sold a piece of property for $60,000 which he hoped would lessen his obligations.
Thank you so much for all your help and interest.
Hope Miller Matthews
P.S. Enclosing check for $2.00. If not enough, let me know. Would you like copies of some of Ezra’s papers?
Sept 15, 1982
Dear Mr. Le Cato –
If you’ll call me Hope. I’ll call you John. It would be so much simpler. Sorry you searched for Ezra’s death in Scientific American as the Lib of Congress said it had checked and also at Uni. of Chicago Law Library. A cousin of mine checked from Jan 1, 1847 thru Sept. (next Vol. was missing) but did not find an “Obit” for Ezra. Of course it could easily have been missed.
My last attempt to find where, when and how he died, is to locate the 2 Brooklyn NY newspapers: Christian Intelligense 1830 -1870 and New York Evening Post, 1801 – 1887, both of which gave vital records. I have a pamphlet giving all US Newspapers and where they are now. The above 2 are in the NY Historical Society Library but I am not a member (I belong to 5 others) and it does not help nonmembers. Many newspapers have been microfilmed and the Xerox Corp. at Ann Arbor, Mich. will loan to Corporations for a fee. I’ve written to see if these 2 newspapers are in their collection.
If you have access or know someone in NY City who would go to the NY Hist. Lib. and check the 1847 (include Jan. 1848 and eliminate Jan. 1847) I will be happy to pay if I know the fees and can afford them. If you are a member, so much the better as the NY H Soc. would lean over backwards to help you.
I enjoyed the Langley’s book but could have told more which they probably did not know, that Ezra was elected a Director of the SC Canal and RR Co; that Ezra and Horatio Allen 1828 went to Eng. (Ezra was there at the opening of the Manchester RR) that Ezra engaged Detmold yo design his steam locomotive, etc. I could go on and on. No book ever includes everything.
Thanks again for all your interest and help.
Hope Miller Matthews
The Charleston Courier May 13 – 14, 1828 “One Director, E> L. Miller, visited England. The Scientific American, Apr 10, 1852 has an article on “The Best Friend” saying it was built by E L Miller of Walterboro. Wonder if the Langley’s have it or know of Beulah Glover’s books.
I will xerox one of Ezra’s letters dated Brooklyn NY 28 May 1838 showing Ezra was still employed by Baldwin to inspect other RR ( and probably sell Steam Locomotives).
All for now,
Wonder if John White Jr. has access to NY Hist Soc newspapers for 1847. Will you ask him?
May order another Langley pamphlet to include among my Xmas gifts to a Calif. daughter. Will let you know.
Dec. 6, 1982
Dear Mr. Le Cato,
I am still trying to find Ezra L. Miller’s place and date of death and if you can tell me the address of any Methodist Church which existed on Charleston as early as 1828 – 30, I will write and see if Ezra was a member. Since he studies in his youth to become a minister, I’m sure he was always a member of a Christian Church. His parents and brothers and at least one sister became Methodist (probably ca 1795 – 1803) in Stockbridge, Mass. I have a researcher now hunting Methodist Church records in Stockbridge but I am not optimistic as two many early ministers took their records when they left a church.
If I find Ezra’s church membership in Charleston (no record in the Presbyterian Ch. for Ezra) than a searcher in Brooklyn can search the Church there. It’s slow work but I am determined to end my records for Ezra with his death date.
We had hoped that a Brooklyn newspaper (1846 – 48) might carry an obituary for Ezra. A paper called the “Christian Intelligencer” has been searched (1845 thru 1848) but nothing on Ezra. Last summer I spent a week looking at an early Rockford, Ill. paper, called the “Forum”. In the Mar. 21, 1849 issue the paper quoted from a Brooklyn paper that a fire destroyed the home of Mrs. Miller (no initials) killing him, his wife, son and two daughters. I was excited as I thought often articles are copied wrong so I secured an exact copy saying the same thing so I knew it was not Ezra as his wife lived until 1872 and his only son died in 1887, but it’s odd that the Rockford paper would copy it unless one of the many Millers in Rockford was related to the Brooklyn Miller family.
Expect many of my family to arrive December 23rd so I’ve called a halt to genealogy until mid-January unless I receive a Church address from you soon. Maybe you would be willing to phone the Methodist Church which was near Ezra’s home at 265 King St. (1820 per Historical Society) and ask if they had the old membership records (before 1836). If they are lost then no need for me to write. Thank you for your past interest.
Hope Miller Matthews
January 24, 1983
Dear John –
Hope you do not object. All my pen friends call me Hope and I trust you’ll do the same.
Let me first thank you for helping to locate Ezra L. Miller’s last days and place.
John H. White Jr. is borrowing from the Library of Congress “Journal pf Commerce” in which Ezra wrote that several of his Articles on the “Manufacturing of Beet Sugar” appeared would have been before 18 when he said that in a letter to Horace, his brother.
Then my cousin, Rev. Stanford Strosahl, Executive Director of the Wisconsin United Methodist Foundation gave me the places where the Church Archives are kept for Southern New England (NY in it) and Northern New England. I have written to both and hope they will answer soon.
Also have a professional researcher in NYC who should make a report soon. Asked her to hunt for records of Methodist and Presbyterian Churches which existed 1834 to 1848, hoping Ezra’s death is there.
I frankly think he died in a railroad accident while away from home but even then, being a very religious man, certainly his home Church would record it.
Will let you know when I receive any information. I will drop notes to the 2 Methodist Churches you mentioned and hope it helps. Between all of us, we ought to succeed.
When Ezra in the fall of 1838 visited Horace and his family in New Milford, Ill. he and his wife took his niece, Nancy Elizabeth Miller (dau. of Horace) back to Brooklyn where she stayed until spring. She left a fine Diary which I have a few pages (copied) but she only says that Ezra died in 1847. Too bad she did not make a complete record.
I had a wonderful visit from my family (8 of them) and they all pitched in and help[ed or never could have stood it. Had to have help to lift the 22 lb. turkey out of the oven. One grandson (he teaches at Uni. of Ga.) found one of my floor lamps had a frayed cord so he bought a cord and rewired it in a few minutes. He must inherit his ability to fix things from his Dad who was an Engineering Officer in 2nd World War and taught Engineering at Uni. of Wis., then at Leland Stanford and San Jose University.
If you think your museum would ever find use for Ezra’s letters let me know and I’ll xerox them when weather is better and send them to you.
Besides the Methodist Churches did the Congregational Church exist before 1835 in Charleston? While Ezra’s wife was raised a Presbyterian (her family was buried in the Churchyard of the Presby. Church at Elizabeth, NJ but moved to one at Hillside, NJ in 1853), I feel she must have joined Ezra’s church in Brooklyn (no proof).
Enough for this time. And thanks a lot for your interest.
P.S. We had an interesting program at our Retirement Home (Presbyterian but open to all Christians) last Nov. The Director of the Geo. Pullman Museum showed slides of the Anniversary train ride in Europe, celebrating the Pullman’s 100th (?) Anniversary. The cars were gorgeous and as I watched I kept thinking “Ezra started all of this – putting “America on Wheels.”
February 13, 1983
Dear John –
Thank you again for all your work. Have had no word from my searcher in Brooklyn nor from John H. White Jr regarding Ezra’s articles in the Journal of Commerce.
Long ago, 1975 I had a nice letter from the Secretary of the Church (First Presby. Scott’s) and will enclose it. Never heard any more so nothing was found there regarding Ezra but I’m sorry I did not secure the baptisms of some of the Miller children 1815 – 1834. Might be children of a relative of Ezra’s. No need to return the letter.
Will enclose copies of my records used in our Miller-Clark-Alden-Coshun Genealogy pertaining to Ezra (his parents, wife, children, grandchildren, grgrandchildren) also articles about his niece who spent several months in his home in Brooklyn. He evidently became a well-to-do man but speculated in Brooklyn real estate and left nothing to Mary, his widow, who had small Boarding School until her doctor had her stop. I have wondered if where their son, Charles Philip Miller, met his wife, Grace Rumrill of Springfield, Mass. (They were married in the Springfield Church of Unity (Unitarian) and Grace’s brother James Rumrill married Anna Chapin whose father, Chester, was Pres. of the Boston and Albany RR. James named his summer cottage at New London, Conn, “Ironsides”.
I doubt if Miss Beulah Glover of Walterboro is still living. Wish I had bought several of her books, but she xeroxed her pages on Ezra Miller. Did you ever meet her? One of her books is on the Methodist Church of Colleton County. Wonder if Ezra when his parents took him to Stockbridge, Mass, (1793 – 4) became a Unitarian and not a Methodist like his parents and most of his sisters and brothers.
I thought I sent you the page of Ezra’s birth, baptism, marriage, etc. but will enclose another in case I did not send. I am not sending the pictures and descriptions of Patents for Seed or Corn Planter; No. 2047; Steam Heater, No. 4625, or Patent issued June 19, 1834 to Ezra showing a drawing of the “Best Friend”. When I secured the last from the patent office, no specifications were available but in 1975 they were. If you do not have these let me know.
If you do not have the article from Scientific American for oct.3, 1846 giving Ezra’s Patent for Heating buildings, with a Hot Water apparatus, dated 7 Jule, 1846 let me know if you want it.
I have pages 15, 16, 21 from History of the Baldwin Locomotive Works. (I’m sure you have these but will enclose notes left by my Uncle Grant Clark Miller, adding his own information to “Hist. of Baldwin Locomotive Works”.
We now know that in Stockbridge, Mass. in 1800, Ezra, age 16, signed as a wit to a Deed which his father, Jonathan Allen Miller, signed when he sold some property. By 1804 Jonathan and all of his children except Clarissa, his 1st child and Ezra, his 2nd, had left Mass. and were living in Galway, NY. It is evident that Ezra either stayed on in Stockbridge to continue his study for the Ministry or left for the South due to failing eyesight and poor health. Beulah Glover says he was in Walterboro before 1822. The Stockbridge Library wrote that the Congregational Minister, Rev. Stephen West, 1735-1811, had many young men studying under him but no name given.
The only references I have to Baldwin are from what my Uncle Grant said “Mr. Baldwin paid Ezra a royalty of $199 a mo. (but Ezra’s letter (No 3 enclosed) dated 28 May, 1838 gives $2000 a year salary and expenses. I accept Ezra’s letter.
In Eliza Miller’s diary (enclosed) she only says “the Patent sold to Baldwin”.
Letter No. 3 shows that Ezra went to the states as far So. as NC; the Eastern States and the Great West (Ohio, Michigan, Ill). No doubt, he went to investigate what the Railroads were doing but also to sell Baldwin’s Steam Locomotive s.
Genealogy has become a very expensive and exhausting hobby. I think this will have to be my last year as I get tired too easily. it would be thrilling to find how, when and where Ezra died. The finest genealogists for NY (Brooklyn) and NJ are Mr. and Mrs. Ken Stryker-Rodda but Ken has had two heart attacks and no longer leaves home. His wife is booked for years ahead and I’d hesitate to engage her ($15 per hour).
If you have any suggestions, people or churches to write to, let me know. i think it’s very discourteous for anyone to not answer when a Stamped Self Addressed Envelope is enclosed. At least one should answer if only to say, “I know nothing.” I have signed the Genealogists Code of Ethics “promising to answer inquiries if a SASE is sent.”
All for now.
Hope Miller Matthews
P. S. Trains Magazine ran an inquiry “Where, When and How,” per the editor. No results.
March 7, 1983
I cannot tell you how much I appreciate the interest and time you’ve taken in hunting our elusive Ezra. It’s negative research but sometimes it helps.
I have written a letter to Miss Glover but since I feel that she is no longer living I enclosed it in a letter to the Walterboro Library asking to have it forwarded if she is living. Also, asked if copies of her books are in their library, especially the one on the Churches. Offered to pay someone to check for Ezra’s connection with the Methodist Church os any other (now the Catholic).
Forgot to write down if I told you that in Brooklyn, NY in 1848, Mary Miller, widow (no doubt Ezra’s) contributed $1.00 to a fund to rebuild the Sands St. Methodist Church which had burned down (think in 1844). Also, Charles Miller in 1872 joined the Sands St. Church. Certainly he would be Ezra and Mary’s only son, born 15 Nov. 1845 Brooklyn per 1850 census. A fine researcher, Mrs. Helen Kromer and her husband found this and there are records in then basement of one of the Methodist Churches which could be searched ($10 per hour and might take days with no positive results). I’m thinking about it but think the Brooklyn Eagle for 1846 – 7 should be secured first to see if an “Obit” for Ezra is in it.
Since Miss Glover sent me Xerox copies of one of her books showing it was publ. by the Glover Printing Co. of Brunswick, GA I wrote and had an amazing answer from the head who said he is Chairman of his County’s Celebration for Ga’s 250th birthday this coming Aug. and a replica of the Best Friend will come to Brunswick on Aug. 5th. He (Mr. Curt Nellop or Nellof) and his wife invited me to be their guests for the Celebration but it’s out of the question. He said the replica is owned by the Norfolk Southern Railway. Said his Co-Chairman, Sam Flint, is steeped in Railroad tradition and his father for 39 yrs. was employed by the Southern and Sam serves now on the Conrail Board. Since I cannot decipher the spelling of Curt’s last name I don’t know how to address him.
The Commission on Archives of the United Methodist Church, Rye, NY said to write to the Long Is. Hist. Soc. 128 Pierrepont St Brooklyn NY which no doubt has the Brooklyn Eagle. I wrote enclosing a SASE and offered to pay for someone to search – no answer. I think it is rude not to answer. If you ever have a free minute make a note on your Official Museum Stationary would bring an answer. I will reimburse you for their charges to search 1846 – 1847.
Have 9 other letters to answer (none on my Millers but on my husband’s Matthews and my mother’s Carpenters. Evidently John H. White never found Ezra’s articles in the Journal and Commerce or he would have sent them as he promised.
All for now.
Apr. 19, 1983
I wrote to the SC Hist. Society for 2 things and by paying $12.00 it will try to find them but I cannot spend money like that when its needed elsewhere. I support a sick daughter and help a grandson who served in Viet Nam and returned a shock casualty (the gov’t only gives $168 a month for his support).
I asked for a search of Ezra L. Miller in the Charleston City Directories for years 1825 thru 1835 which should give his address. Sometime when you are at the Hist Soc. please check.
I, also, found a note that Mathias Baldwin taught a Sunday School class for 35 years (Church not given), but wonder if the Church was one Ezra attended.
I’m waiting, hopefully, for an answer to my letter to the Sands St. Methodist Church in Brooklyn, NY which has its records for memberships, baptisms and marriages (not deaths) but maybe we’ll find a clue to Ezra’s death. I hope the baptisms of his 5 children (1837 thru 1845) will show and his marriage date and when he joined the Church.
Someday when our Search is ended I’ll send you the complete record for Ezra (his life). You have most of it.
I leave May 5th to visit a daughter in Calif., returning May 20th. If you secured exciting news too late to reach me at home, mail it to me c/o Mrs. Duncan E. Williams
650 La Mesa Drive
Portola Valley, Calif 94025
I found out that Journal of Commerce for years 1837 + on is at the Lib. of Congress but of course, they will not search 1838 or 9 for Ezra’s articles on “Beet Sugar” and evidently John H. White Jr. who said he’d get the magazine from the lib. did not find the right issues or I’d received copies.
Thanks for all your interest and help.
Hope M. Matthews
May 21, 1983
Dear John –
Reached home at midnight last night from a 15 day visit to my daughter-in-law and 3 of their sons. Everyday was filled and I loved it but now I am tired so will not finish this tonight. I stayed up last night to read the very interesting life of Horatio Allen with references to Ezra L. Miller.1
I had hoped my cousin,Rev. Stanford Strosahl of Prairie View Wisc.. who helped compile our Miller-Alden-Clarke-Cosbun family records had answered my letter. I asked him to write the Sands St (also called First ) Methodist Church, located at Sands near Fulton, Brooklyn, to check their membership, marriage and baptism records for Ezra; wife, Mary, Britton or Brittan; and baptism of their 5 children. The commission on Archives and History of the NY Conference of the United Methodist Church, 210 Boston Post Rd. Rye, NY wrote that Sands Ch. has 9 Vol.. of records including the years I’m searching. Ezra’s dau. Mary was b. 1839 per 1850 Census Brooklyn and their son, Chas. Philip was born 15 Nov. 1845 per death record. In between Ezra and Mary must have had 1 or 2 who died very young and maybe one born before 1838. Our family records say 5 children and only Charles lived to leave descendants. I am sure James Miller III, now head to F.T.C. is a great grandson of Ezra and a grandson of Chas Philip whose son James had a son James, now head to F.T.C. The Readers Digest for May has an article by Jas. Nathan Miller, son of Charles, grandson of Charles Philip and great grandson of Ezra. I had written Mar. 15th to Sands Ch but no answer. even tho I offered to pay for the search. Maybe they will answer a letter from the Methodist Minister. If not I’ll pay a Professional Searcher to go to the Church and hope the Church will allow a search.
I have only one other idea regarding Ezra’s death date. There was an accident on the Norwich and Albany RR (think it was July 22, 1847) and if any organization has kept records of RR accidents. Maybe Ezra was in this one or another and died then. I read recently that records of Ship’s accidents have been preserved (do not have the article handy). If you know if railroad accidents have been kept let me know. I am ready to give up if Sands St. Church will not cooperate. Over the years have found most Libraries, Historical Soc., Courthouses, most helpful. It has been Churches which have not answered letters or helped. Of course I always enclose a SASE and offer to pay.
The Lib. of Cong. does have Journal of Commerce and John H White Jr said he would borrow 1839 1n3 40 (Should have also said 1838) issues to find Ezra’s article on the “manufacturing of Beet Sugar” and let me know if he found anything. Evidently the articles were not in the 1839 or 1840 issues. The Ill. Historical Commission, Dr. Robt. Sutton, Chairman would also like Ezra’s death and place of death.
If my records are right the 1820 City Directory of Charleston shows Ezra L. Miller at 265 King St. corner of Wentworth and the Federal Census for 1820 Colleton Co. shows Ezra L. Miller, head of household age 26 – 45, 1 M (16 – 18), 1 M (16 and under 26), 1 M Slave (14 and under 26), 1 F Slave 45 and upwards 1 Free colored M (26 and under 45). Looks like Ezra could have conducted a small school with 2 students as boarders and 3 servants. Oh, I forgot Ezra was engaged in commerce. What other town could he have lived in besides Colleton’s Walterboro and yet Miss Beulah Glover of Walterboro has found no record that Ezra taught school there? If you are near the Historical Soc. check the 1820 Census to see if any location is given besides County. If they have the 1830 Census please check Charleston for Ezra. he was there then.
Thanks so much for your interest and help. I’ll let you know of any new information.
Hope Miller Matthews
P. S. I have the Civil War Records from the Nat’l Archives for Ezra’s son, Charles Philip. Will have typed and send you a page. Since Charles and wife, Grace Rumrill named their first child, “Philip Lee Miller,” I feel sure that Ezra’s middle name was Lee. I must take time to find a Lee Genealogy as early settlers of Simsburg or Hartford Conn. were Lees. Guess you have heard enough for this time.
Sept. 20, 1983
Dear John –
Only a line, found Ezra L. Miller dies Mar. 6, 1847 in Newark, NJ place of burial not given but I’ll write to the Lib. and City Hall. Will have the letter copied which came today from Prof. Chas. A. Pflaum of Dale NY former Math. Teacher at Univ. of Rochester was given over 1000 pages of Miller Genealogy before 1966, to edit and publish but E. H. T. Carver who owns the records of his Uncle E. H. T. Miller and has given them to Pflaum, had a stroke and the records were never published. My letters (1969 and later) were never answered.
This summer I wrote to the Scottsville MY Lib. and the head of the Cox Room (Hist. and Genealogy) Alene Potter, had been wonderful. She visited Mr. Pflaum in Dale, NY who still has the records and promised to give them to the Rochester Library but he told Miss Potter he would check the records and write to her and answer her 3 questions: 1) When did Ezra die?; 2) Where? Where is he buried? The 1st two are above. The 3rd is unknown.
He quoted a lot and you’ll get a copy when I can get someone to type it. There are only 1 or 2 differences from my records (dates – could be typing errors).
In the Hist. of Cohoes, NY by A M Masten 1877 p 59 there is an article on Ezra of Charleston, SC who came there in 1832, built a mill for cotton Manufacture and a large residence but he fell ill and removed to NY selling the property. The residence is now the “City Hotel” (1877).
I was so stunned when I received the news that I could not believe it and re-read it over and over.
Our search is ended just in time as my eyesight is failing and I’ll have to give up genealogy.
Hope Miller Matthews
P. S. I’ve told John H. White Jr.
Oct. 3, 1983
Dear John –
Since I now have no one to type for me I’ll send an exact copy of E. H. T. Miller’s records on Ezra L. Miller. Almost every dates agrees with mine but I’m enclosing a list of our disagreements. It’s so easy to copy incorrectly or maybe E. H. T. Miller was given the wrong dates.
If you type and decide to type the 2 pages please send me a copy.
My Calif. daughter is visiting me and helping me with many records on several lines including the Millers but she leaves Wed. and I could use her for a month.
Will write to Miss Beulah Glover in Walterboro who has helped in giving me Ezra’s years in her town.
Hope Miller Matthews
Oct. 7, 1983
When I received the enclosed letter (xerox) from the Newark Library I was stunned and cried. Poor man and he had lost so much (property in Brooklyn) that he no longer could take it even tho he was a very religious man. Guess we do not know what we would do under the pressure. The same happened to his sister, Clarissa Miller Whiting and his mother, Hannah Case Miller. Hannah wore herself out when a son, Orrin had typhoid fever and almost died she took care of him day and night.
I can see why Ezra’s favorite niece (Nancy Eliz. Niller Marsh) in her Diary preferred to only give 1847 as Ezra’s death date and no more information. She spent the winter of 1839 – 1840 in Ezra’s Brooklyn Heights home.
I have had no time to have the 2 pages on Ezra (sent by Chas. W. Pflaum) typed and probably it’s better for you to have an exact copy. E. H. T. Miller’s records in Pflaum possession will be given to the Rochester, NY Lib. Hope he keeps his promise. I’ve found only 2 or 3 minor errors. Charles Philip Miller (Ezra’s only son) and wife, Grace Rumrill died 1887 (not 1886). Two papers “NY Times” and “Nes London Telegram” give their “Obits” – Grace died 2:30 P.M. and Charles, A M. on Sept. 6, 1887.
Also, Ezra’s wife, Mary Britton Miller was born NYC Jan. 10. 1872 (not ca 1804) and died NYC Jan. 27, 1872, buried 30 Jan 1872, Hillside, NJ Evergreen Cem. it would finish Ezra’s life if we knew his burial place but I have too much to do on my husband’s lives (Elletts or Elliotts, and the Matthews).
Sorry we could not find Church records for Ezra in Charleston. You tried, I know. I’ll write to Beulah Glover in Walterboro and give her the “news”. (John H. White Jr. wrote this week “Hallelujah! After all these years you have tracked down our elusive Ezra M. Congratulations to you and that wonderful Librarian, Ann Pottes.” I’ll write to Ann, also.
Did you receive any notice in Aug. about the New Brunswick, GA Celebration and any thing about the Best Friend and Ezra? If so, may I have a copy?
Hope Miller Matthews
Capt John M. Le Cato
24 Gadsden Street
Charleston, SC 29401
15 February 1984
Mr. John H. White, Jr.
National Museum of American History
Dear Mr. White:
I want to thank you for your kindness in so carefully reviewing and correcting my paper on Ezra Miller. I am correcting and revising the copies I have given out locally. I may well have been carried away by some of Hope Matthews enthusiasm, but some of the old accounts leave a lot of room for conclusion as to just what Miller and others actually did. In any case, I should have drawn more on my years of writing government reports which I always sprinkled liberally with possibly, probably and one may assume.
As for the Tom Thumb vs. horse story, I grew up near the B&O and heard numerous versions of the story as a small boy. More serious documentation may be found in Botkin’s “A Treasury of Railroad Folklore” which attributes the story to H. B. Latrobe who was on the train.
The relative roles of Miller and Detmold in designing the horse car, the steam model and even the Best Friend are hard to judge. Certainly Detmold was more than a mechanic as he was employed by the railroad as a civil engineer and surveyer and seems to have been a partner with Eason for a time. My substitution of the name William represents an inexcusably sloppy piece of work.
My account of Miller’s relationship with Baldwin certainly deserves possibly or two. It would be interesting to know who proposed the name E. L. Miller for the locomotive. E. H. T. Miller’s notes mention a locomotive built at Patterson that ran from New York to Philadelphia. I can find no mention elsewhere of Ezra’s involvement in that area. I feel that Miller’s steam sawmill and other enterprises in Walterboro would have given him at least general background on boilers and reciprocating engines.
Do you have a copy of “Man on an Iron Road”, Southerns biography of Horatio Allen? If not, I will send one.
Thanks once more for the advise.
John Le Cato
Mar. 26, 1986
Dear John –
So glad you met my daughter and husband. They will come to visit me sometime in late Spring or early Summer. She has been a big help in typing many of our family records, since I foolishly never learned to type.
I’m wondering what records I have on Ezra L. (Lee, no doubt) Miller and his family that you would like. It’s very interesting to me to see how the creative ability of Ezra has been inherited by his descendants. His granddaughter, Mary Britton Miller became a poet and a novelist when she was 60 years old. I have her “Obit” from the NY Times. She was a twin daughter of Ezra’s only son, Charles Philip Miller and Grace Rumrill. Her twin was drowned the summer after their parents died (on the same day) t their summer cottage at New London, Conn. When Charles Philip died the NY Bar Association had a Memorial Service extolling Charles’ fine work and his character. he graduated from Harvard and Columbia Uni. Law School, 1871 was commissioned by Pres Lincoln as a Lt. in the Civil War, marries Grace Rumrill whose brother James Augusta Rumrill was Vice Pres. of the Boston and Albany RR and James’ father-in-law Chester Chapin was President. Chas Philip named his summer cottage “Old Ironsides.” His 2 sons: James Rumrill born 1880 NY City, grad Harvard Cum Laude, 1901 had a son Jas. Rumrill Miller Jr b. 10 April 1909 has a son Jas. R. III was head of Fed Trade Com, now head of Budget Com.(?) AB. 1959 Princeton, Doctorate M.I.T. 1965.
I write 2 great grandsons of Ezra (grandsons of Charles Philip) who are both writers – Charles Philip and Jas. Nathan – both Harvard Graduates. The son of Chas. Philip and Grace Rumrill: Jas. Nathan m 1943, June 18, Nancy Cheney and they live at Croton on the Hudson. Have a son who is a musician recently moved to Rochester, NY but has been with several Bands in Europe. See what I mean when the Creative ability of Ezra has been passed on to his great grandchildren, Philip Lee b. 22 Sept. 1946.
I can easily Xerox 4 or 5 pages on Ezra and his descendants but I doubt if anyone coming to your Museum would be interested.
Wish courses in Genetics had been offered when I was in College. Ezra’s brother, Horace Allen Miller (my great grandfather) had a grandson Horace Alden Miller, a musician, Head of Music at Cornell College, Mt. Vernon, VA for 33 years (organist and composer) and a grandson, Grant Clark Miller, an artist, became an Architect and head of his firm in Chicago until he retired in 1917.
Guess you’re bored enough. Spring weather became today and I can hardly wait until Sat. when a grandson (son of my older dau., Gloria) will come to help me clean up my small patio garden, put redwood stain on our picnic table and benches and do errands. This old lady gets tired very quickly and I hate to admit that its due to my age (90).
Thank you for being so nice to Mer. and Buff. In Calif. he is called Dunc but here he’s always been called Buff. His mother and I have dinner together almost every Sunday.
Just received an answer to my letter to St. Phillip’s Church in Charleston that they are too busy to search for a birth of Hannah Badger born Charleston Jan 18, 1764 (date could be wrong but left by my Uncle Grant Clark Miller who knew Hannah and Gardner Clark’s dau. Hannah Badger Clarke who married Horace Allen Miller, 1817 in Amsterdam , NY. My Clarke line has been proved and Connee Parks of the Charleston Hist. Society is helping. We know from 7 Deeds that Hannah’s parents were Jonathan and Mary Badger but need Mary’s maiden name and date and place of her marriage to Jonathan Badger who ca 1746 built a 3 – story brick tenement at 41 – 43 Tradd St. He made his will June 24, 1769 but the SC Archives at Columbia have no record of it. By Mar 1770 he and daughters Hannah and Sarah and son William were in Providence. His son, William died in Charleston 6 Aug. 1779 but his residence was in Providence.
I also wrote 2 weeks ago to St. Michaels as it being the oldest Church in Charleston, might have the marriage of Mary to Jonathan. No answer yet.
If you know of anyone who would check St. Philips’ records for Hannah’s baptism and marriage of her parents, the Church is very willing to let me or someone for me. search their records. The marriage record is more important to me than Hannah’s birth date. I will mail a check to you to pay someone (possible a member of the Church would like to earn a bit).
You did some Clark hunting and I am to blame that you wasted your time because my line of Clarke’s did not go to SC. Both Capt. John Clarke and son Gardner were born in Richmond, RI and served in Rev. War in RI. John moved to NY State soon after May 1783 and Gardner after 4-12-1790.
Expect to spend Dec. 23 to Jan. 2nd in Calif with Mer. and Buff and 3 of their sons. Probably my last trip. I love it when I get there but not getting to and from the Airport. However, this time my older daughter’s former husband and wife will take me and pick me up.
Hope you and your wife are with friends or relatives for Thanksgiving. My daughter Gloria, her son and wife will join me at the Roger Williams Family get-to-gather – about 20 of us. Rog is Buff’s brother.
Hope Miller Matthews
P. S. Is is possible that Mary (wife of Jonathan Badger)’s maiden name was Pearce, so notice any Pearce or Pierce marriages. When Jonathan died 1774, Mary, widow and Benoni’s Pearce were the Executors of his estate. I have all of Benoni’s children, wife was Mehitable Walker. They married in Coventry Conn. but their 9 children except Sarah (1st one) were born in Providence, RI. We have not figured out the connection but Benoni Pearce witnessed many Deeds when Mary and her daughters, Hannah Badger and Sarah Snow sold.
Enclosing one of the Records on Jonathan Badger in the State Archives at Columbus, SC. A fine researcher in Columbia, Mr. Tony Draine sent it to me. So we have 41-43 Tradd St., a Tenement Brick bldg. built by Jonathan ca 1746 and owning a Brickhouse on W. Side of King St. in Charleston when he died and Mary, his widow sold it to Tobias Cambridge Nov. 8, 1783. I’d love an early map showing these Charlestown Streets. Will pay you if you find one.