The Millers’ Tale: Part Two

The last post, Part One, detailed the Miller family associated with Carl Mach and his wife, Sophia.  In this post, I will detail my own Miller family – and their connections to Mach and his family.

My great-grandmother, Elżbieta or Elizabeth Miller, was born on 19 November 1890 – presumably in Żyrardów although the actual record has not yet been found.  She immigrated to the U.S. on 16 April 1909 aboard the SS President Grant sailing from Hamburg to New York.  The passenger arrival record indicates that she is meeting her brother, Emil Miller, who lives on 2512 Palethorp Street in Philadelphia.

eliz_nameBefore doing any actual research, I had been told some basic facts about Elizabeth and her family.  I knew that she had a brother, name unknown, with a wife, Sophie, and 3-4 children, some born in Philadelphia.  Before WWI, the brother’s family returned to Poland and was not able to come when World War I began.  Her brother died there, as well as one of his daughters.  After the war was over, Sophie eventually returned to the US (she was called Aunt Miller by her nephew, my grandfather).  Their son also returned – Edward, who was born here.  Another daughter – or possibly two daughters – remained in Poland, married, and had children – Andre and Wanda.  Edward was married to Bella, and possibly moved to Chicago.  Elizabeth had a “large family” with brothers in New York.  Sure, let’s search for some Miller boys in New York City – that ought to be easy!  But I was later amazed to verify at least some of this information.

I knew that Emil was here before his sister Elizabeth, and I found a passenger arrival record showing Emil arriving on 13 July 1905 in New York, sailing on the SS Pennsylvania from Hamburg.  Much to my surprise, the relative he is going to is none other than Mr. Carl Mach, who is listed as his brother-in-law and lives at 2518 or 2519 N. Palethorp Street.  While this seems to imply that Emil is the brother of Sophia Miller Mach (and therefore Elizabeth is her sister), my research only had more questions – the biggest of which involves the name of their mother.

Emil lists himself as Carl’s brother-in-law; however, if Kathalina is really Sophia’s mother, then, at least according to the 1910 census, she has four children still living.  If Sophia, Charles, and John are her children, that leaves room for only one other…and if Emil and Elizabeth are brother and sister, then the math doesn’t quite work out.  Plus, according to Elizabeth in various records including her social security application, her mother’s name is Elizabeth, not Kathalina or Karolina, and her father is John, not Carl.  I would argue that they may be half siblings with different mothers, but Elizabeth is younger than the others and Kathalina/Karolina, presumably the first wife, is still alive.  Instead, I think Elizabeth and Emil are related to the other Miller’s, but as cousins or aunts/uncles.

First, is this Emil on the arrival record Elizabeth’s brother?  Based on age, location, and destination, it is likely.  Elizabeth’s brother Emil is listed on both her arrival record in 1909 and on her marriage record in 1910 as a witness.  While I have no record that lists Emil’s parents’ names, Elizabeth’s SS application lists her father as John Miller and her mother as Elizabeth Smetana.  This is confirmed on her marriage record as well.  Her 1909 arrival record verifies that her father, Jan (or John), is still alive and living in Żyrardów.

Sophie Miller Mach’s records show a father’s name of Carl Miller and a mother named Katharina (per 1910 census – though difficult to read) or Karolina (per her death certificate, filled out by her husband).  So, how is Emil the brother of Sophie Mach?

In 1905, Emil’s wife and daughter, both named Sophia, arrive in the US.  The elder Sophia is 20 years old, last residence Warsaw (the closest large city to Żyrardów), and is joining her husband Emil Miller at 2518 Palethorp Street.  The daughter Sophia is 11 months old.  Note that this is the address where the Mach family is living at this time.

On the 1910 census, Emil and Sophia are living at 2512 Palethorp Street in Philadelphia.  In addition to Sophia, who is now 5 years old, they have two children born in Pennsylvania: Edward, age 3, and Helena, age 1 and 3 months.  Living with the family are two boarders, Joseph Swoboda and A. Witkowski.  Joseph Swoboda is Carl Mach’s brother-in-law, which shows yet another connection to the Mach family, who is living only three doors away on Palethorp Street at #2518.

I also found a passenger arrival record listing Emil Miller on Palethorp Street as a “brother-in-law” – but I had never heard of this individual!  Anna Trepke, age 20, arrived in Philadelphia aboard the SS Merion on 11 May 1910.  Her last residence was Żyrardów.  She is listed as single – if this is accurate, she may be Sophia Miller’s sister.  If she was the wife of Emil’s brother, her last name would be Miller.  Interestingly, Anna does not stay in the United States very long.  I found her on a list of incoming passengers to the U.K. later that year.

But Anna was not the only person to return to the home country. While the US did not retain outgoing passenger lists to track immigrants returning to the home country, I was actually able to confirm the family story that Emil and his family returned to Poland using records from the Russian Consular Office in Philadelphia.  These records, available through the National Archives and Records Administration, show an application for passport or visa in Russian for Emil Muller and his family.  While the date is not specific, they are filed in 1910 – presumably after Elizabeth’s marriage on 25 August.  Why did Emil return to Żyrardów?  My theory is that perhaps his father or other family member either died or was dying, but I have not been able to confirm this.  It is noted that Carl and Sophie Mach also return to Żyrardów – was it for the same reason?

I searched for the return records.  There is an arrival for Edward A. Miller returning to New York on 30 May 1927.  Is this the son of Emil and Sophia?  The list specifically names him as “Edward Arthur Miller” with a birth date of 09 February 1907 in Philadelphia; Edward was born in February 1907, but I do not have a record of Arthur as a middle name (I have not looked up his birth or baptismal record).  Even so, this Edward Miller lists 2958 Lawrence Avenue in Philadelphia as his destination – the same address as the Mach family!

On the left is Sophia Miller, known as "Aunt Miller", around 1947.  With her are Elizabeth Miller's husband, Louis Pater, and Mae Zawodna, the wife of their son Henry.

On the left is Sophia Miller, known as "Aunt Miller", around 1947. With her are Elizabeth Miller's husband, Louis Pater, and Mae Zawodna, the wife of their son Henry.

Sophia Miller, age 44 and widowed, returns from Żyrardów on 14 August 1929.  Her destination was to her son Edward on the 2500 block of Hope Street.  Remember Joseph Pater and how this story all began?  This is his house.  The only relationship between them, at least that I can figure out, is that Sophia and Edward are the sister-in-law and nephew of his daughter-in-law, Elizabeth Miller Pater.  This seems to corroborate the family story as told by my grandfather that Sophia’s husband and two children, including one that was born in the U.S., did not return here.

As far as the rest of the story about this family moving to Chicago, I did find a death record for Sophie Miller in December, 1962.  I have not yet found more information on her son Edward or the family that stayed behind in Poland.

The final post in The Millers’ Tale, Part Three, will discuss yet another Miller family and come to some conclusions.

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