From Lovettsville to Missouri

By Ken Weyand[i]

My great-grandfather, Joseph Miller, was born Sept. 19, 1802, in northern Loudoun County, Virgina, in what was then known as “The German Settlement.” This area settled as early as the 1730s by German farmers who had originally emigrated to Pennsylvania, and then moved into Maryland and Virginia. In 1820, many years after the first settlers had arrived, a town was laid out in this area, which was later named Lovettsville.

On Feb. 11, 1830, Joseph Miller married Mary Anne (Molly) Waltman, who was born Jan. 10, 1810, in the German Settlement.

Joe Miller and his wife, Mary (Waltman) Miller, in a photo taken late in life, when they were retired and living in Warsaw, Illinois.


According to, Mary Anne’s grandfather (or perhaps great-grandfather), Johann Emanuel Waldmann, was born in 1715 in Appenhofen, Rheinland-Pfalz, in Bavaria.  

In 1768, Johann emigrated from Germany to Philadelphia aboard the ship “Crawford.” He likely traveled on the “Great Wagon Road” southeast of Philadelphia, left the road at the Monocacy River and continued to the Potomac, where he forded the river to Virginia.  He would join other German farmers in the community known as the “German Settlement” that would eventually become Lovettsville.

Emanuel and his wife, Margaretha, lived the remainder of the lives in the German Settlement. Emanuel died in 1784. Both he and his wife are buried at the New Jerusalem Lutheran Church in Lovettsville.

As early as 1798, according to Loudoun County records, Emanuel‘s son [grandson?] Jacob Waltman Jr. had a grant to operate a ferry to the town of Berlin (now Brunswick) on the Maryland side of the Potomac River. The ferry was known as the Waltman Ferry. In 1822 he was licensed to operate the Loudoun-Berlin Ferry at the German Crossing,

Jacob, was born in 1769, probably in the same German town as his father. However, two of his brothers, John and Emanuel Jr., were born in Loudoun County, Virginia. Jacob was 41 and living in Lovettsville with his wife, Elizabeth Ropp, 23, when Mary Anne Waltman was born in 1810.

Joseph Waltman (1800-1870), Mary Anne’s half-brother, became a successful businessman across the river in Berlin.  In his will, he left funds for a number of Lutheran churches, including Bethany Lutheran in Berlin/Brunswick, Luther Chapel in Petersville, and the Lutheran Church in Knoxville, plus New Jerusalem in Lovettsville.


For years, it has been assumed that Joseph Miller’s roots were in England, and includes three other families that made this claim. However, an 1880 Census quoted Joseph as claiming his father was born in Germany. Since the “German Settlement” was settled almost entirely by German immigrants, the English origin theory is doubtful. Also, it has been pointed out that this area was German-speaking until around 1830, when the Lutheran and German Reformed Churches converted their worship services from German to English.

A strong argument against Joseph having English roots, is that an 1880 Illinois census, taken when Joseph was retired and living in Warsaw, quotes him as telling the census taker he was of the opinion his father was born in Germany.

New research on has found that seven families had indicated Joseph Miller’s father was George Michael Miller, born March 14, 1772 in York, Pennsylvania. He was the son of Andrew Jacob Muller, who had immigrated from Hesse, Germany. If the hints on are to be accepted, the Muller family can be traced to the 1600s, and are part of the “Palatinate Immigration” of Germans who settled in Pennsylvania and relocated to Loudoun County, Virginia.

Other sources cite another George Michael Miller, also from Germany, who settled in another area of Virginia. Because there were many Millers with similar names, more research is needed. But the German Palatinate Immigration of the 1700s likely included Joseph Miller’s family, who apparently were living in Loudoun County in the early 1802 when Joseph was born.

According to the Lovettsville Historical Society, Joseph Miller built a large brick house on the Back Street (Pennsylvania Avenue) in Lovettsville around 1836 – although some sources claim that this house predates the American Revolution.

Today the house is known as Willard Hall, named for one of its later owners, Dr. James Willard, who had been a surgeon with the Potomac Home Brigade, a Maryland Unionist unit, during the Civil War.  He had treated wounded soldiers at the old Presbyterian Church in Lovettsville, then being used as a military hospital, and he wanted to return to Lovettsville after the War. Dr. Willard purchased the house in 1868.

Four of Joseph and Molly’s ten children were born in Lovettsville: Americus Columbus (1831), Virginia (1836), Flavius Josephus (1837), and Susan (1838). In spite of the couple’s Southern roots, their first-born son, Americus, would join the local guard in Missouri, a part of the Union Army.

However, this may not be surprising, considering that the Lovettsville precinct voted overwhelming against secession in 1861. Northern Loudoun County raised a Unionist cavalry unit, the Loudoun Rangers, who fought for the North.

However, at one time my dad remarked that he had been told that his Pennsylvania-born father, Will, had been “looked down on” by his future in-laws years later, who considered their daughter’s beau to be a “Yankee,” and not part of their “Southern culture.”

Willard Hall, at Pennsylvania and Light Streets in the Lovettsville Historic District, was built by Joseph Miller in 1836 and is one of Lovettsville’s largest and most elegant homes.


According to the Lovettsville Historical Society, Mary Anne inherited 160 acres of Missouri farmland from her grandfather, George Jacob Waldmann, when he died in 1823. In 1839, after their fourth child, Susan, was born, the family, along with other families, including Lockharts, Waltmans, and Wenners, journeyed in ox-drawn covered wagons to northeast Missouri, which had been admitted to the Union in 1821. Census records indicate that two enslaved women were included in the group, probably working as helpers for Molly. There is no mention of them after the party arrived in Missouri, or in later obituaries.

The 1839 trek was remarkable, in that few roads existed at the time, and their long trip required making use of Indian trails along the rivers. By the time Joseph Miller and his party made their journey, Indian tribes in Missouri had been resettled, and homesteaders were welcomed. According to Joseph’s obituary, he and his family originally settled in LaGrange, a bustling settlement on the Mississippi River in Lewis County, where Joseph engaged in “commercial business.”

(As an aside, one of LaGrange’s early developers was a homebuilder named A. C. Waltman. Although no connection to Mary Anne’s relatives has been made, it’s possible he may have influenced their decision to settle in LaGrange. An 1853 restored home in LaGrange is called the “Waltman House,” and is on the National Register of Historic Places.)

An early trail through the wilderness, from LaGrange to Memphis, is the likely route that the Millers and the other members of their party used to journey to Scotland County and begin establishing their homesteads.

Joseph Miller homesteaded (or purchased) several tracts of farmland in Scotland County to the west, with some of the plats under the name of his oldest son, Americus. The tracts later would be known as Black Oak Farms–and still later Oakdale Farms–with the Miller family becoming known in the 1850s as major producers of registered Shorthorn cattle and other livestock.

Joseph later would serve as Postmaster for the local post office in Prospect Grove near the farm he personally managed. According to his obituary, he also served as the area’s first Justice of the Peace.

In 1880, Joseph and Mollie Miller retired in Warsaw, Illinois, where their two youngest daughters, Hester (born in 1852) and Mary Frances (born in 1856) operated a millinery shop. Their large home was one of the largest residences in the town. Letters between Molly and Willie during their courting years indicated the Miller house was the scene of much activity and the Millers entertained many visitors, including some of their other family members who lived in Missouri.

Joseph died in 1886 and Molly the following year. The couple is buried in the Prospect Grove Cemetery in Scotland County, Missouri, with several other family members. However, their first-born, Americus, is buried in the Black Oak Cemetery, north of Granger.

Joseph, seventh-born child of Joseph and Mary Anne, donated a corner of his farm to build Black Oak School, which both my father and I attended. Joseph, educated at Wesleyan College in Mt. Pleasant, Iowa, was its first teacher. My dad taught there for a year after graduating from Kirksville Normal School.

The Miller homesteads, listed in an 1858 Plat map, later become Black Oak Farms and still later Oakdale Farms, and totaled several hundred acres by the 20th Century. But in the 1980s, high-interest loans resulted in bank takeovers, forcing younger generations to buy and rent their own farmland or take up other professions.

Born in 1856, Mary Frances (called Molly, like her mother) was Joseph and Mary Anne’s youngest child, and my grandmother. The above photo was taken at the time of her marriage to my grandfather, William (called Will) Weyand, in 1880. Their home and grocery was located at 12th and High Street in Keokuk, Iowa. The couple had nine children, eight of whom survived childhood. Their first son, William, died in 1884 at the age of two. Molly died in 1897. Willie died in 1900, leaving his eight children orphans, including my father, Elmer.

One of Joseph’s sons, Joseph Jr., “took in” my 7-year-old orphaned father, Elmer, in 1900, after the death of his father. My father, who had been given no middle name at birth, added “Joseph” to honor his uncle. He spent his early life with the Millers, helping with the farming and other chores. He later helped them show their prize Shorthorn cattle at various fairs and livestock shows until he could start developing his own nearby farm, Hillcrest Farm, where I grew up.

Another of Joseph Miller’s sons, Winfield Scott Miller, operated a farm near Luray in Clark County, Missouri (adjacent to Scotland County), and Keokuk, Iowa. My father farmed with him on a shares basis when he was in his 20s. According to my dad, the arrangement did not go smoothly, and they ended their partnership in 1919. There was a large sale of animals, grains, and equipment, with my dad taking his share of the proceeds and moving to Hillcrest Farm.

Joseph’s second-born son, Flavius, and his wife, Belle, at the time of their wedding in 1883. In 1874, Flavius bought land on the route of a new railroad, and operated a lumber-supply business in Granger, and was one of the town’s founders. He also was its postmaster and served as a banker until a bank was organized in 1896. He lived in Clark County and operated a farm near Kahoka, the county seat. His daughter, Lola, introduced my parents in 1926 on a blind date she had arranged.

Flavius (called “Uncle Flave” by my dad) died in 1917. He is buried in the Kahoka Cemetery.

The town pump, located in the center of Granger, a village in Scotland County, Missouri, co-founded in the 1870s by Flavius, one of Joseph Miller’s sons, who operated a lumber supply business and later served the growing town as postmaster and temporary banker.

The graveled street west of the pump was named Miller Street, for my great-uncle. To the east, it was called Main Street. Granger, located on the Keokuk & Western Railroad, prospered at first. In its heyday in the early 1900s there were two hotels and a bank, several stores, two churches, a two-story school building, a barbershop, a post office and a telephone office. But its population peaked at around 200 in the late 1920s and later faded to near-obscurity as improved roads caused farm families to shop at county seat towns.

Before I was born, my grandparents, Charley and Carrie Forrester, who lived in Kahoka, often used the railroad to visit my folks on the farm. When I was a youngster, I remember hearing the train whistle at night from our farmhouse, located more than three miles to the north of Granger. The railroad was abandoned in the early 1950s, and the village eventually became a virtual ghost town. The depot building was moved to a nearby farm to be used as a storage shed, and the tracks removed, eliminating any evidence that the rail line ever existed.

The Miller home in Warsaw, Illinois, probably in the late 1800s. The house, built by combining several structures, was one of the largest in the town, and a showplace, with other family members often visiting, along with friends and neighbors. Molly, the youngest daughter, lived here and described early-day social functions in saved letters. She was living in the house in the late 1870s when my grandfather, Will Weyand, “came courting” from Keokuk on the “Plough Boy,” a small packet boat that operated on the Mississippi between Keokuk (Iowa), Alexandria (Iowa), and Warsaw (Illinois). Molly and Will married in 1880 and settled in Keokuk.

Joseph lived in the Warsaw house until his death in 1886. The house was sold shortly after 1887 when Mary Anne, Joseph’s widow, died.

When I saw the house as a youngster in about 1950, it was already derelict and collapsing, and plans were being made for its demolition. The site is currently an empty lot.

[i] Ken Weyand, a descendant of the Miller and Waltman families of Lovettsville, was born in 1937, and now lives in Kansas City, Missouri.