Obituary from the Davis County Clipper Newspaper. October 13, 1911. Page 1.
Contributor: trishkovach Created: 2 years ago Updated: 2 years ago
JACOB MILLER CALLED
Father of Professor D. T. Miller Died at
His Home in Farmington, Wednesday
Teacher and Missionary
Jacob Miller, one of the pioneer teachers of Davis county and a man who has held prominent ecclesiastical positions for the past quarter of a century, passed away at his home in Farmington, Tuesday morning, at 3:15, after an illness of eight days with pneumonia.
Deceased was born in Quincy, Illinois, December 9, 1835, making him nearly seventy-six years old.
When Mr. Miller was about five years old, the family moved in the neighborhood of Carthage.
In 1848, the family came to Utah, locating in Farmington.
The deceased and his father turned over the first ground ever plowed in Farmington.
Deceased lived in Farmington ever after his arrival in Utah.
About five years of his life was spent in the missionary field. He also circumnavigated the globe while on his mission to Australia.
He helped to colonize the Salmon River country in Idaho and to make settlements in Arizona.
One of the islands in the Great Salt Lake was named after him.
He is survived by two wives and six children—four sons and two daughters. A like number of sons and daughters preceded him to the grave among the number being the late Professor Frank J. Miller who died in 1906. The living are: Mrs. J. J. Steed, Professor D. T. Miller, J. R. Miller, Ella Miller, Julian Miller and Horton Miller.
Deceased was counselor to the late President Hess when the latter was bishop of the Farmington ward for many years and served in a like capacity for twenty-four years to Bishop J. M. Secrist when he was bishop of the same ward. He was a patriarch at the time of his demise.
Funeral services will be held in the Farmington meeting house Sunday, at 2 p.m.
Obituary from the Davis County Clipper Newspaper, October 13, 1911; Page 1
Fremont Island, by Seymour Lewis Miller
Contributor: trishkovach Created: 2 years ago Updated: 2 years ago
Written by Seymour Lewis Miller, ca. 1944, transcribed by Heather Elaine Sorensen McPhie.
Fremont Island was occupied by the Miller's for a generation for a sheep ranch. (It was formerly called "Miller Island"). Uncle Seymour tells many stories about his experiences on the lake and at the ranch.
Fremont Island, north of Antelope, is five miles long and two miles wide with an area of approximately 2,945 acres. Captain Stansbury reported that, "From the highest table of the island rises an oblong rocky eminence resembling, from some points of view, ruins of an ancient castle, whence it had received from the Mormons its name of "Castle Island." Fremont called in "Disappointment Island." I deem it but due, however, to the first adventurous explorer of this distant region to name Fremont Island."
Captain Stansbury further reports "that in approaching the island from the water, it presented the appearance of a regular beach, bounded by what seemed to have been well-defined and perfectly horizontal water lines at intervals to a lower level, leaving the marks of its former elevation distinctly traced upon the hillside. This continued nearly to the summit and was most apparent on the northeastern side of the island. The deepest water was about twelve feet. Doubling the northern cape of the island, we landed on a narrow beach, west of a little reef. From the driftwood on its shore three long poles were selected and a station was built with them. This was work of severe labour as the island was at least eight or nine hundred feet high, and the ascent in some places very steep. The island is fourteen miles in circumference, has neither timber nor water upon it, but its sides are covered with luxuriant grass."
My grandfather, Henry William Miller and his brother, Daniel [Arnold] Miller were the first men to occupy Fremont Island. They had formed a partnership and after having explored the island decided that it would make an excellent range for sheep, so they made arrangements to take their flocks there. These brothers had been partners in many enterprises before they came to Utah. At Quincy, Illinois, they married sisters who were instrumental in bringing their husbands into the Latter-day Saint Church.
In 1848, soon after his arrival in Salt Lake Valley, Daniel Miller settled in Farmington. In 1852, Henry William Miller came to Utah and also settled in Farmington. The two families owned much of the land that is now the city of Farmington, including much of the present site of Lagoon.
When Henry and Daniel decided to stock Fremont Island with sheep, their sons, naturally played a vital part in the project. The son of Henry William was William Henry. Father's sons, William, Lyman and I, and Jacob's sons, Frank and Dan, took an active part.
The first time I visited Fremont Island was in the spring of 1877, when I went with Father and spent the whole day riding over the island on a horse. I do not know the exact date that sheep were placed on the island, but when I visited it for the first time we had had sheep there long enough for the island to become over-grazed. One herd was taken off in 1876. One of the big problems of the sheep project was that of a satisfactory boat. Jacob Miller had made a trip around the world and had conducted quite a study of sail boats. He designed the boat, "Lady of the Lake," and helped build it. Father and he took the most active part in the building. It was my job to keep the tar barrel hot for caulking the boat. Lumber for the craft was obtained from Blacksmith Fork Canyon near Logan and the timbers were taken from the nearby hills. The Lady of the Lake was about 50 feet long and 12 feet wide. She carried two main masts, the largest one being 50 feet high. She flew four sails, two main sails and two jibs. She was a double-deck craft with three and a half or four feet clearance between decks. This was plenty of clearance for sheep, and 300 head could be carried at one time. The cabin was at the rear of the boat. It contained a stove and other equipment and could accommodate eight men. A square box (approximately 4 square feet) of sand was kept on deck where fires for cooking and signalling could be kindled. Although two or three men could easily manage the boat, four or five usually went along when a load of sheep was being hauled. The extra men were used to round up the herd. On some occasions the women accompanied their husbands. The boat was built near the mouth of Big Cottonwood Creek (Farmington Creek) When she was finished we launched her sideways down some greased planks. The morning after the launching we found our boat resting on the bottom with about three feet of water in her hold. However, the lumber had soaked and sealed the seams and after we had bailed her out we never had any more trouble with leaks. She was a shallow-water boat. We used two other small boats before we built the Lady of the Lake, but she was our main craft. Fremont Island was ideal for sheep. There were some springs along the east side and, although the water was slightly brackish, it was satisfactory for sheep. There was enough vegetation on the island to accommodate a herd of 2,000 sheep. We always tried to keep our herd down to that number. The sheep lambed in the late fall and early winter so that by April many were ready for market. The meat of this flock tasted more like venison than mutton and would always bring a fancy price on the market, even when ordinary mutton could hardly be sold. We made trips to the island mainly between early April and June for the purpose of taking animals for market and for shearing. We sheared in June. Of course, whenever we wished to sell a load we had merely to take the boat and go after them.
Since sheep could not stray away from the island, no herder was necessary and the sheep became as wild as deer. It became quite a problem to corral them for shearing or marketing. We found it necessary to build a fence across the island toward the south end. There was a gate in the middle with drift fences to direct the sheep into the corrals. Even then we once made several sweeps around the island, two men on horses, and three on foot, without getting a single sheep through the gate. One time we had cornered some on a peninsula at the south end. Rather than be caught, several of them took off into the lake. The last I saw of them they were still going.
Father and the other men built a cabin on the island near the east shore where the fence and corrals were located. The house was 12 x 12 feet and built partly of lumber salvaged from a boat that wrecked on the north end of the island and from lumber shipped to the island. We used the cabin as temporary quarters on our visits to the island. There is probably no trace of either cabin or corrals or the fence we built since a fire swept the island about thirty years ago. I should say that part of the shearing platform was made of the bottom of the above mentioned boat that had wrecked on the island. This platform could accommodate about a dozen shearers.
When we occupied the island we found sagebrush as big around as a man's waist and taller than a man on horseback. The largest sage was found on the north side. There was an abundance of grass, wild daisies, and some prickly pears. The main type of wildlife on the island was snakes, mice, and lizards. It was asserted that there was a snake in every bush. Two types were very common, the blow snake and the whip snake. Neither is poisonous, but they caused us a lot of unpleasant experiences. On one occasion a large blow snake crawled up on the bed where father, Dan, and I were sleeping. When father awoke in the morning he found this snake, as large around as a man's arm and five or six feet long, stretched out on top of the blanket. He crawled out and calmly told us that we were sleeping with a snake. I got out at once, but Dan considered it a joke and merely opened one sleepy eye. There he was within two inches of the reptile. He was soon wide awake. With one sweep of his arm he threw the bedding into the corner and ran out the door. He didn't stop to dress and refused to even return to the cabin for his pants. I took them out to him but he refused to put them on until I ran an arm through each leg and put a hand into each pocket. He declared that he had had enough of the cabin and refused to sleep in it again. He and I made our beds on the boat after that. The whip snakes annoyed me more than the blow snakes. They weren't as large but were very fast and not afraid of man. They traveled with their heads in the air and could go faster than a man could run. We would just jump out of the way when we saw one coming down the trail. There were a lot of mice on the island. How they got there, I don't know, but it was a common sight to see snakes chasing mice under the floor of the cabin. Other than the snakes, mice, and lizards, and a few birds, there was no other wildlife on the island.
We communicated with the mainland by means of signal fires. The east slope of the island was clearly visible from home. In case the folks at home wanted to communicate with us, they went up on the foothills east of Farmington and kindled their fires. Three fires was the distress signal. Mother used that signal to summon Will from the island when my baby brother, Arnold, was very sick and not expected to live. Mrs. Wenner used the same signal to summon her boatman when Judge Wenner died on the island several years later. We saw her fires burning three nights in a row. We usually sailed the lake at night because the wind was better at night. Ordinarily it was just a matter of a few hours trip from Farmington to Fremont Island. However, sometimes things didn't go so smoothly. On one occasion we spent eight days in a calm just west of Hooper with a load of sheep we were bringing from the island. Our provisions ran out, although we had plenty of mutton. We sent a man ashore in a rowboat for supplies, and he returned with some soda crackers instead of bread. When the wind finally came up, some of the sheep had died and the rest were in bad condition. So we sailed back to the island and unloaded them and rounded up another load.
At times storms came up and blew us off our course. On one occasion, the same trip on which we had been becalmed, we were just northwest of the north point of Church Island when we saw a storm coming up. Since we had already spent so many days on the lake, our captain decided to run full sail and try to make port. However, when the wind struck, the foresail snapped and hit the water with a smack as loud as a cannon shot. The boat went up on its side and almost tipped over. We spent considerable time clearing up the wreckage and finally made port safely. The oldest man on board always acted as "skipper," and we all took orders from him. Each took his turn at manning the sails or steering. We steered by the stars and by using canyons and mountain peaks as landmarks. We always carried barrels of fresh water with us.
The first time Judge Wenner visited Fremont Island, he went as our guest. We gave him free transportation and food for the trip as we did on later trips he made with us. I was present on one of these trips. We were very much surprised and put out when he announced, a few years later, that he had bought a section of the island and that we would have to move the sheep off within a year and pay him 100 head of sheep as rental fee during that year.
A large part of Fremont Island was railroad land, having been granted as a subsidy to promote the construction of the transcontinental railroad. Father and Uncle Daniel had obtained from the U. P. Railroad the right to use the island and an option to buy it, should it be put up for sale. That is why we were so completely surprised when Judge Wenner announced that he had bought it and that we would have to get off. We wrote the U. P. office at Omaha to inquire about Judge Wenner's claim, but the reply letter was delayed. When it finally arrived in September 1884, we had already moved most of the sheep from the island. The letter denied Wenner's claim to the island. I was home when the letter arrived, it being my job to receive the sheep as they were unloaded from the boat. When father read the letter, he expressed the desire to take legal action and try to regain the island. However, since Jacob Miller was a polygamist, and he was "hiding" at the time, he did not wish to go to court. As a result, nothing was done to regain possession of the island to which we had prior rights.
It was quite a task to bring all the sheep off the island. We used the Lady of the Lake and a cattle boat which we had built for another company for the purpose of shipping cattle to Church Island. This was a flat boat about 50 feet long and 18 feet wide. It would carry 25 head of cattle and about 200 head of sheep. At that time the lake was high and we landed sheep in various places along the east shore.
We rented the sheep out to sheep men who placed them in custody of regular herders. However, the animals were so wild they could not be treated and herded like ordinary sheep. One flock was counted and placed in the custody of a herder who knew all about ordinary sheep. He left hem long enough to cook breakfast, and the sheep got away in the meantime. I went into his wagon and told him that he would lose the sheep if he didn't look after them. He replied, "Don't try to tell me how to herd sheep," and finished his meal. When he came out, the sheep were gone. Although he hired us to help him, most of the animals escaped. We found some as far as ten miles from the camp. This is typical of the way we lost sheep. They were just too wild to handle. Some were lost in an extra severe winter; others strayed away. At any rate, we never got a dollar out of them. At one time we took a boat load to Carrington Island hoping that, with the aid of winter snow, we would develop enough water for them. However, we were unsuccessful, and many of the sheep died before we removed the herd.
Our boating on the lake was not limited to the shipping of sheep. We used our boat to haul ore, salt, and cedar posts. Ore was obtained from mines located in various places around the lake. One rather rich deposit of silver-lead ore was located at the west side of the lake. We hauled much of this to a spot between Farmington and Centerville where the railroad had been built to the lake. Under good conditions we would cover this distance during one night. Salt from various salt works around the lake [were] also hauled to this railroad connection. We built a 75 foot boat with three holds to use in this salt business.
One of our most important enterprises was that of obtaining cedar posts. These we cut on the west side of Promontory and shipped to Farmington. We cut and hauled most of the cedar posts used in Davis County. The Lady of the Lake was used for this hauling. We would load between 2,000 and 3,000 posts on the top deck high enough so that the boom would just clear them. In a bad storm the Lady of Lake was finally blown upon the beach west of Farmington where she stood for years. Judge Wenner finally bought her and overhauled her for his use in going to and from Fremont Island. I understand that the boat was finally wrecked on the rocks at Promontory Point.
On one of the early expediations of the Millers to Fremont Island, some of them climbed to the summit, a peak which they called "Courthouse Rock" because it reminded them of the courthouse in Farmington. Here Jacob Miller found a monument of rocks probably erected by either John C. Fremont or Howard Stansbury when these men visited the islands many years previously. In the middle of this stack of rocks Jacob Miller found a folded piece of paper left there by the builder of the monument. Just off the top of this pile he also found the brass cap of Fremont's spyglass. It had accidentally been left there on the summit when Fremont visited the island. I have seen and handled these two articles many times at the home of Jacob Miller in Farmington. The paper was old and yellow with age when it was found. I do not remember exactly what was written on it. Jacob scratched Fremont's name on the spy glass cap which he had found and kept it as a souvenir. I do not know what became of it since Jacob's death.
I am now the only living person who took part in the enterprises described in this statement. Because of this, and in order that these facts might not be lost to history, I have recorded them here exactly as I saw them happen.
Judge U. J. Wenner homesteaded and took possession of Fremont Island. Judge Wenner and his young bride moved from the East to Salt Lake City when he was appointed probate judge in 1882. He was a victim of tuberculosis and since he was getting weaker all the time the doctors advised him to retire from active life. He had become acquainted with Fremont Island during the time of his residence in Salt Lake City, and believing that the pure lake air would benefit his condition and probably result in a cure, he sold his home and moved with his wife, Kate, and two small children to the island.
As time went on, the climate seemed to agree with Judge Wenner and as rock was plentiful for the building of a house, they decided to make this spot their permanent home. With the aid of a hired man, Judge Wenner succeeded in building a two-story house which they furnished with articles shipped from their former home in Salt Lake. His boat, The Argo, was used to contact the mainland and supplies and mail were brought regularly to their island home.