For the past 1 1/2 - 2 years, I have been working on
gathering information and pictures on the family of Charles
Stuart and Mary McGowan Miller. I am not a descendent, but, I am
a husband to one and a father to five who are.
Charles and Mary must have been incredible people. Their
story and the stories of their children have fascinated me
enough to spend a fair amount of time tracing their descendants
in order to put together as much information as I could find.
I do want to try and put together a few things that help to
enhance what went on with this family. Several of their children
have written somewhat concerning their parents. I am just going
to reprint what the children have written of their own lives.
I do want to mention, it is almost unbelievable that a man
and woman could think of giving up everything in their homeland
and take 11 children to a desert thousands of miles away.
In several of the children's histories, they mention the
death, due to cholera, of their parents and two of their
brothers within 12 days. William the 22nd of June, Mary, mother,
the 27th of June, Archibald, the 29th of June, and Charles, the
father, the 4th of July 1849. What a blow this must have been to
the whole family. (John's history said 9 days).
It appears that none of the older children were married
except maybe Mary. Mary was the oldest and was 23. David was 21.
James was 19. It fell to their lot to become the guardians of
their younger siblings. The other children's ages were Margaret
13, Agnes 11, Janet 9, Elizabeth 6, Ellen 4, and John was 2 1/2.
I gather from reading their histories that they kept in good
touch with one another over the years, even through they lived
in many cases many miles apart.
Written by: Gary Lee Anderson
Charles Stewart Miller, son of David and Margaret Elizabeth Stewart Miller, was born at Old Craighall
(village) in Inveresk (parish), Midlothianshire, Scotland, near Edinburgh. He married Mary McGowan in 1824,
and they had 11 children. The 1841 census shows them living in Rutherglen, Lanarkshire, Scotland, on Main
Street. Charles, 35, and his sons David, 13, James, 11, and William, 9, were all listed as coal miners.
Wife Mary's age was 35, daughter Mary, 15, son Archibald, 7, daughter Margaret, 5, daughter Agnes, 3, and
daughter Jean (Jane), 1. They would have three more children after 1841: Elizabeth, Helen "Ellen", and John.
Charles and family were converted to the LDS (Mormon) Church in 1846 at Rutherglen, Scotland. They came to
America in 1848 on the ship "Carnatic" under the leadership of Elder Franklin D. Richards, sailing from Liverpool
Feb. 20, 1848, and arriving at New Orleans Apr. 20, 1848. When emigration to "Zion" was re-instated following
the murder of the Prophet Joseph Smith in 1844, this was the first ship of LDS converts from Scotland to sail.
The Perpetual Emigration Fund had not yet been established, so they had to pay their way up front. After landing
in America, most of the immigrants found work in the midwest for a year or more, in order to fund the remainder
of their journey to Utah. Tragically, Charles, 44, his wife Mary, 46, and their sons William, 17, and Archibald,
15, died in the great cholera epidemic in St. Louis, Missouri, in the summer of 1849. When the epidemic struck,
the Millers were living in Gravois (a suburb southwest of St. Louis city).....sometimes mistakenly called "Grovie".
A poem written in 1849 by John Russel, a teacher in the doomed district, includes the Miller family's names and
ages---see "A Mournful Elegy on the Unfortunate Victims Who Fell Sacrifices to the Ravages of That Fell Destroyer,
the Asiatic Cholera, at the Gravois Coal Diggings, Near St. Louis, Mo., June and July, 1849". More than 6,000
people (one-tenth of the city's population) died in the St. Louis area, hundreds of them in Gravois.
A descendant, Thomas S. Monson, said in LDS General Conference in 2005 and 2008, "Because of all the deaths
in the area, there were no caskets available--at any price. The older surviving [Miller] boys dismantled the family's
oxen pens in order to make crude caskets for the family members who had passed away."
Charles, Mary, William, and Archibald Miller were almost certainly buried in a German Cemetery then called
"Picker's Cemetery" or "Holy Ghost Evangelical & Reformed Cemetery" on Gravois Road, where most victims of the
1849 cholera epidemic in the Gravois area were buried. It is now within the St. Louis City limits, but in 1849
was outside the city. It was called Picker's because Frederick Picker was the minister who founded it in 1845.
The last burial was in 1901, but in 1862 "New Picker" cemetery (formally called The Independent Evangelical
Protestant Cemetery but always more familiarly known by its nickname) was opened about 4 miles to the southwest,
at 7212 Gravois Road, and over the years many burials from the old site were moved there (the last in 1916).
This "New Picker" became the present "Old Picker's" (Holy Ghost Evangelical & Reformed Cemetery) when a newer
"New Picker" (now known as Gatewood Gardens) cemetery was opened on the other side of Gravois Road (7133 Gravois Road).
The former site of "Old Picker's" became known as "Old Old Picker's". After 1916, buildings and houses were
constructed at the site. Either it was thought that all human remains had been moved, or else no one cared.
Many graves are still at the location, covered over.
From Greg Myers: "OLD Old Picker Cemetery, also called Picott Cemetery (Piggott, Old Picotte, Vickert, Old
Picker, German Evangelical Cemetery), is long gone. Operated from 1845 to 1898, it used to be where Roosevelt
High School now is (Gravois & Compton & Wyoming up to about Arsenal & Compton over to Louisiana & Arsenal and
down to Louisiana and Wyoming). Some bodies were moved to "NEW" (Old) Picker, others to other places, and some
were left in place. He says: "I went to Roosevelt High School, and once in awhile a human bone would surface in
the football field over the years and also in some of the backyards of houses along Arsenal, I guess from the
pressure of the activity and games above the remains, which worked them upward over the years. Most headstones
were destroyed and used for foundations, etc."
How very sad that these graves were desecrated.