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, ( : viewed 29 Aug 2019). Census taken 7 May 1910.


Skip to comment form

    • Sue Schott on August 30, 2019 at 6:56 am
    • Reply

    Hi Karen,

    Loved the pictures. How unfortunate both men died so young!!

    I’m a descendant from the Schott family in Chatt. My Dad is Dale Frederick Schott, only surviving child of Fred and Wilhemina Schott’s 11 children. Dad is soon to be 94 in November.

    Have a nice holiday weekend.

    Sue Schott

    1. Yes, your family has roots in the Chatt area and at Zion Lutheran, Chatt. So wonderful that your dad will be 94 this year! I remember some of your aunts and uncles–Glenn (& Hilda), Ruth, and Alfred. And one of your Schott cousins even married into the Schumm family. Small world. Great to hear from you and thanks for writing.

    • Deborah Jones on September 1, 2019 at 9:10 am
    • Reply

    Thank you for publishing your research on our great-uncles. I’ve heard many stories about them over the years and you’ve provided information I hadn’t been told. Jeff just returned from a motorcycle trip close to this area and said it is very arid – almost desert – and extremely hot this time of the year. Grandma Caroline talked about her brothers some, but not a lot. I mainly remember her talking about Christian, who would have been her half-brother and quite a bit older than her.

    1. I am trying to piece together where they may have been and when. Since the census was only taken every 10 years the postcards they sent home do help. But they must have sent them in a separate envelope because most of them have no writing on the back and are not postmarked! Drat! I wish we could go back and ask our grandparents about their brothers. It is interesting to hear what Jeff said about the climate there. Thanks for writing!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.