In men whom men condemn as
The bravest battle that
ever was fought;
Cincinnatus Miller was born 8 September 1837 in Union County, Indiana on the farm of his grandparents, John Daniel and Elizabeth (Fall) Witt. The Witt family lived just north of Liberty in Harrison Township.
Cincinnatus was the second of what would be five children. His father was Hulings Miller, a Quaker school teacher of Scottish decent. He had come from Cincinnati to Union county, where he met and married Margaret Witt. His brother John Daniel was older.
He was named Cincinnatus Hiner Miller, but his parents called him Nat. In latter years he was called the "Poet of the Sierras" and the "Byron of the Rockies." On the other hand, he was also termed a "poseur" and a "farce". Ambrose Bierce, called him "The greatest liar this country has ever produced."
In his defense, Miller said "I'm not a liar. I simply exaggerate the truth."
He was named Cincinnatus because his father was born in Cincinnati Ohio - he was not named after the Roman General, as he was fond of telling.
His middle name was Hiner; for a Doctor who attended his birth. He claimed his middle name was Heine, after a famous Geman Poet.
Miller, who was always interested in embellishing the truth and making a mundane story fascinating, would spin a tale about being an "accidental" Hoosier. He would tell listeners that he had been born in a covered wagon as it was crossing from Ohio into Indiana.
Biographers have always been left to wonder what was the truth and what was Joaquin Miller's fertile imagination. The marker in Union County records his birth as 10 March 1841. When asked about the correct date, Mr. Miller would hedge on an answer. Those that knew him claimed he wished to remain a "youthful" poet; he would tell people that the variation in dates came from "the loss of the Bible....Papa gave the former year (1841) according to his recollection of the trivial event...."
Hulings Miller and family remained in Union County for "a spell". They lived with his in-laws and he worked as a teacher and storekeeper, however he did not excel in either occupation.
The family soon left Union County and moved farther north and west into Indiana where two more children were born. Finally in 1852 the Miller family left Indiana for the Oregon Territory, arriving seven months and five days later and settling on a farm in the Willamette Valley. One story was told of a young Nat Miller who, along with a friend, took to rolling a rock down a cliff and injured a neighbor’s cow.
When Hiner (as he was now called) was seventeen, he set out for California during the early Gold Rush. He worked as a ranch hand, cook, odd-job man and a miner.
Deciding to become "native" and live with the Indians, Miller became a "squaw man," siring a daughter with his Indian paramour, Paquita. Their child was called Cali-Shasta, which means lily of Shasta. Paquita and other tribes women called Miller "Bo-Bo", which alluded to his foolish qualities.
Miller always maintained he was wounded by an arrow at the Battle of Castle Crags, though none of the combatants remembered his presence, bleeding or otherwise. For the rest of his life, Miller attributed various ailments to assorted Indian battles, though his tales tended to change with different audiences and he would occasionally limp with the wrong foot. Imitating his hero, Lord Byron, may have been another explanation for the limp.
He was also reputed for have the worst handwriting of any man alive. It is believed that he helped name the state of Idaho by writing about Shoshone in 1860 whose name was "E-duh-how". The word IDAHO has no other origin.
Trouble with the law seemed to follow him. In one case he was accused of being a renegade and fighting alongside and not against the Indians. The second offense came when he made off with a horse or two, after he wasn't paid for his work as a cowhand.
Horse thieves were generally hung in those days, which prompted Miller to escape quickly. As usual, there is conflicting testimony on how this was done. Miller said Paquita slipped him a saw, but others state that his jail mate engineered his breakout. The fledgling poet also claimed that Paquita died heroically in saving him, but somehow revived and lived for another fifty years.
Regardless, Miller returned again to Oregon where his lack of legal education and official status as a fugitive didn't stop him from becoming a lawyer...or claiming he was a lawyer.
He did attended Columbia College for a few months and received a degree, however the University burned to ground, his student records with it. Along with his story about being class valedictorian.
He once again took a job of school teacher until gold was discovered on the border of Idaho and Montana. Hiner and two of his brother joined the rush of miners and soon were in the Gold Fields, however he soon tired of mining and became a partner in a pony express line. Despite the dangers, he earned enough money to allow him to purchase and publish a newspaper. Unfortunately, his views were so pro-Southern, the newspaper was suppressed by military order.
After a brief and unsuccessful attempt to crack the literary set in San Francisco, he and his common law wife went back to Oregon.
Miller practiced law again and got elected a judge on the Democratic ticket. He insisted at times upon reading his poetry out loud from the bench, which annoyed both the defense and prosecution. Needless to say, he was not elected for a second term.
Miller corresponded with another poet whose pen name was Minnie Myrtle. October 1862, Miller made a trip to meet the woman behind Minnie Myrtle, Miss Theresa Dyer. He fell in love with her and after a brief courtship of three days, married her on the 12th. He worked as a journalist in Eugene, Oregon and in 1863 moved to Canyon City where he set up in the practice of law, evidently with some success, since he was appointed judge. The couple had three children; Maud, George Brick, and Hal. Eventually the marriage fell apart and ended in divorce in 1869. Minnie Myrtle supported herself and Millers’ children by lecturing on their failed marriage.
His first Book "Specimens" was published in Oregon in 1868. In 1873 He published "Life among the Modocs". His passion for the Native American was expressed in the following:
"Who tells the tale when the Indian falls, or who tells his side of the
story? A hundred Indians are killed in cold blood by the settlers, and the
affair is never heard of outside of the county where it occurs.
If we wish for justice, let us, at least, try to be just. If we do wrong it seems to me to take half the sin away to be brave enough to admit it. At all events, it shows that if we have a great sin we also have one virtue - Valour! Killed by the Indians? Yes, many good men have been killed by the Indians with cause and without cause. Many good men have died of fever. I think a man is about as likely to die a natural death in New York, New Orleans, or any other city, if he remains there as he is likely to be killed by the Indians, should he travel or remain amongst them."
It was at that point Miller determined to devote himself entirely to his poems. It was after his moved to San Francisco in 1870 that he adopted the name JOAQUIN. The name Joaquin came from the legendary California bandit, Joaquin Murietta
With success of his first book "Son of the Sierras" under his belt he took off for England where he was received and called "The American Byron". It was his self published book "Pacific Poems" that made Joaquin Miller an overnight success.
Always the dramatist, Miller dressed the part of the English idea of an American Frontiersman with a broad rimmed hat, flowing beard and hair, red shirt and loose tie. He also spouted outfits such as a sombrero, flaming red shirt, blue polka dot bandana, high-heeled boots, and a riding quirt.
Limping around London as the consummate Westerner, he got so excited by his own poetry, he wound up once on the floor biting the ankles of aristocrats. But he knew what he was doing, later declaring: "It helps sell the poems, boys, and it tickles the duchesses." He was reputed for teaching "Buffalo" Bill how to dress for his wild west show.
He would recite his poetry with a booming voice and dramatic gestures that made him popular among the London Hostesses.
In 1871 he returned from Europe and settled in Oakland. His Father died in a farm accident and his widowed mother make her home with him. Joaquin continued to write and to travel, his success assured him a comfortable lifestyle.
In 1879 he married Miss Abigail Leland of New York City; they made their home on Long Island where their daughter Juanita was born. The call and poetic inspiration of the west was like a siren to him and in 1886 he returned to California and built a home called "The Hights" in Oakland. Friends said he went a bit man while living at the Hights. He would recite "Mary Had A little Lamb" to servants proclaiming it perfect poetry. He also told a friend "I'm deeply religious when I'm drunk, and when by accident I am deeply religious without being drunk, it's a sign I need a drink."
When gold was discovered in the Klondike, he secured a job as a correspondent for the San Francisco Examiner and went in search of adventure and gold. His wanderlust and thirst for adventure took him from the cold north, to the mysterious China and back to California. Cincinnatus Hiner Joaquin Miller died at the Hights 17 February 1913. He built his own Funeral pyre on a huge rock near the Pacific Ocean; cut and dried the wood to cremate his body and leave the ashes to be drawn to the sea...
The following is taken from Fahl - Fall and allied families by Mrs. Glenn Curtis.
The Mercier Co.; Ottumwa, Iowa, 1961
Cincinnatus Hiner (Joaquin) Miller b. Union County Indiana 11-10-1841 (sic) d in his home "The Heights" Oakland, Cal 2-17-1913. He built his own Funeral pyre on a huge rock near the Pacific Ocean; cut and dried the wood to cremate his body and leave the ashes to be drawn to the sea....
He loved to be different than other people and always crated quite a sensation. He wore a watch chain or fog chain with a gold nugget as a charm. In his pocket he carried a piece of gold quartz valued at $350. His biography is in Who was Who....
Genealogy of Cincinnatus Hiner Miller
1.Daniel MILLER. He married Elizabeth BEELER.
Child of Daniel MILLER and Elizabeth BEELER is:
2.1Henry MILLER was born About. 1747 in , Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, and
Died OCT 1819 in , Wayne County, Indiana.
He was buried in Richland Cemetery, Union County, Indiana.
2.1 Henry MILLER (Daniel MILLER1) He married Catherine ELY 31 OCT 1770 in First Reformed Church, Lancaster County, Pennsylvania.
She was the daughter of Adam ELI and was born About. 1750 in Virginia, and died 10 SEP 1841 in , Union County, Indiana.
She was buried in Richland Cemetery, Union County, Indiana.
Children of Henry MILLER and Catherine ELY are:
1.2.1 John MILLER was born 8 AUG 1771 in , Lancaster County, Pennsylvania,
Died 1821 in , Union County, Indiana.
2.2.1. Christian Christopher Chrisley MILLER was born 1773 in Virginia, and died MAY 1818 in , Wayne County, Indiana.
3.2.1. Henry MILLER was born 1775, and died 27 SEP 1829 in , Union County, Indiana.
4.2.1. Daniel MILLER was born 17 JUN 1779 in Carter, , Tennessee, and died 2 DEC 1843 in , Rush County, Indiana.
5.2.1. Jacob MILLER was born 1780, and died 1 SEP 1822 in , Union County, Indiana.
6.2.1. Magdalena MILLER was born 1783 in , Washington, Virginia, and died in , Union, Indiana.
7.2.1. Peter MILLER was born 5 MAR 1790 in Indiana, and died 1838 in , La Porte County, Indiana.
8.2.1. Elizabeth Betsy MILLER was born BEF. 1795.
4.2.1. Daniel MILLER (Henry MILLER2, Daniel MILLER1) was born 17 JUN 1779 in Carter, , Tennessee, and died 2 DEC 1843 in , Rush County, Indiana. He was buried in Richland Cemetery, Union County, Indiana. He married Elizabeth PETRY 1802 in Carter, , Tennessee. She was born About. 1780, and died 12 APR 1857 in , Union County, Indiana. She was buried in Richland Cemetery, Union County, Indiana.
Children of Daniel MILLER and Elizabeth PETRY are:
188.8.131.52.Eva MILLER was born 29 APR 1800 in Union Twp., , Indiana, and died 23 MAY 1892 in Wills Twp., La Port County, Indiana. She married David SNIDER 21 OCT 1817 in , Wayne County, Indiana, son of Michael SNIDER and Eve ELI. He was born 30 NOV 1797 in , Lee County, Virginia, and died 7 NOV 1876 in Wills Twp., La Port County, Indiana.
184.108.40.206.Henry MILLER was born 2 MAR 1802 in Carter, , Tennessee, and died 25 JUN 1882 in , Wells County, Indiana. He married Catherine SEEK 15 APR 1823 in , Union County, Indiana, daughter of John SEEK and Mary SHAFFER. She was born 10 JUN 1801 in Virginia, and died 1 AUG 1877.
220.127.116.11.Catherine MILLER was born 16 DEC 1803 in Carter, Tennessee, and died 7 JUN 1887 in , Union County, Indiana. She married Isaac SNIDER, son of Michael SNIDER and Eve ELI. He was born 11 MAR 1802 in , Lee County, Virginia, and died 20 MAY 1868 in , Union County, Indiana.
18.104.22.168.Jacob MILLER was born About. 1805 in Venapee, Virginia. He married Ann ZIMMERLY 30 SEP 1830 in , Rush County, Indiana.
22.214.171.124.Simon MILLER was born About. 1810 in , Wayne County, Indiana. He married Sarah EARLYWINE 5 DEC 1833 in , Rush County, Indiana, daughter of Jacob EARLYWINE and Catherine SIVERT. She was born About. 1815 in Marshall, Virginia.
126.96.36.199.Hulen MILLER was born About. 1815 in Of, Cincinnati, Hamilton County, Indiana, and died BEF. 1876 in Prob., Willamette, Valley, Oregon.
188.8.131.52.Hester Ann MILLER was born About. 1817 in , Union County, Indiana. She married Orville S. MCGINNIS, son of Samuel MCGINNIS and Sarah EARLYWINE. He was born About. 1823 in , Bourbon County, Kentucky, and died About. 1892. She married William C. MCGINNIS, son of Samuel MCGINNIS and Sarah EARLYWINE. He was born 7 JUL 1817 in , Bourbon County, Kentucky, and died 31 AUG 1864.
184.108.40.206. William MILLER was born About. 1819 in , Union County, Indiana.
220.127.116.11. Martha MILLER was born 1827 in , Rush County, Indiana.
18.104.22.168.Hulen MILLER (Daniel MILLER3, Henry MILLER2, Daniel MILLER1) was born About. 1815 in Of, Cincinnati, Hamilton County, Indiana, and died BEF. 1876 in Prob., Willamette, Valley, Oregon. He married Margaret WITT 3 JAN 1836 in , Union County, Indiana, daughter of John Daniel WITT and Elizabeth FALL. She was born 12 APR 1816 in Winchester, Adams County, Ohio, and died AFT. 1887 in Oakland, California.
Children of Hulen MILLER and Margaret WITT are:
22.214.171.124.1. John Daniel MILLER was born 1837 in Union, Indiana, and died About. 1878. He married Louisa SCHENLE 23 DEC 1867 in , Marion County, Oregon.
126.96.36.199.1.Cincinnatus Heine "Joaquin" MILLER was born 8 SEP 1837 in Liberty, Union, Indiana, and died 13 FEB 1913 in California.
188.8.131.52.1. James Henry MILLER was born 1842 in Union, Indiana.
184.108.40.206.1. Ella Sarah MILLER was born 1849 in , Union County, Indiana, and died About. 1876 in Prineville, Crook County, Oregon. She married John Leasure LUCKEY 21 JUL 1864 in , Lane County, Oregon, son of William Nelson LUCKEY and Elizabeth LEASURE. He was born About. 1838 in , Allen County, Indiana, and died 14 MAR 1914 in Prineville, Crook County, Oregon.
220.127.116.11.1. George Melvin MILLER was born MAR 1853 in Williamette, Valley, Oregon.
18.104.22.168.1. Cincinnatus Hiner "Joaquin" MILLER (Hulen MILLER4, Daniel MILLER3, Henry MILLER2, Daniel MILLER1) was born 8 SEP 1837 in Liberty, Union, Indiana, and died 13 FEB 1913 in California. He was buried 17 FEB 1913 in Oakland, San Mateo County, California.
He married Paquita INDIAN SQUAW 1856 in McCloud River region, Oregon. She died 10 JUN 1859 in Mt. Shasta, California.
He married Theresa A. (Minnie Myrtle) DYER 12 SEP 1862 in Port Orford, Curry County, Oregon, daughter of Aaron BULL and Sarah Ann COMBS. She was born About. 1842 in , , Iowa, and died 1883 in New York City, New York.
He married Abigail LELAND 1879 in New York City, , New York.
He married (companionate marriage) to Alice OLIVER, a Spanish girl
Children of Cincinnatus Hiner "Joaquin" MILLER and Indian Woman
22.214.171.124.2.1. Cali-Shasta MILLER
Children of Cincinnatus Hiner "Joaquin" MILLER and Theresa A. (Minnie Myrtle) DYER are:
126.96.36.199.2.1. Evaline Maud MILLER was born 1864 in San Francisco, , California.
188.8.131.52.2.1. George Brick MILLER was born 1866 in Canyon City, , Oregon.
184.108.40.206.2.1. Henry Mark MILLER was born AUG 1869 in Port Oxford, Curry County, Oregon.
Children of Cincinnatus Hiner "Joaquin" MILLER and Abigail Leland
220.127.116.11.2.1. Juanita MILLER single; lived in Oakland California
Children of Cincinnatus Hiner "Joaquin" MILLER and Alice Oliver
Central California Poetry Journal
Joaquin Miller Park in Oakland California
© 2005 Union County Public Library
All Rights Reserved.
Questions or Comments send to: Webmaster
Site Designed by: Programming And Micros, Inc.