Vernon was the eldest of 7 children, 4 boys and 3 girls. He lived in the house built by Thomas Harrison Miller, his father, until he married, then moved to a farm east of there near Roscoe Miller. Just as Thomas Harrison Miller had, Vernon raised Polled Angus cattle, Poland China hogs and fine horses.
Thomas Harrison Miller was the President of the school board when Dad was a young boy.
MORNING FRESH WITH JODY BRESCH, Thursday, March 6, 2014:
"Anyone can give up. It's the easiest thing in the world to do. But to hold it together when everyone else would understand if you fell apart, that's true strength."
I didn't say this. I don't know who said it, but I copied it in a little notebook I keep to give to my grandson, Treaven, some day, when he comes seeking the rest of his family. I didn't say it, but I think about it a lot. It has plenty to do with yesterday's thoughts about "Choices."
My paternal grandparents died before I was ever born, when my dad was about 10 years old. Vernon Miller was born 1895 to Thomas H. Miller (1853-1936) and Laura Emily (Emma) Fuson (1870-1947). Vernon died October 01, 1936. Audra died 8-14-1936 Vernon Miller and Audra Imo Bown were married 8-12-1922 in Adair County Missouri. Children include: Dorothy May Miller Cook (b. 7-8-1924), Nolan Lavern Miller (b. 2-17-1926), Bertha Lorene Miller Easley (b. 1-14-1928), and Dolan Dean Miller Redmon (b. 6-05-30). Dean was adopted by Ray and Hazel Redmon.
Note the dates they died: Aurdria, August 14, 1936, and Vernon, October 01, 1936. Lots of rumors circulated over the years about what Audria died from. I have a copy of her autopsy thanks to some brain-storming my cousin, Kevin, and I did a year ago, but truthfully, it simply raises more questions than it answers. What I do know is that she had surgery in a hospital in Kirksville and she had been recovering there. Vernon thought he was going to the hospital to pick her up and bring her home, only to discover she had died in the night.
Thanks to Kevin, I even have a copy of the suicide note Vernon left 6 weeks later. It tends to also confuse rather than clarify anything. What is obvious is that Vernon was in a bad state of mind, and had been for quite a while, especially so, right before his suicide. It was the Great Depression. Vernon was sick and struggling to pay the bills, and he had 4 minor children he was solely responsible for, one of them a baby in diapers. Some things he says make me wonder if he was clinically depressed, but none of us will truly ever know now.
Why do I bring this up? Because over the years, little pieces of this story began to emerge, and I began to realize there was a troubling aftermath to Vernon's suicide. Nobody who is a survivor of a family member's suicide is likely to tell you they were unphased by it. Think about this. In six weeks these four minor children lost the two most important people in their lives, their home, their family unit. The oldest two children went to live with the paternal grandparents. The youngest two children went to live with the maternal grandparents.
I would say in the end, Dorothy and my dad, Nolan, had a more solid and secure childhood with Uncle Manford as their custodial guardian that Bertha and Dean did. Bertha was in and out of several homes over a period of years, as was Dean, and then a family finally adopted Dean, but that could have never been an easy thing either, because by then Dean was a handful with some mental health issues of his own.
Ask me if I think Vernon should have held it together for his children's' sakes, I will give you an unequivocal "Yes!" It's obvious from things he said in his suicide note that he loved them, and he wanted them to have a happy life. Who better to see that that happens than their parent who loves them? It's a crap shoot when you leave your children in the shoals and riptides of untested waters. You can never be sure how it's going to turn out. All I can say is, Vernon didn't hold things together, and his children lived with the consequences of that, sometimes painfully lived with them.
I'm not blaming him. I never walked a mile in his moccasins. I don't have but a handful of clues about what was driving him at the time. It may have required amazing strength for him to hold it together from August 14, to October 1st.
Let's fast forward this to 2014 though, and back to our opening thoughts, "Anyone can give up. It's the easiest thing in the world to do. But to hold it together when everyone else would understand if you fell apart, that's true strength."
What happened to Vernon and Audria, and to their children in the aftermath of their deaths, that all has deeply impacted me and how I go the extra mile to hold things together when things start going wrong around here. Mike and I have been married now for forty-four years, and that leaves a lot of room over a lot of years for things to sometimes go wrong.
Has suicide ever crossed my mind? For a heartbeat maybe. But then I would always consider what happened to Dot, Nolan, Bertha, and Dean. That momentary aberration passes almost as fast as it occurred. I have people who rely on me, who depend on me, who need me, and not only do they need me, but they need me to hold it together when things begin to go wrong.
There will always be things I have no control over that are impacting our lives. That means I have to figure out the specifics that I do have some control over. Those specifics begin with how I get out of bed in the morning. Do I have a smile on my face or a frown? Do I enjoy breakfast or do I skip it? Do I give my son some encouraging words before he walks out the door or do I wallow in my own miseries and concerns? I hope you see where I'm going with this. In the day to day intimate workings of this family, do I attempt to establish and maintain as much normalcy as possible? Sometimes I do a better job of it than others, but at least, it's what I'm striving for.
Then, reaching out to the next level, do I do what is within my power to affect the circumstances that are making our lives a challenge? Do I seek information, research problems, reach out to people who can answer my questions, pro-actively work towards solutions to those problems? That can turn into a full-time job by itself if it's done thoroughly.
Finally, do I lay my burdens down at the foot of the cross somewhere, sometime each day, and say, "Jesus, take the wheel, because my problems are bigger than I am?"
I'm never in this alone. Deuteronomy 31:8 "The Lord will go before you, the Lord will walk beside you, the Lord will never forsake you. Do not fear, nor be dismayed."
Psalm 121: 1 "I will look unto the hills from which shall my help come." As long as I remember I'm not in any of this alone, that Jesus has my back, I've discovered that I can hold it together through a lot of life's challenges.
"Jesus, take the wheel, and I'll do my best to be your right hand navigator."
*By Twyla Salisbury
The Indian Hill Cemetery is located in Pettis Township 61, Section 34, Range 16. To reach it, you take Route H south from Kirksville to Highway 11. Take 11 south to Route N, take N to just east of Yarrow, turn south on a gravel road. Go past Route HH almost to the Macon County line about 3 miles. The cemetery is at the corner where the first gravel road goes east after HH>.
The cemetery started when Frances, daughter of Washington and Grace Miller, was buried on the Henry Nelson,Sr. Farm in 1850. Some Nelsons and perhaps others were already buried there. Hentry Nelson died in 1854 and Washington Miller bought the property. He marked off 1/2 acre as a cemetery before he died in 1855. In 1855 five Nelsons died from what was diagnosed as cholera. In 1884 two of Mrs. Miller's sons, Thomas and Daniel (half brothers), fenced the land and named it Indian Hill Cemetery, deeding it for use of the neighborhood, except for a 20'X30' plot for the Miller family on which were already buried John, Nancy, and Washington Miller, their graves mounded for easy location.
Millers, Glucks and Magers set out evergreens to mark their lots. Some of these trees still stand. In 1934 Creed Robinson and George Anspach built a wall on the west side to prevent caving in and erosion aand men of the neighborhood used cement blocks to mark all the known graves. (No names and dates.)>.
One grave is of an unknown alien teen-aged railroad worker who died in a brawl at the camp of the Iowa and St. Louis Railroad employees in 1904 or 1905. He was given a funeral by the neighborhood which followed the traditions of his native land. A field stone marks his grave.
February 8, 1940, Manford Miller deeded another 1/2 acre of land joining the cemetery on the south, free for burial to neighbors. There are 7 half lots with 6 graves each and 21 lots of 12 graves each in this section.
Indian Hill Extension Club in the 1950s held bake sales, etc. to raise money to beautify the cemetery, to fence the cemetery, put up a sign, and to purchase lawn mowers.
In 1970 a meeting was held to incorporate and raise money for perpetual care which has been done. The board consists of Manfor Miller, president; Cecil Belfield, vice president; Opal Magus, 2nd vice president; Ethel Miller, secretary- treasurer; Stanley Easley and Billie Lee, board members. Information was furnished by Ethel Miller.
The Legend of Mars Hill