Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Phebe Eveline Reese, wife of James M. Miller

© Kathy Duncan, 2018

Phebe Eveline Reese, daughter of Solomon Reese and his first wife, was born about 4 June 1828 in Tennessee. She married James M. Miller on 24 Dec 1844 in Fayette County, Tennessee. James Monroe Miller was a native of Vermont.

She was either living with one of her sisters or an unknown relative in Fayette County, TN.

This tidbit about Jame Monroe Miller appears in an biography of his father:

“Their [ Thomas Miller and Harriet Moore] children were…James Monroe, a teacher, went south and married a lady in Tennessee;…Robert Dexter…Rev. Robert Dexter Miller…was principal of Purdy Academy in Tennessee, in 1849 and 1850.”

[Source: The Vermont Historical Gazetteer: A Magazine, Embracing a History of Each of Each Town edited by Abby Maria Hemenway]

The following entry in Solomon Reese’s estate settlement confirms the marriage of his daughter Phebe E. Reese to James M. Miller:

Cullen Sugg guar of minor heirs of Solomon Rees
- due Phebe Rees from Ellen Rees
- amt paid James M. Miller who enter married with Phebe Rees one
of the minor heirs of Solomon Reese including the $28.00 due from
John Rees and 82 cents due from Ellen Rees.
Dated 1846
[Source: Lincoln County, Tennessee; Guardian Settlements, 1836 – Dec. 1846, p. 277]

Census records of Phebe Eveline (Reese) and James M. Miller--

30 Oct 1850, Hardeman Co., TN, p. 146:

James M. Miller 31 M  Teacher b. VT
Everline  22 F  b. TN

27 July 1860, Dist. 8, Hardeman Co., TN, P.O. Boliver:

James M. Miller  40 M Teacher $320 - $400     VA
Phebe E.  32 F  TN
Robert D.  10 M  TN
Thomas M.  7 M   TN

9 August 1870, Civil Dist No. 8, Hardeman County, TN; P.O. Bolivar:

Miller, James M 52 M W Farmer $400 -$500 Farmer b. VT
---- Evalina 40 F W b. TN
---- Robert D. 20 M W b. TN
---- Thomas 18 M W b TN
---- Lavinia 7 F W b. TN

---- John W 3 M W b. TN

Phebe (Reese) Miller died on 9 June 1877 and is buried in the Pleasant Grove Methodist Church Cemetery in Bolivar, Hardeman County, Tennessee.

12 June 1880, Dist. 8, Hardeman County, Tennessee:

Miller, J M W M 61 School Teacher b. VT fb. VT mb. VT
---- T M W M 27 Son Laborer b. TN fb. VT mb. TN
---- Lavinia W F 17 Dau Keeping house b. TN fb. VT mb. TN

---- J W W M 12 son at home b. TN fb. VT mb. TN

This rare glimpse into the Millers' lives was offered by James M. Miller's brother Rev. Robert D. Miller:

“R.D. Miller
Writes the following interesting letter:

West Hartford, VT., July 30, 1881

General M. J. Wright,
Dear Sir: I commence writing in response to your kind request, that I would give you, for use in your proposed “Reminiscences of McNairy county, Tenn.,” a sketch of my own recollections of it.

My college course, in Amherst college, Mass., was completed in August, 1848 and “the world was all before me, where to choose my place of rest, and Providence my guide.” An elder brother of mine [James Monroe Miller] had been living in Tennessee and his P.O. address, the last time he sent us a letter, some years previous, was Hamburg-McNairy county. In September, that year, I started in search of him with the hope of finding him, and also some remunerative employment for myself. I need not relate the incidents of my romantic journeying and voyaging by stage, steamer, and railroad, till I reached the county named.

My stage ride from Memphis, mostly by night, was a hard one; and the driver left me, one night about one o’clock, at what he thought would be the most convenient point from which to reach Hamburg, a place away from the stage route.

Weary, hungry, and with but twenty-five cents left, I rapped at the door of a man, whose name was Phelps, and met with a cordial reception from him, his place being somewhere between Bolivar and Camden, I think. When I informed him that I was from Vermont, he said he was from Massachussets and that, whenever he met a man from that State, he welcomed him as a brother, and any one from any other New England State as a half-brother. He went to Tennessee as a clock peddler, found his wife there, and was raising up an interesting family of children. As I informed him of the object of my mission there, as that of first my brother, James M. Miller, he said he had seen “Jeems” Miller, and thought he was then teaching school not many miles off. His social friendliness cheered my drooping spirits greatly, and I got some good sleep the last part of the night. The next morning, after breakfast, he brought up two horses, which he and I mounted and rode away into places where I would have been utterly lost, alone; but, in an hour or two by inquiry at a log house to which we went,--a strange sight to me then—we learned that my lost brother was residing in that part of McNairy county, and teaching school there.

Mr. Phelps continued with me till we found the way improved, and he could direct me plainly, and then returned homeward with the horses, while I walked on, till I reached my brothers home, also a log house, apparently in the midst of an almost boundless forest!

…My brother, a feeble man bodily, intelligent, industrious, honest, patriotic, a planter and a school-teacher, a good number of years in that country, but now residing in Hardeman, doubtless has left the savor of a good name among his old neighbors there. In his quiet, unemotional way, he was always ready for every good word and work! Some of his children are natives of McNairy.

I found him not rich, and, of course, I soon began to feel that I must be looking for something to do. His impression was that the Purdy Academy was in want of a Principal. In a few weeks I was employed in so responsible a position…

…I am glad to learn from my nephew that Mr. [James] Warren’s sound sense and practical talent are still appreciated by the people and called into use.”
[Source: Reminiscences of the Early Settlement and Early Settlements and Early Settlers of McNairy County edited by Marcus Joseph Wright]

Solomon Reese Estate Settlement Notes


  1. Well, dayum! I am the daughter of Wesley Miller who is the son of Oscar Wilde Miller, who is the son of Robert Dexter Miller, who is either the son of Robert Dexter Miller of Vermont OR the son of Jame Munroe Miller (named him after his brother). It's hard to tell if the right reverend left his seed in Purdy County along with his reminicenses and his brother or if his brother was my actual great great. I'll follow along here. Maybe you know more about the McNairy County part of my waaay past than I do. ;)

    1. Susan - I hadn't tried to follow R.D. Miller beyond the 1870 census until this morning...but it looks to me like your Oscar Miller is the son of Robert D. Miller who was the son of James Munroe and Phebe Eveline (Reese) Miller! The elder Vermont Robert Dexter Miller returned to Vermont and raised his family there. Have you looked at the Vermont Historical Gazetteer? It is loaded with information on the family of James Munroe Miller and Robert Dexter Miller. As for McNairy County, they appear to have been there very briefly. Information might surface there, but I'd think the bulk of your information should turn up in Hardeman County, TN. Plus, McNairy is almost a scorched earth county. I just had a major breakthrough on of the my other lines and unfortunately for me the bulk of the records I would love to see were burned during the Civil War. Almost everything before 1861 went up in smoke. Sigh. What is left can be accessed through FamilySearch.org at an affiliate library. But I digress. The really important thing here is that you are one of my Reese cousins! Yeah! Our Reese children need a mother (a first wife to Solomon Reese). I've been looking for her for years. Now that I look at it, the font in this post is really annoying... We need to stay in touch.


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