The Joel J. Miller Family Reunion
Comments on a Family Picture, circa 1915 (provided by David I. Miller)
Joel J. Miller is seated on a hickory rocking chair on the left with cane in hand. His wife Savilla is seated next to him. The others are their children, in-laws, and grandchildren. For their identity, compare the numbers assigned on the photocopy of the picture with the numbers in the genealogical list below..
The children of Joel and Savilla who lived to adulthood are identified in the genealogical list below by single digit numbers from 1 to 7. The grandchildren are listed with the number of their parents, plus a decimal number. Both generations are listed by birth order. The list does not include children born later than the photography. The names of persons in the list, but absent from the picture, are given in italics. Though none of the grandchildren were married in 1915, the names of their later spouses are given in parentheses. Each name is followed by the family number in the genealogy, Joel B. Miller History.
We lack identification of the photographer. The quality, time, and place of the picture suggest that the famous photographer Leo Beachy showed up in the sugar grove, either spontaneously or by appointment. This family grew up with the Maple Glen Amish Mennonite church as their home church; Joel was bishop there. Leo Beachy likewise grew up in that congegration. His parents are buried there. Leo did not stay with that congregation, but seems to have taken a rather free lance approach to faith and church affiliation. His photography is widely recognized and was featured some years ago in Life magazine. But he related to his Amish Mennonite cousins, of whom Joel and Savilla’s son-in-law, Harvey Yoder was first cousin and Savilla a second cousin.
Joel J. Miller was born in 1844. He died on November 14, 1915, apparently within a few months after this photography. Savilla was born in 1846 and died in 1933, having lived eighteen years in widowhood. Both are buried in the Maple Glen cemetery north of Grantsville.
Joel and Savilla were married in 1866. Their first child, Malinda was born in 1867 and died in 1868. They buried their baby in the family cemetery on his home farm, near Springs, Pennsylvania, where the couple was living at the time. After two years without children, their second child, Jonas, was born in 1870. Joel and Savilla were living then in the hotel, known today as The Casselman, in Grantsville, while constructing the farm buildings of the first farm along present-day Dorsey Hotel Road north of Grantsville. That farm land and the hotel, along with the Grantsville subdivision known as Millers Addition, belonged to a large tract known as Cornucopia. The Millers had bought the tract for the purpose of carving out a farm just north of the National Road and Grantsville. The children after Malinda and Jonas were born in the new farm house which stands yet today, albeit, with an addition added later on the east side and the main entrance modified in more recent years.
Of the nine children of Joel and Savilla, seven grew to adulthood. In addition to Malinda dying as an infant, Ada, born in 1887, died in 1889. Five of their seven adult children appear in the picture. Jonas and Lewis and their wives are absent. Jonas and Barbara reportedly declined to pose out of concern of pride of photography (either their own convictions or of some members of the church or community where he had been called to minister). Lewis had died in 1907 of typhoid fever at age 31 and his widow and children were living in Delaware then and were not present on the occasion of the photography. The five sons and daughters standing in the back row from the left are Alvin, Catherine (Mrs. Simon Yoder), Mary (Mrs. Lewis Schrock), Anna (Mrs. Harvey Yoder), and Milton. Three in-laws follow: Simon Yoder, Harvey Yoder, and Lewis Schrock. Alvin was single then and remained single. Milton was single and later married Verna Folk.
Family of Joel J. Miller and Savilla (Beachy) Miller
Joel and Savilla, seated on the left, are listed as Family No. 1692 in Joel B. Miller History, published in 1997. In the list below, the use of italics indicates absence from the picture. None of the grandchildren of Joel and Savilla were married at the time of the picture, but their future spouses are listed in parentheses. At this writing, about a century after that family reunion in the sugar grove of Conucopia, none of the persons in the picture are living.
1 Jonas B. and Barbara (Swartzentruber) Miller 1693
- Alma (Allen Maust) 1694
- Evan (Iva Maust) 1720
- Verna (Harvey Maust) 1728
- Annie (1st Arthur Eichorn; 2nd Lee Scheffel) 1764
- Mable (Ervin J. Yoder) 1831
- Floyd (1st Fannie Maust; 2nd Fannie Bender) 1858
- Edna (Alvin Maust) 1896
- Catherine (remained single; known as Aunt Kate) 1943
- Ivan (Della Bender) 1944
- Harvey (Mildred Byler) 1966
- Rhoda (Elmer L. Maust) 1967
- Mary and (2) Lewis Schrock 1987
- Beulah (Elias Schlabach) 1988
- Savilla (Perry Yoder) 1989
- Ray (Rosy Bender) 2032
- Lewis (died 1907) and Mary Ann Hochstedler 2048
- Olen (Grace Hershberger)2049
- Galen (Virginia Davis)2068
- Evelyn (Archie Warnick)2069
- Catherine and (4) Simon M. Yoder 2079
- Verna (Enos Maust) 2080
- Naomi (Simon Tice) 2081
- Earl (Effie Tice) 2110
- Owen (Mildred Musser) 2156
- Alva (Ruth Eash) 2164
- Homer (Alta Shoemaker) 2171
- Ivan (Mildred Loechner) 2175
- Anna and (5) Harvey S. Yoder 2195
- Floyd (Ruby McDonald) 2196
- Beulah (Norman Bender) 2197
- Alvin (Martha Maust) 2247
- Claude (1st Hazel Beachy; 2nd Dorothy Yoder) 2291
- Olen (Pauline Jeffries) 2298
- Alta (Aaron Miller) 758
- Edna (single) 2304
- Elva (Harvey Bender) 1415
- Verda (Elmer Beitzel) 2305
- Alvin J. Miller (Single) 2332
- Milton Miller (Verna Folk) 2333
Alma Maust, Cass. Chron No. 1, 1977, p. 13
Chronological perspective of the Miller paternal lineage is given in the following eleven-generation genealogical display, with the years of life span in parentheses:
John (c. 1730-1798) – also known as Indian John and as Crippled John, having been shot in the hand at the time of the Hostetler Massacre in the 1757. He was an immigrant from Germany, arriving in Philadelphia on the Ship Pheonix in 1749. He settled in Berks County, Pennsylvania, and later moved to Somerset County. To the best of my knowledge, his lineage has not been traced back to Europe with certainty. Burial site of John and his wife Magdalena: Thomas Maust farm, Berlin, Pennsylvania. (See Google Earth 39° – 56 min. – 23.84 sec. N; 78° – 55 min. – 24.15 sec. W.)
Jacob (1754-1835), also known as Yockle, was born in Berks County, Pennsylvania, and settled in Elk Lick Township, Somerset County, Pennsylvania. In 1809, he moved from his farm at the foot of Negro Mountain, near Springs, Pennsylvania, to present-day Sugar Creek, Ohio, the first Amish settler and the first Amish ordained minister in the Holmes-Tuscarawas County area. He seems to have had a pioneering spirit. Place of burial: Family cemetery north of Sugar Creek on on Winkleplic Rd. (See Google Earth 40° – 31min. – 09.23 sec. N; 81° – 37 min. – 34.86 sec. W.) near Sugar Creek, Ohio.
Benedict (1781-1737) was born in Berks County, Pennsylvania, and moved as a child with his parents to Somerset County, Pennsylvania. He owned various tracts of land in Somerset County, Pennsylvania, and Garrett County, Maryland. In 1807 and 1808, he and his father and brothers scouted for land on the frontiers of Ohio. They, including Benedict, bought land near Sugar Creek, Ohio. Before they moved, Benedict was chosen by the Amish Mennonite church to serve as minister. He was ordained in 1809. He chose to remain in the Somerset-Garrett Counties area and later sold his Ohio land. Later, he bought his father-in-law’s farm near Springs, Pennsylvania. Place of burial: Family cemetery on his farm. (See Google Earth: 39° – 43 min. – 32.25 sec.; 79° – 09 min. – 13.89 sec.)
Joel B. (1811-1885) born near Springs, Pennsylvania, likely on Mt. Nebo near Grantsville, Maryland. Before he reached adulthood, his family moved to his maternal grandfather’s farm near Springs. Later he bought that farm from his father. In addition to farming, Joel’s woodworking shop was widely known for its furniture, including spinning wheels, many of which are yet extant and in demand as antiques. Joel was active in community affairs, including provisions for schools in the area and endeavors such as mining coal and prospecting for oil. Joel is buried on his farm in the cemetery where his parents are buried.
Joel J. (1844-1915) was born near Springs, Pennsylvania. Soon after his marriage, his father bought the Cornucopia tract of land at Grantsville. The original house and barn, built by Joel in the early 1870’s on that tract just north of Grantsville, are standing yet today, though with additions to each. Joel was ordained to serve the Amish Mennonite congregation as minister in 1880 and as bishop 1887, and served in that capacity till his death in 1915. He became a ministerial member of the Conservative Amish Mennonite Conference after its formation in 1910. Place of burial: Maple Glen cemetery near Grantsville, Maryland. (See Google Earth 39° – 42 min. – 21.60 sec.; 79° – 09 min. – 03.82 sec.)
Jonas B. (1870-1952) was born in the hotel in Grantsville, known today as The Casselman. The hotel belonged then to his grandfather, Joel B. Miller, who had bought the property and related tract of land for the purpose of making a farm available to his son Joel. The family had not yet completed the farm house when their baby arrived in 1970 and were yet living in the hotel. After marriage, Jonas bought a section of his father’s farm and carved out a smaller farm, constructed buildings for it, and called it Mapleshade Farm. Ordained in the Amish Mennonite church in 1897, he served the congregation as a minister until almost the time of his death in 1952. He was very active in the Conservative Amish Mennonite Conference where he held various offices, served extensively in preaching in congregations throughout the Conference, served as editor of the English part of the the paper, Herold der Wahrheit. Had he been alive and lucid in 1954, he would have seriously objected to dropping Amish from the name of the Conference. Place of burial: Maple Glen cemetery north of Grantsville.
Ivan J. (1911-1989) was born on his home farm, Mapleshade Farm. After living at a few rental places after marriage, he moved to his father’s farm in 1935. After a short period as a share-renter, he bought the farm and lived there during the rest of his life. The purchase of the Casselman Hotel in 1963 brought a new angle of business and community involvement into his life. Ivan was ordained as minister in 1938 and as bishop in 1953 and was active in preaching until his death in 1989. He was active in the Conservative Mennonite Conference. He served in various offices and in many congregations in preaching, officiating in ordinations, and in mediation work in cases of internal conflict. Place of burial: Maple Glen cemetery north of Grantsville.
David I. (1933- ) was born near Summit Mills, Pennsylvania, on a farm rented then by his parents. (See Google Earth: 39° – 47 min. – 59.33 sec.; 79° – 05 min. – 25.54 sec.) He grew up on Mapleshade Farm from age 2 and up. After marriage, he farmed his home farm two years on shares, attended four years of college, taught in public school three years, served as pastor nine years in Flint, Michigan, taught at Rosedale Bible Institute one year, served as president of Rosedale Mennonite Missions seventeen years and as general secretary of Conservative Mennonite Conference thirteen years, and, since 2003, as president de facto or elected of The Casselman, Inc., at Grantsville. Projected place of burial: Shiloh cemetery, Resaca, Ohio.
James Delbert (1957- ), born in the Meyersdale (PA) Community Hospital, 200 Hospital Drive. (See Global Earth 39° – 48 min. – 32.42 sec.; 79° – 01 Min. – 30.46 sec.) James lived first near Grantsville, Maryland, in the small house/garage on Mapleshade farm until December 1958, then on the small farm adjacent to and west of the Maple Glen church until July 1963, then at 2124 Williamson Ave., Flint (now Burton), Michigan, and then in a rented house near Rosedale, Ohio, (current address 9400 Rosedale-Milford Center Rd., Irwin, Ohio), and finally before his marriage, at 9933 Rosedale-Milford Center Rd. Since 1985, James has lived with his family in Lexington, KY. A graduate of Eastern Mennonite College and Gordon-Conwell Seminary, James was ordained as a minister in Conservative Mennonite Conference in 1985 and has served since as pastor in Lexington, Kentucky.
David Justin (1985- ) was born in the Mt. Carmel Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, and was taken home to his maternal grandparents where the family lived for an itinerant stay near Plain City, Ohio, at 14868 Middleburg-Plain City Rd. Shortly after his birth, the family moved to Lexington, Kentucky, where David grew up. He holds a degree from the University of Kentucky in business administration and owns and operates a lawn business. He had bought a house before marriage at 3350 Spangler Drive, Lexington, KY, which is their current place of abode.
David Alexander (2010- ) was born in Central Baptist Hospital, Lexington, KY, and was taken home to 3350 Spangler Dr. He has not yet (2011) declared his future plans.
Maternal Lineage of Christine Marie Showalter
For the family of David and Erma Miller, the genealogy related to the picture can be traced doubly, since both are descendants of Joel J. and Savilla Miller. The earliest of Erma’s identified maternal ancestors in the lineage of Savilla (Beachy) Miller is Barbara (Nafziger) Livengood. From her, the maternal nine-generation line can be traced to Ann Marie (Swartz) Schrader, with birth and death years, as follows:
Catherine (Saylor) Folk (1798-1861)
Magdalena Folk (1825-1911)
Savilla (Beachy) Miller (1846-1933)
Anna (Miller) Yoder (1881-1969)
Beulah (Yoder) Bender (1900-1988)
Erma Marie (Bender) Miller (1928- )
Phyllis Marie (Miller) Swartz (1955- )
Ann Marie (Swartz) Schrader (1978- )
Janice Irene (Miller) Showalter (1961- )
Christine Marie Showalter (1994 – )
Barbara (Nafziger) Livengood (1735? -1820) knew what it was to be an immigrant. She had arrived in Berks County, Pennsylvania from Europe as a single person. Genealogists have not clearly determined her parentage, but they note that the Nafzigers were numerous among the Amish and Mennonites in Europe in the 1700s and that many migrated to America.
After living in America, Barbara lived in Berks County, Pennsylvania, and married a young widower, Peter Livengood. Some years after their marriage, they moved west to Somerset County as one of the early Amish immigrants to the Casselman Valley. Barbara was a mother of twelve children. The record is not clear on how many were hers as step-mother and how many by birth. At any rate, she must have been a busy homemaker.
Barbara and Peter arrived in Somerset County in about 1775. Tradition has it they were the first Amish to cross the Allegheny Mountains by covered wagon. That must have been quite an experience for Barbara, with eight children, ages less than a year to 14. Roads for wagon wheels through those mountains had been opened only in recent decades. Earlier, the route would have been travelled by foot or horseback.
The Livengood’s friends, the Saylor family, already lived in Somerset County. When Barbara and Peter arrived near their destination, they hoped to find the Saylors that very day. Failing to do so before nightfall, they set up camp for the night. According to one version of the story, Barbara gave birth to a baby girl that night in or by the Conestoga wagon. In the morning, the Saylors saw the smoke of the Livengood’s fire. Unbeknown to the Livengoods, they had spent that important night very near to their friends, the Saylors.
Three more children were born after the move to Somerset County. They lived on a farm between West Salisbury and St. Paul (known later as the Nicholas Keim farm), located across the road and south of the present-day Mt. View church. Before moving the family to Somerset County, Peter had bought a tract of land consisting of 100 acres with six acres cleared. In 1796, they had fifty acres of cleared land, three horses, four cows, and one house, according to the Elk Lick Tax List of that year.
Barbara’s husband Peter was a weaver (with a very active business according to his account book), a farmer, and a preacher. Peter’s family was Lutheran or Reformed, but Barbara and Peter belonged to the Amish church after their marriage. In 1783, about nine years after the move to western Pennsylvania, ministers of the Dunkard (Brethren) church came into their area from eastern Pennsylvania and established a church near the Livengoods, and they and some other Amish families joined the Dunkards. This must have meant that Barbara and Peter were rebaptized by immersion, perhaps not an easy move as it affected their relationship with their Amish friends. Christian, the oldest child, was age 22 then. He and most of his siblings then or later also were baptized in the Dunkard church. Daughter Barbara and son David, ages 21 and 17, joined and raised their own families in the Amish church. After joining the Dunkards, Barbara was a Dunkard preacher’s wife.
Barbara died in 1820, leaving Peter a widower once again at age 90. (He died at age 96.) History records their place of burial as the Miller Cemetery near Pochahontas (Greenville Township) where they had lived with and were cared for in their later years by their daughter Veronica and David Miller.
Sources: DBH, p. 392, Note 5480; AAMG, p. 278; Blough, p. 464; The Historian, Oct. 2002 ; Casselman Chronicle, No. 2, 1976, 11-15; Mast, Peter Leibengut Journal; Miller, Both Sides of the Ocean, 269; Event of arrival night version remembered from IJM after visit with E. C. Saylor.
August 16, 1975 – Steve and Phyllis
Mary (Livengood) Saylor (1767-1848) was born in Berks County, Pennsylvania. She was the fifth child and she entered the family when her oldest sibling was four years old. Other brothers and sisters followed. When Mary was 6 years old, her two-year-old brother Sem died. When seven years old, her family moved west to Somerset County by Conestoga wagon. It must been a rough ride; tradition claims that this was the first Amish family to make that trip by wagon. The trip could have taken a couple of weeks for this family of parents and seven children, the oldest at age 13. Mary, as a seven-year-old was in on the story often told in later years of gaining a sister on the night of there arrival along the Casselman River near present-day West Salisbury. Her sister Catherine was born that night and three more were added to the family for a total of eleven siblings that grew to adulthood.
Mary’s parents changed church membership when she was age 16. Then or later, Mary also joined the Dunkard (Brethren) church. She may not have been baptized in the Amish church. The young man she married, Jacob Saylor, had grown up in an Amish family that joined the Dunkards. Mary’s father records the event in his journal by first referencing her birth: “September the 18th day, in the year 1767, to us a daughter was born, and we gave her the name Marey.” Then he proceeds to the event of nineteen years and seven months later: “in the year 1787, the 1st day of April, she married with Jacob Seiller, and we started with, firstly . . .” Then follows the list of items given as dowry to Mary and Jacob Saylor as they embarked on establishing their own home and family: one bed, one iron pot and skillet, tinware dish platter plate and sppon, mare and sidesaddle, two cows and [with] calves and a cow, one walnut chest, one spinning wheel, four small pigs, one corn hoe, two sheep, one sickle, two [cow] bells, two sacks, books (Paradise Garden and another book), money for plow share, one belly tub and a kroup steamer, pewter dish, two iron spoons, and money. The item with the highest value was the horse and side saddle at 15 pounds. The item of lowest value was the corn hoe at two shillings and six pence.
It appears that Mary’s father helped each of their children to get a good financial start. The amounts and circumstances varied. But he kept close track of the dowries and the values of each later played into the calculation of the inheritance of each. But Mary and Jacob Saylor stepped into their own adult life of homemaking and farming with the advantage of father Peter Livengood helping them off to a good start.
Sources: Peter Leibengut Journal viii, 4, 5, 10 (Jacob), 11, 26, 32, 97, 99; Cass Chr, 1995, No. 2, pp 7-9
Catherine (Saylor) Folk (SL4136) (1798-1861) was born near the end of the eighteenth century to Jacob and Mary (Livengood) Saylor on March 29, 1798. I have not determined the specific location of her girlhood days.
Catherine married George Folk, Jr. ( (FL3), a man ten years her senior, on Nov. 26, 1815, at 17 years of age. Her husband was a son of George Folk, Sr. who arrived in the Casselman Valley from Baltimore County, Maryland, in about 1785 before the birth of George Jr. It appears that George Folk Sr. was Amish, but joined the new Mennonite church soon after arriving in the Casselman Valley. The Folk lands were in the area of Springs, Pennsylvania, and cover nearly all of what is the village of Springs today. But in their married adult life, Catherine and George lived near the crossroads (where SR 669 is met by Niverton Rd. from the south and by Oak Dale Rd. from the north.) The Folk farm is the first farm west of the crossroads on the south side of 669. But Catherine was not far from relatives. Three of her siblings married three of her husbands siblings, i. e. four Saylors married one of four Folks.
A tragic fire occurred on the northeast side of Springs on night in 1957. The house of Catherine’s sister Elizabeth and George’s brother Jacob’s caught fire on a cold winter night of January 1. This house was the first house in Springs and apparently the nearest neighbor was Benedict Miller about a mile away. On of the sons was sent there for help. Not all of the family escaped – little Lena and Abraham, ages 6 and 8 perished in the fire. At this point, Catherine and George were raising their own family of four children, ages 11 to 19.
The Folk family was rather prominent in the Mennonite church that later became known as Springs Mennonite Church. The building in Springs known as the Folk Meeting House derives its name from this Folk Family.
Magdalena Folk (FL34) (1825-1911) was the youngest child of George and Catherine (Saylor) Folk. Her parental home, as noted above, was near the crossroads between Springs and West Salisbury. She was a member of the Mennonite church. During the period of Magdalena’s youth, the Mennonite church did not have a local pastor. Itinerant ministers from other locations would come to the area to preach in meetings held in homes.
Magdalena’s father died at 45 years of age. when Magdalena was eight years old. Her mother died 28 years later. But a distribution of her father’s estate eleven years after his death resulted in Magdalena receiving the following items in her thirty-first year: 3 cows, 4 sheep, feather bedstead, 1 chest, 1 side saddle, 1 spinning wheel. At this point of the distribution in 1842, Magdalena was 19 years old. It seems surprising that the distribution was made during the widow’s lifetime and before the youngest child reached majority age of 21. But perhaps the widow was well taken care of and the will may have specified what goes to the widow and what to the children and all concerned agree to proceed with the distribution.
It is rather puzzling to find a court case of 1875 with Magdalena as plaintiff suing her brother Samuel for the amount of $225.94 (adjusted for inflation to $4800 in 2014.). Given the Mennonite affiliation of this Folk family, the occurrence of this suit seems out of character. I do not have information on the specifics of the case. I received some information from the Somerset County Clerk of Court and I have the impression that more could be learned by going to the court house in Somerset, Pennsylvania.
Some genealogists erroneously list Magdalena as married, apparently because was a mother. Her daughter Savilla Beachy was born on 1846 and her son Christian Vought was born in 1852. (Each was given the surname of the biological father.) Apparently Magdalena’s mother had stayed on the farm by the crossroads with her children and there Magdalena lived while her two children were growing up. Apparently both Savilla and Christian grew up in a Mennonite environment and were involved in the church, she eventually as Amish Mennonite, and he as Church of the Brethren.
In her later adult life, Magdalena lived in the home of her daughter Savilla and Joel J. Miller. She is listed in the household of Joel and Savilla in 1880, age 55, as a boarder; in 1910, age 84, as a grandmother. Though living with Joel and Savilla near Grantsville and the Maple Glen church, I do not find evidence that Magdalena joined the Amish Mennonite church of her daughter Savilla. Magdalena’s name is not found on any of the Amish Mennonite Sunday school rolls of the period, nor on the list of members participating in the communion services. Magdalena died in 1911 at the age of 86 and is buried in the Maple Glen cemetery. Her obituary has not come to light.
Casselman Chronicle, Nol. 1, 1976, pp. 18-27; The Historian, October 2008; Privat files.
Savilla (Beachy) Miller (BC1841) (1846-1933) was born in 1846 near Salisbury, Pennsylvania, and died in 1933 near Grantsville, Maryland. She is buried in the Mpale Glen cemetery, one mile north of Grantsville beside her husband, Joel J. Miller. Savilla’s mother was Magdalena Folk, whose parental home was on a farm along SR 669, just west of the crossroads between Springs and West Salisbury. Here Savilla grew up with her single mother and her grandmother.
Savilla’s father was Samuel J. Beachy (BC184). Samuel was born in 1825 and grew up on the farm of his father, Bishop Jonas Beachy, located about a mile from the Folk farm. In 1848, when Samuel was age 23, he married Elizabeth Yoder. Together they raised a large family. But Samuel did not lose all contact with his daughter Savilla. When Samuel was 80 years old in 1916, Savilla received a letter from him with the greeting, “Dear Daughter Savilla J. Miller and Children. Greeting to all of you in the dear Saviour’s Name.” Not only did Savilla hear from her biological father at times, but she also addressed him, as indicated in the the following sentence of Samuel’s letter; “Well, my Dear Daughter, we have received your most welcome letter and thank you very much for it.” Samuel’s letter was written two months after Savilla became a widow, thus reference to her and her children. (For the rest of this letter and other information about Savilla, see The Historian, October 2008.)
Samuel was Amish. When the church experienced a division in 1895, he identified with the Old Older element and remained Old Older the rest of his life. His daughter Savilla’s Mennonite (non-Amish) church membership in her youth is indicated by the following sources: (1) her granddaughter, Catherine J. Miller, states that she was Mennonite (writing remembered but not now found), (2) her son, Jonas B. Miller states in her obituary: “In her youth she became a member of the Mennonite church, later uniting with the Amish Mennonite church in which communion she died,” and (3) Savilla’s attire in her teenage photograph definitely is not Amish.
The parental homes of Savilla, the Mennonite girl, and Joel, the Amish boy, were about one mile distant from each other. They did not attend the same church, but may have attended the same school at Springs where a second school building of that area was built in 1852 (CC, 1969, No. 1, pa. 3) with Joel’s father as a strong supporter of the school effort. (The school at the crossroads, near Savilla’s home was not built till later, 1867.) Whatever the social interactions were in bringing Savilla and Joel together, they were married in October 1866, Savilla age 20 and Joel age 21. Three places are on record as Savilla’s place of housekeeping. First they lived in a log house on Joel’s home farm, known throughout the decades as the farm of Peter Beachy – Benedict Miller—Joel B. Miller – Hans Yoder – Amos Yoder – Joel Yoder, and today, Joseph J. Yoder. Early in their marriage, at least by 1870, they moved into the hotel in Grantsville known today as the Casselman Inn. While living in the hotel, new farm buildings were under construction on the tract of land that was being made into a farm, i.e. the first farm north of Grantsville on Dorsey Hotel Road. Savilla and Joel moved into their new house in about 1873. Here Savilla spent about 60 years of her adult life and here she died in 1933.
A few points of trial in Savilla’s life are known. Little Malinda, their first child, died when almost one year of age and is buried in the family cemetery on Joel’s home farm. Their eighth child, Ada, died at 18 months of age in 1889 from complications (bronchitis) related to measles (Homecoming, p. 39). Hers was the first grave to be dug in the Maple Glen cemetery.
When living in the hotel in Grantsville, Savilla’s household suffered an acute siege of typhoid fever. Savilla did not escape the typhoid attack and in delirium thought a scrawny old woman with a sickle was about to kill her six-month-old baby Jonas. Other members of the family where hit by the siege also. Joel reportedly was sick for six weeks. According to the doctor’s report, Joel was afflicted with three kinds of fever: catarrh fever, lung fever, and typhoid fever. Joel recorded a medical bill in his journal: “By about 240 visits at Tifoid and lung fever J. J. Miller, Savilla Miller, & John Woods.” The latter was a boy who needed a home and was taken in by Savilla and Joel. During the typhoid siege, Savilla’s mother Magdalena cared for the sick and did housework. Neighbors helped with farm chores (CC No. 1, 1977, p. 14).
Savilla was a devoted wife who missed her preacher husband when he traveled to minister in other churches. In 1899, when Joel had traveled to Ontario, Canada, Savilla wrote a letter to him with following included: “We was to church Sunday . . . I didn’t enjoy myself so very much . . . Your seat was empty. Your voice silent . . .” Of course, the only communication then was by letter; not even telephone.
Savilla lost her mother when she died in 1911. Savilla had lived with her mother in her growing up years and then her mother lived in Savilla’s home until her death. Her mother died at the age 86 when Savilla was age 65. After 65 years of sharing in a household, Savilla must have keenly felt her mother’s absence.
Early in their marriage, the home of Savilla and Joel became a haven for others. At least as early as the census of 1870, when living in the hotel, Savilla’s mother Magdalena, brother Christian Vought, and the boy John Woods all belonged to Savilla’s household. Magdalena’s name appears consistently on the census lists that follow as testimony to the family tradition that Savilla’s mother lived and died in her daughter’s home.
In the 49th year of their marriage, Savilla and Joel were separated in 1915 by his death, caused by heart failure complicated by dropsy. Already Good Friday of that year, Joel suffered from grippe, followed by the threat of pneumonia and a weakened heart. Toward fall, his condition became worse, causing much pain, suffering, and, eventually, death (see obituary HdW).
Savilla was a widow when her son Alvin went to Russia to engage in relief work in a famine stricken land. The separation of great distance was difficult for Savilla. In 1921 she penned a letter to him that included the following excerpts
Now, dear Alvin, how do you think I felt when I read in the G[ospel] H[erald] about you going to South Russsion by yourself. I could not read it all. I put the H[erald] away till I could till I felt better. . . I wrote to you on the 17th of February. Yes, I just thot, you are no more. It just made me belief its for not use to write . . . I don’t hope you are going to make Europe your future home. Is there no one else to take you place? I really think you done your duty. I am always glad to hear from [you] and if it’s only a card. Yes, Alvin, run home to your Mama.
Here is Savilla’s obituary:
Obituary: Savilla (Beachy), wife of the late Bishop Joel J. Miller, was born in Elk Lick Township, Somerset Co., Pa., February 12, 1846. Died at her home near Grantsville, Md., Dec. 20, 1933, at the age of 87 years, 10 months and 8 days. She had been in declining health for several years, due to the infirmities of age and especially was the decline rapid within the past year. Her sight declined fast within the last ten years, so that she was nearly wholly blind. On Thanksgiving day, early in the afternoon she had a sudden attack of heart trouble and from that time to the end was confined to bed. About twenty-four hours before death, while endeavoring to speak to one of her grand-daughters, she lapsed into unconsciousness, due to a paralytic stroke, remaining thus she died.
In her youth she became a member of the Mennonite church, later uniting with the Amish Mennonite church in which communion she died.
She was married to Joel J. Miller, as stated above, Oct. 7, 1866. To this union were born four sons and five daughters, as follows: Malinda, who died in infancy; Jonas B., the writer of this sketch; Mary, wife of Lewis J. Schrock, of Greenwood, Delaware; Lewis J. who died at his home near Grantsville, in 1907, at the age of under 31 years; Catherine, wife of Simon M. Yoder; Annie, wife of Harvey S. Yoder; Alvin J. formerly in relief service in the Near East and in Russia; Ada, who died in infancy in 1889; Milton B., minister in the Mennonite church; all, with the exception named above living near Grantsville, Md.
Forty grandchildren and sixty-one great-grandchildren and a large number of other relatives survive.
Her portion in life was that of manifold duties and arduous labors of a devoted mother of a large family. And especially were her experiences trying during the critical illness of our late beloved father, when early in married life, he was stricken with typhoid fever complicated with pneumonia and was prostrated for about eighteen weeks. Later he was also afflicted with eye trouble and was obliged to be in a darkened room for some time. And the protracted illness of the first child of the family ending in its death bore heavily upon her spirit and did much to inflict sadness upon her, and in her younger years brought upon her suffering through fellowship of affliction and sorrow, when other families were similarly afflicted.
The toil-worn hands will not again be busied in caring and providing for those for whom she labored long and much: the heart will not again be grieved through lack of appreciation and through childhood carelessness and indifference. But the deep-toned, soothing melodies to becalm fretful childhood again on the shores of time, nor peal forth to delight the more mature taste for ennobling and edifying melodies. But we trust that through the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, she rests from her labors, and may be happily destined to be among those who “sing the song of Moses the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb….” 15:3.
The funeral was held at the Maple Glen meeting house near Grantsville, Dec. 23. Services at the home were conducted by Bishop C. W. Bender; at the meeting house by Pre. Shem Peachey in German and by Bishop Nevin Bender, Greenwood, Delaware, in English, assisted by Pre. Gideon Miller. Interment in adjacent cemetery.
Anna (Miller) Yoder (1881-1969)