Obituary, found in the Daughters of Utah Pioneers Museum's file for pioneer John
Miller. Unfortunately the clipping didn't include the newspaper's name nor the date
it was published (1939)
OX-CART PIONEER LIVED 89 YEARS IN Utah
"Final respects to John Miller, 93, participant in most of Utah's early history and an Indian
war veteran, will be paid at funeral services in the Thirtieth Ward Chapel, 1068 Jefferson Street
tomorrow at 2 p.m. Bishop Oswald C. Hardman will be in charge. Friends may call at the family
residence, 950 Washington Street, tomorrow from 10 a.m. until 1:30 p.m. Pallbearers will be
six great-grandsons of Mr. Miller. Interment will be in City Cemetery.
"He was left an orphan at the age of two when his parents died while crossing the plains on
their way to Utah. Two brothers of the family of 11 children and parents who left Scotland for
Utah in 1848, also died. With the other surviving eight children, Mr. Miller, the youngest, came
to Utah in an ox cart in 1850. He often related the trials of his childhood life when he walked
barefoot from Riverdale to Beaver to get food, and how he ate wild sego lily bulbs, red roots
and thistle greens when no other food was available. He also told how, when he was a young man,
he worked making adobes to get wheat and corn to eat.
"Later, he was a contractor, excavating foundations for some of the first buildings to be build
in Salt Lake. He was also an Indian war veteran of the Blackhawk campaign.
"In Mr. Miller's life of 89 years in Salt Lake Valley, he had grown up with transportation
facilities of the West. He drove ox team, horses, rode in the first trains to cross the plains,
and also had ridden in a modern transport plane.
"He was born in Ruther Glen, Scotland, Nov. 22, 1846, a son of Charles S. and Mary McGowan
Miller. His wife, Mary Emily Priday, whom he married May 15, 1868 in the Salt Lake Endowment
House, died March 21, 1924. From this union, 10 children were born:
"Surviving Mr. Miller are six children: Charles John Miller of Ogden, William James Miller of
Salt Lake, Thomas S. P. Miller of St. George, Mrs. W. W. Mosby of Cheyenne, Wyo., Mrs. W. H. Woodring
and Mrs. C. J. Underwood, both of Salt Lake; also 16 grandchildren, 40 great-grandchildren and
eight great-great grandchildren."
HISTORY OF JOHN MILLER
Written October 13, 1930, by Zelda Howard
I was born in 1846 in the town of Ruther Glen, Scotland on
November 22nd, and came to the United States in the Spring of 1848.
A family of 13, including my father and mother. Mary McGowan Miller
was my mother. My father was Charles Stewart Miller, and while at
St. Louis at the time of the big Cholera plague, my mother, my
father and two brothers, William and Archibald, died and were taken
out of the house during the interval of nine days. There weren't
caskets enough, they couldn't be bought at any price, and my brother
went out and pulled down one of the oxen-pens, then sawed and nailed
the boards together. They wrapped my father in a blanket, placed him
in the rough box and buried him. (Father was the last of the four to
die.) And he was happy to go, for after mother died he said he had
nothing to live for. He thought that much of her.
We were nine orphans and came into Utah valley in the autumn of 1850.
My married sister was good to us, and sort of filled the place of our
My father and brothers had been coal miners at the Gravi Diggings,
3 miles outside of St. Louis. My brother hauled coal to the Mississippi
River and loaded it into the boats for $3.00 a ton. It was a hard work
and scanty pay.
We left St. Louis in the spring with the same four faithful oxen that
hauled the coal. We all came in one wagon, eleven of us including my
sister's husband, Robert Easton and his daughter (by a former marriage).
The Family of Miller was:
I was the youngest of this large family
The first house we lived in was in the First Ward and it was built of
adobe. The rafters or the ridge-poles were of red pine and it was a dirt
roof. In a heavy rain when the poles began to crack, we would all run out
and jump into the wagon box.
At one time my sister Mary carried to me a bowl of corn-meal mush, told
me to wait a few minutes, till she brought the milk. I was so hungry I
devoured the mush long before she returned with the milk for it.
In 1851, we moved down into the Sixth Ward. The first piece of work we
accomplished was the making of the adobe-brick. I remember I was just big
enough to turn up the adobes. These we traded for food products such as wheat,
corn and occasionally store goods. In and all, during the fifties, we made
adobes and (got-out) wood, great loads of it, from the canyon for burning.
Upon this depended our fuel. In 1855, came the grass hopper war. A terrible
fear swept through the hearts of the people as these pests ate up the crops.
A friend of ours, David Love, (an adobe maker) had two city lots which he
sowed into wheat. My brother and I got permission to glean it after the crop
had been harvested. We took 3 sacks of heads home and thrashed them upon a
wagon cover with a flail. (A flail is two sticks riveted together, one
revolves in the other.) Then we fanned it with the help of the wind.
We had a yoke of cattle in the wagon and you can bet we lost no time in
taking it down to Old Chase's Mill (now Liberty Park), and while it was being
ground, we borrowed a baking of "shortw", which was a pan of biscuits. One
of Brigham Young's wives baked them and they were the sweetest biscuits I
ever tasted. We would have devoured another pan full if we could have gotten
The same fall of 1855, we went to Cedar City, (270 miles South of this
city), with these same cattle. My brother, my sister Jane, and I for the
purpose of wintering, because there was nothing here to eat. Three of my
sisters were already living in Cedar City. Elizabeth and Margaret
remained here in Salt Lake City.
My brother-in-law, Robert Easton, had raised some corn, squash and wheat;
a few pigs and we wintered with them. One could stand in the door yard and
watch the coyotes play under the cedars in the moon light, not a mile away.
They were many in number and the night was filled with their howling until
we could not sleep. Three or four of them could make noise that sounded like a
hundred or more.
Just before we reached Cedar City, at Christmas time, my sister had saved
a water melon. She had kept it for us all that time. It was a wonderful melon,
and what good sisters they were; all dead they are now, all gone, but me.
The neighbor living next to them (James Farrow), went to the canyon for a
load of logs, and his wife being afraid to stay alone, went over to a Mrs.
McConnell. They were awakened by a coyote in the chicken coop, they ran out
to merely frighten the thief away. Mrs. Farrow entered the coop first, and
the coyote sprang at her throat. Mr. McConnell came with his ax, rushed into
the coop and at the coyote, cutting and hacking the beast until he had cut
off it's head. The unfortunate Mrs. Farrow for some days complained of her
throat being sore, and then the dreaded hydrophobia set in. They were forced to
rope the poor woman down upon the floor, for she howled like the animal that
had bit her; all the while snapping, snarling and frothing at the mouth.
Toward the last she kept pleading with her husband to just come and kiss her,
but when he went near her she would snap and snarl at him. Several hours later,
she died. It was such a pitiful sight. My sister told me all about it. Upon
a shelf some few feet away, were piled some onions which turned black as
coal and rotted from the poison that came from her breath.