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Note that this story was re-typed in May, 2011 from original notes. It is typed exactly as it was originally written, misspellings and all. This story was told to Emy Applegate, daughter of William Miller. From the personal archive of Michael J. Miller
The Story of my Life, by a born Texan,.
William J. Miller
I was born in Bellville, Location Austin County. This is the same county in which San Felipe de Austin is located, first settlement of Stephen F. Austin grant. My father was born in the town of Crossen in Prussia on the Oder in 1835. He came to Texas with his brother William who was about twenty years old. My father was twenty-four. His name was Herman Muller, which he changed to Miller when he became a citizen of the United States. My Uncle did not change his name. My father had to leave Germany because he was a 48 revolutionist, like Carl Schurz, E.G. Maetze and many others in those days. My grandfather was a tax collector in the city of Crossen. He had a large family and income just enough to live on. His son’s political career was rather disagreeable to him. So when my father left, it was great relief to him. This my aunts in Germany told me, when I was there in 1871.
My father and brother William met the Langhammer family in Bremen in a hotel; and discovered that they were going to Texas. They decided to go there too. They had intended to go to some northern state, but changed their minds. This was partly because of the Langhammer family with five young girls, fine looking young ladies. This family was from Austria, also revolutionists. One became my mother. She was born in Budapest. My grandmother was a Moravian born in Bruin. Her name was (Anna Marie) Kratky.
They all arrived in Galveston in the year of 1849 on the ship with the Tips family. They nearly all settled in Austin County. About 1851 my father and Bertha Langhammer got married. They lived on a farm near Umlan place on the Piney creek. There he told me he went fishing in Diakehut Lake. There was a large canebreak near same. It was very dry that year and the canebreak would burn easily. Some careless person let the fire get near the dry cane and set the cane fire. With wind he said it was bad with each joint of cane exploding that sounded like cannons or guns. It looked like to them like the world was burning. All being new comers and not knowing the condition here, they thought they would all be punished. So they all signed a paper not to tell anyone of their guilt. Afterwards they learned that nobody paid any attention because it happened before. I saw it burn later in 1864 when I was in Piney creek school house.
My father soon moved to Hills Ferry on Brazos and Bellville – Hempstead Road. He had a store for farmers and teamsters. All the wagon trains from Houston to Westerdan, Texas would cross the Brazos at Hills ferry. My sister Mary was born there. I often passed the log house, where my mother told me she had lived. Later old Dave Hill used it for fire wood. He was a slave holder and around the ferry.
About 1854 my folks moved to Bellville where father had a store on the east side of the courthouse square. His house was on the old Mathew place about a block away. This was the log house where I was born Dec. 4, 1854. We did not live here long. We had some rooms added to the store. We had a kitchen and bedroom below and one above. One night Tom Mittleton, a desperado, and his crowd shot into the house. The bullets came through the wall and would hits the walls on the other side. I picked up a flattened bullet off the flour after the shooting. Father and mother after anxious request took out whiskey and cake as quick as they could and gave it to them. They said, “Hurrah for Mr. Miller”, and then went on to go into the next house with the same results. This was one of the first recollections of my life and I was very excited.
Bellville was then a typical frontier town and the county seat. The sheriff Jackson told father and I, and I presume everyone, to get a gun. But we never had to use it. Gambling was the main occupation and also stealing cattle. Those who wanted to work farmed and there was lots of wagon freighting. Ox, horse, and mule teams were used. There were mostly ox teams from Austin to Houston. Houston was then the end of the railroad. Barge and tug boats did most of the freighting between Galveston and Houston. There were no railroads until 1852.
Besides our store a Mr. Craig had one on the south side. I remember when I was four years old a Mr. Craig and one of the Cloud boys had a fight. Mr. Craig was shot and wounded in the left arm. I remember seeing him run from a saloon to his store. He came out with his arm in a sling and a six-shooter in his right hand. He came to the south side of courthouse to a bunch of trees. These oak trees were on the square near the store. Cloud was looking for him and he was on the north side behind a tree. I was about twenty feet from Craig with a lot of men they began shooting as soon as they saw each other. After each shot the bunch I was with said, “Hurrah, shoot again. You will get him this time”. They kept on until the six-shooters were empty, pealing bark off of the trees. The officers in the court house finally persuaded them to stop.
About this time before the war about 1860. A man by the man of Taylor came to town and represented himself as a preacher. He held services in the schoolhouse, second story of the Masonic Lodge. Sundays and weekdays he stole cattle with his helpers. He was arrested and put in jail. The people were so mad they came and took a rope out of the store. Father had refused to sell it for that purpose. I was there and watched them quarreling over making a hangman’s knot. They were so eager tearing the rope out of each others hands. They came near fighting over it. County Judge Johnson with a six-shooter on came in to help pacify the bunch. But they went on to the jail and broke down the door with a sledge hammer. It was taken from Manning’s blacksmith shop near by. Next Morning he was hanging on a tree out south. Ed Strader, a Negro that I knew well, asked me to go with him to those trees. I went and it was a terrible sight. Before I knew it, the Negro took him by the boots and gave him a swing. I ran home and decided I would never go to another hanging.
We were in our house east of Bellville when soon the war came. I was seven years old in 1860, before I remember people would meet and drill. Father was Captain sometimes. Old man Frank had a brewery near by. When they had drilled a while and were hot and thirsty, he would be there with a keg or more and they would have a fine lunch etc. These men were mostly old men so when the real war came the younger ones had to go first. I remember Vought’s Co. that marched from Bellville to Hempstead. They were all young men and none of them had drilled before. Well later everyone had to go.
The stores in Bellville were soon all closed. No goods could be brought in, and we were without flour, matches, coffee, and salt. And many things like medicine were hard to get. I remember we always tried to keep a big log in the kitchen fireplace burning. Sometimes we would go to the neighbors for fire. They would also come to us. We were careful to save the chips when we were chopping oak wood. We had flint rock with steel but this took lots of patience. Salt we got from the wagons that came from Mexico. They scooped it up from the lakes somewhere near Kings Ranch. It was dirty but we had to get along the best we could.
During the war we went to school to old man Koch. There was a log school house near his house by Piney creek. Sometimes a company of Yankee soldiers, prisoners, were located on the creek. The soldiers came often to our schoolhouse and played with us. We played marbles, ball, etc. I often wondered why they did not run off and go back north, as there were no guards. I thought they would rather be prisoners. They often came to our house and begged for milk and clabber. We gave them all we could spare and told them to kill our fat steer when they needed fresh meat. They all seemed to be nice men and well dressed.
Sometimes Uncle Charlie would come home on leave for a month. One time he came and stayed longer than allowed. So one evening coming home from school mother met me and told me the catchers were coming and they were going to Millham about eight miles away; where my grandmother lived. She told me that is they found him there his life would be in danger. So I had to ride over and it was getting late. So I went without getting off my horse through Mill Creek bottom and prairies. I got there about dark and grandmother wanted me to stay there, but I had promised mother to come back at once. I did not get off my horse but told my uncle that the constrictors were coming, and he had better hurry back to the army. Going home it was dark and no moonshine. About one half the way home my horse was frightened by a hog jumping up put of the middle of the road. I was not expecting a side jump by my horse so I fell off. There I was on foot and my horse, Roany, swinging ahead of me. But on account of some extra good grass there and his being hungry just like myself, he began eating and I had a chance to slip up, on him and get the bridle. I was soon galloping home and ran all the way. I was getting scared in the wilderness three miles from any house, and it was pitch dark night and the owls hooting. (he told me it sounded like they said, Who who are you). (Emy) I was just nine years old.
During the war I had the misfortune to be invited to Billy Crump's birthday party. He was the only son of a rich slave holder, had hundreds of them. He was the only child. I told my mother that I did not want to go because the slave holder’s boy would not want to play with me, that I would be unwelcome, that in their eyes I was a Dam Dutchman and beneath their kind. But she insisted and said Mr. Crump was a fine man and besides a good customer of fathers; so I finally went. Martin Harris, a slave of our neighbor, took us in the hack-- Gonnell Harris, sister Emmie, brother Gus, and myself. As we came near their new fine house I told Martin better just leave the horses hitched up as I did not think we would stay long. And so it was. As soon as we were near the gate. Billy Crump, Dick Springfield, George Blake, and the Cross boys said. “There come those Dam Dutchman. I don’t want to play with them and they can’t swing in our swing”. Billy ran up to his father and said “Aren’t those Dam Dutchman? “ “No my son they were born here just like you were. Their parents were German but they are Americans now also”. “I wont play with them they are Dutch”. So they continued to abuse us. When we were called in to eat, they refused to sit at the same table with us, and behaved very bad, I thought, claiming to be such aristocrats and having such good manners. We did not eat much if any, I know I was anxious to get away; so was Gus. I went on the porch, big and wide with four corner posts. Billy came after us abusing us; so we got into a fight and in the scrap I pushed Billy into the sharp corner of one of the post stands and cut a gash in his forehead. The blood came out in Streams and he went crying into the parlor among the ladies with their silk dresses. There were fine rugs and he was bleeding like a pig. A great excitement you can imagine. So we ran to our hack and I called Tom Martin. We all got into the wagon as soon as we could and made for home. When I got home I told my mother and I perhaps said “I told you so”. It came just that way but she was sorry she made us go. Nothing was said afterwards and George Blake and I got to be friends.
In 1865 about the close of the war, father sold out in Bellville and moved to Galveston. He was in New York when Lincoln was shot in the Ford Theatre. He was buying dry goods as all the south needed them. Then when he got back all the cafes were full of Union Soldiers. It was a terrible place for killing and gambling. My brother Gus and I were soon sent to Millheim to what might be called a boarding school. To old man E.G. Maetze, a very old man. He was a 48 revolutionist and claimed to be a democrat. He was a graduate of Breslau University and a member representative in Berlin. At that time he sat next to Kinkle in the Hall Representatives.
Mr. G. E. Maetze had a school in Millheim Texas, (http://www.jstor.org/pss/30234693) considered at that time one of the best in Texas. There were no public schools so my parents thought best to send us there. Mr. Maetze was in Galveston. I think he bought his son Gus down and father hired him as a clerk. So we went back with the old man but we hated to leave Galveston and home. In Houston we had to stop over in a hotel going on the central to Hempstead next day. I remember eating supper in the hotel. Gussie in trying to get some pepper to put on top of his egg the top of the pepper box came off and all the pepper was in his plate. Maetze saw this and shouted “foolish boy why can’t you watch out”. The pepper box condition was to blame and the host said so and excused him. We were so frightened that we did not eat much after that. Later on the front porch we nearly decided to run back to Galveston. If it had not been for the long bridge over the bay, that kept us from going. We finally got to Millheim with a mule team from Bellville to Hempstead. It was terribly slow and on one of the mules we used the whip all of the time. In Millheim, the first two weeks we cried ourselves to sleep every night in spite of old man Maetze scoldings. We were homesick. I was eleven years old and Gus was nine. We never were homesick after that so I presume that terrible spell made us immune.
In Millheim our greatest pleasure was to go see our cousin Ernst Langhammer, who lived with his mother. His father that died was Uncle E. Kleberg. Aunt Louise was a very kind lady. I always knew she would have a big piece of bread and butter for us. I had lots of fun shooting doves with a little rifle I had small cartridges. Old lady Maetze had charge and she would give me ten or twelve cartridges and would say now bring home eight or nine doves. I generally did. Going swimming and climbing trees was our sport; at school we played ball and marbles. In 1867 we moved back to Bellville, this was the worst yellow fever year we ever had in that country. Bellville was the only place around that it did not spread in. In Hempstead the death rate was ten to eight a day; a town of about 1570 people then. Daniel Arrenback was mayor of the town. They had Negros that were immune from the fever, digging graves ahead for the dead. At that time Northern soldiers were in town yet and many of them died. I remember Daniel telling me he nursed Capt. Lancaster, a man from Maine, through the fever. Capt. Lancaster afterwards sent him a mason Keystone watch chain as a present. My father went on a collecting trip in a buggy with two horses. Mary and myself went along. When we got to La Grange father got sick. He was a friend of M. Schumacher and was in his house; both were sick. As soon as he was able, I was sent to find a man with a hack so we could arrange for father to lie down, so got out of town to Roesler. By the time we got there he was so much better, we discharged the hack man and got home in our buggy. When we got there the report was the yellow fever was all around.
I went to school while in Bellville to Prouty but on account of Gussie and myself quarling so much, I was sent to Millheim again. This was for a year or two. I was then employed in my fathers store. It was run in the name of Miller and Maetze. Maetze was my brother-in-law, so I boarded with my sister and slept in the store nites. Hempstead was known as six-shooter station. I had a big colt revolver but never had any trouble. Only one time the gamblers came shooting in the house. I lay quiet behind some nail kegs with my gun ready if they should try to come in.
In Hempstead, I got acquainted with the Ahrenbeck family. They were building a cotton seed oil mill, then the first one in the state. Will Ahrenbeck, a brother, before the war had large blacksmith shop and wagon shop in town. During the war the Confederacy leased the plant and made wagons for the army. At the end of the war the Confederate states owed him a lot of money in promises to pay signed by General Mc Gruder. All was lost when the south lost and the Ahrenbeck brothers had to start from the beginning. D. Ahrenbeck had a corn mill and a small flour mill and cotton gin in connection. W. Ahrenbeck had been in the mercantile business but had lost out. He had a little left so he got Daniel to go in with him again and decided to go in the plow and wagon business again. While they were putting up the building a salesman happened in; and when he saw a large pile of cotton seed in the yard going to waste, he told them they made oil out of that in New Orleans. He knew a Mr. Callahan of Dayton Ohio who was making machinery for oil mills. He gave them the address. They wrote to him and later got acquainted with him. He was a jolly Irishman. They told him of the financial conditions after the war. He was liberal and sold them the machinery mostly on credit. I was anxious to see the oil going so I made myself useful wherever I could and was only anxious to please, especially Daniel and his daughter Minnie. I could not keep her out of my mind.
When the first oil was made, W. Ahrenbeck was running the press. Later we had seven, in fact 14, according to the capacity of the first. As we put in double mats, making two cakes instead of one. The arrangement for pumping the oil in large tanks was not finished, so I was employed for that day to dip the oil out of a small tank into a barrel with a dipper. When the barrel was full, I was told by W. Ahrenbeck to go tell John Tuffy, old citizen of Hempstead, to come and bring his spoon, that the barrel of oil was ready for him. He had promised to eat all the oil they could get out of seed. He came but no spoon. One half of Hempstead came to see the show. This was 1870.
In 1871 my parents decided to send me to Europe to school. My father had just been on a visit to the old country in 1870 and on his return decided. At that time there were no schools in Texas; no University or A & M College where my brothers went. So in May 1871 father took me to New Orleans. On about May 20th I bade my mother good bye and she left on a ship for Galveston. The next day I left on the Steamer to Frankfurt. It happened a nephew of Gus Sheridan, Phil Sheridan, was on the ship. John Houser and a man from Bellville name of Harverstall were with me all the way. In Berlin we arrived O.K. at 5 P.M. I remember Hernsteade got a telegram there telling him to come home his father or mother was dying. John Houser, and old soldier of Civil War and also the German war in Russia, came over with me principally to see the battle field is France. He had one thousand dollars in gold pieces in a leather belt around his waist. After Hernsteade lift us he wanted me to go around town with him. I would not go I was afraid both of us would get robbed during the night. I told him to wait until morning but he went about midnight. When he came home the policeman had to show him the way. Next morning I left for Crossen on the Oder where Uncle William lived. I rode with soldier’s third class all the way. The depot in Crossen is about one mile from the city, so I got a bus, with a big fat driver in front. I was alone on the bus and the driver kept looking at me and laughing. I had on my Texas suitband broad hat. I was a sight for him. He knew where Uncle William lived so I got there O.K. As soon as my aunts got their eyes on me, no more going out of the house. They got a Tailor and got hats until they got one to fit and in style. So I could not leave for several days until they had me dresses fit to accompany them. I stayed with them a little while and then went with Uncle William to Frankenberg in Saxony. There I stayed for four years.
Ball games such as we have were unknown in Germany. One day our room got to talking about throwing rocks. They were surprised when I told them I could throw a rock over the bridge. This was a railroad bridge over a very narrow valley, with a small brook in it. I judge at the highest point about 80ft high. They all laughed when I said that, and insisted that I go and do it. So about forty of them went along and told everyone that we met that I claimed I could throw over the viaduct. The crowd got bigger as we went, claiming it was impossible that I could throw that good; but I told them “some boys in Texas can beat me”. So when we got to the point I found in the little brook flowing in the valley a few pebbles for the purpose. I took one and threw it twenty feet higher than the bridge. They were astonished and some of them tried it and got about half way up. I then explained that we in Texas had a ball game and we practiced throwing much and we had plenty of rocks to throw. Every boy was a good thrower there. Going back home we passed by a church and there was a narrow street and just one row of houses in front. Back of these houses there was a square about 200 feet wide and houses all around. One of the boys said, “Why Miller, you could stand here all day and throw rocks over this house and those windows on the other side of the square and nobody would accuse you of doing it. Of course I might call their attention to the fact that you were such an expert.”
While I was in Frankenberg about the second year, the King of Saxony, King John, there was a purpose to visit our school. I suppose he had heard that the body of students were mostly foreign. Of course the school buildings were decorated with oak leaf garlands. At night we had a torch light possession past his hotel. The king was very old as he was king during the revolution of 1848. This had failed and my father was one that had fled to America. The King and his master of ceremonies went through our building. The first room containing students was the room I was in and I was the first student next to the door. He came and spoke to me and asked where I was from and what I was doing just then. I told him although I do not remember what I was doing it was some drawing on a small board. The king was very old in fact in his dotage and I was the only boy he spoke to. This was an accident, but I was envied by the other boys. The King also attended one lecture by one of our best professors. I doubt if he understood although he was good in math. So I am the only Miller in the family that met and talked to a real King.
Our swimming hole was on the Schopon River, a fine clear stream always plenty cool. Of course the boys and everybody wanted me to tell about Texas, desperadoes, murder and such. I told them about the railroad bridge across the Brazos at Richmond. This was a low water bridge. I rode on a passenger train and the conductor would come around and tell the passengers that if they were afraid to go over in the train they could get out and go over on the ferry and get back on the train on the other side. All got out but Brother and I. We got over O.K. When I told them this, they said “Miller, you think we believe that. We are no fools”. I could nor convince them. In Germany such a bridge would be impossible. My tale about the alligators trying to get my lunch in the Piney near the lake was another story they refused to accept as truth. But it was true; on Sunday we went fishing and did not take a gun along as we usually do. After tending the horses I put a dish pan Mamma had put our lunch in about ten feet from the water. Soon I heard brother Charlie screaming, “Bill an alligator is getting our lunch” I hastened to the place and picked up a big stick and threw it at his head. He turned back and got into the water. I threw mud clots at him no rocks or gun. It seemed he knew it, he lay in the water with his head out looking at us and not more than twenty feet away. We kept watching him all day. He had had his nose in the pan just ready to get some cheese mother made. I think he liked the smell and was watching for another chance. The boys laughed at my telling this story “Why” they said, “you are trying to beat Munchhausen”.
I left Germany the end of March on a steamer from Bremerhaven to New York. We arrived in Bellville on April 21, San Jacinto day. They had a ball there the day we arrived. In a way it is a mistake sending a boy to the old country for education. It is better that they go to school at home, especially if they intend to stay there for their life time. There they would get acquainted with home boys who are men afterwards; and it is a good advantage to know home folks in getting a job. You have a pull and you have a better chance fighting for existence. It is all right to go to some University to finish up foreign where there are some extra fine professors in your branch; but stay near home if possible. My student friends are all over the world, South America, Java and all Europe, Russia etc. Never met one except those from Texas, and they were all from San Antonio.
I am supposed to be a railroad engineer. The first job I got in Texas was surveying a line from Hempstead to Montgomery, for a railroad with one rail. Perfectly absurd because even lumber was cheap then. That is on account of using one rail more lumber had to be used. The company was organized but in my opinion it was broke before it got started. We had only a compass to survey the preliminary line with. Later my brother bought me a level from Young and Son in Philedelphia. Well the road never was built; and if it had not been for Mrs. Amsler giving me a good meal once in a while, I would have passed away also in the Piney woods. The company went broke and I just could pay what I owned in 1877. In Dec. Minnie and I came to the conclusion we had better get married and I help in the oil well where I had helped a little in the start, so we located in Hempstead. In 1886 we had had nine years of happiness and worry. We were always in a pinch for money. Some years we would earn Thirty thousand and the next year would lose it. Finally wound up broke. D. Ahrenbeck and I had about fifteen hundred in all when we left Hempstead for Ballinger. This was in 1886 and out little Adele was four years old.
While in Hempstead I was alderman for a while. M. Phole was mayor. After attending to business for several years with out pay, we decided one year at Christmas for each alderman to draw ten dollars. I never got this. The clerk, who was getting forty dollars a month, got me to lend mine and said he would pay me out of his next months pay. He said it was Xmas and he needed the money for his family. “All right” I said, but I never got anything and I was glad to get out of Hempstead.
The last two years I was in Hempstead, I was appointed by the district judge, together with Capt. E.P. Alsburg and Capt. Phelps; the first was a captain the south and Phelps in the North. Both were fine men. We were a finance committee to investigate the officer’s books and see if they had filled their offices honestly. We found the county judge short (going back in the books only about three years) about two hundred dollars. I was appointed by the committee to inform the judge. He approved of our statement with out any objection, and paid the money to the treasurer. We took our time investigating the books of the different officers as we had our own business to attend to. We found the Justice of the Peace fifteen hundred short. I was appointed again to inform him before we reported, so in case we were wrong he could show us. He replied to me, “I don’t know about the fifteen hundred. Iif you nose around in this business too much, it wont be good for your health”. Alsburg and Phelps always came with six-shooters on their person. So a few days later I was walking diagonally through the Hempstead square about twenty feet from the market house. Then I heard and partly felt a bullet pass my head. Then I heard a report of a gun and I said to myself ” that did just miss you”, so I walked faster hoping to get father away from the next shot. I knew it was the justice but I could not prove it, so did nothing, as I was leaving Hampstead. I told the committee to find another man in my place. I took some time to go over the books all carefully. The sheriff was short in fact all of them and a good man named Alheim assisted the court house ring and a strife got on between them and the citizens. Alheim, in self defense killed and Cloud the justice killed his own brother in law for putting an article in the paper. And so in a few months about ten got killed over the investigation. It looked like nearly everybody in Hempstead had killed somebody during his life so this was called the “six-shooter town”.
After I left Hempstead, I was in Bellville a while. I then went to Ballinger. The Sante Fe railroad just got there and this was the end of road. A new town was laid out and about twenty lots were sold. This was about three years after they had the ten killings in Hempstead. They called together the people there to have law and order meetings. John Pincknet, at one time congressman from that district, was made chairman. Everyone was requested not to bring any arms. During the beginning of the meeting, a lie and abuse was passed around, and then shooting began and five or six were killed.
I left Hempstead about 1886 and lived a while in Bellville with my people. Then moved to Ballinger. D Ahrenbeck went with me also Adele and Annie Ahrenbeck. In Runels County the bunch in the courthouse were not much more honest than in Waller County. I suppose all new counties have a rotten time in their period of development. That Texas seceded from the Confederacy was the wrong thing to do in the opinion of such men as Sam Houston, Jack Hamilton, John Hancock etc. The slave holders had all the money at the time, controlled the press and spent money sending people over the country influencing the people. By far most people did not own slaves and would not buy any if they had the money. Most of them were opposed to slavery; but in those days five years before war broke out, it was made very disagreeable to a person that was called an abolishionist. Although Dr. Peebles owned about 300 negroes he was opposed to slavery and the war and for writing a pamphlet called “Common Sense” he was arrested and put in prison hand cuffed to a Mr. Hillevrant. I knew both families well both from Austin co. Session men tried to make it a case of treason for Peebles. They had court marshall in Bellville about 1861 and my father told me that the mayor and himself and others practically saved him from being shot. Mr. Peebles never forgot a favor and after the was he did it. He was customs collector in Galveston after peace was declared. Through friends he managed to escape from Texas and lived in Ohio with his brother during the war years. Jack Hamilton was Governor of Texas under the Grant administration. Jack Hancock was a member of Congress from Texas after the war for a number of years.
I arrived in Ballinger June 28, 1889. The next day was lot sale day. About fifteen thousand people were there nearly all men. There were about fifty saloons and eating places and only one house. The rest were shacks with lumber and cloth and some tents. The first lot brought $1575 and was 30 by 120 feet, bought by a man that had a house on the lot a saloon. I presume his receipts for the day would pay for the saloon. About $160,000 dollars worth of lots were sold that day. I bought one lot for $135, was influenced to do so by a cousin C. McGinnis. It was very dry that year in Runels County and the year before. The country did not look good to me, and as I went to the railroad car to settle for my lot, my name was called stating there was a telegram there for me. It was from my father stating that the U.S. government had awarded us the contract to deliver one million pounds of hay to the Fort Concho at San Angelo. So I had to stay there and make arrangements with freighters to haul the hay to the fort. This induced me to put up a house on my lot. It was two story with a stone room below. So my first occupation was selling hay. Soon I got groceries and later handled wagons and machines.
While in Ballinger Brother Charlie soon came up and we worked a while together with D. Ahrenbeck in the store and milling business. Brother then went into the law and land business and we stayed in the milling business and cotton gin. The first year I ginned 76 bales. In 1888, I had the gin up.
In 1908 I ginned over 2000 bales of cotton and Ballinger received 52000 bales of wagon cotton; more than any other town in the south. So I was not mistaken that cotton raising would be a success in Runels Co. I made little profit ginning cotton the first three years. About 1890 Ballinger was incorporated and D. Ahrenbeck was alderman a while. Afterwards I was alderman for eighteen years. We built waterworks mainly; in fact, it was all improvement, for I took great interest in building dams on the Elm creek for water storage. There I had some experience in building dams. The lower dam I built first, beginning on the south side where the rocky bank made a firm anchorage. On the north side was a high bank but loose soil resting on the rock foundation. So, I extended the rock dam across the creek to within ten feet of the bank and waited for high water to wash the soil out. This it did by making the water force itself around the end of the dam 4 feet high. Then I extended the dam about ten feet more. Then I extended the dam all the way across and it was a success.
After building the flour mill, which first was an old fashioned Burr mill, Same as they had in Hempstead, I bought from S. Henderson very cheap. We afterwards organized the Ballinger Milling Co. and built a roller flour mill. All the machinery came from E.T. Willis and Co. in Milwaukee. We ran it with cotton gin together afterwards in separate buildings. My line shaft from the flour mill extended over the gin, and the end of the switch of the Sante Fe was near it. I put in the first electric plant in the country and ran same a few years. Never made any money at it and was glad to sell same when I did. About that time Brother Charlie brought the Nichols pasture from Barnum of Connecticut. This was P.T. Barnums’ brother. We got it at $1.25 an acre and sold it at two and three and acre. That was the time I should have sold the mill at fifty cents on the dollar and kept the land. Well the other mistake I made was about the ice factory. “Well we will forget it”!
Not respecting the manners and ways of other people was the fault of H. Miller, my father. He did not mean to be disrespectful to any one but absentmindedness was the trouble. Customers and people in general want your individual attention; if you do not show you are giving it, that is the worst thing you can do with some people; they hate you. When I was in Bellville last time I visited Fritz Brandes, an old friend of the family. He was 96 year old. He told me people did not understand your father; they misjudged him. While he was respected by nearly everyone he had few intimate friends that understood him. Otherwise he would not have had so many against him when he had that fight with Brosig at Franks Beer Garden, who were anxious to hang him. This was not the rule in Texas then. They hung for stealing cattle but not for fighting. A blessed old friend helped pull Brosig through, for a while they thought he would die. I remember I must have been six years old. There were a few most terrible hours I spent on my life. Our house was filled with men and guns at every window and outside were the enemies with guns and a rope. But it all turned out for the good. The main thing is to let the other fellow think he is the big U and you the little I. They will like you for it. If their love and respect is the custom, then you will have business prosperity. If you want to be a successful business man dealing with the public, you cannot have a firm opinion on religion or politics. The best is to believe and approve and seemingly what you fellow citizens want. In Hempstead the nine years I was there, I did not and could not mix much or go visiting. We were so busy with the mill and worrying how to make ends meet. Then there was sickness in the family all the time. At the same time I was alderman also approved to investigate the finances of the county. At that time I came near bring shot by a man named Onstatt, a saloon keeper. Also the Justice of the Peace shot at me for getting after him about robbing the county. In Ballinger I was also alderman for twenty years. But I had some enemies there. One got the railroad switch man to run train into my line shaft leading from mill to gin house. So I could not gin cotton for a while. One came in my gin and dropped some matched in the cotton so the gin caught fire. But I was attending the gin myself that day and saved the gin, having water and steam handy, I worked fast. For once I know who did it but could not prove it. I had discharged him the week before. He came in and was really friendly, but in a little while the fire broke out. Babies are natural and everybody loves them; so if grownups would be natural would they be liked or loved? Just a little love and sympathy and praise goes a long way and would help all the world.
Descendants of HERMANN EDUARD MILLER
Generation No. 1
1. HERMANN EDUARD2 MILLER (MUELLER1) was born April 04, 1825 in CROSSEN, PRUSSIA ON THE ODER, and died February 07, 1889. He married BERTHA LANGHAMMER July 20, 1851, daughter of FRANZ LANGHAMMER and MARIA KRATKY. She was born March 19, 1831 in BUDAPEST, AUSTRIA, and died September 04, 1915 in BELLVILLE, AUSTIN, TEXAS.
Children of HERMANN MILLER and BERTHA LANGHAMMER are:
2. i. F. MARIE3 MILLER, b. May 29, 1852, ,,TEXAS; d. January 31, 1875.
3. ii. WILLIAM JOHANN MILLER, b. December 04, 1854, BELLVILLE, AUSTIN, TEXAS.
4. iii. GUSTAVE E. "GUSSIE" MILLER, b. 1856, ,,TEXAS; d. 1917, HONDO, TEXAS.
5. iv. EMILIE "EMMIE" MILLER, b. Abt. 1858, BELLVILLE, AUSTIN, TEXAS; d. 1928.
v. ROSA JOSEPHINE MILLER, b. April 09, 1859; d. August 15, 1864.
More About ROSA JOSEPHINE MILLER:
Burial: August 1864, OAK KNOLL CEME., BELLVILLE, AUSTIN, TEXAS
6. vi. CHARLES STONEWALL MILLER, b. August 26, 1862, ,,TEXAS; d. 1921.
7. vii. HERMAN JULIUS MILLER, b. April 28, 1865, BELLVILLE, AUSTIN, TEXAS; d. September 10, 1938, MARLIN, FALLS, TEXAS.
8. viii. MATILDA "TILLIE" MILLER, b. November 1866, TEXAS; d. March 11, 1946, AUSTIN, TRAVIS, TEXAS.
ix. ROSA V. MILLER, b. January 09, 1872, TEXAS; d. September 14, 1919.
More About ROSA V. MILLER:
Burial: September 1919, OAK KNOLL CEME., BELLVILLE, AUSTIN, TEXAS
Generation No. 2
2. F. MARIE3 MILLER (HERMANN EDUARD2, MUELLER1) was born May 29, 1852 in ,,TEXAS, and died January 31, 1875. She married GUSTAV MAETZE, son of ERNST MAETZE and IDA BASSETT. He was born May 14, 1846 in SILESIA, PRUSSIA, and died October 19, 1912 in SAN ANTONIO, BEXAR, TEXAS.
More About F. MARIE MILLER:
Burial: 1875, OAK KNOLL CEME., BELLVILLE, AUSTIN, TEXAS
More About GUSTAV MAETZE:
Burial: October 1912, OAK KNOLL CEME., BELLVILLE, AUSTIN, TEXAS
Record Change: January 26, 2001
Children of F. MILLER and GUSTAV MAETZE are:
9. i. IDA4 MAETZE, d. Abt. 1955, ,NEW JERSEY, OR MAINE.
ii. BERTHA MAETZE, b. May 23, 1872, WALLER COUNTY, TEXAS; d. February 24, 1956, BEAUMONT, TEXAS.
Notes for BERTHA MAETZE:
OBIT IN SCRAPBOOK 10
More About BERTHA MAETZE:
Burial: February 26, 1956, OAK KNOLL CEME., BELLVILLE, AUSTIN, TEXAS
Record Change: January 06, 2001
3. WILLIAM JOHANN3 MILLER (HERMANN EDUARD2, MUELLER1) was born December 04, 1854 in BELLVILLE, AUSTIN, TEXAS. He married (1) MINNIE AHRENBECK December 05, 1877 in WALLER COUNTY, TEXAS, daughter of DANIEL AHRENBECK and MARY. She was born Abt. 1855 in TEXAS. He married (2) DORIS BERTRAM. 1888.
Children of WILLIAM MILLER and MINNIE AHRENBECK are:
i. EMA4 MILLER, m. APPLEGATE.
ii. ADELE MILLER, b. 1882.
Children of WILLIAM MILLER and DORIS BERTRAM are:
i. LEONA I MILLER, b 1891
ii. EMMY MILLER, b 1893
iii. MINNIE MILLER, b. 1893
iv. BERTRAM MILLER, SR, b 1897
4. GUSTAVE E. "GUSSIE"3 MILLER (HERMANN EDUARD2, MUELLER1) was born 1856 in ,,TEXAS, and died 1917 in HONDO, TEXAS. He married CHARLOTTE "LUTIE" ROENSCH December 11, 1877 in AUSTIN COUNTY, TEXAS, daughter of EDUARD ROENSCH and CHRISTIANE UNKNOWN. She was born Abt. 1862 in GERMANY, and died 1938 in HONDO, TEXAS.
Children of GUSTAVE MILLER and CHARLOTTE ROENSCH are:
i. BERNHARD4 MILLER, d. HONDO, TEXAS.
ii. E. H. MILLER, b. Abt. 1879.
5. EMILIE "EMMIE"3 MILLER (HERMANN EDUARD2, MUELLER1) was born Abt. 1858 in BELLVILLE, AUSTIN, TEXAS, and died 1928. She married JUDGE MARCELLUS EUGENE KLEBERG 1875, son of ROBERT KLEBERG and ROSALIE VON ROEDER. He was born February 1849 in ,DEWITT, TEXAS, and died March 01, 1913.
Children of EMILIE MILLER and JUDGE KLEBERG are:
i. ROBERT MILLER4 KLEBERG, b. October 25, 1877; d. February 28, 1936, GALVESTON, GALVESTON, TEXAS; m. GENE SHAFENBURGBurial: 1936, LAKEVIEW CEME., GALVESTON, GALVESTON, TEXAS
ii. MARCELLUS EUGENEKLEBERG, JR., b. October 09, 1879; d. February 24, 1953; m. ORA B. PETERS.
iii. M.D. WALTER KLEBERG, b. October 12, 1881; d. November 09, 1945; m. NELL FULTON NICHOLS.
iv. ROSA KLEBERG, b. August 17, 1884; d. March 19, 1914.
v. EMILIE KLEBERG, b. June 01, 1890; d. August 06, 1952; m. HARRY CANBY HUGHES, January 01.
More About ALICE KLEBERG:
6. CHARLES STONEWALL3 MILLER (HERMANN EDUARD2, MUELLER1) was born August 26, 1862 in ,,TEXAS, and died 1921. He married EMILIE "EMMA" HAAK 1888, daughter of CARL HAAK and AMELIE WAMMEL. She was born Abt. 1864 in BELLVILLE, AUSTIN, TEXAS, and died December 14, 1944 in BALLENGER, TEXAS.
Children of CHARLES MILLER and EMILIE HAAK are:
10. i. CHARLES STONEWALL4 MILLER, JR..
ii. QUINCY VICTOR MILLER.
iii. HUGO MILLER.
7. HERMAN JULIUS3 MILLER (HERMANN EDUARD2, MUELLER1) was born April 28, 1865 in BELLVILLE, AUSTIN, TEXAS, and died September 10, 1938 in MARLIN, FALLS, TEXAS. He married (1) LOUISA E. A. MACHEMEHL January 07, 1890 in ,AUSTIN, TEXAS, daughter of JOHANN MACHEMEHL and CHARLOTTE BEHNE. She was born August 20, 1872, and died October 03, 1891. He married (2) MARTHA HENCKEL 1895. She was born November 26, 1873 in GERMANY, and died February 14, 1944.
Child of HERMAN MILLER and LOUISA MACHEMEHL is:
11. i. CHARLOTTE LOUISE4 MILLER, b. August 1890.
Children of HERMAN MILLER and MARTHA HENCKEL are:
12. ii. HERMAN EDWARD4 MILLER, b. February 24, 1895, TEXAS; d. March 06, 1980.
iii. HELEN MILLER, b. July 22, 1897, TEXAS; d. October 02, 1996; m. O. G. WESTMORELAND.
iv. LUCILE MARIE MILLER, b. Abt. 1901.
13. v. ELEANOR BERTHA MILLER, b. January 05, 1904, TEXAS; d. July 05, 2002.
8. MATILDA "TILLIE"3 MILLER (HERMANN EDUARD2, MUELLER1) was born November 1866 in TEXAS, and died March 11, 1946 in AUSTIN, TRAVIS, TEXAS. She married WILLIAM ANDREAS F. TRENCKMANN April 20, 1886 in BELLVILLE, AUSTIN, TEXAS, son of ANDREAS TRENCKMANN and JOHANNA JOCKUSCH. He was born August 23, 1859 in MILLHEIM, AUSTIN, TEXAS, and died March 22, 1935 in AUSTIN, TRAVIS, TEXAS
Children of MATILDA MILLER and WILLIAM TRENCKMANN are:
i. ROBERT4 TRENCKMANNb. 2 Feb 1887 Bellville, Austin Co., Texas
ii. WILLIAM TRENCKMANN, b. February 17, 1890, TEXAS; d. December 1964.
iii. ELSE TRENCKMANN, b. July 06, 1893, TEXAS; d. July 1969.
iv. CLARA TRENCKMANN, b. July 1897; d. June 19, 1979, TRAVIS CO., TX; m. STUDER.
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© Copyright Feb 2003 Steve Alvarez
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