Saturday, October 9, 2010

Surname Saturday ~ MILLER

My paternal grandmother was Ada May MILLER. We are fortunate to have her little carte de visite (CDV) album. Unfortunately, she passed way several years before it came into our hands.

We have taken each photograph out of the album and there isn't a single name on any of them. There are nine on cardstock and nineteen are tintypes. Only six of the cardstock have the name of the photographer on the back (verso). Ten of the tintypes have thin paper frames, the other nine have none.

From what I can determine in searching about identifying photographs on the Internet, it probably dates from about the 1860's (tintypes) to about the late 1890's (cardstock). Now about 150 years old! A real treasure.

Ada's parents were Sarah BEEGHLY and William Howard MILLER. William and Sarah had 13 children, Ada was the eldest.

William Howard's parents were Mary FIKE and Phineas MILLER. (Their names appeared on the FIKE Memorial that I posted on Tombstone Tuesday.) Mary and Phineas had 10 children. 

I don't have a photograph of Mary or Phineas. However, I recently found a photograph of  one of Phineas MILLER's younger brothers, William MILLER Jr.

William MILLER Jr.

 Born 26 Sep 1827 - Somerset County, Pennsylvania
 Died 10 Jan 1908 - Waterloo, Black Hawk County, Iowa
There is a very large GEDCOM available for download, but I don't plan to do that.

Two Mystery Men!
Photographed by D. B. Rugg,
 Main Street, Hiawatha, Kansas
Old pictures copied and enlarged.


SOURCE: Personal family collection.

I'm thinking that these young men may be members of the MILLER family.
Comparing them to William, they have the same slim face and straight hair. 

The back (verso) of the photographs became a work of art in its own right. At first they were blank and then had a very small imprint of the photographer's name. Finally, the artwork became worthy of collection for that alone. Although these small photographs were know as carte de visite (visiting cards) they were an excellent way for the photographers to advertise their service.

These photographs/business cards became so popular, that trading them with family and friends became know as "carte mania."

I have a poem about the CDV albums and collecting and sharing the photographs. I'll have to dig it out.



  1. Well Carole, I hope you manage to maintain your sanity because I have a total of 6 tintypes that have no names and it's really REALLY making me nutz! I just identified one of them (a couple) after close to 100 hours of study but it was only after I learned a few important facts about tintypes that I was able to know for sure. Three of the others have the cancelled tax stamps on the back narrowing the date down for me to 1864-1866. I am obsessed with knowing who these people are!!

  2. Hi Lisa - Drives me a little mad too! I do have the names of the photographers and their locations for six of the cardstocks. I love their artistic logos! Did you notice the camera and the painters pallete with brushes? I have done some research on them, but difficult to find much on photographers over 100+ years old. Time to go back and renew my search. Good luck!!

  3. Hi again Lisa - Please send me a message if and when you post your tintypes. OK?

  4. Carole...I will be glad to let you know when I post them! It was hard getting good shots of them because mine are encased in the thin brass frames and 4 of them have glass. I took one out of the frame to see if it would photograph better but I'm still not satisfied with the outcome. The neat thing about photographing them is once they were on the computer I was able to enlarge them and I saw that the woman had a photo brooch at her neck. It was turned sideways but you can definitely tell it is a picture of a man. I'm wondering if it is a photo of her first weird that would be since I'm certain this is her wedding photo with her second husband (my ancestor). Since the second husband was related to the first, maybe not so terribly weird but...still weird!

  5. Oh I love it! Untangling these family mysteries. Good point about photographing. I've scanned some of mine and then 'brightened' them up a little. That seems to work too. Cheers!