Jacob Miller’s Final Years in Germany

This week, taking a break from the Duckcreek Church records, some information about my paternal great-grandfather Johann “Jacob” Miller. Information about his last couple of years in Bierbach, before immigrating to America in 1871.

Miller history is on my mind because our Miller reunion is this coming weekend. Our reunion, for the descendants of Jacob’s son [and my grandfather] Carl Miller and his wife Gertrude (Brewster) Miller, will be good this year since we did not have a reunion in 2020. It will be nice to see everyone again.

My great-grandfather Jacob Miller [Mueller in German] was born 7 March 1843 in Bierbach, Kingdom of Bavaria, the son of Johann and Marie (Kessler) Mueller. He was baptized on 12 March 1843 at Kirkel-Neuhausel.

Jacob Miller (1843-1918).

Family history tells us that Jacob married and was widowed in Germany before immigrating to America in 1871. I did not have the all the details of this until recently.

Ancestry.com has various German church and civil records in their World Explorer subscription and I can look through those records myself. I usually like to focus on church records but the church records where Jacob attended are not available on-line yet. However, the civil records from Jacob’s hometown of Bierbach are on-line.

The civil records are a good second choice even though they include a lot of writing that is difficult for me to translate. But I am able to decipher enough to get some information about Jacob’s life before he immigrated.

Jacob Miller was married before he immigrated to America. Jacob, age 26, married Sophia Goelzer, 23, on 25 May 1869. Sophia was born in Bierbach 31 July 1845, the daughter of Johann Nicolaus Friedrich and Katharine (Mueller) Goelzer. Sophia had a twin brother Carl and they were the sixth and seventh of eight children. Sophia and her twin brother Carl were both baptized 1 August 1841 at Kirkel-Neuhausel. Her brother Carl died two days later, on 3 August 1845.

A baby was born to Jacob and Sophia (Goelzer) Miller about a year after their marriage. Their daughter, named Katharina, was born 8 May 1870. Sophia, age 24, died three days later, on 11 May 1870 and was buried at Neuhaus. Baby Katharina was baptized at the Evangelical Church at Essingen on 13 May 1870. Katharina died 27 May 1870, 19 days after her birth, and was buried on the 28th.

I also learned about Sophia’s parents from the on-line records. Although this line did not continue in my family tree, I still find it interesting to learn about this family. Plus it is good practice for my German research/translating skills.

Sophia’s father Johann Nicolaus Friedrich Goelzer was born in Bierbach 28 May 1801 and died there 30 January 1880. He was the son of Wilhelm Goelzer (1760-1802) and Susanna Elizabeth Wern (1765-1808).

Johann Nicolaus Goelzer married Katharine Mueller in Mimbach on 8 September 1826.

Katharine (Mueller) was born in Ernstweiler 27 November 1804 and died in Bierbach 8 January 1881.

Katharine Mueller was the daughter of Johann Christian Mueller (1763-1823) and Anna Sophia Hamm (1768-1834).

Johann Nicolaus and Katharine (Mueller) Goelzer had the following children:

Christian (1826-1900)
Katharine Louise (1831-1913)
Margaretha (1835-?)
Jacob (1838-1926)
Peter (1842-1916)
Carl (1845-1845)
Sophia (1845-1870), married Jacob Miller in 1869
Friedrich (1849-?)

I wondered if Jacob and Sophia were related since Sophia’s mother was a Mueller, but it does not appear that they were related. Mueller was a very common name in Germany. 

1870 continued to be a tragic year for Jacob Miller. Jacob’s father Johann Mueller died in Bierbach on 14 October 1870. Less than a year later Jacob Miller immigrated to America.

These events, along with the fact that Jacob’s uncle Christian Kessler had already settled near Chattanooga, Ohio, may have influenced Jacob to immigrate with his widowed mother Marie (Kessler) Miller and his two sisters, Catharine (Miller) Linn and Margaret (Miller) Linn. They sailed from the port of Bremen 31 May 1871 and arrived at the port in New York 15 June 1871.

Hopefully I will learn more family history as I go through more of these German records. 


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    • Deborah Jones on July 23, 2021 at 6:45 am
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    Thank you for this information. I had been told that Jacob had a wife and child die before he emigrated but I didn’t know these details.

    1. You are very welcome! Thanks for writing.

    • Frank on July 24, 2021 at 6:51 am
    • Reply

    As always, your posts are very interesting. Is Kessler Cemetery named after the Kessler family you mentioned above? My wife has family there. Also, I am just starting to research a Miller family in FTW, wonder if they are related? May I contact you if I see any potential conncetions?

    Thanks again!

    1. Kessler Cemetery is also known as Liberty Cemetery and I assume the Kessler name is from the fact that Kesslers lived in the area and are buried there. Miller is a very common name in Germany and our Miller family is pretty much confined to the descendants of my great-grandfather Jacob Miller, the immigrant. He did not have any brothers to carry on the name. There may be family connections farther back in time in Germany, in the Rhine-Pfalz area, and we can compare information. Thanks for writing!

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