This blog entry shall deal with finalizing, almost, the lands of Elder Daniel Miller (1755-1822). Elder Daniel owned land that today lies along the Upper Bear Creek Road of Miami township, Montgomery county, Ohio. When he owned it, and prior to that, the land was owned by Elder Jacob Miller (ca. 1838-1815). Normally to plat land it is fairly easy to transcribe a single deed and overlay that onto high-quality scans of the Montgomery County, Ohio Atlas of 1875. In this instance it is difficult as that particular section, in 1875 versus the early 18th Century, had been cut up into differing tracts. In other words, it was not easily done because of intervening deeds. To rectify this it fell upon me to pull all the deeds, at least those that were recorded for this section, which led to some discoveries.
Today’s blog, the first in a series that will hopefully be an on-going explanation of what I am presently working on, is about the various Brethren Miller families who were early settlers of Montgomery county, Ohio. The opening section below is some comments about the Miller families of note, followed by what I am working on at this time. In essence there are three Miller families that interest me, and I am not even remotely related to any of them, so, to that end, here goes.
IV, page 2404, in which place may be found a fair and discriminating account of the several sects in question: "The Tunkers are often confounded with the other peace sects, in Pennsylvania, of German origin, especially with the Mennonites, the Amish, Schwenckfelders, etc.; but they have no historical connection, and differ from them in some important particulars." Another quotation from Schaft-Harzog, Vol. IV, page 2403, may be allowed as fairly describing the Ephrata Society (the particular sect of Sieben-taeger with which we are here concerned): "The Sieben-Taeger, or German Seventh-day Baptists, are a secession from the Tunkers. They are now , nearly extinct as a denomination, but at one time existed in considerable numbers at Ephrata, Lancaster county, Penn., where, under Conrad Beissel. they formed a monastic community in 1732; and colonies were afterward formed near York, Bedford and Snow Hill. Beissel, a native of Germany, came to this country in 1720, and settled at Mill Creek, where he was baptized by Peter Becker, the Tunker minister of the Germantown church, in 1725. He published a pamphlet protesting against the change of the sabbath from the seventh to the first day of the week, and also advocating celibacy as the higher order of Christian life." It was earlier than 1732, however, probably 1728, that Beissel, who had been baptized by the Dunker bishop, Peter Becker, in 1724, began the movement which formed the Ephrata Society. Community of goods was at first the rule at Ephrata, but was afterwards abandoned, at least in part. Celibacy was enjoined upon those who retired to the cloisters, and was recommended to others, but was not required of them. They adopted a garb similar to that of the Capuchins, and assumed, upon entering the order, monastic names. Having now succeeded, I trust, in setting the Dunkers clearly apart—showing what and who they are not—I have only left to tell, generally and briefly, who and what they are. The Dunkers (Brethren, or German Baptist Brethreh), are a large body of Christians, living chiefly in Pennsylvania, Maryland. Virginia, West Virginia. Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Missouri, Iowa, Nebraska, Tennessee, Texas, Washington, and California, with branch congregations and missons in Canada, Sweden, Norway, France, Switzerland, Asia Minor and India. They hold the Bible as the Word of God, and the New Testament as their creed. In faith they are orthordox and evangelical. They believe in the Trinity of the Godhead, in the divinity of each of the three Persons, in future reward and punishments. Faith, repentance and baptism are held to be the conditions of forgiveness of sin and the gift of the Holy Ghost. They administer baptism by trine, face-forward, immersion. They perpetuate the Apostolic agape, or
happy hereafter, but first must pass through punishment according to their Sins." Dr. Walker here has fallen into a mass of confusion that had doubtless bewildered other men before him, and that certainly has blinded hundreds to the truth since his day; and it is to make another effort, in behalf of justice and historical truth, to clear up this confusion, that I beg space for these lines. The facts in brief are these: The Ephrata Society, who were an offshoot of the Dnnker sect, were Sabbatarians and ascetics; yet they retained a few of the principles and practices of the parent body. Often, therefore, they were called Dunkers; often, on the other hand, through a similar lack of discrimination, the Dunkers were confused with the Slbbatarians, and, in consequence, charged with their ascetic practices and heretical doctrines. These misconceptions have clung to the subject with the characteristic persistency of error, from generation to generation, and even in our own day are by no means entirely dispelled. In the realm of fiction they have found a congenial atmosphere; and even in sober history they have taken deep root. Howe, the historian, whose book, Virginia: Its History and Antiquities, is eagerly sought after and highly prized by students and librarians of to-day, wrote a hundred years after Dr. Walker; yet he follows the same wrong path. Indeed, he gets far further into the maze of error, and he is probably still leading multitudes after him. In his sketch of Botetourt county (page 203), he says: "At the small village of Amsterdam, 5 miles s. of Fincastle, there is a large brick church, lately built by the Dunkards The Dunkers at Amsterdam are descendants of Germans who emigrated to Pennsylvania. The following, regarding the tenets and practices of this sect, is from a published account: " 'The Tunkers are a denomination of Seventh-Day Baptists, which took its rise in the year 1724. [The Tunker sect originated in Germany in 1708. Beissel, who afterwards founded the monastic sect, was baptized by a Tunker bishop, near Philadelphia, in 1724.] It was founded by a German, who, weary of the world, retired to an agreeable solitude within sixty miles of Philadelphia, for the more free exercise of religious contemplation. Curiosity attracted followers, and his simple and engaging manners made them proselytes. They soon settled a little colony, called Ephrata, in allusion to the Hebrews, who used to sing psalms on the border of the river Euphrates. This denomination seem to have obtained their name from their baptizing their new converts by plunging. [The terms Tunker and Dunker did arise from the mode of baptizing by immersion, or dipping, frem Ger. tunken, to dip.] * * They use trine immersion, with laying on the hands and prayer, even when the person baptized is in the water. [This is true of the Dun
should visit them again. They had a bad opinion of Bethlehem, but I induced them to change it to the contrary. There is an open door. The people do not look so much upon religion, but rather that Christ should be preached to them. Nothing pleased them more in my sermon than that I preached the Lord Jesus to them. X. NEW-FOUND RIVER. Some Dunkers have settled there. XI. NEW RIVER. A few German families live there.* There are also a few scattered [German] people along the bay. These are all the places in which Germans live. I have not been at the last two places, as my time did not permit it. a man of good education. His will was admitted to probate in Fauquier county, Va., February 29, 1760, and his descendants are still in Virginia. * These Germans were visited by Schnell and Brandmueller in 1749. One statement, however, as given in the last number of the Magazine, needs to be corrected. Under date of November 26, 1749, it ought to read: "We were only a few miles from the Sabbatarians" [Siebentaeger], instead of Seventh Day Baptists. These Sabbatarians were a part of the Ephrata Community. On September 14, 1745, Samuel and Israel Eckerlin, Alexander Mack, and two others left Ephrata. "They fled about 400 English miles, towards the setting sun, * * * until, beyond all Christian governments, they had reached a stream, which runs towards the Mississippi—New River by name. Here they settled, in the midst of a pack of nothing but raggamuffins, the dregs of human society, who spent their time in murdering wild beasts." Ephrata Chronicle, pp. 184-185. The settlement was given up in 1750. See Sachse, German Sectarians of Pennsylvania, Vol. II, p. 341. The settlers, visited by the Moravians. evidently belonged to the "dregs of human society," as the Ephrata people were pleased to call them. The Moravian diaries show them in a totally different light. They prove, moreover, that these two colonies were distinct, with little or no intercourse between them.