Finding Lillie in the 1930 census

My great-grandmother Lillie CHAMBERS became a widow when her husband John Leland “Lee” MILLER died in 1916 in Paulina, Crook County, Oregon. Her oldest son was 20 and took over running the general store in the tiny town of Paulina.

Her two other sons were 16 and 8 in 1916. She came to Oregon in the 1890’s to teach school and that’s what she did until she married my great-grandfather. After his death she started teaching again and taught in various schools throughout Crook County.

I found Lillie and her two younger sons in the 1920 census still living in Paulina (listed as the Beaver Precinct in the Census¹):

1920 Census
Lillie Miller and her two sons–Eugene and Joe–listed at the bottom. She’s 48 years old, widowed and teaching public school

If you look at the top of the census form Lyle & May Miller are listed. Arthur Lyle MILLER was Lillie’s oldest son. Lyle and May were my grandparents. His occupation is “Retail Merchant–Groceries” and May’s occupation is “Postmistress–Government.” Lyle and May got married in 1918.

I searched for Lillie MILLER in the 1930 census records, but she wasn’t living in Paulina. I knew she didn’t die until the 1950’s and that she stayed in Crook County, Oregon and taught in various schools, but I was unable to find her.

However, one day when I was searching for my grandmother’s brothers and sisters to add to my family tree I found one of my grandmother’s brothers in the 1930 census² (see below) and when I looked down the page there was Lillie! She was boarding in someone’s home and still teaching school. She was still in Crook County, but was living in the Maury area of Crook County.

1930 Census, Maury, Crook, Oregon
Lillie Miller is near the bottom of this page. Listed as a boarder with the Morris family, 59 years old, widowed, teaching public school

The household above the Morris family shows James and Viola McCULLOUGH and their daughter Maxine. James was my Grandma May’s brother.

Finding Lillie in this census record was just chance on my part, but it did remind me to check the rest of the census page to see if there are other people I recognize on the page. And I have found other census records which show two or more families which are ancestors. For example, I found a census record in the 1800’s  which showed two families living next door to each other and I realized that a son and daughter from each family married a few years later. That’s always nice to find…and a good reminder to keep my eyes open!

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Source Info:

¹Year: 1920; Census Place: Beaver, Crook, Oregon; Roll: T625_1491; Page: 2A; Enumeration District: 28; Image: 475.

²Year: 1930; Census Place: Maury, Crook, Oregon; Roll: 1939; Page: 1A; Enumeration District: 0015; Image: 465.0; FHL microfilm: 2341673.

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A book for Central Oregon history buffs

crooked-river-countryCrooked River Country: Wranglers, Rogues, and Barons (linked to Amazon)

by David Braly

Published by Washington State University Press, Pullman, Washington, 2007

331 pages, includes a Select Bibliography, Chapter Index of Personages and a separate map in a pocket in the back cover

Synopsis from GoodreadsCrooked River Country is a sweeping account of north central Oregon’s thrilling history, primarily the years between 1800 and 1950. Bordered by intimidating natural barriers, the rough country and harsh winters produced equally hardy inhabitants.

Legends include Billy Chinook, Chief Paulina, Elisha Barnes, James M. Blakely, Newt Williamson, James J. Hill, Johnnie Hudspeth, and Les Schwab. In the early 1800s, only Native Americans, fur trappers, military expeditions, and missionaries roamed the forbidding setting, but after mid-century, pioneer families discovered lush pastures nestled in the expanse between the Cascades and the Blue Mountains.

The homestead boom sparked deadly Paiute raids and conflicts over grazing rights. As land became more precious, Native Americans were forced onto reservations and Vigilante ranchers terrorized settlers. Moonshiners fought back. Dishonest politicians and capitalists exploited land claim laws and stole vast amounts of timberland.

Steamship and railroad lines further opened the region, and the territory gradually became less wild. Big eastern lumber companies arrived and constructed the largest pine mills in the world. The stock market collapsed, and citizens faced severe economic depression intensified by prolonged drought. New Deal programs, good rainfall, and World War II eventually spurred industrial and population growth.

Crooked River Country presents the captivating and thoroughly researched saga of the region’s astonishing transformation.

I bought this book last week on Amazon and so far I’ve only read a couple of chapters and browsed through the book. I looked through the Index of Personages for any of my ancestors who lived in that part of the country and found my great-grandfather Lee MILLER. He’s mentioned in a paragraph about Paulina, Oregon.

Paulina had been founded in 1870, and its post office was established in 1880 with John T. Faulkner serving as postmaster. Livestock baron Bill Brown sometimes listed himself as a Paulina resident. Cornett had a stage station there, but the big businesses in the early 20th century were the Paulina Cash Store, operated by Lee Miller and George Ruba, and the Hotel Paulina, built by Elmer Clark in 1906. The hotel had a lounge, dining room, and kitchen on the first floor, and eight bedrooms upstairs. While a few homesteaders filed for land in the vicinity, the Paulina area remained a ranching district. (from Crooked River County by David Braly, p. 187)

It’s always nice to see a name I know in print! The book starts with early history of the area and continues to the early 1950’s with the last chapter talking about the growth and importance of Prineville, Oregon after WWII when the post-war building boom created the need for more lumber. The first chapter explores the area as a whole and defines Central Oregon as a larger area than how it’s defined today.

I grew up in Central Oregon and my parents were born there. My Miller relatives came to Oregon in 1847 on the Oregon Trail so even though I don’t live in Oregon any longer I have deep roots there. And lots of relatives all over Oregon. I think I will learn a lot more about the history of the area I grew up in.

About David Braly

From the back cover: He’s a Prineville resident, a former journalist, is a popular author of numerous articles about the West. He was selected as a 2005 Spur Award finalist for best Western short fiction.