Posted by Cathy Gowdy on Thursday, April 27, 2006 at 06:15:51 :
The Marin Journal
Thursday, March 16, 1916
Oldest Pioneer Passed Away
William J. Miller, Noted Man in Local History Takes Last Journey
William J. Miller, whose history has been linked with that of Marin county since 1844 when he arrived here via the plains with his parents, died at his home on Fifth avenue early Wednesday morning at the age of 80 years.
The death marks the passing of one of the county’s foremost men. He had served his district in the state legislature, was the president of the San Rafael Board of Trustees, and was also postmaster of this town during t he Cleveland administration.
At the age of eight years he came to this county, with his father, James Miller, and his mother, as a member of the Miller-Murphy party. The Miller family settled in this section, and the Murphys journeyed on to San Jose, where today there live many descendants of the pioneers.
Death had been expected for several weeks, and, although a sad shock, it did not come as a surprise. It had been many days since the deceased had been a familiar figure on the streets.
The surviving relatives are Bernard Miller, a brother; Miss Teresa Miller and Mrs. Joseph Kirk, wife of the attorney for the San Francisco Board of Trade, sisters, and Alphonso and George Miller, sons.
William J. Miller’s life story is a bit of interesting history. In the early days he saw with clear vision that the land, held to be so cheap in those days, would some day have an immense value, so, with his father, he acquired thousands of acres, estimated by some to be as much as thirty thousand, in the Nicasio district. It was Miller’s fond hope at one time to see the county seat of Marin located at Nicasio. Visioning the realization of the dream, he built a hostelry there and marked off a pretty plot of green to be made into a park. But the dream did not materialize.
For many years he lived at the home built by his father, “Miller Hall,” a place famous for its hospitality in the young days of the county. The later years of his life were spent in retirement, and he chose a pretty home on Fifth avenue, less than five hundred feet from the spot where the Miller-Murphy party landed at the Mission, long since gone, when it first reached San Rafael.
At that time, Don Timoteo Murphy, Don Antonio Osio and but two or three others were the sole inhabitants of the community, exclusive of the Mission fathers.
William Miller’s father secured 640 acres of land from Don Murphy and erected a small shake shack for his family. A few years later he built the home that became famous as Miller Hall. After the death of his father, the young man continued to acquire property until he owned and controlled a vast acreage.
William Miller lived a long and good life; in private pursuits and public duties he met many men and was confronted with the perplexities that face all, but he leaves a clear name, scores of loving friends and the aching hearts of his family circle.
The funeral, for which complete arrangements have not been made, will be held tomorrow, under the direction of Stephen Eden.
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