The following narrative of the family of Samuel J. Miller and
Sarah Ann Livingston was told by Silas Miller to his daughter Alda
in September 1939, and was revised by Ruth S. Miller, daughter of
Alfred Miller, in August 1955. This story  was sent to me in 1980 by 
the late Truth Miller Close of Altoona, Pa. I have not further revised 
this account, except for correcting a few spelling and punctuation
errors. I have left the majority of the grammar and punctuation as it 
was found in the original.

Kathie Weigel--1998

Samuel J. Miller married Sarah Ann Livingston of Conemaugh Twp, Pa. They started housekeeping in the Glades, Stoneycreek Twp. Here their first child Alfred was born. From here they moved one mile northwest of Davidsville and purchased a farm. Here were born: John, Daniel C. and Silas L. Then Sarah Ann wished to move to Cambria County, so Samuel her husband purchased a farm near Conemaugh, Pa. But when he made known his purchase to his wife, she refused to live there as the former residents had a bad reputation, so he purchased the present Miller farmhouse in Sidman, Pa., which at that time was known as Sidman Mills. The Sidman farm consisted of 110 acres, with about 40 acres uncleared woodland. On this farm was a log and frame house attached, a log barn, log flour mill and a blacksmith shop. The farm land was of poor quality, so in order to support the family Samuel J. purchased an old sawmill from George Stineman of South Fork. Timber was cut from the Fye farm. This timber was hauled to Johnstown to sell for about $6-$8 per 1000 feet. At the time the Millers moved to this farm, Alfred was 4 yrs. old, John 3 yrs. old, Daniel 2, Silas 1, and Elizabeth about 3 weeks old. It should be mentioned here that Samuel J., like his father Yost D., was of German ancestry (a Pennsylvania Dutchman), and of the Amish faith. Yost was a minister, preaching in German, and a farmer. Sarah Ann (Livingston) Miller was Lutheran. Samuel and his wife Sarah helped to found and build the present Lutheran Church in Sidman, as there was no church there at the time they bought their farm. They were it's staunch supporters in the years that followed. Samuel J. worked on his farm "estate" as a farmer, blacksmith (shoeing horses and repairing wagons etc.), and ran his sawmill and grist mill. His wife Sarah did the necessary housework, cooking, and worked in the fields as well. She also spun the wool from her sheep into yarn and Alfred or John would take the yarn to weavers, a widow and a Mrs. Kring near Elton, at Dan's homestead. Sarah then took the cloth which they had made and made shirts and pants for her sons, doing all the work by hand, and working late at night by candlelight (candles made by themselves with their own tallow; their lanterns were lighted by candles instead of oil). The children, (boys at that time) didn't wear underwear as they were too poor to afford it. Their Sunday dress consisted of shirt, trousers and a 10 cent straw hat. As soon as the boys were old enough to work (they were still children too), they helped about the farm, house (carrying all the water, etc., which was a mile from the house and the pathway full of snakes, some as long as a fence rail), gristmill, sawmill and cutting and sawing wood. The farm produce, consisting of chickens, butter, eggs, potatoes, apples, and berries when in season, was taken by the Miller boys to sell in South Fork and Johnstown. Here are some of the prices their produce brought selling from door to door, on the curb market in Johnstown, or at UpterGraffs store: chickens from 20-25 cents each, butter 10 cents a pound, eggs 10 cents a dozen, raspberries 10 quarts for $1.00, and blackberries 10 quarts for 50 cents. The produce not sold for cash, that is what was left over after cash sale, was taken to UpterGraff's store and bartered for goods such as thread, gingham (3 cents a yard), coffee (about 10 cents a pound, which was taken home and roasted), and sugar (5 cents a pound). They also raised cattle, swine and sheep on the farm. This livestock (especially sheep and swine) roamed the hills and mountains for miles around and many of the sheep and swine got lost, strayed, or were even stolen. Cattle roamed in the vicinity of the reservoir where St. Michaels is now located. Horses too were pastured here, whereupon horse thieves haunted the vicinity and stole young horses when they could. All cattle, sheep, swine and horses had to be branded. Samuel J. Miller was Amish like his father before him. He dressed in the Amish style. He wore a beard and his hair bobbed. he wore the usual big, black broad- brimmed hat and a black suit. The Amish people made their own clothes. They never wore buttons, but used hooks and eyes. Anything fancy or ornamental was against their custom. The reservoir that caused the Johnstown Flood on May 31, 1899, was formerly owned by the U.S. Government. It was build to feed an old canal. The reservoir broke in 1865 when Johnstown was very small and did little damage. Water from the reservoir was transported in large iron pipes to feed the canal. These pipes were joined and soldered together with lead which some of the farmers used to steal and melt down and make into bullets. In addition to feeding a canal, the reservoir fed an ole swimmin' hole, where the Miller boys used to go swimming. About 1877, a number of Pittsburgh millionaires bought this reservoir for the purpose of creating a lake and a summer resort. They organized themselves in to the "South Fork Fishing and Hunting Club." The reservoir covered an area of 600 acres and was 3 miles long. The South Fork Fishing and Hunting Club then began to construct their lake, hiring all the usual apparatus, horses, digging machines, etc., and also laborers and engineers. They dug up huge rocks, uprooted trees. Some of the rocks took as many as eight horses to drag. Some horses fell in the excavations or fell over backwards and were killed. The Miller boys had had a small hand in helping to build this lake. Alfred drove a baggage wagon. The older boys worked around the cottages surrounding the lake, digging ditches, carrying hod to the cottages (at $1.50 for a 10 hour day) and Alfred even washed dishes. It took 3 years to build this lake and 3 years more for it to fill. Then it was stocked with fish (all kinds) and suckers 13-22 inches long. No one was allowed to fish in the lake except the Members of the South Fork Fishing and Hunting Club and their guests. But many of the farmers and residents in that vicinity did fish there under cover of darkness. The Miller boys used to be fish poachers at this lake! And Samuel J. himself. They lighted their way by means of rags soaked in oil. The fish were so thick that they could tramp on them in the shallow water or spear two at a time. One night Samuel J. Miller and his son John caught 105 lbs. and Alfred caught 195 lbs. The next day Alfred took a horse and buggy and took 220 lbs. of their catch to South Fork and sold it all for 10 cents a pound. They seldom ate any of the fish they caught, as they cared little for fish. The last year or two the lake was in operation (before the dam broke), Samuel J. charged $1.00 a person to fish on their land. The men who fished on his land would buy hard cider from him (2 quarts for 10›) and would go home feeling quite tipsy. Thus Samuel J. Miller profited in two ways from this lake, three ways you might say, including the fish he and his sons would catch and sell. This lake was called Conemaugh Lake. Adjoining the Miller creek, the Club built a dam, with poles to keep the fish from coming up into the streams and posted "No Fishing" signs all around with a $50. fine for anyone caught fishing there. But the farmer boys tore out a few poles so the fish would come up and every spring the suckers came up in their creek to spawn. Here is where the farmers from ten miles around came to fish with spears and net. For four or five years after the lake filled in it was inhabited on the surface by wild ducks and geese and swans. These were shot or driven away. In 1879, wild pigeons, probably the now extinct Passenger Pigeon, came in large flock into the area. They were so plentiful that when they perched in the trees they broke the limbs. The people, those who had guns--not the Millers though, they were too poor to afford guns--would shoot them. They roosted at night in the neighborhood of Beaverdale. Many of the farmers sought them at night, and in the morning the pigeons took to the air and they were so numerous that they blackened the sky for an hour afterward. A George Kring from Wyanndtown sneaked up on a flock and whistled and when the birds took flight he shot and brought down 60 birds with one shot (this sounds like a "bird story", but that is what Alfred Miller said). The birds, what were left after their merciless slaughter by the farmers, left as mysteriously as they came and never returned (you can't blame them!). Some of the young farmer boys, including Alfred Miller, John and Jonas Kauffman, Bill Orris and Bill Gramling formed a club and called it the Dunlo Social Club. They cleared out the land where the United Brethren Church now stands. They bought lumber and built a dance floor. They erected a refreshment stand and built picnic benches and some seats through the surrounding "park" for privacy for lovers. The Dunlo Social Club held dances and Saturday night entertainments. The three Hoyer boys were fiddlers and they played for the dances (at $5.00 apiece). They charged 10 cents a dance. The Club advertised their dances as far away as Johnstown. The PPR ran a special train from Johnstown to South Fork and Dunlo. Some of the boys, or rather young men, met their future wives at these dances and picnics. Alfred met his wife here and John met Alda Wonders. There was a big depression in 1877. Steel mills, coal mines, factories of all kinds throughout the nation were shut down. The farmers didn't suffer as much as the city folk, but they felt the depression too. Samuel J. got hired men for as little as $6.00 a month room and board. The Miller family was very poor at that time so that every time Sarah Ann saw a horse or wagon she was afraid it was the sheriff coming to their place to collect or be sold out. The dam site which held back the lake facing to Johnstown began to weaken and when the spring rains swelled the lake, water pressure caused the dam to crumble and break. There was very little warning. As soon as it began to break, one of the men (probably unknown now) saddled a horse as quickly as he could and rode to Johnstown, Paul Revere style, and when he saw anyone he shouted that the dam was breaking and that the people should fly to the hills. Some obeyed, but more did not. The water in the lake with a mighty roar rushed down the valley (a wall of water 60 feet high), and since Johnstown was in the valley directly in its path, it received the full brunt of the onrushing waters. The Miller farm, which is above St. Michael and thus above the dam site (and lake) was not harmed. After the tragedy of the Flood subsided, some of the members of the South Fork Fishing and Hunting Club considered rebuilding the lake. But the residents got wind of their decision and threatened any members who came there with such intentions would be met with armed farmers who would shoot them on sight. The former owners never dared to even try to return, let alone rebuild the lake. All that remains of that former rich mens' fisherman's paradise are a few cottages in St. Michael and a half dried up creek bed.

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