An American Family History

John Wilson Miller

“Remember, remember always, that all of us, and you and I especially, are descended from immigrants and revolutionists."
― Franklin D. Roosevelt
in San Diego
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.

The Province of Upper Canada was established in 1791 to accommodate Loyalist refugees from the United States. It included all of Southern Ontario and part of Northern Ontario.

John Wilson Miller was born on October 28, 1842. He was born in Queen's County, Ireland. His parents were Thomas Miller and Hester Wilson. He immigrated to Canada about 1847 when he was about five years old.

He married Victoria Zellena Dwinnell in 1867 when he was 25. Their life together and children are described in detail in the section on John and Victoria Miller and in a poem he wrote in honor of his 25th wedding anniversary.

At the time of the 1871 Ontario Census, he was a ship's carpenter. From 1892 to 1893 he was a rancher and from 1895 to 1904 he was shipbuilder/carpenter for Spreckles Brothers. John was a Mason.  He took out his naturalization papers in June, 1895.

In 1897 he wrote in his daughter Hester's autograph book.


He died on February 28, 1905 at age 62. A letter from his daughter-in-law, Nellie Long  said that he died of a ruptured appendix. "He was taken sick on a Saturday, and was taken to the hospital.  Instead of operating then they put it off until Sunday and it proved too late;  the appendix ruptured."

He is buried in lot 20, section I.O.O.F, block 47 in the Mount  Hope Cemetery, 3850 Imperial Avenue, San Diego in the Odd Fellows Plot. The Reverend J. E. Hoick of the First Lutheran church officiated at the service. He is buried with Genevieve Jones who was his wife, Victoria's, sister and his daughter Hester Johnson.

Miller Family Plot
Photo taken 1915

The peak period of Irish immigration to Canada was during the Great Famine between 1845-1849. Most immigrants went to Canada because the fares were lower. Ships that reached Canada lost many passengers and even more died while in quarantine. From the reception station at Grosse-Ile, most survivors were sent to Montréal. The typhus outbreak of 1847 and 1848 killed many of the new immigrants. An economic boom following their arrival allowed many men to work in on the expanding railroad, in construction, in the logging industry, or on farms.

Children of Thomas Miller, Sr.
and Hester Wilson
  • John Wilson Miller
  • Elizabeth J. Miller Seale
  • Benjamin Craig Miller
  • Thomas T. Miller, Jr.
  • 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
  • age 53

    The Independent Order of Odd Fellows (I.O.O.F.) is a charitable, fraternal organization that started in Baltimore, Maryland, on April 26, 1819 when members of the Order from England instituted Washington Lodge No. 1.

    The Great Famine or the Irish Potato Famine was between 1845 and 1852. About a million people died and a million more emigrated. It was caused by a potato blight. The famine permanently changed Ireland.

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




    Death of John W. Miller
    San Diego Union, March 1, 1905

    John W. Miller, an old resident of this city died yesterday morning at his home, No. 1633 India Street. The deceased was 62 years of age and for many years had been in the employ of the Spreckles Bros. Commerical company. He is survived by his widow, two sons and two daughters.  Funeral services will be held this morning at ? o'clock from Bradley & Woolman's parlors, Rev. J. E. Hoick officiating.


    MILLER--Died in this city [San Diego] Feb. 28 [1905], John Wilson Miller, ship carpenter, a native of Ireland, aged 62 years. Friends are respectfully invited to attend the services from Bradley and Woolman's parlors, cor. Seventh and C, at 9 a.m. Wednesday, March 1st. The Rev. Mr. Hoick will officiate. Interment at Mt. Hope cemetery.

    Colonial Maryland
    Colonial New England
    Colonial Virginia & West Virginia
    Quakers & Mennonites
    New Jersey Baptists
    German Lutherans
    Watauga Settlement
    Pennsylvania Pioneers
    Midwest Pioneers
    Jewish Immigrants

    ©Roberta Tuller 2020
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