Sunday, May 20, 2012

Almost There

Charles Stewart Miller (1804-1849)

My third great-grandfather

Me --> Bruce Albert Buchanan --> Robert Amos Buchanan --> June Miller Eckstein Buchanan --> James Miller --> Charles Stewart Miller

The Millers were coal miners in Scotland. Life as a coal miner in Scotland wasn't easy. Charles' children are working in horrible conditions and not getting an education.  A Child Labor Law protecting young coal miners had just barely been passed.  Then his sixteen-year-old son comes home one day and tells him he has joined a new religion.  He wants Charles to join it to.  He does. Two years later he takes his wife and his 11 children and they set sail for America.

I think that the idea of emigrating to Utah would have seemed like both a spiritual and temporal salvation.  He could leave the horrid working conditions of coal mining and seek a better life for his children.  They would be able to go to school and not face the dangers of accidents and explosions.

How excited he must have been to land in New Orleans and set off for St. Louis, their last stop before they reach Utah. Sitting on the riverboat he probably thought, "I'm almost there."  After landing in St. Louis, his son gets cholera and dies on June 22.  Then his wife and then another son.  Charles also gets cholera and dies on the Fourth of July.  It seems almost cruel that his life should end on the same day that the country celebrates its beginning.

Did he regret coming, knowing he was now leaving his nine remaining children as orphans in a foreign land?  Maybe he knew that my second great grandfather James would assume the role as head of the family and raise enough money so that they could leave for Utah the next year.  Maybe he knew that they would all marry and give him over 90 grandchildren.  Maybe he even received an inkling that one of those grandchildren would have a grandson who would one day become the president of the Church he had just joined.

Maybe he felt that "almost there" was close enough.

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