George Miller was born 25 November 1794 near Stanardville,
Orange County, Virginia, the son of John Miller and Margaret Pfeiffer Between
November 1805-March 1806, he moved with his family to Madison County, Kentucky,
the moved on to Boone County, Kentucky, about 1808.
As a young man of about nineteen, George Miller began
learning carpenter-joiner trade. Then, having fulfilled the requirements
of an apprentice, he worked as carpenter in Lexington, Kentucky, between
1814 and 1815. After his father died in August of 1815 he left Cincinnati,
Ohio, for Baltimore, Louisiana in January of 1816 to which city he arrived
9 April 1816; and worked there as carpenter.
George returned to Virginia to visit relatives in
the fall of 1816, staying in that state until the spring of 1817 at which
time he returned to Louisiana. It seems that George was something of a
restless spirit. When in Louisiana, he longed for Virginia; when in Virginia,
he longed for the frontier of Kentucky or Louisiana. He moved to Lancaster
County, Virginia, in mid-1817. He worked as carpenter on buildings at state
university in Charlottesville, Albemarle County, Virginia between November
1817 until 1820. He visited his family in Kentucky in the fall and winter
of 1819 where he was initiated into Masonry.
George Miller married Mary Catherine Fry (born 1801
in Virginia) before 1827. He fathered four known children: Joshua L., John
F., Mary Catherine, and Elizabeth Ann. The family resided in Tennessee
about 1828 before moving to Illinois by 1834 where he resided in McDonough
County, Illinois, near Macomb. He owned 300 acres of land as well as hogs
Miller became aware of the Mormon refugees from Missouri
and offered his farm to the exiled Saints in 1839. He was baptized 12 August
1839 by John Taylor. He moved to Lee County,
Iowa, in the fall of 1839; and there established woodyard. He was ordained
a High Priest before September 1840. Then in 1840 helped purchase steamboat
that plied upper Mississippi River and helped the economic growth of Nauvoo
and the Saints. He moved with his family to Nauvoo in November of 1840.
There he was appointed to preach in Lee County, Iowa,
and Hancock County, Illinois in the fall of 1840 through February 1841.
He was appointed by revelation to become Bishop and a member of the Nauvoo
House Association on 19 January 1841. Then he was ordained to bishopric
February 1841. In the revelation in which the Lord called him to serve,
Christ revealed: "And again, verily I say unto you, my servant George Miller
is without guile; he may be trusted because of the integrity of his heart;
and for the love which he has to my testimony I, the Lord, love him. I
therefore say unto you, I seal upon his head the office of a bishopric,
like unto my servant Edward Partridge, that he may receive the consecrations
of mine house, that he may administer blessings upon the heads of the poor
of my people, saith the Lord. Let no man despise my servant George, for
he shall honor me."
Bishop Miller was commissioned a Captain in the Nauvoo
Legion in the spring of 1841; then elected colonel 1 May 1841. Subsequently
he was elected brigadier-general in the Nauvoo Legion on 23 September 1842.
It may be noted that the Legion was at the time the largest organized military
unit in the United States, its two thousand men under arms being
almost half the size of the entire standing army of the nation.
Bishop Miller was appointed to preside over high
priests quorum in Nauvoo 2 October 1841. He received his Endowment 4 May
1842 in the Nauvoo Temple. He was sent to Quincy, Illinois, and Jefferson
City, Missouri, with Erastus H. Derby to confer with Governor Thomas Reynolds
concerning a requisition on the Prophet for being an accessory to attempted
murder before the fact. He left Nauvoo 12 July 1842 and returned the last
week in July 1842.
He served a Mission to Mississippi and Alabama with
Peter Haws in September and October of 1843, returning to Nauvoo about
27 October 1843. He was named a member of the Council of Fifty 11 March
1844. As a member of the Council he served a mission to Kentucky to campaign
for Joseph Smith as President of United States between May and July 1844.
As Bishop he was appointed to assume responsibilities
as trustee-in-trust for Church on 9 August 1844. He was again sustained
as president of High Priests quorum in Nauvoo and Second Bishop of Church
on 7 October 1844. There was no Presiding Bishop of the Church as we know
the office today. Elder John A. Widtsoe explained
in Priesthood and Church Government: "With reference to powers
and jurisdiction there are two classes of Bishops: (1) General Bishops,
and (2) local Bishops. Among the general Bishops there are different grades;
as (a) the Presiding Bishop over all the Bishops and Lesser Priesthood
of the whole Church; (b) Bishops, whose jurisdiction is quite extensive
or special, yet not over the whole Church, as the callings of Bishops Edward
Partridge and Newel K. Whitney in the early days of the Church, and subsequently
that of Bishop George Miller. (See DC 41:9, 10; 72:8; 84:112, 113; 124:20,
21); and (c) Bishop's agents, as Sidney Gilbert. (DC 53:1-4; 57:6, 8-10,
Of the local Bishops there is but one grade of
the class—Bishops of wards or small jurisdictions."
Bishop Miller's wife, Mary Fry, was sealed to him
on 13 January 1846. Practicing Plural Marriage, Elizabeth Bouton (born
1817 in Connecticut) was sealed to him 25 January 1846. His third wife
Sophia Wallace (born 1800 in England) was sealed to him 25 January 1846.
As the winds of persecution swirled about the Saints
following the cowardly mob murder of the Prophet, Miller left Nauvoo
for the West 6 February 1846. He arrived at Council Bluffs 13 June 1846
and crossed the Missouri River 6 July 1846 and headed west from Missouri
River through July 1846.
George Miller, as long as the Prophet Joseph Smith lived,
seemed to be a faithful Latter-day Saint. He was chosen to fill the important
place of Bishop, left vacant by the death of Edward Partridge. He accompanied
the Prophet on his journeys, on several occasions. He and Newel K. Whitney
were appointed Trustees-in-trust of the Church, after the death of the
Prophet. And when the Saints left Nauvoo, he was among the first to cross
the river. But from now on he changed. In the Camp of Israel, slowly wending
its way westward, he became disaffected. He always wanted to be ahead of
the main body, and be a law unto himself. At Winter Quarters he expressed
the view that Texas was the place to go to, and not the Rocky Mountains,
and when Brigham Young refused to listen to him, knowing that the Prophet
had pointed to the Great Basin as the gathering place of the Saints, he
left the Camp with a few followers, and joined Lyman Wight in Texas. Shortly
afterwards he disagreed with this schismatic and joined James J. Strang,
unable to find peace and rest anywhere. Here is another career, beginning
in integrity and love of the gospel and ending in failure, because of lack
After he was disfellowshipped (Some records use the
term "cut off" but Grampa Bill cannot find the word "excommunicated" applied
to Miller.) from the Church 3 December 1848, he left Texas for Beaver Island,
Michigan, 13 October 1849 where he affiliated with the Strangites, arriving
before 1851. He was named Deputy sheriff on Beaver Island and remained
there until 1856. After James J. Strang was shot he left Beaver Island
with the major exodus in 1856
If one may speak positively of an apostate, it would
seem that the Lord was correct in his assessment of Miller. There was no
guile, no hidden conspiracies. That which he did, he did openly. This unhappy
soul, who never seemed satisfied, died in Meringo, Illinois, 1856 while
en route to California.