The Paul Miller Story

Let’s begin this story in the early 1900’s with a blue eyed farmboy named Paul Miller. Paul was born and raised in rural Marion County, Alabama just outside of the town called Hamilton. He lived with his father Jordan, his mother Francis, older brother Walter and two younger sisters Sarah and Lily. From my research, the census actually lists a total of 10 Miller children over the span of 20 years but in 1914, the above listed are the only ones living at home. Like many of the teenage boys in Hamilton, Alabama during the early 1900’s, Paul completed a 6th grade education and then went to work on the farm, but farming was not what he intended to do for the rest of his life.

Paul met and fell in love with Icy Estelle Northam, who also lived in the Hamilton area.  I believe that Paul married Icy sometime in the year 1914. Paul would have been 17 and Icy 19. The couple was blessed with three girls. Their first child Rubye Ethyl was born October 4th in 1915. Rowena Francis was born February 9th in 1917. Three years later, she was followed by her sister Lillian Maxine on February 24th, 1920.

I know that at some point the family decided to leave Hamilton and move to Sipsey, Alabama so Paul could work as a coal miner. I know this because Paul completed a World War I Draft Registration Card on September 12, 1918. He states that he was a miner and worked for the Debardeleben Coal Company and lived in Walker County, Town of Sipsey, Alabama. He is described as a medium height and build, brown hair and grey eyes (I take that to mean pale blue.)

I have done some research on what life would have been like in Sipsey, Alabama during this time frame. Sipsey was primarily a coal town, and nothing more. Just take a moment to imagine an entire town where every morning the majority of men would all don their mining hats with a single round light in the center of their foreheads. Slowly they would disappear for the day into underground holes or to transport the coal to the river or railroad. This would have left all of the women at home to tend to daily chores and children until their husbands returned at dark.  I imagine laundry was fairly important to the women because her husband’s clothes would daily be covered in soot. Row housing for the miners would have been available for moderate rent. There was also a town Doctor and a small school.

Unfortunately, mining could be a dangerous trade. I am sure Paul left for work kissing his wife and three daughters goodbye fully intending a normal day, but something went terribly wrong. Reportedly the mine he was working in collapsed and crushed his chest. He did not die immediately, but lived for nearly two months confined to his bed unable to move. He developed pneumonia and died on May 16, 1922. He was only 24 years old. Icy and her three daughters moved back to Hamilton so they could be near family.


Paul Dobson Miller was born in 1897.  He lived in Hamilton, Alabama with his parents Jordan and Mary Frances Miller. The Millers had 10 children:
1. James  2. Mary  3. Luther  4. Viola  5. Maggie  6. Walter  7. Paul  8. Sarah  9. Lily (Lillian)  10. unknown
In the 1910 census, Jourdan states they had 10 children and only 7 were still living. The children living within the household in 1910 were Walter, Paul, Sarah and Lily.
In 1920, Jordan Miller died at the age of 67.

One interesting piece of information I came across about Jordan Miller is that he was the overseer of the Pauper’s Farm in Marion County. A Pauper’s Farm was a place for the homeless or wanderers to have a roof over their head but to also work the land in exchange.

Paul worked for the DeBardeleben  Coal Company.

In the 1920 Census, Paul states that he rents his home. Household members are Icy, Rubye, Rowena, Maxine and Paul’s sister Lillie Miller.

Paul Miller’s Draft Card



2 thoughts on “The Paul Miller Story

  1. Thank you so much for beginning this story. Paul, of course, was my grandfather. I did not know about a sister, Lillian. My mother was named after her. I didn’t know that. (Lillian Maxine Miller). I have a picture of Icy, Paul, Rowena and Rubye. She was pregnant with Maxine at the time. I imagine others have it, too, but I will share anything I have with you.


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