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I reunite identified family photos that I find in antique shops and second hand stores with genealogists and family historians. If you see one of your ancestors here and would like to obtain the original, feel free to contact me. Donations of pre-1920 photographs are also most welcome. I hope you enjoy your visit!
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Monday, May 12, 2014

A Serious Little Girl: Alice Ruhl Miller, 1863-1914, Lancaster County, PA


 


On the back of this carte de visite photograph there are two notations, one in pencil and the other in ballpoint ink:  “Alice Miller, Mother’s Mother at 6 years” and “Alice Ruhl Miller."  The photographer’s imprint tells us the image was taken at Gill’s City Gallery on King Street in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.  William L. Gill (1827-1893) operated his studio from roughly 1859-18821.  The style of the cdv, along with the child’s outfit, suggests a date late into the 1860s, probably a just few years after the end of the civil war. 


Operating on the assumption that Alice’s maiden name was Ruhl, and that Miller was a married name, I set off to locate any plausible candidates on the online databases to which I have access. I began the search in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania with the 1870 census. 

There is an Alice Ruhl, age eight, living in Upper Leacock, Lancaster, PA with Samuel Ruhl, a successful farmer, 47, Mary A. Ruhl, 18, and Henry Ruhl, 212. The value of Samuel's personal estate is, at this time, $5380. A check of the 1880 census showed that Samuel was Alice’s father3.  In 1880, Samuel’s wife is listed as Sarah Ruhl, 47, but Sarah was not Alice’s biological mother, and it is likely they were married sometime between 1870 and 1880.  According to a write up about Alice’s brother, Harry H. Ruhl, in a local history covering Lancaster County, Samuel’s wife was Susan Hackman, daughter of Jacob Hackman of Indiana4.  Susan[na] Hackman Ruhl died in 1868, leaving seven children without a mother, just around the time I suspect our Alice was photographed at Gill’s Studio.  The same biographical account mentions that Alice became the wife of Martin Miller of Akron, PA.

Looking back through earlier censuses, a more complete picture of Alice’s family emerges.  In Rapho, Lancaster County in 1850, Samuel and Susanna Ruhl’s young family consisted of Susan, born 1846, Elizabeth, born 1847 and Henry [Harry H.], born 18485.  Ten years later, now located in West Earl in the same county, three additions to the family have been made:  Mary Ann, born 1852 (the “Mary A.” who appears in the 1870 census), Samuel, born 1855, and Fyanna [Fianna], born 18596.

It appears that Martin Miller and Alice Ruhl were married sometime around 1880 and made their home in Ephrata, PA, according to the 1900 Federal Census7 but a marriage record would have to be found to confirm this.  Alice had fourteen children but only 12 were still alive in 19108.  Their children were:   Lizzie, Irvin, Charles, Maimie, John, Mabel, Martin, Loyd, Alice, Margie, Eva, Maude and Alvertta.  I do not have a name for one of the children.

Alice Ruhl Miller died on January 11, 1914, in Lancaster County at 50 years of age, and is buried next to her husband, Martin, in Rothsville Lutheran Cemetery9If the Alice Ruhl Miller in the photograph is the same person I've researched, this photo would have been taken around 1868-70.



1 Lancaster County's Historical Society & President James Buchanan's Wheatland, "Lancaster Photographers: William L. Gill" LancasterHistory.org (Online Lancaster County's Historical Society & President James Buchanan's Wheatland, 2012) < http://lancasterhistory.org>, 21 Jun 2013.
2 1870 U.S. census, Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, population schedule, Leacock Post Office, pages 38 & 39 (penned), dwelling 302, family 315, Samuel Ruhl household; digital image, Ancestry.ca (http://www.ancestry.ca : accessed 24 June 2013); citing National Archives microfilm publication M593, roll 1356.
3 1880 U.S. census, Warwick Township, Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, population schedule, enumeration district (ED) 118, p. 298 (stamped), dwelling 55, family 63, Samuel Ruhl household; digital image, Ancestry.ca (http://www.ancestry.ca : accessed 24 June 2013); citing National Archives microf ilm publication T9, roll 1140.
4 Biographical annals of Lancaster County, Pennsylvania : containing biographical and genealogical sketches of prominent and representative citizens and of many of the early settlers. (Chicago: J.H. Beers & Co., 1903), 1017; digital images, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.ca : accessed 22 Jun 2013).
5 1850 U.S. census, Rapho, Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, population schedule, p.360A (stamped), dwelling 150, family 156, Samuel Ruhl household; digital image, Ancestry.ca (http://www.ancestry.ca : accessed 22 Jun 2013); citing National Archives microfilm publication M432, roll 787.
6 1860 U.S. census, West Earl Township, Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, population schedule, p.225 (stamped), dwelling 73, family 73, Samuel Ruhl household; digital image, Ancestry.ca (http://www.ancestry.ca : accessed 02 Jul 2013); citing National Archives microfilm publication M653, roll 1122.
7 1900 U.S. census, Ephrata, Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, population schedule, enumeration district (ED) 0039, p. 10B (stamped), dwelling 220, family 224, Martin E. Miller household; digital image, Ancestry.ca (http://www.ancestry.ca : accessed 2 Jul 2013); citing National Archives microfilm publication T623, roll 1423.
8 1910 U.S. census, Ephrata township, Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, population schedule, enumeration district (ED) 47, sheet 4-B, dwelling 81, family 90, Martin Miller household; digital image, Ancestry.ca (http://www.ancestry.ca : accessed 4 Apr 2013); citing National Archives microfilm publication T624, roll 1353.
9 Find A Grave, database and images (http://findagrave.com : accessed 20 Apr 2014), memorial page for Alice H. Ruhl Miller (1863 -1914), Find A Grave Memorial no. 84159139, citing Rothsville Lutheran Cemetery, Rothsville, Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. Memorial created by Denise Witwer Lahr.

3 comments:

  1. Seems like you have the right person. I found this post interesting since I live nearby and recognize all the place names! I wonder how many grand and great-grandchildren she has/had - must have been a boatload.

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  2. It's hard to say. I guess we won't know for sure unless someone has an image of Alice. Even though the Alice I researched may have been a member of the Lutheran Church, as were some of her siblings, her parents belonged to the United Brethren Church, which I understand is a Mennonite Church. Someone told me that her outfit isn't in line with what one would expect of a Mennonite girl, and that it is unlikely a Mennonite father would spend money on an image such as this. So, I don't know. Alice's sister was married at the time this photo would have been taken, and her husband was not Mennonite...perhaps the young, motherless girl was staying with them, or another family for a short while. I don't know. It seems to fit so well, but this is truly an example of "the only thing that's for sure, is that nothing's for sure."

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  3. http://books.google.com/books?id=HM4xAQAAMAAJ (search for Ruhl or go to page 1017) It doesn't tell us much more than you know - but its a good narrative.

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