Francis Benjamin Miller, 1838-1901
Francis Benjamin Miller, known as “Ben,” was the last child in the Joseph Dundas Miller family. His older brother, William Charles, raised him after their father’s death and he later became a shipbroker in the William Charles Miller Company. He traveled on business to South America, Australia and the European continent.
In 1863 Ben married Charlotte Elizabeth Taylor. They had two sons, Francis Spurstow and William Joseph, before she died in 1873. She was buried in Anfield Cemetery, next to Antoninha Miller, infant daughter of Benjamin’s older brother Henry. Charlotte was just twenty-six.
Benjamin remarried in 1876 to Frances Louise “Fanny” Frodsham of Liverpool. Daughter Rose was born the following year and Frederick Charles a year later.
In the spring of 1880 the family sailed for Canada, minus Francis Spurstow who had joined the Royal Navy. They landed in Toronto and rode the train to Winnipeg. From there they traveled to just west of Winnipeg and then by wagon to Solsgirth where their 640 acres awaited. Ben and Willie built the home and barn. They named their farm "Rose Vale." Fanny gave birth to twins, Dorothy and Bernard West. Dorothy died a short time later.
Three more children were born in the next few years: Gerald Hope, Helen and Ruby Blanche. Life was tough and everyone worked hard. Benjamin died in 1901, age sixty-three and Willie died in 1903, age thirty-nine. Both were buried in the St. James Church cemetery.
William Joseph Miller, 1864-1904
William, the second son, known as Willie, was born in Liverpool. His father took the family to South America when Willie was a boy, possibly hoping to start a new life there, but it did not work out and the family returned to England. William’s mother, Charlotte, died after their return. His father remarried in 1877 and eventually decided to get out of the shipping business. With his new wife, Fanny, 16-year-old William, and William’s two young half siblings, Rose and Frederick Charles, the family left England in 1880 to homestead in Canada.
William was a big help to the family, being old enough to help with the journey and setting up the homestead. He bought horses, cattle, and machinery, arranged for the construction of log stables and he helped audit the municipal books in Birtle which brought in extra money.
After his father died in 1901, Willie ran "Rose Vale." He never married. William died in Winnipeg of a ruptured appendix in 1904 and was buried in the St. James Anglican cemetery where his father and sister Ruby are also buried.
In a letter to a cousin, his brother Frank said of him, “Willie was one of the finest characters I have ever known. Sacrificed his whole life and joy for the family, and also he was taken at an early age.”
Ruby Blanche Miller, 1887-1953
Ruby was the youngest child of Benjamin and Fanny. After her father died in 1901 Ruby lived with her mother and sister in Birtle for four years. After that they travelled abroad, staying in England for two summers and touring the continent during the winter months. They eventually returned to Canada and settled in Winnipeg. When her mother’s health began to deteriorate, they moved in 1913 to California, settling in the Los Angeles area. Ruby applied for citizenship and in 1935 took the oath and became an American citizen.
Ruby went to work for the Lasky Studio which later became Paramount Studios. Ruby was in charge of the script typists and cutters. An article about Ruby in a Winnipeg newspaper wrote of her: “Nearly every cutter and script girl on the lot has worked under Miss Miller’s supervision and the loyalty with which they regard her is amazing. No matter how long they stay away from here or what other studio they attach themselves to, they consider themselves as Ruby Miller’s girls.” She worked at the time of Douglas Fairbanks, Mary Pickford and Charlie Chaplin.
Ruby also worked as a secretary for the local YMCA and then as a secretary for St. Stephens Episcopal Church in Hollywood. After her death in 1953 she was cremated at the Chapel of the Pines in Los Angeles and her ashes buried in the St. James Anglican Cemetery in Solsgirth where her father and brother were buried.
Francis Benjamin Miller
Children of Benjamin Miller
Graveyard photos courtesy of Donna J. Sararas on Find A Grave
Anne Healy's Genealogy, Created October 2002
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30 December 2022
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