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).

Sep 03

Tombstone Tuesday–Henry Sauer

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

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

Henry Sauer
1884-1948

Henry Sauer was born in Germany on 2 March 1884 [1], the son of John and Anna C. (Meisinger) Sauer.

According to the 1900 census the Sauer family immigrated in 1895. In 1900 Henry lived with his parents and his siblings in Willshire Township: John Sauer, 47; Anna C, 45; Leonard, 24; Eva, 22; Anna C, 20; John Jr, 18; Henry, 16; Mary, 14; Aaron, 13; Phillip, 9; and Ludwig, 6. According to that enumeration, 9 of the 10 Sauer children were living. [2]

Henry Sauer married “Justine” Rosine Magdalene Pflueger in Zion Schumm’s parsonage on 26 Dec 1907, married by Rev. C.W. Giese. The church records indicate both the bride and groom were from Zion Schumm’s parish. Justine (1889-1918) was the daughter of Abraham and Elisabeth (Hofmann) Pflueger.

In 1910 the Henry Sauer family lived in Monroe, Allen County, Indiana: Henry, 26; Justine R M, 20; Esther A E, 2; and Paul E J, 8 months. This enumeration indicates that Henry was born in Germany and immigrated in 1890. [3] 

Henry’s wife Justine 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 was buried on the 14th in Zion Schumm’s cemetery. Henry never remarried.

In 1920 widower Henry Sauer lived in Willshire Township with his 5 children: Henry, 35; Esther A E, 11; Paul A J, 10; Reinhold F, 8; Herman E, 6; and Lena N, 3. [4]

In 1930 Henry Sauer farmed and lived in Adams County with his two daughters: Henry, 46; Esther, 22; and Lina 13. [5]

Henry Sauer, age 56, lived by himself at 229 First Street in Decatur in 1940. He rented his home and worked as a laborer. [6]

Henry Sauer died of cerebral arteriosclerosis on 3 June 1948 at the Richmond State Hospital, Wayne County, Indiana. He was 64 years old. [7] Neither his death nor burial are recorded in Zion Schumm’s records. He was brought back to Zion Schumm’s cemetery and laid to rest near his wife Justine.  

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

To make this research just a little more challenging, there was another Henry Sauer, the son of Adam and Magdalena (Dietrich) Sauer, born near Schumm in 1889, who was baptized at Zion Schumm that same year. He and his wife Erna lived in Fort Wayne and they are both buried in Concordia Cemetery there.

[1] “Ohio, County Marriages, 1789-2013,” Van Wert Marriages, Vol. 12:540, Henry Sauer & Justina Pflueger, 26 Dec 1907; database with images, FamilySearch.org (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:9392-S5QH-DL?i=302&cc=1614804&personaUrl=%2Fark%3A%2F61903%2F1%3A1%3AXD2K-N64 : viewed 2 Sep 2019).

[2] 1900 U.S. Census, Willshire, Van Wert, Ohio, Ed 98, p.13, dwelling 246, family 252, John Sauer; digital image by subscription, Ancestry.com (https://www.ancestry.com/search/collections/1900usfedcen/ : viewed 2 Sep 2019).

[3] 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). 

[4] 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).

[5] 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).

[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, 3 Jun 1948; digital image by subscription, Ancestry.com.

Aug 30

The Miller Brothers in Coalinga, California, c1911-12

Last week I showed a 1911 panoramic photo of the A.O. Company oil workers in Oil Center, Kern County, California. Two of my great-uncles are in that photo, half-brothers Chris Miller and Jacob Miller Jr.

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.

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

I believe I have located Jacob Miller Jr, as enumerated in the 1910 census, living in Kern County, California. 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]

Jacob Miller Jr (1886-1913)

Today, some picture postcards showing one of the towns the two brothers worked in or passed through during their time in the western oil fields. Although these postcards are not postmarked, the brothers were in California during the years around 1910.

The postcards below are from Coalinga, California. Coalinga is located in Fresno County and is about 80 miles northwest of where Oil Center was. We know the Miller brothers were in Oil Center in March 1911, when the panoramic photo, shown in last week’s blog post, was taken.  

5th & E Street, Coalinga, California, c1910-12.

5th Street, Coalinga, California, c1910-12.

Coalinga was founded as a coal mining town between 1870-1880. The Southern Pacific Railroad went through the town about 1890 and the Coalinga Post Office was established in 1891. Oil was discovered in Coalinga a few years later and the town prospered for over 100 years.

Fiesta, Coalinga, California, 1912.

Fiesta, Coalinga, California, 1912.

There were a number of postcards sent from Coalinga and I assume one or both of the brothers spent some time there, or at least visited the town.

Chris Miller died in October 1911 and the Coalinga Fiesta was 10-11 May 1912. So, these postcards were probably sent by by Jacob Jr. Jacob Jr may have stayed in California while Chris went to work in Texas. We don’t know if they stayed and worked together when they were out west. 

High School, Coalinga, California, c1910-12.

Grammar School, Coalinga, California, c1910-12.

Although they spent time in California, they also worked in the oil fields in Oklahoma and Texas.

Unfortunately, both Chris and Jacob Jr died out west while working in the oil fields. Chris Miller died in Wichita Falls, Texas, of typhoid fever on 24 October 1911. Jacob Miller Jr was killed in Oklahoma on 10 April 1913 when part of an oil derrick fell on him.

Both young men were returned home to be buried in Zion Lutheran Cemetery, Chattanooga, Ohio.  

 

[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.

Aug 27

Tombstone Tuesday–Alma A.W. Sauer

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

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

Alma A.W.
Tochter von
L. n M. Sauer
Geb. 21 Jan. 1911
Gest. 15 Jan. 1912

Alma A.W., daughter of L. and M. Sauer, born 21 January 1911, died 15 January 1912.

“Alma” Anna Wilhelmine Sauer was born in or near Schumm on 21 January 1911, the daughter of Leonhard & Minnie (Hofferberth) Sauer. Alma was baptized at home on 5 February 1911 with Anna Sauer and Minnie Hofferberth as her sponsors. Her father Leonhard (1876-1944) was born in Germany and her mother Minnie (1882-1920) was born in Ohio.

Alma Sauer died of gastroenteritis on 15 January 1912, at the age of 11 months and 25 days. She was buried on the 18th.

Alma’s parents, Leonhard and Minnie (Hofferberth) Sauer, had the following children:
Arthur Heinrich (1909-1976), married Minnie Louise Hammer
Alma Anna Wilhelmine (1911-1912)
Edna Maria (1913-1938), never married
Carl Emanuel (1915-1999), married Betty Louise Cole
Wilma Katharine (1919-2012), married Charles Lewis Cole

Aug 23

Oil Workers, A.O. Co., Oil Center, California, 1911

Adventure and the quest for fortune have always been alluring to some young men. In the early 1900s the news of the oil strikes and oil fields out West was enough to lure two farm boys from rural Mercer County, Ohio, westward, on a quest to make their fortunes. Those two young men, Christian “Chris” Miller and Jacob Miller Jr, were my great-uncles, brothers of my grandfather Carl Miller. They left their farm life to work in the oil fields of Texas, Oklahoma, and California around 1910.

The two brothers got a taste of the Ohio oil boom when oil was found in the Chatt area a few years before. Maybe they felt they had some oil experience and decided to go west, where oil drilling was on a much larger scale. I am sure two strong, hard-working farm boys had no trouble getting employment in the oil fields anywhere.

Christian Miller (1880-1911)

Jacob Miller Jr (1886-1913)

Brothers Chris and Jacob Miller Jr, sons of Jacob Miller, were actually half-brothers. 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. I have written about these two before and posted some of their photos taken during the time they were out west. [1]

Chris Miller out West

One of the Miller brothers out West

Below are photo segments of one very long, narrow photo, taken 15 March 1911 in Oil Center, California. It is photo number 127, the employees of the A.O. Company, an oil company. The original photo is one of those long panoramic photos, two or more feet long. It was too long for me to put in a scanner, so I took individual photos of it with my camera. The photos below were taken from the left to the right of large photo and would show the whole photo if put together.

A.O. Co. Employees, Oil Center, CA, 1911 (1)

A.O. Co. Employees, Oil Center, CA, 1911 (2)

A.O. Co. Employees, Oil Center, CA, 1911 (3)

A.O. Co. Employees, Oil Center, CA, 1911 (4)

A.O. Co. Employees, Oil Center, CA, 1911 (5)

Chris Miller is supposedly in the photo with the oil workers and I believe I found him. I do not know if Jacob Miller Jr was in this photo, too, but I would not be surprised if he was there, too. The brothers seemed to travel and work together.

I have looked at all the faces in this photo many times and I think Chris and Jacob Jr are in the segment below, situated fairly close together. Chris usually wore a funny little hat that seemed to be too small for him and he had a lot of hair (bangs) off to the right side of his forehead. Jacob Jr was a big guy and this looks like the bib overalls I have seen him wearing in other photos. This is my best guess that these are the Miller brothers.

Possibly Chris Miller (seated to left) & Jacob Miller Jr. (standing on the right).

Chris & Jacob Jr among oil employees, Oil Center, California, 1911.

There are many interesting items in this photo. Oil wells and housing are in the background. There are many men, young and old. Men in suits and ties and men in work clothes. Men on horses, wagons, buggies, cars, bicycles, and Indian Motorcycles. There are even a couple dogs and mules.

Look at those old Indian Motorcycles! I watch the American Pickers TV series enough to know that these would be very collectible today. And there are oil wells as far as the eye can see.

Indian Motorcycles, 1911, Oil Center, California.

A.O. Employees, Oil Center, CA, 1911

Here are a few close-ups of this photo, showing many interesting faces:

A.O. Employees, Oil Center, CA, 1911

A.O. Employees, Oil Center, CA, 1911

A.O. Employees, Oil Center, CA, 1911

A.O. Employees, Oil Center, CA, 1911

The Miller brothers’ adventure in the western oil fields did not end well for either of them. Chris died from typhoid fever on 24 October 1911, in Wichita Falls, Texas. He died a little over six months after this large photo was taken.

Jacob Miller Jr died about two years later, on 10 April 1913 in Oklahoma, when an oil derrick fell on him and killed him instantly.

Both young men were returned home to be buried in Zion Lutheran Cemetery, Chattanooga, Ohio.  

  

[1] “Tombstone Tuesday—Jacob Miller (Jr),” Karen’s Chatt, 26 Jul 2011,   http://www.karenmillerbennett.com/miller/tombstone-tuesday-jacob-miller-jr/ and “Tombstone Tuesday—Christian Miller,” Karen’s Chatt, 19 Jul 2011,    http://www.karenmillerbennett.com/miller/tombstone-tuesday-christian-miller/ and “Tragedy in the Oil Fields,” Karen’s Chatt, 14 Nov 2014,  http://www.karenmillerbennett.com/miller/tragedy-in-the-oil-fields/

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