An American Family History

Hester Mabel Miller Johnson

hesterhesterwill & hester
Hester with friends
Hester and a friend



The first European settlements in Ontario were after the American Revolution when 5,000 loyalists left the new United States.

Hester Mabel Miller Johnson was born on June 6, 1877 in Kingston, Frontenac County, Ontario. She was the daughter of John Wilson Miller and Victoria Zellena Dwinnel. Her family nicknamed her Pit. Her nephew, Robert Miller Jr. said that her nickname came from her sister, Edith trying to call her "pretty baby" when she was a baby. Her husband, Will, called her "Mabel" and had a gold pin made for her with that name.

She immigrated to the United States with her family in 1881. At first they lived in Minnesota and then came west to San Diego.

Hester wrote to her niece, Hester Victoria Miller

when I was 17 I met a young man from up there, a small place called Emigrant Gap near Donner Pass. We didn't see a lot of each other, but corresponded when he went north.  When I was about 19 we decided to marry and I would go there to live. Well the time went on and I met Uncle Will and cared lots more for him so the marriage was called off and Uncle Will and I married a year later...his name was Charles Willifornd, he was a gold miner. I still have his picture its in my trunk ...he and your Dad [Robert Wilson Sr.] were great friends, later and when your Dad was about 18 or so he spent a winter up there with Charles and learned to ski and use snow shoes."

Hester married William Greenwood  Johnson (Will) on November 1, 1899. They were married by Dr. John Edward Hoick of the First Lutheran Church of San Diego on Second Avenue in downtown San Diego. The site is now the headquarters of the Sempra Energy Corporation. Hester and Will had no children. Hester worked as a cook on a pile driving boat in 1928.

Hester had many life-long friends including Nellie Shaffer. Around the turn of the 20th century, many of her friends and family signed her autograph book.

Hester and Nellie

Hester and Will appeared in the 1900 census on India Street in San Diego. They lived a few houses away from Edith and William Van Dusen. At that time, they were living with Will's sister, June (born in 1883), and brother, Ira (born in 1885).

Hester was initiated January 24, 1917 in Amethyst Chapter Number 138, Order of Eastern Star.

They appeared in the 1920 census in Seattle, King County, Washington on Terry Avenue.  Will was working as a marine engineer. They were living with their niece, Jessie Miller, and Hester's mother, Victoria.

They were both remembered very fondly by Hester Victoria and Robert, Jr.  Aunt Pit was a wondeful cook and would always bake a cake for their birthdays and Uncle Will would pack it up in a wooden box he made and they would send it through the mail. Click here for the contents of her recipe box.

Hester became a widow when Will died on January 3, 1950. She passed away April 26, 1952 in San Diego  and is buried with her husband, Will in the family plot at Mount Hope Cemetery, San Diego.
Children of John Wilson Miller
and Victoria Zellena Dwinnell
  • Gertrude Eveline Miller
  • Eva Edith Miller Van Dusen Fish
    and sons Wilson Van Dusen
    and Walter Van Dusen
  • Mildred Daisy Miller
  • Alberta Irene Miller
  • Nora Zellena Miller
  • Herbert Thomas Miller
  • Hester Mabel Miller Johnson
    and husband William Greenwood Johnson
  • Robert Wilson Miller, Sr.
  • Victoria Louise Miller
  • John Delbert Miller
    and his daughter
    Jessie Estelle Miller Finkenkeller
  • Verna Ivy Miller Johnson Mathison
  • cake
    San Diego, California was incorporated in 1850, the same year California became a state. The original Old Town was located several miles inland. In the late 1860s, Alonzo Horton promoted a move to New Town on the bay. New Town grew quickly and became the city center. In 1915, San Diego hosted the Panama-California Exposition.


    Hester and Nellie

    will hester
    Mt. Taber, Portland, Oregon

    Hester and friends

    March, 1941
    "Taken 2 weeks ago today
    look worse now, ha ha.





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    ©Roberta Tuller 2020
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