Sep 20

Timeline-Miller Brothers in Western Oil Fields, c1909-13

The past several weeks I have posted the images of picture postcards from the early 1900 oil fields in the western United States. Postcards that half-brothers Chris Miller and Jacob Miller Jr acquired while the two young men worked there in the oil fields.

Chris Miller and Jacob Miller Jr were my great-uncles. Chris (1880-1911) was the son of Jacob Miller and his second wife Margaretha Strabel. Jacob Jr (1885-1913) was the son of Jacob Miller and his third wife Christena Rueck. My grandfather Carl Miller (1896-1973) was a full brother to Jacob Jr. The Jacob Miller family lived on a farm in Blackcreek Township, Mercer County, Ohio, a couple miles north of Chattanooga. Both Chris and Jacob Jr died while they were out west working in the oil fields.

Front: Carl, Jacob Sr, John, Christina (Rueck), Clara, Caroline. Back: Mary, Peter, Jacob Jr, Christian, Maggie.

Most of the postcards Chris and Jacob Jr had have no postmark and have nothing written on the back. I wonder if Chris and Jacob Jr had them among their personal effects and the family acquired them after their deaths. That would explain the lack of a postmark and writing. 

Their postcards, with some additional information, helped me create a timeline of their travels and where they worked while they were out west.

Both Chris and Jacob Jr lived at home on the family farm in Mercer County in 1900, and they were enumerated in the 1900 census there.

The family attended church at Zion Lutheran, Chattanooga, Ohio. The last entry for Chris taking communion was early 1901 and the last entry for Jacob Jr taking communion was late 1902.

I have no record of what the brothers did during the next few years and they likely worked on the family farm. There were several oil wells on the Miller farm just after the turn of the century. That, and talking with the oil workers in the Chatt area, may have sparked their interest in oil work.

It appears that Chris, the older brother, left home first. Some family members believe that another brother, Pete Miller, wanted to go out west, too, but that he could not go because he broke his leg. Pete (1878-1957) was a full brother to Chris. 

Once the Miller brothers were in the western oil fields I do not know if they traveled together and stayed together. The photo below shows Chris and Jacob Jr together. It was probably taken in Denver, Colorado:  

Chris & Jacob Miller Jr, Denver Omnibus & Cab Co, unknown date.

Below is the timeline I have put together of the time Chris and Jacob Jr were out west working in the oil fields. I used the postcards they had, other photos, the census, church records, their obituaries, and other newspaper accounts. Perhaps I will find more information about them in the future, but for now, this is their timeline:  

Chris Miller Timeline:

  • c1906: Chris Miller leaves home to work in oil fields out west.
  • Chris worked in Oregon, California, Oklahoma, and Texas.
  • Chris was in San Francisco, on a Pacific Sightseeing Co excursion at the Cliff House. Cliff House burned Sep 1907, was rebuilt, and reopened in 1909. The photo with Chris was taken before September 1907 or after 1909.
  • March 1911, Oil Center, Kern County, California: Chris was photographed with a group of oil workers in Oil Center, Kern County, California.
  • Before October 1911: Chris traveled to Oklahoma to work.
  • Before October 1911: May have been in Oklahoma towns of Kiefer, Sapulpa, and Preston, by postcards that were in the brothers’ possession.
  • 3 October 1911: Chris left Oklahoma and arrived in Texas.
  • 12 October 1911: Chris was stricken with typhoid fever.
  • 24 October 1911: Chris died from typhoid fever in Wichita Falls, Texas.
  • 25 October 1911: Jacob Miller Sr & a brother(s) arrive at Wichita Falls, but Chris had already died.
  • 26-27 October 1911: Chris’ body was taken back to Willshire by Jacob Sr & Jacob Jr.
  • 29 October 1911: Funeral and burial of Chris Miller, Zion Lutheran Church, Chattanooga, Ohio.

Jacob Miller Jr timeline:

  • 1909-1910: Jacob traveled west to work in the oil fields.
  • 23 April 1910: Jacob Miller Jr resided in Kern County, California, the residence he supplied for a Reeves County, Texas, deed, dated 23 April 1910.
  • 7 May 1910, Kern County, California: Jacob Jr was enumerated in the 1910 census, a boarder in the Orr Whitehall household. [1]
  • 30 November 1910, Bakersfield, Kern County, California: Jacob Jr joins the Bakersfield Woodmen of the World Camp.
  • March 1911, Oil Center, Kern County, California: Jacob Jr may have been photographed with his half-brother Chris with a group of oil workers.
  • 25 April-6 June 1911, Bakersfield, California: Jacob Jr bank deposits/checks, First National Bank of Bakersfield. [Oil Center, Cal, crossed out; Glen Pool, Oklahoma c/o Chris Miller written.] Note: Glenpool is 4 miles east of Kiefer.
  • 24-26 October 1911: Jacob Jr travels to Wichita Falls, Texas, to take the body of his half-brother Chris back to Mercer County, Ohio, along with his father, who had traveled to Texas.
  • 29 October 1911, at half-brother Chris’ funeral: The father Jacob Sr & son Jacob Jr get into an argument and Jacob Jr said that the next time he came home would be in a coffin, per a family story. It turned out to be true.
  • 26 Dec 1911-17 Mar 1913, Coalinga, California: Jacob Jr bank deposits/checks, The First National Bank of Coalinga, Coalinga, Cal.
  • 10-11 May 1912, Coalinga, Fresno County, California: Jacob Jr purchased Coalinga Fiesta postcards.
  • 17 Mar 1913, Coalinga, California: Jacob Jr wrote $420 check to cash, the last entry in Coalinga bank book.
  • 4 April 1913: Jacob Jr left California for Drumright, Creek/Payne County, Oklahoma.
  • Before April 1913: Jacob Jr may have been in the Oklahoma towns of Kiefer, Sapulpa, and Preston, by postcards that were in the brothers’ possession. These towns are within 30 miles of each other.
  • 10 April 1913, Drumright, Oklahoma: Jacob Jr killed by falling oil derrick debris.
  • 13 April 1913: Jacob Jr’s body arrived in Willshire by rail.
  • 14 April 1913: Funeral and burial of Jacob Miller Jr, Zion Lutheran Church, Chattanooga, Ohio.

I also have two of Jacob Miller Jr’s bank books. The oldest is from The First National Bank of Bakersfield, California. The name Jacob Miller is written on the front of the bank book and also on the inside. On the front cover, under his name, also hand-written, is Oil Center, Cal., which has been crossed out. Under that is written Glen Pool, Oklahoma, c/o Chris Miller. There are only two deposits in the book. The first on 25 April 1911, for $200, and the second on 6 June 1911 for $50. Four checks are gone from the book.

Jacob Miller Jr’s bank book, First National Bank of Bakersfield, CA, 1911.

Jacob Miller Jr’s bank book, First National Bank of Bakersfield, CA, 1911.

Jacob Miller Jr’s bank book, First National Bank of Bakersfield, CA, 1911.

Jacob Miller Jr’s bank book, First National Bank of Bakersfield, CA, 1911.

The second bank book is from The First National Bank of Coalinga, California. Again, Jacob Miller’s name is written on the front cover. There were several deposits entered, the first on 26 December 1911, for $100. The last entry was on 17 March 1913, a balance of $484.50. There are still checks in the back of the book with 11 check stubs from checks that were used. A few of the stubs have something written on them: 15 March 1912/$20; 15 August 1912/$20; 26 Aug 1912/$10; 16 September 1912/$10; 16 September 1912/$10; 13 October 1912/$10.

Jacob Miller Jr’s bank book, First National Bank of Coalinga, CA, 1911-13.

Jacob Miller Jr’s bank book, First National Bank of Coalinga, CA, 1911-13.

Tucked in a pocket inside the back cover of that Coalinga Bank book is a canceled check to Cash, from The First National bank of Coalinga, for $420, dated 17 March 1913, signed by Jacob Miller. Jacob Jr was probably leaving California, headed for Oklahoma.

Tucked in a pocket inside the front cover the Coalinga Bank book, was a business card from John W. Loree, attorney at law, Celina, Ohio. He may have taken care of the legal matters of Jacob Jr’s estate in 1913. Written on the back of that card are the names of a two Oklahoma law firms, Biddison & Campbell, and Martin, Bush & Murray, both from Tulsa, Oklahoma.

John W. Loree, attorney, Celina, Ohio, c1913.

Oklahoma attorneys, reverse side of John W. Loree, attorney card, Celina, Ohio, c1913.

Below are the obituaries and other newspaper notices for Chris Miller and Jacob Miller Jr. They do contain some conflicting information.

The body of Chris Miller, the oil man who died here several days ago from typhoid fever was shipped to Willshire, Ohio, this morning by Undertaker Hill. Jacob Miller, the father of the deceased came here from Willshire to accompany the body there. A brother from California also came here to accompany the body to Ohio. (Wichita Daily Times, Wichita Falls, Texas, 26 Oct 1900, p.8; digital image by subscription, Newspapers.com : viewed 6 Sep 2019).

Obituary: Christian Miller, son of Jacob and Margaretha Miller, nee Strabel, was born Sept. 5, 1880; was baptized in infancy, confirmed as a full member of Zion’s Evangelical church, at Chattanooga, April 21, 1895, by Rev. Sollar. The next eleven years of his life were spent in and near the parental home, where he endeared himself to all who knew him. Since then he had labored in various oil fields in Oregon, California, Oklahoma and recently in Texas. He was a Christian young man, was industrious and saved his money, investing it in properties. There is no doubt that he cherished fond dreams of occupying a home of his own at some future time after his years of sojourning in different States. But God meant that instead of this he should occupy a more abiding home than this could have been—a building not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.

After only about ten days’ residence in Texas he was taken sick with typhoid fever. He was taken to the hospital at Wichita Falls, Texas, where two nurses and skilled physicians did their utmost to care for him; but after only twelve days’ sickness he was summoned from these earthly scenes. Realizing the seriousness of his condition, he asked for a pastor of his own faith and when one came he partook of the Lord’s Supper. He also desired to see his father, who was telegraphed for and with his brother, John, hastened to his bedside, but they were disappointed to find him no longer among mortals. He died Oct. 24, aged 31 years, one month and 20 days. Father and brother returned Friday night with the remains and the funeral took place at the Lutheran church, Saturday, conducted by the pastor, Rev. L. Loehr. Interment in the Lutheran cemetery. (The Willshire Herald, 2 Nov 1911, p.8)

Last Rites: The funeral of Christ Miller, whose death occurred at Wichita, Texas, was held here Sunday at the Lutheran church in Liberty township. The young man was the son of Jacob Miller of Blackcreek township, and was thirty-one years old at the time of his death. He had been working in the oil fields in Oklahoma and three weeks ago went to Wichita, Texas, where he contracted typhoid fever and died in the hospital there. His father and one brother, Pete, Miller, of California, when appraised of his illness started for his bedside, but his death occurred before either reached him. His father brought the remains here where his funeral occurred Sunday. (The Daily Standard, Celina, Ohio, 3 Nov 1911, p.3)

Chris Miller (1880-1911), son of Jacob Miller.

Young Man Killed in Oil Field
The body of Jacob Miller Jr, who was killed in the Oklahoma oil fields, was brought back to the home of his parents, who live south of town. The corpse came in over the Clover Leaf Sunday and was met by undertaker H. B. Cowan who removed the body to the parents’ home preparatory to the services which were held Monday afternoon.

The young man was about 25 years old, well known and respected here. The nature of the accident which caused his death has not been reported. The accident causing the young man’s death was that of a falling oil derrick which, though he was at some distance, struck him killing him instantly. (The Willshire Herald, 17 April 1913, p.1)

Explosion of Shale Gas Brought Death to Young Man of this County who was Working in Oil Fields in California.
The body of Jacob Miller Jr, who was killed by falling timber following an explosion of shale gas, was brought to Willshire Sunday and removed to the home of his parents, Mr. and Mrs. Jacob Miller near Chattanooga. Young Miller was drilling in the oil fields in California when he met his untimely death. He was a young man of twenty-eight years and has been in the west for three years.

Funeral services were held Monday morning at the Lutheran church at Chattanooga, followed by interment at that place. Accompanying the body of Mr. Miller was Christ Brier, who had gone west with the young man. (The Daily Standard, Celina, Ohio, 18 April 1913, p.7)

One of the above newspaper accounts indicates that Jacob Jr died Oklahoma, while the other account indicates he died in California. Two other accounts, from Oklahoma newspapers, likely give the most accurate location of his death:

Tool Dresser Killed
Drumright, Okla., April 17—(Special.)—
An oil derrick toppled over upon Jacob Miller, a tool dresser, while he was working at a well about one mile north of here and he was instantly killed. (Tulsa World, Tulsa, Oklahoma, 18 April 1913, Volume VIII, Issue 184, p.2; digital image by subscription, GenealogyBank.com : accessed 15 October 2014).

Workman is Killed
Special to the News
Cushington, Ok., April 20—Jacob Miller Jr., aged 27, of Wellshire, Ohio, [sic] a tool dresser in the Cushing oil field, was accidentally killed when a big wheel used in pulling casing from the ground broke and caused the derrick to fall. It struck Miller. He had arrived from the California oil fields six days before. (Dallas Morning News, Dallas, Texas, 21 April 1913, p.14; digital image by subscription, GenealogyBank.com : accessed 15 October 2014).

Jacob Miller Jr (1886-1913)

 

[1] 1910 U.S. Census, Township 6, Kern, California, ED 30, p.16B, dwelling 227, family 239, Jacob Miller; digital image by subscription, Ancestry.com (https://www.ancestry.com/search/collections/1910uscenindex/ : viewed 29 Aug 2019). Census taken 7 May 1910.

Sep 17

Tombstone Tuesday–Esther A.E. Sauer

Esther A.E. Sauer, Zion Lutheran Cemetery, Van Wert County, Ohio. (2012 photo by Karen)

This is the tombstone of Esther A. E. Sauer, located in row 3 of Zion Lutheran Cemetery, Schumm, Van Wert County, Ohio. The marker is inscribed:

Esther A. E. Sauer
Mar. 15, 1908
Mar. 9, 1994

Esther A. E. Sauer was born 15 March 1908 in Monroeville, Allen County, Indiana, the daughter of Henry and Justine (Pflueger) Sauer. [1] The family probably attended church in or near Monroeville because there is no record of her baptism in the records of Zion Lutheran, Schumm.

In 1910 the Henry Sauer family lived in Monroe Township, Allen County, Indiana: Henry, 26; Justine RM, 20; Esther AE, 2; and Paul EJ, 8 months. [2] 

Esther’s mother, Justine (Pflueger) Sauer, died from LaGrippe on 12 March 1918 in Van Wert County, Ohio. She was only 28 years old and left 5 underage children behind. She is buried in row 11 of Zion Lutheran Cemetery, Schumm. Her husband Henry never remarried.

The Henry Sauer family in 1920, residing in Willshire Township: Henry, 35, widow; Esther AE, 11; Paul AJ, 10; Reinhold F, 8; Herman E, 6; and Lena N, 3. [3]

In 1930 Henry Sauer, 46, farmed and lived in Adams County, Indiana, with his two daughters, Esther, 22, and Lina, 13. [4]

In 1940 Esther Sauer was a lodger in the home of Freda Lancaster at 2313 North Anthony, Fort Wayne, Indiana: Freda Lancaster, 45, head; Emma Lancaster, 71, mother, widow; Nellie Fetters, 68, lodger; and Esther Sauer, 32, lodger. All in the household were born in Indiana. The writing is difficult to read, but it appears that Esther worked as a maid in a priest’s house. Freda Lancaster, the head of the household, was the principal at a public school. [5]   

In 1940 Esther’s father Henry Sauer, 56, lived by himself at 229 First Street in Decatur. [6] Henry died 3 June 1948 at the Richmond State Hospital, Wayne County, Indiana, at the age of 64. [7] Henry was brought back to Zion Schumm’s cemetery and was laid to rest in row 3. 

Esther A.E. Sauer, aged 85, died of a heart attack on 9 March 1994 at the Woodview Health Care Center, Fort Wayne, Allen County, Indiana. She was buried on 12 March, buried very near her father. [1]

Esther never married.

Henry and Justina (Pflueger) Sauer had the following children, including Esther and her siblings:
Esther A.E. (1908-1994), never married
Paul A. John (1909-1988), married Clara Alena Stump
Reinhold Ferdinand (1911-1993), married Helen M. Fritzinger
Herman Edgar (1913-1986), married Dorothy Alice Featherer
Lena Paula Emelia (1916-2013), married Russell E. Fleming

[1] Indiana Archives and Records Administration, Indiana State Board of Health, Indiana, Death Certificates, 1899-2011, 1994, roll 4, Esther Sauer, 9 Mar 1994; digital image by subscription, Ancestry.com.  

[2] 1910 U.S. Census, Monroe Allen, Indiana, ED 17, p.2B, dwelling & family 21, Henry Sauer; digital image by subscription, Ancestry.com (https://www.ancestry.com/search/collections/1910uscenindex/ : viewed 2 Sep 2019). 

[3] 1920 U.S. Census, Willshire, Van Wert, Ohio, ED 146, p.3B, dwelling 63, family 64, Henry Souer; digital image by subscription, Ancestry.com  (https://www.ancestry.com/search/collections/1920usfedcen/ : viewed 2 Sep 2019).

[4] 1930 U.S. Census, Root, Adams, Indiana, ED 14, p.9B, dwelling & family 212, Henry Sauer; digital image by subscription, Ancestry.com (https://www.ancestry.com/search/collections/1930usfedcen/ : viewed 2 Sep 2019).

[5] 1940 U.S. Census, Fort Wayne, Allen, Indiana, ED 94-5A, p.60A, lines 5, 18, 23, Freda Lancaster, Esther Sauer; digital image by subscription, Ancestry.com (https://www.ancestry.com/search/collections/1940usfedcen/ : viewed 16 Sep 2019).

[6] 1940 U.S. Census, Decatur, Adams, Indiana, ED 1-12, p.2B, line 41, Henry Sauers; digital image by subscription, Ancestry.com (https://www.ancestry.com/search/collections/1940usfedcen/ : viewed 2 Sep 2019).

[7] Indiana Death Certificates, 1948, roll 7, Indiana Archives and Records Administration, Henry Sauer; digital image by subscription, Ancestry.com.

Sep 13

The Miller Brothers in the Oklahoma Oil Fields, c1910-13

Today, as I continue the saga of the Miller brothers in the western oil fields, I am posting the last of the picture postcards the two young men sent home to their parents in rural Mercer County, Ohio.

Half-brothers Chris Miller and Jacob Miller Jr were my great-uncles. Chris (1880-1911) was the son of Jacob Miller and his second wife Margaretha Strabel. Jacob Jr (1885-1913) was the son of Jacob Miller and his third wife Christena Rueck. My grandfather Carl Miller (1896-1973) was a full brother to Jacob Jr.

Chris Miller (1880-1911) by oil drums

The past couple weeks I have posted images of the picture postcards the Miller brothers sent from the oil boom towns in Kern County and Fresno County, California, between 1910-1911. I am assuming they sent postcards from the places where they worked or stayed at. That’s what people usually do.

Unfortunately, most of these postcards have no postmark and have nothing written on the back. I have two theories about this. I believe they could have put several picture postcards in an envelope and sent them home. Or, another possibility is that Chris and Jacob Jr collected these postcards and had them among their personal effects and the family acquired them after their deaths. That would explain why there are so many postcards with no postmarks or writing.  

I do not know when the brothers went out west, but they were in Kern, California by 1910. Chris died in Texas in 1911 and Jacob Jr died in Oklahoma in 1913.

The last picture postcards I have to show are from Oklahoma. Both brothers worked in the Oklahoma oil fields at one time or another.

Below is the only postcard that has something written on the back. It is from Preston, Oklahoma, has no postmark, and is addressed to their father Jacob Miller, RR#1, Willshire, Ohio.

The message on the back is short: Dear Folks, We landed all right.

“A drilling well in Operation, Preston, OK,” c1910-13

Preston, Oklahoma, postcard, from Chris or Jacob Jr Miller.

We–Does that mean the two brothers or one/both of the brothers and someone else? Landed—That sounds like they were traveling by boat or air, but neither of those I am pretty sure. They likely traveled by rail. There was a depot right in Willshire and trains went through most western oil towns.

Travel by train was popular and two of the postcards shown below show train depots.

Chris Miller died in Texas in October of 1911. Jacob Jr died in Drumright, Oklahoma, in 1913. This Oklahoma postcard could have been sent shortly before Jacob Jr died. According to his obituary he had only been in Oklahoma about six days before he was killed. He had been living in California before that.    

Preston, Oklahoma, c1910-13

Tulsa Special, Kiefer, Oklahoma, c1910-13

Note the oil well behind the train depot in the above photo.

Near Sapulpa, Oklahoma, c1910-13

I am not quite sure what the above postcard shows. Possibly a mine?

The Oklahoma towns mentioned on these postcards are relatively close together. Sapulpa is 5 miles north of Kiefer and Keifer is 20 miles north of Preston. Jacob was killed in Drumright, which is 28 miles west of Sapulpa. They were all oil towns. 

Next week, my timeline of the Miller brothers’ journey while they were out west.

Sep 10

Tombstone Tuesday–Justina R.M. (Pflueger) Sauer

Justina R.M. (Pflueger) Sauer, Zion Lutheran Cemetery, Van Wert County, Ohio. (2012 photo by Karen)

This is the tombstone of Justina Rosine Magdalena (Pflueger) Sauer, located in row 11 of Zion Lutheran Cemetery, Schumm, Van Wert County, Ohio. The marker is inscribed:

SAUER
Hier Ruhet in Gott
Justina R.M.
Ehefr. Von H. Sauer
Geb. Den 12, Dez. 1889
Gest. Den 12, Marz 1918
Alter 28 J. 3 M.

SAUER. Here rests in God Justin R.M., wife of H. Sauer, born on 12 December 1889, died on 12 March 1918, aged 28 years, 3 months.

Justine “Justina“  Rosine Magdalena Pflueger was born 12 December 1889 in Willshire Township, the daughter of Abraham and Elisabeth (Hofmann) Pflueger. She was baptized at home on 22 December 1889, with Rosine Schumm, Magdalena Geier, and Magdalena Geissler as her sponsors.  

In 1900, 10 year-old Justina Pflueger lived with her parents and siblings in Van Wert County: Abraham Pflueger, 48; Elizabeth, 43; Ferdinand, 15; Henry, 12; Justina, 10; Martha, 7; Willie, 4; and Louis, 1. Her father was a farmer and Justina attended school. [1]  

Justina Pflueger married Henry Sauer in Zion Schumm’s parsonage on 26 December 1907. They were married by Rev. C.W. Giese and the church records indicate that both the bride and the groom were from Zion Schumm’s parish. Henry Sauer (1884-1948) was the son of John and Anna C. (Meisinger) Sauer.

In 1910 the Henry Sauer family lived in Monroe Township, Allen County, Indiana: Henry, 26; Justine RM, 20; Esther AE, 2; and Paul EJ, 8 months. This enumeration indicates that Henry was born in Germany and immigrated in 1890. [2] 

Justina (Pflueger) Sauer died in Van Wert County, Ohio, on 12 March 1918, at the age of 28 years and 3 months. She was buried on the 13th. She left behind her husband, 5 underage children, her father, 4 brothers, and 2 sisters. She was buried on the 14th in Zion Schumm’s cemetery. [3]

Justina suffered with LaGrippe [influenza] for 7 days before the disease took her life. She died during the 1918-19 Influenza Pandemic and may have been a victim of the Spanish Flu which took millions of lives during that time.  

Justina’s husband Henry never remarried and he died in 1948. Henry is buried in row 3 of Zion Schumm’s cemetery.

Henry and Justina (Pflueger) Sauer had the following children:
Esther (1908-1994), never married
Paul A. John (1909-1988), married Clara Alena Stump
Reinhold Ferdinand (1911-1993), married Helen M. Fritzinger
Herman Edgar (1913-1986), married Dorothy Alice Featherer
Lena Paula Emelia (1916-2013), married Russell E. Fleming

[1] 1900 U.S. Census, Willshire, Van Wert, Ohio, ED 97, p.9, dwelling 183, family 197, Abraham Pflueger; digital image by subscription, Ancestry.com (https://www.ancestry.com/search/collections/1900usfedcen/ : viewed 8 Sep 2019.)

[2] 1910 U.S. Census, Monroe Allen, Indiana, ED 17, p.2B, dwelling & family 21, Henry Sauer; digital image by subscription, Ancestry.com (https://www.ancestry.com/search/collections/1910uscenindex/ : viewed 2 Sep 2019). 

[3] “Ohio Deaths, 1908-1953,” Willshire Twp, Van Wert, Justina Sauer, 12 Mar 1918; database with images, FamilySearch.org (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:33S7-9PJ1-3218?i=213&cc=1307272&personaUrl=%2Fark%3A%2F61903%2F1%3A1%3AX8VN-Y24 : viewed 8 Sep 2019). 

 

Sep 06

Miller Brothers in the California Oil Fields, c1911

Today, a few more picture postcards from California that half-brothers Chris Miller and Jacob Miller Jr sent home to their parents. Chris and Jacob Jr left their farm in northern Mercer County, Ohio, sometime before 1910 and traveled out west to work in the oil fields. Oil had been found in several western states around the turn of the century and the two young men went west to work in the oil fields, but they never returned home. 

Chris and Jacob Jr were my great-uncles. Chris Miller (1880-1911) was the son of Jacob Miller and his second wife Margaretha Strabel. Jacob Jr (1885-1913) was the son of Jacob Miller and his third wife Christena Rueck. My grandfather Carl Miller (1896-1973) was a full brother to Jacob Jr.

Chris Miller, in the oil fields out west, unknown date.

Unfortunately, most of the postcards the brothers sent home had no postmark and had nothing written on the back. Evidently they put several picture postcards in an envelope and sent them home.

Still, I am trying to map their journey as they worked in the oil fields and make a timeline as best as I can. They were out west just a short time, when Chris died of typhoid fever and Jacob Jr was killed by pieces from a falling oil derrick.

Jacob Miller Jr was living in Kern County, California, in 1910. He was 24 years old, born in Ohio, working as a tool dresser in the oil fields. He was single and one of nine boarders living in the family household of Orr Whitehall. [1] I have not located his half-brother Chris in the 1910 census.

In March 1911 they were in Oil Center, Kern County, California, according to the large panoramic photo I showed a couple weeks ago. The first oil wells were drilled in Kern County in 1877 and the oil boom continued in California into the early 1900s.   

Below are some more picture postcards that show a few more locations the two brothers worked in or passed through during their time in the western oil fields. I am assuming they sent the postcards from places that they had been in.

Last week I showed postcards that were sent from Coalinga, Fresno County, California, a town where oil was struck in the late 1800s. One of the postcards is labeled 10-11 May 1912 Coalinga Fiesta. Chris Miller died of typhoid fever in late 1911, so Jacob Jr would have sent the Coalinga postcards home in 1912.

1912 Coalinga Fiesta, Coalinga, California.

I believe the photo below is also from Coalinga, California. Nichols, the photographer, was also the photographer of another Coalinga postcard that I posted last week.  

Shops, Section 27, Nichols photographer. Possibly Coalinga, CA.

The photo postcard below is labeled Standard 36, Taft, Cal. Taft, in Kern County, California, is about 90 miles south of Coalinga. Oil was found in Taft in the late 1800s and early-mid 1900s. Standard Oil employed many workers there in the early 1900s. I am guessing that the Standard 36 is the size of the pipe.   

Standard 36, Taft, CA.

The photo below is from the oil fields in Bakersfield, Kern County, California:

Bakersfield, CA, oilfields.

Bakersfield, the county seat of Kern County, is about 100 miles southeast of Coalinga and is about 30 miles northeast of Taft. 

Gold was discovered in the Bakersfield area in 1853 and the gold rush started soon after. In 1853 Col. Thomas Baker settled on what became the town of Bakersfield. In 1868 the first post office was established and by 1876 the Southern Pacific Railroad ran there. In 1898 the first regular passenger train went to Bakersfield, so the Miller brothers could have traveled by rail to their destinations. In 1899 the Kern Oil Field was discovered and in 1900 the Midway Oil Field was discovered. Standard Oil built its first oil pipeline in the county in 1901, going from the Kern River Field near Bakersfield to Point Richmond near San Francisco. The Buena Vista Oil Field was discovered in 1909 and the Bellridge Oil Field in 1911. [2]

Chris Miller was also in San Francisco at one time, as shown on the undated postcard below.

Chris Miller, standing on the right in back. Pacific Sightseeing Co, San Francisco, unknown date.

There would have been plenty of work for the ambitious Miller brothers in the western oil fields. As well as a little time for sight-seeing.

[1] 1910 U.S. Census, Township 6, Kern, California, ED 30, p.16B, dwelling 227, family 239, Jacob Miller; digital image by subscription, Ancestry.com (https://www.ancestry.com/search/collections/1910uscenindex/ : viewed 29 Aug 2019). Census taken 7 May 1910.

[2] Bakersfield.com, “Timeline: 150 Years of Kern County History,” (https://www.bakersfield.com/special/150-years/timeline-years-of-kern-county-history/article_3b1dbe9c-ece6-50d6-8b44-88fb09a8507a.html : viewed 5 Sep 2019).

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