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This is my page on the Miller surname.

Brest-Litovsk, Belarus: 1820s to 1900s
New York City, USA: 1900s to 1950

Generations, oldest to newest:

1. Norman Miller (1820s to ???) married Esther Krensky (1820s to ???) – This information comes from the death certificate of Joseph Miller. The reliability of this document is suspect. Family lore holds that Norman Miller was the chief rabbi of Brest-Litovsk, but no one with a name anything like Norman Miller ever held that post. “Esther Krensky” is extremely similar to Joseph Miller’s wife’s name, which would be a strange coincidence.

2. Joseph Miller (c. 1853 – 1917) married Esther Krinski (c. 1860 – 1914). Birth dates are approximate guesses based on US census and death records. Family lore has it that Joseph Miller was a wealthy merchant who supplied the Czar’s army, but this has not been verified. Esther was said to have been politically active, along with some of her children, and this motivated their emigration to New York c. 1905-1910. It appears the family did not move together and I have not found immigration records for Joseph and Esther.

3. Joseph and Esther Miller had children:
Samuel Miller 1884 – 1965?
Rivka (Rebecca) Miller 1886 – 19??
Abraham Miller 1889 – 1963?
Anna Miller 1890 – 1905?
Moische (Morris) Miller 1892 – 1940?
David Miller 1894 – 1965
Pauline Miller 1895 – 1959
May Miller 1896 – 1965?

Samuel Miller: according to family lore, he was a Communist and was deported for subversive activities. He returned to Russia and became a prominent scholar at a political university. The David Miller branch of the family thought he was sent to Siberia under Stalin but didn’t die until the 1960s, but the Pauline Miller branch thought that he died in the Battle of Stalingrad.
Rebecca Miller: married in Brest-Litovsk to unknown husband. She was widowed at a relatively young age. Possibly had two daughters, Anita and Esther; similarity to Abraham’s children is possibly coincidental.
Abraham Miller: became a pharmacist. Married Rebecca Joondeph and had three children, Estelle, Annette and Edwin.
Anna Miller: Nothing known
Morris Miller: had poor mental health. Worked for a while with his brothers and was eventually committed to an institution.
David Miller: became a pharmacist in the Bronx. Married Bessie Goldberg and had one daughter, Esther.
Pauline Miller: married sailor Stephen Poydasheff and converted to Eastern Orthodox Christianity. Two children, Robert and Miriam. Robert was in the US military and achieved the rank of Colonel.
May Miller: married an elevator operator named Sam and had a daughter, possibly named Celia.


There are a lot of open questions about this family. Immigration records are sparse and records from Brest-Litovsk are nonexistent. There’s a lot of family lore and none of it has been verified. What happened to Samuel Miller? Did the Millers have a different surname in Brest-Litovsk? What were the original Yiddish names of the other children? Who were the husbands of Rebecca and May?

I have some information about how Bessie and David met, which might help trace what happened to David Miller after Joseph Miller died. Maybe some of his siblings can be found that way also. NYC should have business records, so it might be possible to find records of the pharmacies operated by David and Abraham.

Rebecca Joondeph was also from Brest-Litovsk. It is possible the Joondeph and Miller families were connected before immigrating to New York. If so, tracing the Joondephs back to Brest-Litovsk might shed light on the history of the Millers.

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