About Hiram Owens Miller
Age, 29 Survived.
Although Miller is not generally included in rosters of the Donner Party, he was a member of the original Springfield group. He was a friend of James F. Reed’s, but worked for the Donners. Tamzene Donner mentions Miller in her letter of June 21, 1846, along with her other employees John Denton and Noah James. On May 12, 1846, the day the Donners and Reeds left Independence, Miller began making daily entries in a journal. When he left the company, the entries were kept up by Reed. This document, the Miller-Reed diary, is one of the most important sources of the Donner Party’s itinerary. Miller left the company on July 2 to join eight other single men who left their wagons and set out with packmules. This, the Bryant-Russell Party, was the first group to take Hastings Cutoff. Miller later helped rescue the trapped emigrants as a member of the Second and Third Reliefs. Shortly after the disaster, Alcalde John Sinclair appointed Miller guardian for George Donner’s daughters, a role that was later taken over by their half-sister Elitha’s husband, Benjamin Wilder. Eliza did not remember Miller with any fondness, for he had been unkind to her while on the Third Relief. When he came to see her and Georgia in 1852, Eliza recalled, many years later:
Mr. Miller’s stocky form in coarse, dark clothes, his cold gray eyes, uneven locks, stubby beard, and teeth and lips browned by tobacco chewing, were not unfamiliar; but he looked less tired, more patient, and was a kindlier spoken man than I had remembered.
Miller settled in Santa Clara County near his friend James Reed. At the beginning of the gold rush he did a booming business: "Hiram Miller, blacksmith (you know him,) was worked down in making picks, night and day. He has made money," Reed wrote in 1848. Miller contracted smallpox in the early 1860s and lived with the Reeds as an invalid for the last five years of his life. He is buried at Oak Hill Cemetery in San Jose next to the Reed-Lewis family plot.
Parents: George H. Miller (b. abt 1792 in KY, d. 1839 in Sangamon Co., IL) and Polly Owens (b. 7 Dec 1796 in KY, d. 1875 in Sangamon Co., IL)
b. abt 1817 d. 19 Oct 1867 in San Jose, Santa Clara Co., CA