Biography of Joseph Rogers

Joseph Rogers, son of Sarah and John Rogers, left his beautiful farm in Milton County, formerly Forsythe County, situated on the Duluth road, twenty-seven miles from Atlanta, Georgia, and came to the west. He took up his residence at a place now called Lowell, Kansas, three miles east of Baxter Springs, where Shoal creek empties into Spring River, in that part of the country then known as the Neutral Land. He improved a fine farm of four or five hundred acres, built the first house and had the first library in the state of Kansas. The old solid walnut bookcase is now owned by his granddaughter, Mrs. Ellen Howard Miller, of Bartlesville. He was a polished gentleman of fine education and was a warm personal friend of the late General Stand Watie. While absent from home on a political mission preparatory to going as a delegate to Washington, D. C., in the interests of his country, Joseph Rogers was taken sick and died after a brief illness, being then in the prime of life. He had married Hannah Foster, who left her home of ease and comfort in Georgia to brave with him the wilds of western life. She was a daughter of Elijah Foster and a grand-daughter of William Foster, a soldier of the Revolutionary war. The Foster family is an ancient and noble one, whose lineage is traced back to the year 1873, and some of its representatives married into the family of William the Conqueror and that of Charles II, king of France, who was the son of Louis I, known as the Pious King. Bamborough Castle in Northumbria, England, known as one of the most ancient and substantial in that country, is and has been for ages the home of the Fosters and its court, banquet hall, armory and old manor house are of great interest. For centuries the name of Foster has been one of the most honored and aristocratic in all England.

Joseph Rogers and Hannah Foster were the parents of Mrs. Sarah Jemima Blythe, who was only four years old when her parents removed from Georgia to the west, this being in 1837, and the events of that trip were firmly fixed upon her mind. The journey was made by wagon and was a long and dangerous one. Inured to all the hardships incident to pioneer life, she grew to womanhood in that locality and lived a long and useful life, passing away on the 2d of January, 1910, at the ripe old age of seventy-seven and having been one of those sturdy pioneers who aided in the formation and up building of both Kansas and Oklahoma. When a young girl of sixteen she married James C. Blythe, the son of well-to-do parents, who resided in Tennessee. He was a gentle-man of the old school and a Free Mason in the broadest and most liberal sense of that term, remaining a member of that order for more than half a century. He passed away on the 24th of December, 1906, when eighty-two years of age. To this union were born seven children, all of whom are deceased except Mrs. A. H. Goodykoontz of Sapulpa ; Mrs. L. W. Marks of Vinita; and Mrs. Ellen Howard Miller of, Bartlesville, Oklahoma.

The last named was born at Enterprise, McDonald County, Missouri, January 2, 1862. The family home was a large two-story house with big fireplaces in each room and a large hall running through the center of the building, while wide front porches ex-tended the full length of the home, a room being taken off of one end to serve as a children’s play room. At-the back of the house was a large hill, at whose foot there was a deep cold spring, from which water was carried to the back door by means of small logs which had been split, hollowed out and then put together, serving as pipes. The water fell into a stone basin, whence it was piped to a springhouse of stone. From there the water was conveyed to the lot where the horses were kept. Passing in front of the house was the main road and beyond were the cabins of the Negro slaves. These were built around a large space, in the form of a horseshoe, all of the cabins fronting on this space, which was used as a community playground for the pickaninnies. The large part of the horseshoe joined the road and back of the horseshoe ran a large creek, on which to the right was a store, while a mill stood on the left, and these two enterprises clothed and fed the settlers and slaves of the surrounding country. This was one of the homes of peace and plenty which lay in the path of the contending armies during the Civil war and was left stripped of everything and in ruins.

This road was the highway for both the north and the south and the family had friends on both sides, for although southerners, they had relatives on the northern side, an uncle of Mrs. Miller, Rev. R. A. Foster, acting as chaplain of the Seventh Missouri Cavalry, Colonel Crittenden’s Regiment, in which his three sons, Major Emory S. Foster, Captain Melville Foster and Lieutenant Morris Foster, also served. Once Quantrell’s men came to their house and began ransacking it, when Mrs. Blythe rode up on the only horse that was left, a big black named Blackhawk. She was ordered to dismount and give them the horse, but this she refused to do, whereupon they threatened to burn the house if she still persisted in her refusal. She then asked them to give her her baby, and managing to attract the attention of Quantrell, she made the Masonic sign. He at once ordered his men to put out the fire they had already started, drop everything they had, mount and march. Through the influence of Mrs. Blythe’s relatives and the assistance of a friend, Major Van Dorn, government wagons were sent from Neosho, Missouri, to convey the family to a place of safety. From Neosho they went to Hickory creek, where the father, James C. Blythe, was manager of the smelters of that mining district, and from that point the family proceeded over-land to Oklahoma, then known as Indian Territory.

There Ellen Howard Blythe attended the public schools, completing her education in the Female Seminary at Tahlequah, after which she taught school for about two years. At Vinita, Oklahoma, on the 21st of July, 1880, when nineteen years of age, she was united in marriage to William Wallace Miller, resigning her position as head of the non-citizens’ school, for at that time only pupils of Indian descent were admitted to the public schools of the territory. Mr. Miller was identified with business interests in Vinita, being the proprietor of a large hardware store and also carrying a stock of furniture, undertakers’ supplies, wagons, buggies and farm implements. He was a very successful business man. Subsequently he disposed of his interests in Vinita and purchased a large ranch on the Caney River, in Washington County, where the family resided for a short time and then moved to Bartlesville. Mr. Miller erected a good substantial home in the town, retaining the ownership of his ranch. Three children were born of this marriage: William Roy, Alta Ray and Howard Kenneth.

William Roy Miller was born at Vinita, May 18, 1881, and attended the public schools, Worcester Academy and Willie-Halsell College. After completing a business course he assisted his father in the conduct of his establishment, as well as in the cattle business, but of late his-interests are mostly in the production of oil. While he did not continue his collegiate work as long as his parents had wished, he has learned many valuable lessons in the school of life. He has taken men as his books; each face being to him an open page, and his observations are most interesting. He is a young man whom to know is to respect and honor and the circle of his friends is coextensive with that of his acquaintances. On the 18th of December, 1904, he married Miss Florence M. Carselowery of Vinita, a beautiful girl, both in appearance and character, who previous to her marriage was a successful teacher in the schools of Oklahoma. They own a beautiful, spacious home at No. 1216 Hurley avenue, Fort Worth, Texas

Alta Ray Miller was born at Vinita, October 15, 1883. She attended the grade schools, Worcester Academy and Willie Halsell College. At the age of fifteen she entered Drury College of Springfield, Missouri, after which she became a student at Hardin College of Mexico, Missouri, where she specialized in art, voice and the French and German languages, becoming a member of the Beta Sigma Omicron sorority. She was a beautiful, happy, attractive girl, and as the work of character building went on these gifts did not lessen. On the 18th of September, 1908, she was married to Dr. Frank Norton Buck of Bartlesville, and they have become the parents of two bright and attractive children: Frances Ellen, who was born September 3, 1909; and William Oliver, born February 6, 1911. Both were admitted to the Junior high school in their eleventh year and they are also studying piano and violin, possessing notable musical talent. The family resides in a beautiful home at No. 1301 Keeler avenue, in Bartlesville, which was erected by them. Mrs. Buck is an active and prominent member of the Christian Science Church, in which she has served as soloist and as first and second reader, while she is now acting as President of the board. Dr. Buck is a dominant figure in business circles of Bartlesville, being President of the Wassage Motor Company, whose interests are conducted in one of the finest and most substantial business edifices of the town, erected at a cost of one hundred and three thousand dollars. In May, 1922, he was made mayor of Bartlesville.

Howard Kenneth Miller, the youngest member of the family, was born at Vinita, November 21, 1896. He attended the grade schools, and completed his grammar school course in Bartlesville, following the removal of the family to this locality. For two years he was a pupil in the high school here and in 1914 entered The Principia at St. Louis, Missouri, where he remained for three years, making an excellent record as a student and becoming one of the leading officers in the military work of the school. After completing his third year he returned home for his summer vacation in 1917, and on August 15th of that year, impelled by a spirit of loyalty and patriotism, he offered his services to his country and was sent to the Officers Training Camp at Leon Springs, Texas, later called Camp Stanley, being then twenty years of age. There he engaged in the strenuous work of drilling, hiking, building wire entanglements and trench digging, being stationed at that place until the 8th of November, 1917. Out of the three thousand men at the camp, one thousand received commissions, Mr. Miller being of this number. He was made a Lieutenant in his twentieth year and had the distinction of being one of the youngest, if not the youngest, of the commissioned officers in Oklahoma. That the sacrifice of his boyhood was appreciated is indicated by the following personal letter, written by Hon. R. L. Williams, then governor of Oklahoma.



Oklahoma City.

November 30, 1917. Lieutenant Howard Kenneth Miller,

Bartlesville, Oklahoma.

My dear Sir :

I have just been advised that you have been commissioned as a Lieutenant in the Officers Reserve Corps, and that you will go into active service at an early date. May I be permitted to extend to you my congratulations and my best wishes for yourself and for the men who will serve under you. You are in a glorious service, that of your country. Your responsibilities will be great, your duties arduous.

As governor of the state of Oklahoma, I am trying to uphold the national administration in every movement for the protection of the honor of our country and in every movement for the welfare of our soldiers. This war must be won and such young men as yourself will have an honorable and an important part in winning it. The fact that so many Oklahomans have responded to their country’s call and have cooperated so heartily is an earnest of the loyalty of the citizens of this state.

When you come to times of hardship and to moments of peril, remember that the two million citizens of your state are watching you, trusting and praying for your success and safety.

Very sincerely yours,


William Miller

Such a missive was a great incentive to the boy to do his best, giving him courage and strength for the gigantic task which confronted him. Lieutenant Miller remained at Camp Stanley until May, 1918, when he was transferred to Camp Gordon, near Atlanta, Georgia, then to Camp Hancock at Augusta, that state, where he was retained as instructor, there receiving his honorable discharge on the 23d of December, 1918. He returned to his home in Bartlesville for a short visit and then, in company with his mother, went to Norman for the purpose of entering Oklahoma University, where he remained as a student for a year and a half. He left that institution in June, 1920, going from there to visit his brother, who is engaged in the oil business at Fort Worth, Texas. He is a member of the Phi Delta Theta fraternity and while at San Antonio was initiated into the Masonic order on the 23d of March, 1918, having now taken three degrees in that order.



Benedict, John Downing. Muskogee and Northeastern Oklahoma: including the counties of Muskogee, McIntosh, Wagoner, Cherokee, Sequoyah, Adair, Delaware, Mayes, Rogers, Washington, Nowata, Craig, and Ottawa. Chicago: S.J. Clarke Pub. Co., 1922.

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