Charles Aldrille Miller

Charles Aldrille Miller was born on December 13, 1839, in Plainfield, Kent County, Michigan, the son of George (1799-1884) and Ann or Anna (Akley or Akerley, 1797-1877).

Both New York natives his parents were married in 1819 in Delaware County, New York (where George had been born). The family moved west and settled in Kent County in 1837. Charles was the fourteenth of sixteen children born to George and Anna. By 1860 Charles was living with his family in Plainfield, Kent County, settling on section 23, where his father eventually owned a substantial amount of property.

Charles was 21 years old and still living in Plainfield when he enlisted as Musician in Company F on May 13, 1861. He was absent sick from July of 1862 through November, and dropped from the company rolls on December 30, 1862. However, he was returned to the Regiment on March 25, 1863, at Camp Sickles, Virginia, and in April of 1864 he was reported to be guarding “contrabands” (runaway slaves) at Newport News, Virginia. Charles was a witness at the marriage of Laura Brewer and Ambrose Bell (his future brother-in-law), also formerly of Company F and who was also working with former slaves in the Norfolk, Virginia area. The wedding took place in Norfolk in March of 1863. Charles claimed later that he had been wounded in the right shin at the siege of Yorktown. He was mustered out on June 20, 1864, at Detroit.

After he left the army Charles eventually returned to Michigan and married New York native Annette Florilla Bell (1847-1921), on July 12, 1867, in Newaygo County, and they had at least eleven children: Winnie Grant (Mrs. Robert Blair, 1868-1951), Inez Opal (Mrs. Somers, 1885-1971), Leon (b. 1873), Cecil (b. 1877), Charnette (1870-1850), Clare (b. 1881), Guy Hugo (1883-1967), Earl Peter (1888-1963), Claude C. (1879-1969), Charles A. (1894-1932) and Lucy Maude (1886-1911). Annette was also the sister of Emer and Ambrose Bell, both formerly of Company F.

By 1870 Charles was working as a farmer and living with his wife and two children in Plainfield, Kent County; also living with them were two farm hands, the young teenage Darling brothers. (That same year his parents were also living on a large farm in Plainfield; in fact his father owned some $8500 worth of real estate.) In 1875 Charles and his family moved to Missaukee County, purchasing 160 acres in section 24 of West Branch township where he resided for many years. According to one source,

The land Mr. Miller took up in Missaukee county was at that time all wild and unimproved, but he has succeeded in reducing about forty acres of it to a fine cultivable condition and is reaping abundant harvests of hay and grain. He has a good dwelling, substantial barn and other out-buildings and has in many ways brought the place up to a high standard of cultivation. Besides his field crops, he also gives some attention to live stock and fruit, having a good orchard, which, though not as large as some others in the locality, is productive in degree.

By 1880 Charles was working as a and living with his wife and children in West Branch or Star City, Missaukee County; several doors away lived Ambrose Bell. Charles was living in Star city, Missaukee County in 1888 and 1890 (next door lived Ambrose Bell) and he and Annette were living in Star City in 1904. Indeed it is quite likely Charles lived in or near Star City for most of his life. He served as supervisor of West branch township and as justice of the peace as well as a school officer.

According to one source he had a “well earned reputation as a musician.” In fact, it was noted that “served in the army in the capcity of a musician and since his return to peaceful pursuits he has maintained his interest in the art. He is the possessor of valuable instruments and frequently delights his friends with his renditions.”

In 1864 Charles applied for and received a pension (no. 858329).

He was a member of the Caldwell GAR Post in Lake City, the Star City Grange, the Star City Church and Patrons of Husbandry. He reportedly attended the 50th Reunion at Gettysburg in the summer of 1913.

Charles died of cancer of the stomach on November 1, 1913, probably at his home in Missaukee County and was buried in Star City cemetery.

In 1914 his widow applied for and received a pension (no. 772858). By 1920 Annette was still living in West Branch (as the head of the household), Missaukee County; also living with her was her young son Charles E., her daughter Inez Somers and Inez’s daughter Juliette. Next door lived her son Leon and his family.