Heine J. Miller was born in Hennstedt, Germany, August 14, 1847. On July 4, 1865, just under 18 years of age he sailed to the new world, which took three weeks. The captain of the ship was a friend of his fathers. Heine had a job as cabin boy for the first class passengers, thus working his way to a new life - never to see his parents, Heinrick Moeller (Father) and Catherine Freda Stahl (Mother) Heine was one of five children born to this union. The parting was no doubt sad, Heine was the youngest of five children. Only the oldest daughter of Heinrick and Freda remained in Germany, the other three children were already in the United States. A sister Catherine born in 1836, brother Henry born September 25, 1833 and brother Nicholas or “Nick” as he was known, born May 31, 1843.
He lived in New York and New Jersey, working as a carpenter and worked his way up to a cabinetmaker. He helped build a home that had black walnut woodwork and these boards were all drilled and pegged without a nail. From the scrap pieces he made a tool chest. In this chest he had fancy wooden planes for grooving and making molding. The climate did not agree with him, so he moved to Chicago, Illinois to visit his sister Catherine. Here in Chicago, Heine and his brother Nicholas were carpenters. As he moved around the exact time and how long he remained is not known. H was in Chicago at the time of the Great Fire, October 8-11, 1871, Mrs. O’Leary’s cow kicked over the lantern. He related this story many times. I feel he was there only for a visit. Heine received his citizenship papers in Newark, County of Essex, State of New Jersey on October 29, 1872. One other place of record, Heine visited the Mason Lodge in Momence, Illinois, May 25, 1878. His next move was to Yutan, Nebraska where Heine was employed as a carpenter and soon bought a farm.
November 1, 1884, Heine married Margaretha “Maggie” D. Backens and to this union was born, three daughters and one son. August 25, 1890 Maggie passed away. Heine married Magdalena Eggers (Her father was Henrick Eggers, born August 26, 1826 and Died May 22, 1896 and her mother was Elsie Engelland-Eggers born in 1836 and died in 1878, her stepmother Elizabeth Engelland was born February 1826 and died December 1896) Magdalena was born in Rendsburg Schleswig- Holstein, Germany September 27, 1868. She was baptized and confirmed in the same Lutheran church in Rendsburg, Germany.
February 18, 1887 Magdalena and her brother George sailed for the United States on the ship Sue via. Her older brother and sister were living in Nebraska. Magdalena did domestic work in Omaha. When Heine’s wife died she went into his home to help with the four children. Heine and Magdalena were married April 18, 1893 and to this union were born five daughters and three sons. The twelve children were baptized in St. John’s Lutheran Church in Yutan, Nebraska.
Heine J. Miller’s Autobiography
As told by Heine and Magdalena to their children
The family moved from Yutan, Nebraska after their farm was sold. Albert, the oldest son, along with B. R. Russell, a son-in-law, (Katie Miller’s Husband) accompanied the two railroad boxcars of possessions. One was loaded with horses and the other with machinery and furniture.
Mr. and Mrs. Miller and eight children came by passenger train. The three oldest girls were married and remained in Yutan, Nebraska. I often heard my mother say, “All the relatives were there to help us pack”. The clothes to be worn for the trip were placed in one room. Many times someone would be caught packing these garments.
Heine J. and Magdalena Miller moved to Holyoke, Colorado, March 1910. They purchased the “Living water Ranch” from Henry VerCamp, the Real Estate agent was Otto Fulscher. It was six miles West and one-half miles North of Holyoke or three miles East and one-half mile south of Paoli, on Hwy 6.
The “Living Water Ranch” got its name from the underground springs. There was at the time of purchase and underground spring rocked up in the Frenchman Creek bed. This furnished water for washing and cleaning but could not be used for drinking water. It was pumped by a windmill into a supply tank north of the house, and then piped into the kitchen. This was a great help for a family of eleven for washing clothes. There was another windmill near the house for drinking water.
The ranch consisted of 720 acres of grazing and farmland; some cattle were included in the sale: along with “sheep” and a cattle dog. Albert, the oldest son, stated: he did not know how many cattle, the first fall they sold two carloads. The deal also included the sellers brand HV (H-V- quarter circle). This was Henry VerCamp’s initials, “C” being reversed and made a quarter circle.
This brand has been handed down to the forth Miller generation: Heine J., his sons George and Herbert, Leland, son of George and is now registered in the name of Leland Miller and Sons.
In 1910 there was plenty of “Free Range” in Colorado. The cattle could graze south of the farm for five or six miles, or they could graze two miles east and west without a fence in their way. As the land was bought up grazing was a thing of the past; with new neighbors the cattle business had to go.
Heine had the job of building bridges in the county. It was at one of these projects, the men were driving bridge piling where he lost the end of his thumb. Herbert, a son, was handling the sledge hammer. Heine said, “That’s enough”, but Herbert gave it one more drive just as Heine put his thumb on the piling; and off went the end of his thumb. This happened about 1916-1917. The men rushed Heine in the wagon with two horses and cracked the whip over them; the horses leaped and broke the double tree. Heine got out and walked toward town. He was over taken by someone. The bridge they were working on was over Frenchman Creek about two miles west of Holyoke. Heine was hard of hearing but this did not keep him from taking eight daughters on the dance floor for the first time. Because of the affliction he enjoyed cards, from the time the children could hold cards in their hand a game was in order – a great family past time.
The “Living Water Ranch” was a great place for neighborhood picnics, the pond as surrounded by big Cottonwood, Willow and Pussy Willow trees, in places the pond was three to four feet deep. To the west there was a favorite swimming hole which was enjoyed by all. These holes were gradually filled by the Spring floods. Today the Frenchman Creek is dry most of the year.
This pond was a great skating spot in the winter; in early days ice was cut and put in a ice-house for our summer use.
The Dr. Means Dam was a great hunting sport for wild game. Magdalena raised geese and ducks and they soon found this Dam one of their favorite spots. One day about noon Magdalena heard the sound of guns from this direction. She told Heine and he jumped of ol”Buster, the spotted pony, found several prominent business men shooting these tame birds. He gave them until the next day to replace the birds; he had a colorful flock that season- black, white and gray.
Each spring Magdalena would pick these live geese and ducks at molting time. The down feathers were used for pillows and feather beds – A favorite wedding present for the new bride. Many of these fowl ended up on the table for a favorite meal.
The neighbors were: Zada and Cal Edger to the west, Nellie and Phil Heilman to the south, Kitty and Gus Johnson to the North, The Flannigan’s: their sons Frances and daughter Katherine to the east then to the south and east; Anna and William Jasper, daughter Hannah and Lizzie and sons Otto and Walter, Ed and Roy Owens families and the McElroy family.
The friends and schoolmates of the Silverbeam School District#16 which was the Elementary school attended by all seven youngest Miller children: George, Julius, Herbert, Henrietta, Margaret, Marie and Allice Miller, the Noble Snow’s, Leslie Kepler’s, Ernest Wettstein’s, Munce Hitt’s, Frank Koebderstein’s. We enjoyed many school and neighborhood get-togethers- even dances; Cal Edgar with his violin and his wife Zada at the piano. The game on the playground was good ol’ baseball, maybe it involved more students.
Heine served as a member on the school board most of the time he lived on the farm. When he left the farm and moved to Holyoke his office with the school board was filled by his son George.
A few if the teachers that Marie Miller-McCone remembered were Mrs. Phillip (Addie) Zimmerman, Mrs. William E. (Alma Youtsey) Douhan, Mrs. Cliff (Clara) Goddard, Mrs. Harry (Ollie Young) Peach, Mrs. Maynard (Clara Horzog) Ingalsbe. This school was three and one-half miles from the Miller farm house. We either walked but most of the time drove a pair of ponies and out last school horse was Nellie, an iron gray. She knew the road well, we tried the reins to the dash in cold weather and pulled the blankets up over our heads, this was when the last two girls (Alice and Marie) were in school.
Heine loved to fist and hunt. At one time he had four hunting dogs; with these they got many a coyote which came down the Frenchman Creek to snatch up a turkey or a chicken in the early morning hours. It was on one of these hunting trips that he ran in front of a Ford coupe which had the dogs inside. The driver did not see Heine and ran over him, breaking only two or three ribs. Believe me this driver did not dare show his face in our house for a while. To be run over at 70 plus years was un-excusable.
He also enjoyed the horseless carriage, was among the first to have an Oakland in 1917 the registration reads as follows; This certifies the H.J. Miller residing at Holyoke, Colorado has registered a Oakland motor vehicle, Maker #320231, Motive-power-gas, Horse-power- 32, in accordance with an Act approved April 12, 1913. Registration void after December 31, 1917, issued the 25th day of January, 1917. This made the six mile trip to town (Holyoke) much faster than the two seated carriage and two horses.
Our farmhouse had not heat for the upstairs where there were three bedrooms, but we were cozy warm in our feather beds. Many mornings in the winter there would be frost on the blankets. We were healthy; I can’t remember too many trips to the doctor’s office.
We caught a Magpie and Dr. Neihaus split his tongue for us. This abled him to make sounds. His favorite words were “Hell-O, Herbert and Mart”.
The coyote was kept caged for some time, having been roped by Herbert from horseback while herding cows and led home to try to tame. Another time we had a bald eagle in a cage; when he died he was mounted and perched on a branch to be hang on the living room wall.
A hailstorm caught the four youngest girls shocking wheat. They ran for home, made it to the shed and crawled in with the hogs. No one hurt only black and blue spots. The wheat was a total loss.
There were many of tornado’s that passed by our farm, Henrietta recalled that a piece of straw when through a fence post and didn’t even break the straw during one of those storms. There were also abundance of rattle snakes, the boys would catch them, swing them by their tails until the rattles would snap off they sure were lucky that the snake did not bit them. Henrietta also recalled that the first seven years that the Miller’s loved on the “Living Water Ranch” that their crops were burned out, or hailed out, they lived on chickens, eggs, milked there cows and made their own butter, butchered a cow now and then, traded eggs and butter for fabric and the girls sewed all the clothing for the family.
Heine passed away July 10, 1934, he was 87 years old at the time of his death, and he is buried in Holyoke Memorial Park, Holyoke, Colorado. After Heine’s death Magdalena continued to live in their home in Holyoke until 1944. With her health failing she went to live with her daughter Marie and son-in-law Percy McCone in Julesburg, Colorado. She lived with the McCone’s until her death June 12, 1946. Magdalena was 78 years old at the time of her death. She is buried in Holyoke Memorial Park, Holyoke, Colorado beside her husband Heine J. Miller.
WRITTEN BY; MARIE (MILLER) McCONE FOR THE PHILLIPS COUNTY HISTORICAL SOCIETY, 1972. BITS AND PIECES WERE ADDED BY HENRIETTA MILLER-LANE 1989
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Last updated December 2017