An American Family History

Thomas Miller, Sr.

The Great Famine or the Irish Potato Famine was between 1845 and 1852. About a million people died and a million more emigrated. It was caused by a potato blight. The famine permanently changed Ireland.

The first European settlements in Ontario were after the American Revolution when 5,000 loyalists left the new United States.

Thomas Miller, Sr. was born in 1816 in Queen's County (Laois or Leix County), Ireland.

He married Hester Wilson. Their children and life together are described in detail in the section on Thomas and Hester Miller.

About 1846 Thomas took his family to Canada.

He was a farmer in 1861 and was employed as a builder in 1881. He became a widower when Hester died in 1882. At the time of the 1891 census he was living with his daughter Bessie Seale.

He died at the age of 81 in Kingston, Ontario on September 4, 1895. The Reverend McMorin officiated at his service. He is buried with his wife in Cataraqui Cemetery, Section E.   

Children of Thomas Miller, Sr.
and Hester Wilson
  • John Wilson Miller
  • Elizabeth J. Miller Seale
  • Benjamin Craig Miller
  • Thomas T. Miller, Jr.
  • The peak period of Irish immigration to Canada was during the Great Famine between 1845-1849. Most immigrants went to Canada because the fares were lower. Ships that reached Canada lost many passengers and even more died while in quarantine. From the reception station at Grosse-Ile, most survivors were sent to Montréal. The typhus outbreak of 1847 and 1848 killed many of the new immigrants. An economic boom following their arrival allowed many men to work in on the expanding railroad, in construction, in the logging industry, or on farms.

    The Province of Upper Canada was established in 1791 to accommodate Loyalist refugees from the United States. It included all of Southern Ontario and part of Northern Ontario.

    On August 10 1850, the Cataraqui Cemetery in Kingston, Ontario was founded to meet the needs of recent immigrants who were not members of churches. The cemetery was outside the city, non-denominational, and anyone could be buried there. It was designed as a serene garden.



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    ©Roberta Tuller 2020
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