Name Game

Ever since I received my AncestryDNA results and discovered my Turkish/Persian/Caucasus ethnicity and – even more surprising – my LACK of Central European ethnicity,  I’ve made a concerted effort to look further into the lives of my immigrant ancestors and their lives across the ocean.  Most of my time until recently has been tracing family roots on American soil; diving into international genealogy is a completely new ball game.  My first experience with international research was working through my husband’s Norwegian family history…and involved learning new terms in a new language (words like church, parish, baptism, marriage, death, etc.).  It also involved in-depth geography lessons, advancing my understanding of migration, patronymic naming systems, and even digging into common routes of immigration from Norway to the United States.  Thanks to Google Translator, I have been able to use the wonderfully-detailed Norwegian Archives website to locate relatives in Norwegian census records and church records.  I say it all the time –but thank GOODNESS for the internet!!

As I mentioned in the previous post on the Daniel Frederick Miller family, I’ve spent a little time trying to locate Mr. Miller’s father and mother in immigration passenger lists.  No such luck.  Some US census records show they arrived in 1862, some in 1865.  In a document from my grandfather, he wrote that he believed one or two of Daniels’ siblings were born in Germany; one was believed to have been born en route.  No such luck in my research!

Until yesterday!  What’s in a name, anyway?  I’ve guessed that the family patriarch, George Miller, changed their last name from Mueller to Miller upon settling in Ohio/Kentucky.  I’ve searched high and low given the facts I knew from my grandfather and other records I’ve found.  Yesterday’s EUREKA moment was finding the family in the Castle Garden index for 3 August 1865!  A little background on Castle Garden from their website: is an educational project of The Battery Conservancy. This free site offers access to an extraordinary database of information on 11 million immigrants from 1820 through 1892, the year Ellis Island opened. More than 100 million Americans can trace their ancestors to this early immigration period.  Castle Garden, today known as Castle Clinton National Monument, is the major landmark within The Battery, the 25 acre waterfront park at the tip of Manhattan. From 1855 to 1890, the Castle was America's first official immigration center, a pioneering collaboration of New York State and New York City.
After finding George Miller/Muller's widow living in Cincinnati's 29th ward in the 1900 US Federal Census, an entry that indicated her immigration to the United States in 1866, I decided to focus my search within a few years of 1866.  Guess what?  I found them!!  AND...not only did I find parents George and Magdalena Mueller, I discovered that my grandfather's grandfather, Daniel Frederick Miller, was indeed born in Germany!  Young Friederich was only 9 months old upon arrival in New York.  I have often wondered about the name "Daniel", since it was obvious he was called "Fritz" or "Fred" most of his life.  I wonder if "Daniel" was added after living in the US for some particular reason?  Here is a snippet of their passenger entry in the Castle Garden database:

Here, you can see the following family members:

George Mueller (1837-?)
Maria Magdalena (Dick) Mueller (1835-?)
Maria Mueller (1858-?)
George Mueller/Miller, Jr. (1860-?)
Kathrina (1861-?)*...this index may have been transcribed erroneously, since I know "Katie" was born around 1861.  It's also not possible that she was 1 at the same time her brother was 9 months old.
Friedrich Mueller/Miller (1865-1954)

According to the record, the family left their home in Baden (I knew this was their hometown from other documents), traveled to Antwerp, and sailed on the ship "S/S Energie" from Antwerp to New York.  They arrived on 3 August 1865.

A few oddities: in all US Census records, Daniel Fred Miller's (Friedrich listed above) is shown to have been born in Ohio  Also, this record is from 1865 instead of 1866.  On his grave marker and in census documents, Daniel Fred's birthday is listed as November 1865.  BUT - if he was 9 months in August 1865 upon arrival in the US, the math works that he was actually born in November of 1864.  These are some quirks that do not totally discredit my belief that the above is their immigration record.  Often, census-takers were quoted incorrect dates or even transcribed information incorrectly.  I've learned not to take such errors as gospel truth and look instead for other correlations, as I've done above.

SO - this sheds new light on the Miller family's arrival.  Not just two...but four children were in fact born in Germany.  As you can see from the many ?? listed above, I have further work to do to establish death dates in Ohio.  Still a work in progress!


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