Robert Wilson Miller, Sr. was born on January 15, 1879 in Palmerston, Frontenac County, Ontario. He was the son of John Wilson Miller and Victoria Zellena Dwinnell. According to this draft registration he had blue eyes and brown hair.
He immigrated to the United States with his family in 1881. At first they lived in Minnesota and then came west to San Diego.
At the time of the 1900 census he was living at home with his parents in San Diego.
According to the San Diego Directory, in 1900 he was a bookkeeper. In 1901 he was a laborer. From 1903 to 1910 he worked as a caulker for Spreckels Brothers Company. At the time of the 1910 census, he was living with his mother. In 1911 he was a caulker for Russ L & M Company. In 1912 and 1913 he was a caulker for Sterne Brothers Company.
For a short time he worked on a mining crew.
In 1914 he married May Treahy at age 35. Their life together and children are described in detail in the section on Robert and May Miller. From 1915 to 1917 he was a ship's carpenter. In 1918 he was a caulker SDD Marine & Construction Company. His work photos show what his work life was like.
After the Miller family moved to San Pedro, California he worked as a ship's carpenter. He worked for Al Larson Shipyard. One job he really enjoyed was building a replica of Old Ironsides for a movie. He brought home several wooden cannonballs.
He loved to read Western novels, play baseball, and do woodworking.
He died suddenly at age 52 of "myocarditis coronary artery sclerosis" on September 23, 1931 at his place of work, Berth 94 in San Pedro. His daughter, Hester kept a little change purse with a note that said "my father dropped this little purse and went back for it just before he died."
He is buried in plot 6893K at Roosevelt Memorial Park, Vermont and 182nd Street in Gardena, California with his wife, May.
Miller Funeral to be Held Saturday Funeral services for Robert Wilson Miller, 52, who dropped dead from a heart attack while at work at berth 94 last Wednesday will be held at 2 o'clock Saturday afternoon at the Goodrich Halverson mortuary with the Rev. James Holmes, pastor of the First Baptist church officiating. Mr. Miller was a ships' carpenter. He was born in Canada, came to the United States 50 years ago. He is survived by his widow, Mrs. Mary (sic) Miller, residing at 664 Twenty-third street, and by a son Robert, and a daughter, Hester, as well as three sisters, Mrs. Edith (sic) Fish of San Francisco, Mrs. Mabel Johnson of San Diego and Mrs. Berna (sic) Johnson of Alaska.
Carpenter Drops Dead at Berth 94
R. W. Miller, 52, a carpenter living at 664 Twenty-third street dropped dead late yesterday afternoon while on the dock at berth 94, San Pedro waterfront. He is believed to have been a victim of heart trouble. The body was removed to the Goodrich-Halverson mortuary, where an autopsy examination was to be made late today and where funeral arrangements will be completed.
PIONEER'S FUNERAL HELD IN SAN PEDRO
R.W. Miller Came to San Diego 43 Years Ago
Funeral services for Robert Wilson Miller, 52, former San Diegan were held Saturday in San Pedro [California]. Miller, of recent years a resident of San Pedro, came to San Diego 43 years ago as a ship's carpenter. He is survived by his widow, two children, Robert and Hester, and three sisters, Edith Fish, San Francisco; Mabel Johnson, San Diego and Verna Johnson, Ketchikan, Alaska.
San Diego, California was incorporated in 1850, the same year California became a state. The original Old Town was located several miles inland. In the late 1860s, Alonzo Horton promoted a move to New Town on the bay. New Town grew quickly and became the city center. In 1915, San Diego hosted the Panama-California Exposition.