several books on genealogy in early 2007 I began to do some research on the Internet. I found that my wife’s
paternal ancestors had been in the USA almost since the pilgrims came here. There are a large number of descendants, unless
one restricts the genealogy to a single line, which is what I've done. I also found that
her Great-Great-Great Grandfather John Miller had served in the Revolutionary War.
Miller was John Miller's daughter by his second wife, Mary Eaton. Elizabeth married Jacob Vandegrift at the age of 15
in 1807. Jacob Vandegrift died in 1821 when he was only 36. They had 7 children, including Elizabeth,
who was born 3 months after Jacob's death. John Miller Vandegrift was the oldest child. Jacob’s widow, Elizabeth, remarried
around 1827 to George Bisbing & had several additional children. According to the book about Fannie Vandegrift Stevenson
(Sanchez, p. 5), George was not very nice to his stepchildren & several of them ran away. One ended up in Kentucky.
John Miller Vandegrift was old enough to be on his own & isn’t mentioned in the book.
Miller Vandegrift married Mary Worn in 1831. Genealogy
books state that the 1840's were a time of movement across the USA & John Miller Vandegrift
typified this since his second child, William, was born in New York in 1836, while Amanda (1832), Elizabeth (1838), Thomas H. B. (1840) & Mary (1842) were born in Pennsylvania. Charles (1847) & John Miller
Vandegrift Jr. (1849) were born in Wilmington, Delaware. Virginia (1853) & Clara (1855) were born in Indianapolis. Phillip
was born in Minnesota around 1856 but died in infancy. John Miller Vandegrift & family probably stayed with his brother
Jacob in Indianapolis while saving for his move to Minnesota. Jacob was the father of Fannie Vandegrift who married Robert
Louis Stevenson, the famous writer. John Miller Vandegrift moved to Red Rock Township, Mower County, Minnesota in 1856 & farmed there until he died in 1875.
the Civil War began, John Miller Vandegrift’s son Thomas joined the Union army in 1862 & was in several battles
before being captured. He was fortunate to survive his 6-month imprisonment at Andersonville, where half the prisoners died.
According to Thomas (p. 61), John Miller Vandegrift was given the sword of John Miller, & he gave it to Thomas
Vandegrift after his return from the Civil War. Thomas later gave it to his adopted son, William.
Miller Vandegrift Jr. took over the family farm after his father’s death & expanded it. He didn’t marry until
he was in his 40’s but made up for lost time by fathering 9 children in the next 20 years. His life spanned encountering
wild animals & Indians as a child to the big changes that accompanied inventions like the telephone, radio, automobiles
& airplanes. His eldest sons, John Miller III & Thomas, served in the army during WWI. His youngest son, Sumner, served
Howard Vandegrift, my wife’s father, told a lot of stories about the old days when he was growing up. His father had
an icehouse & cut ice from the Cedar River. Howard said that they had ice for most of he summer & were able to make
ice cream, etc. Howard had four daughters. Elaine, my wife, remembers a lot of stories that her father told about growing
up in the early 1900’s. She asked how they got around in the winter when snow covered the road & Howard said that
they just had the horses ride in the ditches.
is a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution, Elder William Brewster Chapter, Freeport, IL.
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