Miller Family - The First Seven Generations

The Miller family traces itself to the immigrant ancestor John Miller who was born about 1609 in England. He first settled in Wethersfield, Connecticut and in 1642 received from the town of Stamford, five acres, a house lot and Marsh upland. The inventory of his estate recorded on December 24, 1665, shows that he left three sons, John, Jonathan and Joseph. His widow Mary, later married Obadiah Seely.


We are descended from the eldest son, John, who was born about 1635 in Wethersfield, Connecticut. He was granted land in Stamford in 1667 and proposed as a freeman in 1669. He was one of the original proprietors of the town of Bedford, New York on December 23, 1680. He was selected to be the town supervisor in 1681, 1688, 1693, and 1694; the commissioner in 1687 and 1688; the assessor in 1687, 1688, 1693; and townsman, 1691, 1693 and 1699. He died about December 26, 1702, when he deeded all his land to his children.

The name of his wife is unknown. His two daughters were Sarah and Mary, leading to the conclusion that her name was Sarah, but this is pure conjecture. The three boys were named, John, Jonathan and David. We are descended from the youngest son, David who was born in 1676 in Stamford, Connecticut.


David was married in 1701 to Hannah Jones, the daughter of Joseph Jones. They had eight children: Hannah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Susannah, Samuel, David and Daniel. Our descent is through the eldest son, Abraham, who was born in Bedford, New York. His father was a freeholder and a patentee of the Bedford patent of 1704, and served as collector in 1710, and highway overseer in 1720. However, his death occurred in 1737 in Stamford, Connecticut. Bedford and Stamford are just over the state line from each other, and there must have been very little distinction between the two villages.


Abraham was born in Bedford about 1704 and died there 1775-1776. His will was dated August 29, 1775 and was proved April 30, 1776. His wife Comfort, who he had married in 1730, was the daughter of Joseph and Martha Seely. She was born March 17, 1709 at Bedford and died there in 1791. There were six children in their family, all of whom lived to adulthood. Joseph, Isaac, Mary, Deborah, Abraham, and Eleanor were born between 1731 and 1741. Our line is through the eldest son, Joseph.


Joseph was married in 1759 to Mary Seely, who most probably was a cousin. We have been unable to determine who her parents are, however. Joseph and Mary had eight children: Thaddeus, David, Mary, Jonathan, Barbara, Phillip, Joseph and Deborah. We are again descended through the eldest son.

Joseph served as a captain in the Revolutionary War. He died in Bedford after 1796.


Thaddeus was born in Bedford in 1760, was married in 1782 to Deborah Webb, about whom we can discover nothing, and lived until 1830, dying in Bedford. In the Bedford Historical Records, it states that this marriage reportedly displeased his father. The first three of their four children, Ezra, Polly and Charles were baptized July 26, 1789 in the Presbyterian Church at Bedford. The fourth child was Seth. We are descended from both Ezra, who was born June 11, 1783 and married Hannah Ryerson; and from Seth, who married Maria Cooder. Their children Ezra and Amanda Josephine Miller married each other.

In addition to being first cousins on their father's side, Ezra and Amanda Josephine were second cousins on their mother's side, through their common great-grandfather, Samuel Ellis.


The will of Samuel Ellis was recorded both in New York and New Jersey because he owned property in both states. The New Jersey will, written on July 4, 1794, shows that Samuel lived at Bull's Ferry, Bergen County, New Jersey.

Samuel died a week later on July 11, 1794, and his will was proved on July 12 in New York which suggests that he died there, and on July 22 in New Jersey. A copy of the will is in the possession of the Museum of the City of New York.

Samuel's fame for his descendants lies in his ownership of that small island in New York City's harbor, which began as "a tiny bank of mud and sand, mixed with oyster shells, about three acres in extent and scarcely rising about the water at high tide." This island was variously called Kioshk, or Gull Island by the Mohican Indians; Dyre's after its first owner, William Dyre, the collector of customs under Governor Edmund Andros; Bucking; Gibbet, in 1765, when it was used for a public hangings; and Oyster Island; before it was finally called Ellis Island for its last private owner.

Samuel had used the island as a recreation and picnic spot before offering it for sale on January 30, 1785. It failed to sell then, so it was included in his will. It is not known when he first acquired it, or from whom he bought it. Actually, a great deal of research has been devoted to Samuel Ellis, his family and his history. Two very competent researchers have failed to uncover Samuel's origins, and there are even more questions about his life and his family arrangements now then when they began their work.

Judith Miner Hine Luedemann worked for over a year and published her findings in a three part series "Samuel Ellis of Ellis Island" in the New York Genealogical and Biographical Record, Volume 119,. Numbers 2,3 & 4, in April, May and June 1988. She believed that the Catherine Westervelt, the pregnant but estranged wife of Daniel Westervelt, mentioned in the will as the beneficiary of four lots on Greenwich Street, was the mistress of Samuel Ellis, and that Catherine and Jane Westervelt, the daughters of Catherine Westervelt, were Samuel's children. The will states very definitely that if the baby she is carrying is a boy and if he is called Samuel Ellis, he is to inherit Ellis Island. The child, born on September 13, 1794, was a boy and he was named Samuel Ellis, but he died in 1799, and the property reverted to Samuel's residual estate which was divided between his daughters Rachel and Elizabeth and their heirs.

Samuel's daughters by Catherine Westervelt, Catherine and Jane, though identified as Westervelt in the will, used the surname Ellis throughout their lives. Catherine was born about 1789 in New York, married Daniel Tylee in August 1806, and died before 1844 when she was mentioned in her half-sister's will. Jane Ellis was born in 1791, married first Samuel Stilwell in November 1816 and second Peter Dempsey in 1822 and died between July 1852 when she dated her will and July 1854 when it was probated. The property left by Samuel Ellis was still being contested almost seventy years after his death.

Another researcher, Clifford Stott, of Lineages in Salt Lake City, treats Catherine Westervelt as one of Samuel's daughters. However Samuel did not call her "daughter" as he did Elizabeth, Rachel and Mary, although he gave her a large share of his estate. All the other beneficiaries had designated relationships: William Ryley was "kinsman"; "god child Jane" Burger and "grandchild..." were so called. Catherine had no stated relationship. Though Samuel describes Catherine as "separated from her husband" she most probably was divorced, since Daniel Westervelt had married Susannah Sidman on November 30, 1793 in the New York Dutch Church.

Stott believes that Samuel was married first to an Elizabeth, because in the records of the Trinity Church in New York, Samuel and Elizabeth Ellis were the witnesses at the baptisms of their grandchildren, Samuel Fish and Elizabeth Van Wi in 1778 and 1779. In the will his wife is identified as Mary or Mercy.

Luedemann believes that he was married to Mary Brower on February 3, 1754 in the New York Dutch Church, and that she remained his wife until his death.

From the New Jersey will it is possible to piece out at least part of Samuel's family. He had a wife, Mary; two granddaughters, Mary and Avis, children of his son, Samuel Ellis, junior, who had predeceased him; a daughter, Elizabeth, the wife of George Ryerson, and their three children, Samuel, Nautie (Hannah) and Mary; another daughter, Rachel, the wife of John Cooder, and her children, Edmund and Rachel Fish, and a granddaughter, Catherine Van Wythe, the daughter of his deceased daughter, Mary and her husband, Peter Van Why. The New York Will includes two more grandchildren, Dolly Ellis, and John Fish.

Our descent is through Samuel's two daughters, Rachel and Elizabeth. It is possible to follow their lives through many legal documents. We know that Rachel married first, by a license dated January 22, 1772, Daniel Fish of New London, Connecticut. Rachel and Daniel had four children, three of whom were alive when their grandfather died. Rachel next married John Conder (Cooder) on April 17, 1785 in Christ Church, the German Reformed Church in New York. Their one child, our ancestor, Maria Cooder, was not mentioned in the will, but by estimating her age from her tombstone in Green-wood Cemetery in Brooklyn, she should have been born in 1793. John Cooder witnessed a will of a William Day of North River, Hackensack Precinct, Bergen County, New Jersey on June 7, 1797, and died in the next three year period, for Rachel was called the widow of John Cooder on April 1, 1800, when she deeded her property in Bergen County to her son, John Fish. She was married a third time to William Kingsland.

The name Cooder is an unusual one and it is spelled in many different ways: Couder, Conder, Gooder; Courter. It would be very helpful if we could determine where John Cooder came from and what his name actually was.

Maria Cooder had various guardians during her youth. On June 24, 1811, the Orphans Court of Bergen County appointed Eli Knapp as the guardian of the person and property both real and personal of Maria Cooder, being a minor under the age of 21; bond was $700.

Maria was married to Seth Miller between July 31, 1812 and Mary 19, 1813, when he was listed as her husband on a petition. On February 6, 1823, Seth Miller of the City of New York, boatman and Maria, his wife, deeded to Ezra W. Miller of the same place, Gentleman, for $1,500, land, "being part of the real estate of Samuel Ellis, deceased," bounded by the Hudson, northerly by land now in possession of Mrs. Westervelt and the heirs of Samuel Edsal, deceased; signed Seth Miller, Maria Miller, her mark (Bergen County Deeds T2:374).

Maria and Seth's daughter, Amanda Josephine Miller, was born on August 11, 1817. She married her cousin, Ezra Miller of Flushing on May 26, 1841 in the Jamaica Reformed Dutch Church. In the 1850 census, when the Millers were living in Janesville, Wisconsin, there was a William Miller living with the family. Most likely this is a brother of Amanda's, since we know he isn't Ezra's brother. There is also a William H. Miller identified on the Miller monument, below Maria Couder Miller's name. We have been unable to find the gravestones for any of the Miller ancestors, except that of Maria Couder Miller.

Elizabeth Ellis married, by license dated August 16, 1783, George Ryerson, the son of Johannes (John Francis) and Maritje (Mary) Wessels Ryerson. The Ryersons were descendants of many of the early Dutch settlers of New Amsterdam. George Ryerson was born about 1750 in Bergen County, New Jersey, the second of the six children in the family. He was a farmer, who worked properties both in Bergen County and in Long Island, and lived near Newtown, New York. At the close of the Revolutionary War, he and his new bride, as Loyalists moved to Nova Scotia, where they settled in Clements. In June 1784 he was listed in the "Muster Rolls of the America Colony" as having a wife, one child under ten, and one servant. A few years later, they returned to Brooklyn and a farm near his former home.

He inherited his father's farm at the Dutch Kills (now part of long Island City) in 1798, but sold this in 1802. He moved to what was known as the English Neighborhood in Bergen County, where he lived until his death about 1808. Elizabeth died between 1802 and 1806, and is said to be buried in Trinity Churchyard in New York, but there is no record of her there.

The Ryersons had three children: Samuel Ellis, named for his grandfather, and born in 1784; Mary, born in 1786 in Clements, Nova Scotia, and Hannah E Ryerson (Nautie) born September 5, 1788, who married Ezra Wilson Miller. Ezra Wilson Miller is supposed to be buried in Prospect Cemetery in Jamaica, Long Island, New York.

Fairfield Co. CT & Westchester Co. NY Bergen Co. NJ Ellis Island just before its closure in the 1950s Main building at Ellis Island, & NY skyline
Fairfield Co. CT & Westchester Co. NY Bergen Co. NJ Ellis Island just before its closure in the 1950s Main building at Ellis Island, & NY skyline
Miller Monument at Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn Clements, Nova Scotia Prospect Cemetery We didn't find Ezra Miller's grave
Miller Monument at Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn Clements, Nova Scotia Prospect Cemetery We didn't find Ezra Miller's grave

                         ┌── David MILLER, b. circa 1676, d. after 1737
                     ┌── Abraham MILLER, b. 1704, d. 1775
                     │   └── Hannah JONES, b. 1680
                 ┌── Joseph MILLER (DAR Patriot), b. circa 1731, d. 1796
                 │   │   ┌── Joseph SEELY, b. circa 1685, d. circa 1746
                 │   └── Comfort SEELY, b. 1709, d. 1791
                 │       └── Martha (__________), b. 1683
             ┌── Thaddeus MILLER, b. circa 1760, d. between 1830 and 1840
             │   └── Mary SEELY
         ┌── Ezra Wilson MILLER, b. 1782, d. 1859
         │   └── Deborah WEBB
     ┌── Ezra MILLER, b. 1812, d. 1885
     │   │               ┌── Marten REIJERSEN, d. circa 1687
     │   │           ┌── Frans RYERSON, bap. 1685, d. 1749
     │   │           │   └── Annetje RAPELJE, b. 1646
     │   │       ┌── Johannes F (John Francis) RYERSON, bap. 1724, d. 1798
     │   │       │   │   ┌── Theunis Dirckesen DEY, b. 1646, d. 1688
     │   │       │   └── Jannetje DEY, b. 1685
     │   │       │       └── Hannah SCHOUTEN, b. 1666, d. 1743
     │   │   ┌── George RYERSON, b. circa 1750, d. between 1807 and 1808
     │   │   │   │       ┌── Wessels Evartse WESSELS, b. 1673
     │   │   │   │   ┌── Evarts WESSELS, b. 1694
     │   │   │   │   │   └── Susanna TRUEHAVEN, b. circa 1673
     │   │   │   └── Maritje WESSELS, b. 1729
     │   │   │       │   ┌── Joris RYERSON, d. 1749
     │   │   │       └── Annetje RYERSON, b. 1692, d. 1744
     │   │   │           └── Hannah SCHOUTEN (see above)
     │   └── Antje-Nantie-Hannah RYERSON, b. 1788, d. between 1815 and 1819
     │       │   ┌── Samuel ELLIS, b. circa 1733, d. 1794
     │       └── Elizabeth ELLIS, d. after 1802
     │           │       ┌── Jacobus Adams BROUWER, b. circa 1655, d. before 1707
     │           │   ┌── Everardus BROUWER, bap. 1689, d. 1762
     │           │   │   └── Anna BOGARDUS, bap. 1663
     │           └── Maria BROUWER, b. 1733, d. 1794
     │               │   ┌── Thomas PETTIT, b. 1673
     │               └── Mary PETTIT, d. 1772
     │                   └── Avis (__________)
Amanda Josephine MILLER, b. 1844, d. 1908
     │       ┌── Thaddeus MILLER (see above)
     │   ┌── Seth MILLER, b. 1790, d. before 1850
     │   │   └── Deborah WEBB (see above)
     └── Amanda Jane MILLER, b. 1817, d. 1881
         │   ┌── John COODER, d. between 1797 and 1800
         └── Maria COUDER, b. after 1794, d. 1872
             │   ┌── Samuel ELLIS (see above)
             └── Rachel ELLIS, d. after 1809
                 └── Maria BROUWER (see above)