Documenting my family's past for future generations. My family tree includes the Smith/Mansell families of Alabama and Oklahoma, the Castle/Day families of Kentucky and Oklahoma, the Wheat/Ming families of Texas and Oklahoma, and the Bell/Roberts families of Mississippi, Tennessee, and Oklahoma.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Serendipity

I have mentioned a couple of times that I have a DNA match named Herbert Archie Miller. Aside from my brother, he is my largest match, at a 2nd cousin level. We share 134.68 cM's. At a 2nd cousin level, I couldn't understand why I didn't know him or any of his surnames, which were mostly German. He hadn't posted a family tree but using the surnames he'd listed, I found a tree on Ancestry.com that I thought was his Miller family.

Then this weekend I had a revelation. (Wrongly, it turns out.) Maybe Mr. Miller was one of the Germanna descendants. Miller (or Mueller) wasn't one of the listed surnames, but maybe one of the other surnames on his tree was a Germanna name. So--I looked on Ancestry.com for the tree I found before. I have got to start saving stuff like that on Ancestry's Shoebox feature. Of course, I couldn't find it again.

So I googled "Herbert Archie Miller."

And guess what? I got a hit--to a beautiful, extensive website devoted to the Miller and related families. It's called Troy's Genealogue and is the work of Troy Goss. I emailed Mr. Goss, and true genealogist that he is, he emailed me right back and asked for places and surnames that he could try to connect to Mr. Miller, who is his cousin. I really didn't have much hope since I couldn't figure out how my family and his family could ever have crossed paths, but I sent him a list of surnames and places.

"Ming" was the magic word. In my list of surnames from my mother's side of the family was the surname Ming. And Ming was the maiden name of Herbert Archie Miller's grandmother.

Troy even sent census records. The first one, in Crawford County, Arkansas, in 1850, was my 3rd great-grandfather Thomas Ming's family. And, it turns out, Mr. Miller's family, as well. Mr. Miller's great-grandmother was Francis, age 15. My great-great-grandfather, William F. Ming, her brother, was already out on his own. By 1860 he had his own family. That was the second census report. In 1860 William F. Ming was living in Grayson County, TX, with his wife and children. His youngest child, (Cynthia) Francis, my great-grandmother, was one year old.

The third census report listed the members of the Craig family of Sonoma County, California, in 1870. They included John W. Craig, age 44; Fannie M. (Ming), age 35; and three little girls under the age of 3. Lulu May would come along in 1872. According to notes given to Troy Goss by Herbert Archie Miller's daughters, which I quote here with their permission:

"Lulu May (Craig) Miller was one of seven children born in San Jose, May 6 1872, of John Craig, a California pioneer and gold miner and wife whose maiden name was Ming. The mother had been married first to Robert Craig, John's cousin, a butcher by trade, who had died of blood poisoning. There were no children by her first marriage. John Craig mysteriously disappeared in the Sierra Nevada Mountains and was never heard from again. The mother died soon afterwards. Her seven small children went to live in an orphanage in San Jose until they were put up for adoption. May Craig (as she was called) went to live with a family by the name of Sykes who had a ranch near Davis in the Sacramento Valley. She lived there until she was 20 years old. May's younger sister, Ida, had gone to live with a family named Johnson in the same area. When she came of age, Ida married a son of that family, Will Johnson, about 1890. Will and Ida had taken up farming in the San Luis Obispo area. A while after this, when May Craig was visiting her sister, she met John Miller, a neighboring rancher. John and May were married not too long afterwards. Shortly after they homesteaded land near Parkfield in southern Monterey County where several of their 12 children were born."

"John Valentine Miller died in his 84th year, April 13, 1940. Lulu May Craig Miller died in San Jose shortly after her 88th birthday on July 2, 1960."

Herbert Archie Miller was the youngest of the 12 children of John Valentine Miller and Lulu May Craig Miller. Thomas Ming was our common ancestor. Mr. Miller's line is Thomas Ming to Francis Ming to Lulu May Craig to Herbert Archie Miller. My line is Thomas Ming to William F. Ming to Cynthia Francis Ming to John W. Wheat to Ida Belle Wheat to me. That makes us 2nd cousins, twice removed.

Thanks to genealogist Troy Goss I have found three new cousins: Herbert Archie (who goes by Herb and will be 99 on his next birthday!) and his two daughters, and I am reminded again how very difficult were the lives of our ancestors. 

Herb originally tested to add to information about the Miller side of his family, so that is why Ming wasn't in his list of surnames on FTDNA. (Troy plans to add Herb's maternal surnames to FTDNA soon.) Because of further testing that didn't prove fruitful to his Miller relatives at the time, he showed up as my biggest match on FTDNA. Almost by accident I found Troy's website and my connection to Herb Miller. Troy calls it "serendipity," and it truly was. Herb's daughter Sandy hopes this blog post will help us discover other relatives. Let's hope some serendipity happens again.






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