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Judge Albert Miller (1810-1893)
Pioneer of Lower Saginaw (Bay City).

General History of the State of Michigan: With Biographical Sketches
by Charles Richard Tuttle (1874)


ALBERT MILLER was born at Hartland, Windsor county, Vermont, May 10, 1810.

His father, Jeremy Miller, who was of English descent, was a native of Middletown, Connecticut; and his mother was a native of Hartland, her maternal grandfather having been the first settler in that town, and her ancestors on her father's side were among those who landed at Plymouth Rock, in 1620.

Jeremy Miller died in March, 1817, leaving the subject of this sketch who was the youngest of our children, to the care of a devoted mother, with but limited means; and whatever success has attended him is attributable along to his own exertions and the judicious training received from his mother.

Until he was nine years of age, he attended the district school in big native town the three summer months of each year, and from that time until he was eighteen, he attended six months in the year. At this age, he had acquired sufficient education to teach a district school, and occupied himself at that work the two succeeding winters. Determined to receive a thorough education, in 1830 he entered the Kimball and Union Academy, at Meriden, New Hampshire, to prepare himself for college, but, within four weeks after entering the academy, he was prostrated by a severe illness, which so enfeebled him that he was obliged to give up his long cherished wish to obtain a collegiate education.

Mr. Miller, upon recovering his health, decided to come West, and started from his home on the 2d of September, 1830, and arrived in Detroit, Michigan, on the 22d of the same month. The people of that town then pointed to its size with pride it contained 2,222 inhabitants.

Being joined by his father's family in the spring of 1881, he located and settled on eighty acres of land at Grand Blanc, Genesee county. ln 1833, he purchased from the government a tract of land on th east side of the Saginaw river, at the junction of the Shiawassee and Titabawassee rivers with it, and settled there in February that year.

At the spring election of that year, he was elected to an office which constituted him one of the inspectors of election for his township, and during his residence there of fifteen years, he was a constant member of the board of inspectors, and never absent from a single election. Upon the organization of the county of Saginaw, in 1835, he was appointed judge of probate for the county, by Stevens T. Mason, then acting governor of the territory, which office he held for nine years. Ho was also a justice of the peace for the township of Saginaw for thirteen successive years. In 1847, he represented the county of Saginaw in the State legislature. At this session, the capitol was removed from Detroit to Lansing. He was one of the committee of arrangements at the laying of the corner stone of the new State capitol.

Judge Miller was married to Miss Mary Ann Daglish, of Detroit, February 6, 1838. Of this marriage, there has been six children, only one of whom is still living.

In December, 1838, Judge Miller and wife both united with the Presbyterian church, and to-day they are still members of this denomination. He has materially aided the churches of the Saginaw valley from their infancy, and has twice represented the Presbytery of Saginaw in the general assembly at Philadelphia, in 1863, and in 1870.

Judge Miller is now residing at Bay City, where he caused the town of Portsmouth to be laid out in 1836, and near where he built the second saw mill that was put in operation on the Saginaw river. He has resided here since 1848.

Judge Miller has always sustained the highest reputation for integrity, and, as a consequence, has enjoyed the fullest confidence of the communities in which he has lived. He is gentle and affable in his manner to all classes; he has ever been in fellowship with the good, and full of sympathy for the poor.

Though he has borne the burden and seen all the vicissitudes of pioneer life, he has not been demoralized by its vices nor prematurely aged by its hardships. He is enjoying in competence a contented retirement. He witnesses with fatherly interest the varied activities that distinguish the Saginaw valley, without permitting the serenity of his old age to be disturbed by an unseemly greed and scramble for more wealth. P

Added Aug., 2014.

Michigan Pioneer and Historcal Society
Annual Meeting, June 6 and 7, 1894


Judge Albert Miller, of Bay City, was judge of probate for Saginaw county from 1835 to 1844, a justice of the peace from 1835 to 1848, and a member of the State legislature in 1847. He was born in Harland, Vt. on May 10, 1810. His father, Jeremy Miller, a native of MIddleown, Conn., descended from the English family that settled in Massachusetts in about 1640, a branch of which settled Connecticut at an early date. Jeremy Miller removed with his father, Jonathan to Harland, in 1795, where in 1802, he was married to Sarah Hodgman, a native of Hartland, daugher of Major Lot Hodgman, a soldier of the revolution and afterward a major of militia, a native of Concord, Mass. Albert Miller attended district schools during winters until 18 years of age, when he taught school, and in his 20th year entered Kimball and Union Academy, with a view of preparing to enter colledge, but being prevent by illness from continuing his studies after his recovery, in September 1830, he determined to become a pioneer in the west, and leaving his home September 2, 1830, he landed in Detroit, Mich., on the 22nd of the same month, and proceeded northward to Grand Blanc and Flint river. He wintered on Flint river in 1830 and 1831, when but two families occupied the site of what is now the city of Flint. His mother and two sisters followed him in June, 1831, and together they settled on eighty acres of land in the Grand Blanc settlement, that he located and purchased from the government. In the winter of 1831-2 he taught school in Grand Blanc, it being the second term of school taught in the lower Penisula of Michigan north of Waterford. In November, 1831, buesiness called him to Saginaw, and the large river of fertile soil were so attractive that he determined to have a home on the banks of the Saginaw, and purchased land there from the government. In 1836 he sold his farm on the Saginaw river and purchased 256 acres upon which, in July that year, he laid out the village of Portsmouth, now a part of Bay City, which was the first move made toward building a town that vacinity, what was afterwards Lower Saginaw, and Bay City proper at that time an Indian reservation. He determined on building a steam saw mill on the Portsmouth track, and went to Ohio to purchase machinery. This was shipped to Detroit, where after hunting for two weeks for a vessel to charter he found one, but the price of the charter to Portsmouth and furnish own crew was one-third the value of the vessel, and so he bought it and manned her. Loading his mill machinery and $4,000 worth of merchandize, he saw his vessel sail from Detroit with a fair wind on the 22d of November, while he himself started overland for Saginaw on a pony. Cold weather had set in and the roads were almost impassable, so that when he reached Flint he was told he might as well leave his pony there as to leave it in the woods, for it was impossible for a horse to get to Saginaw. Being worn with fatigue and illness he was unable to get to Saginaw, and so purchased a canoe and started down the Flint river to reach his distination. Twenty-five miles down he found the river blocked with ice; he hauled his canoe ashore and followed the bank, but soon encountered a bayou where he had to wade in water breast deep, breaking the ice with his arms. After innumerable difficulties he reached Portsmouth, only to find the mouth of the river closed with ice and no sight of the vessel. After waiting in suspence two or three weeks he learned that the unfaithful captain had laid up his vessel at Port Huron, and was living on board with his family. On receiving the news Mr. Miller started on foot to go to Port Huron by way of Detroit, but on reaching Saginaw his worn body would no longer obey his will, and he was thrown upon a bed of sickness, where he remained three weeks before being able to pursue his journey to Detroit, where he found a friend had discharged the captain and paid off the crew, and thus stopped some of the heavy expenses at Port Huron. But his plan was to build a steam saw mill at Portsmouth, and every pound of iron and machinery for the mill, and all the goods were hauled on sleighs to Portsmouth, where the mill was put in operation in April 1837. The financial crash and "wild-cat" times were on. Nothing possessed solidity; the paper currency became worthless; Saginaw was isolated from the rest of the world by forty miles of wilderness, and although he attemped a mecantile business, circumstances were such that he found it a policy to abandon, and so, exchanging the forty acre lot of wild land (which is now part of East Saginaw) for a tract on the Tittabawasse river, he went to farming, which he continued from 1839 to 1847 when he again commenced the lumber business at the old Portsmouth mill, wchich, however, he abandoned in 1852, and from that time until 1874 he employed his time in clearing and cultivating and selling property on the Portsmouth tract. From 1878 to 1883 he engaged in reclaiming a large tract of marsh land, the embankment around which, however, was destroyed by an unusual rise of water. Besides this he was instrumental in organizing and was a stockholder and director in the first salt company that made salt in Bay county. He was a stockholder and director in the company organized to build the first railroad to Bay City. He caused the building of the first saw mill on the lower part of the Saginaw river. He was the first postmaster at Portsmouth, having received the appointment in 1837 from Amos Kendall, postmaster general under President Jackson. He was supervisor of the town of Saginaw in 1848, of Hampton in 1854, and of Portsmouth in 1860; was president of the village of Portsmouth in 1869 and 1870, and would have been mayor of Bay City in 1873 if there had not been to many democratic vote cast against him. In 1875 he was appointed by Governmor Bagley, agent of the State Board of Corrections and Chrarities for Bay county, which he held until his death. He has been a member of various temperance societies, and was instrumental in organizing the Pioneer and Historical Society of Michigan in 1874, of which he wwas the first president. The society has published twent-two volumes of its collections, many articles being Mr. Miller contributions. He united with the First Presbyterian church of Saginaw in February, 1839, and has been an elder in the church at Bay City for over thirty years. He was a delegate to the general assembly of the Presbyterian church at Philadelphia in 1863 and in 1870, and of Brooklyn in 1876. In politics he was a democrat until the formation of the republican party, having been always opposed to the aggresive power of the slave holders and to the extension of the institution of slavery.


By His Friend, R. C. Crawford.

In looking through this hall today, I recognized one vacant chair.
Made vacant by the hand of death, since we were last assembled here;
Judge Albert Miller comes no more, to greet his fellow pioneers.
We shall not shake his hand today, as we have done in former years.

For nineteen years, that grand good man, was want to occupy that chair,
Not vacant once in the all this time, when we have met as pioneers;
He sat with gladness in his eyes, with smiles upon his mabnly face;
And you and I can ne'er forget, how oft he stood with manly grace.

Supported by his crutch, and rattled off a thrilling speech. Both shore and sweet, and full of wit, a work for all, a word for each. Which warmed our hearts, and cheered us on, reminding us of former years, When we were young, and hale and strong, and recognized as pioneers.

But we shall hear his voice no more, his manly form we shall not see,
Until we reach the far off shore and enter our eternity;
And surely it will not be long, ere we shall go, as he has gone,
And join him in the glory world, and sing with him redemption's song.

And while we miss him from our ranks, and gaze his vacant chair,
We fee assured he's reached the goal for which he strove for many years;
The gates of heaven opened wide, and Jesus said to him "well done,"
Enter thou in and here abide; thy fight is o'er, that victory's won.

Judge Miller was a noble man, a Christian whom the world will miss,
If all were like him, good and true, this world would be a paradise;
Although now dead, his influence lives; and must be felt while life shall last,
His bourscore years spent here on earth cannot be lost, although he's passed.

Beyond he gase of mortals here, where man must walk by faith alone,
And where we may not come to know, the good our lives on earth have done;
But when we reach that world of light, and join Judge Miller over there,
And look upon his crown so bright, we'll learn he lived for purpose here.

And even hough his work is done, and he is entered into rest,
The life he lived continues on, and will as long as time shall last;
And generations yet to come, will learn of him and of his life,
Of how he fought and how he won, and never faltered in the strife.

And how at last he gained the crown and entered heaven the last of rest,
And heard the Master say, well done, come in, and be forever blest;
And this will stimulate their zeal, to deed of virtue, and of love,
And they will strive to reach the goal our friend has reached, in heaven above.

His life was not a life of ease, but full hardships, toil and strife,
Ofttimes he sailed o'er boisterous seas, with adverse winds when storms were rife;
But midst it all he kept his eye fixed on the goal he strove to gain, And when the good man came to die, he found he had note striven in vain.

And while we gather here today, me thinks I see hime over there,
With Holmes and Baxter, Wells and Wing, and many other pioneers,
Like Longyear, Brockway, Popplton, and others who preceded them,
All of the friends we loved on earth, but the will never come again.

To me it is a cheering thought, that since there must come partings here,
We'll meet again, when life goes out, and there's no parting over there;
And those who meet shall part no more, and none have cause to weep or mourn.

For God shall wipe away all tears, and cause each heart to leap for joy,
To us it doth not yet appear, what life will be without alloy;
But when we reach that world of light, and join our friends who went before,
We then will comprehend it all, and find "twas well worth striving for.

Our friend, Judge Miller, strove for years at duty's call, to reach that goal,
And now with other pioneers he sure comprehends the whole; And could we ask hime how it seems, and he could answer our request,
He'd say no mortal knows, nor can, until he enters into rest.

So let us join, and say farewell, our brother, friend, brave pioneer,
We know you will not come again to join in our reunions here;
But we shall soon be over there, to join you in redemption's song,
And hope with you bright crowns to wear, and hear our Master say, "Well done."

Additional Notes.

    1860 - Census: Bay City, Bay, MI.
    Miller, Albert - b. 1810, Vermont
    Mary Ann, wife - b. 1815, England
    Emily, dau. - b. 1840, MI
    Sarah, dau. - b. 1848, MI
    Sarah, mother? - b. 1780 Vermont
    Daglish, Wm., ? - b. 1828, England

    1870 - Census, Portsmouth, Bay, MI. (dwelling 70):
    Miller, Albert, age 60, farmer, b. Vermont
    Miller, Mary, age 55, keeping house, b. England
    Miller, Sarah, age 22, without occupation, b. Mich.
    Daglish, William, age 42, lawyer, b. England
    Daglish, Emily, age 30, without occupation, b. Mich.
    Williams, George, age 18, domestic servant, b. Virginia
    Hage, Eva, age 19, domestic servant, b. New York
    Daglish, Albert, age 4, --, b. Mich.

    1893 - Michigan Deaths: Bay City, Bay, MI.
    Albert Miller born 1810, Vermont died September 18, 1893.

Related Note & Pages

Albert Miller

Albert Miller died at his Bay City home on September 19, 1893. His wife Mary died on April 23, 1904, at the of her daughter, Mrs. C.L. Collins, in Bay City. Mr. Miller was one of the leading pioneers in capturing history of the people and settlements.
Related Pages:
Daglish, William
First Presbyterian Church
Lewis & Miller Mill

Articles by A. Miller:
1st Saw Mills
Lumbering, Sag. Valley
People Referenced
Bagley, Gov. MI
Baxter, Mr.
Brockway, Mr.
Crawford, R.C.
Daglish, Albert
Daglish, Emily Mrs.
Daglish, Mary Ann (wife)
Daglish, William
Hage, Eva
Hodgman, Lot
Hodgman, Sarah (mother)
Holms, Mr.
Jackson, Pres.
Kindall, Amos
Longyear, Mr.
Mason, Stevens T.
Miller, Albert (subject)
Miller, Emily (dau.)
Miller, Jeremy (father)
Miller, Johnathan (g-father)
Miller, Sarah (dua.)
popplton, Mr.
Wells, Mr.
Wing, Mr.
Williams, George
Subjects Referenced
Bay City, MI
Bay County, MI
Brooklyn, NY
Concord, MA
Detroit, MI
East Saginaw, MI
Genesee Co., MI
Grand Blanc, MI
First Presbyterian Ch.
Flint, MI
Flint river, MI
Grand Blanc, MI
Hampton, MI
Hartland, VT
Kimball & Union Academy
Lansing, MI
Lower Saginaw, MI
Meriden, NH
Mich. Historical Society
Middletown, CT
New York
Philadelphia, PA
Port Huron, MI
Portsmouth, MI
Plymouth Rock
Saginaw Co., MI
Saginaw River, MI
Saginaw Twp., MI
State legislature
Shiawassee River
Titabawassee River
Waterford, MI
Windsor Co., VT
Internet References
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  • WRITINGS: History As It Was Written Then.