Charles C. Miller                            

 

harles C. Miller was one of the interesting characters who were written up by Cleveland in his notes but never made it into the History because the Penn Yan chapter was left unpublished. He was born in the town of Urbana in 1823 and came to Penn Yan in 1839; he attended school in the first Penn Yan Academy which had been Captain Holcomb's Washington House where 227 Main Street is now.

Miller got into the business of carriage making under James Cooley (who started the business near the northwest corner of the Main and Head Street crossroads that later became the Birdsall works) and married Rebecca, daughter of David Hall. Hall was a very early resident of Penn Yan and a soldier of 1812. The Millers had four children by the time Cleveland wrote in 1874: Ida, Frank and Fred who were twins, and Charles Jr. He built up a carriage factory which he conducted successfully for 10 years, and then engaged in the hardware business downtown. He was occupied with this when the Civil War began in 1861.

The elder Miller enlisted in 1862 in the 148th New York and participated in all the regiment's battles. He was wounded in the left arm at Cold Harbor in 1864 and survived two amputations; even after this ordeal he applied to return to his unit, but was discharged for disability. He was the man responsible for bringing back to Penn Yan the whipping post that stood so long in the Oliver House Museum; it has since been returned to a museum in the Virginia town where Miller "liberated" it.

After the war ended Miller lived in Penn Yan and served for a time as postmaster (a valued political plum).

The above material is set down in Cleveland's notes on Main Street, next to a discussion of Miller's home, which stood where #219 is now. Several pages later he interrupts his narrative on Penn Yan with a page headed "The Miller family - Chs C is Penn Yan's farmer." He then launches into the family's story:

It seems one Andrew Miller and his wife emigrated from northern Ireland about 25 years before the Revolution. Mrs. Miller bore their first child on the ship just before it entered New York harbor, a boy named Andrew after his father. The family had a grant of land from the crown on the west side of the Hudson a few miles above Manhattan Island, and when the war broke out the English authorities took it over for military purposes. The family fled to the interior of Orange County and all of the first Andrew Miller's six sons served on the American side. Andrew Jr. held a captain's commission. His brothers were named James, John, Alexander, William and Thomas.

All six brothers survived the war. Afterwards young Andrew settled across the river in Sussex County, N.J. and raised six children of his own: another Andrew, Matilda, Nancy, Charlotte, Sarah and John. His wife was Susan Woodruff of Sussex County and was also from a family who had fought in the Revolution.

Here Cleveland interjects a note that the wife of the first Andrew was a Jackson, the sister of the President's father. Thus the second Andrew was President Andrew Jackson's first cousin.

About 1818 Andrew the third moved to western New York. His eldest son the fourth Andrew had married in New Jersey but had no children as yet. The family settled in Urbana about a mile and a half from the head of Keuka Lake at Hammondsport. Andrew the fourth had five children: James, Charles C., Mary Ann, Sarah and yet another Andrew. The eldest two boys in this family came to Yates County about 1839.

James was born in 1819 and married Hannah Benedict of Jerusalem. He raised Ayrshire cattle on a farm about a mile west of Penn Yan.

Cleveland quotes Charles C. Miller as remarking that while he was in the army during the "slaveholders' rebellion," he had 18 first cousins also in the Federal army, who all also survived the war. One of them, a Woodruff, fought in 34 battles; several re-enlisted after their first term of service was over, and a number bore "evidence of their prowess in the wounds they received."

 

 

Charles C. Miller was associated with:

Sites and buildings:

219 Main Street

History:

Incorporation
The Return