JAMES MADISON COON
See also the Coon-Miller Diary, AND the Miller Family Chronography
The original entries to this document were derived from a transcription by Mrs. Evah (Coon) Smith. Leslie A. Haskin who interviewed Mr. James M. Coon, Jr., the youngest son of James and Nancy (MILLER) Coon, derives later additions, entries, and corrections from a transcription. At the time of the Haskin transcription, the original diary was in the possession of the interviewee, James M. Coon, Jr., who was a tailor living at 105 First Street, Albany, Oregon, and was loaned to Leslie Haskin to be transcribed.
This rendition together with supplemental notes and clarifications is respectfully submitted by it's transcriber, Robert Lewis, for the enjoyment and edification of those who delight in the adventure of real American History as it has been recorded by it's participants and preserved for posterity by their descendants.
Notes taken from Coon and Miller family history records in the possession of Robert Lewis
James Madison Coon, born Sept. 24th 1813 in Jefferson County, Kentucky, was the second son of a family of eight children -seven boys and one girl - born to Michael Coon, Jr. and Elizabeth (Kelly) Coon who were married on the 6th of April 1803 in Fincastle, Botetourt County, Virginia. Michael was the descendant of hardy German immigrant stock who came from the upper Rhine River Valley to York County, Pennsylvania in 1738. Michael's father, Michael Sr. and six of his brothers were members of the "German Regiment" ("Pennsylvania DEUTSCH" not "Dutch") from York County, Pennsylvania during "The War of the Rebellion" (the Revolutionary War). His wife and James' mother, Elizabeth showed her fine Irish heritage with the great surname of Kelly and was the daughter of George Kelly of Fincastle, Botetourt County, Virginia.
Nancy Iness Miller, born on April 8th, 1827 in Montgomery County, Indiana, was the seventh child and fifth daughter of a family known to consist of at least thirteen children -five boys and eight girls - of John Miller, Sr. and Sarah Smith of Millersburg, Mercer County, Illinois. Nancy died 7 April 1907 near Halsey, Linn Co., Oregon.
James and Nancy were married February 21, 1847 in Mercer County, Illinois and about two months later, on April 11th, 1847 they departed for Oregon. He was 34 and she was 20 years of age.
Several of James Madison Coon's brothers and many members of the Miller family traveled the trail to Oregon at various times. Family records indicate that apparently Rev. Jacob L. Coon, the third of the seven brothers, had gone some two years earlier, in 1845, and probably sent stories home about "This wonderful land called OREGON" enticing other family members to join him in the trek west.
I: George Kelly Coon: Born 7 Jun 1805 in Natural Bridge, Rockbridge Co., Virginia. Married Catherine Morgan 21 Aug 1839 in Ohio. Other family records show the marriage took place in Missouri. Started to Oregon in 1850. Stopped in western Missouri for thirteen years. Went on to Oregon in 1863 and died in Marion County, Oregon 11 Mar. 1896.
II: James Madison Coon: born 24 Sept. 1813 in Jefferson Co., Kentucky. To Oregon in 1847, and died at Peoria, Linn Co., Oregon 30 May 1890. He was buried in the Coon/Miller Cemetery at Peoria, Oregon.
III: Rev. Jacob L. Coon: Born 3 Oct 1819 near Louisville in Jefferson Co., Kentucky. Public records indicate that he was the first of the family to go to Oregon. His Biography, published in the February 24th, 1904 issue of the "Albany [Oregon] Democrat" newspaper states that he arrived in Oregon in 1845 when he would have been age 26 years. He married Sarah Miller, sister of Nancy Iness, Born 6 May 1824 in Montgomery County, Indiana, on 27 Nov, 1851 at Peoria Precinct, Linn County, Oregon. Their Donation Land Claim -#661 for 640.00 acres in Twp 13S, R4W Willamette Meridian, Linn County, Oregon, adjoined his father-in-law's - #660 and that of his brother, James Madison Coon, near the present towns of Shedd and Peoria.
IV: Washington Landis Coon: Born 10 Mar 1825 near Louisville in Jefferson Co., Kentucky. Went to Missouri and then to Oregon in 1850. Returned east via South America in 1864 and then later returned to Oregon again. Is listed as a minor child in custody papers in his father's estate in 1839 signed by George Kelly Coon.
V: Mary Jane Coon: Married as his second wife to Nicholas Miller, brother of Nancy Iness (Miller) Coon on 25 Oct. 1849 in Rock Island County, Illinois. Nicholas was born 15 Jan 1816 in Wayne County, Indiana and died 16 Apr 1889 in Linn County, Oregon. He is listed as the holder of Oregon City DLC (Donation Land Claim) nr. 654 in Linn County, Oregon. No known dates or information about when this couple came west but presumed to be about 1850 to 1852. Mary does not appear on her father's estate papers as a dependant minor. She may have been older than most of the other children.
VI: L.E.V. (Lincoln) Coon: Family records show his children living in Idaho near the turn of the century.
VII: William Abner Coon: No records.
VIII: Charles Harrison Coon: No known dates. He is listed in 1839 as a minor child in the custody papers signed by his older brother, George Kelly Coon, found among his father Michael's estate records in Warren Co., Illinois.
Other family records indicate that most if not all of Nancy (Miller) Coon's parents and siblings were among the members of this  wagon train. Note the Burial of Louisa Miller, the wife of John Miller, probably a brother of Abraham Miller. on September 1st. and the death of "John Miller's child" on September 7th, near the Powder River in eastern Oregon.(note: references are to the Coon Diary)
Oregon land records show that John Miller, Sr.'s "DLC" -Donation Land Claim (Oregon City DLC # 660) - Jacob Landis Coon's (Oregon City DLC #661), that of James Madison Coon (Oregon City DLC # 329 645.8 Acres TWP 13S R4W Sec. 4,5,8,9), and Nicholas and Mary Jane (Coon) Miller's (Oregon City DLC # 654 TWP 13S R4W Sec. 23) adjoined each other near Peoria in Linn County, Oregon.
Nancy's family is known to have consisted of at least the following family members. There may have been others (I have heard thirteen in all), but they are unknown to the compiler at this time:
Father: John Miller Sr. Born 15 Dec. 1792 in Carter County, Tennessee, lived in Millersburg, Mercer Co, Illinois prior to the 1847 trip to Oregon. Family tradition claims that these people founded both towns of Millersburg, Illinois and Millersburg, Oregon. [Note: tradition has been verified]
Mother: Sarah Smith. Born 9 July 1790 and Died 27 July 1853 in Linn Co., Oregon. She is buried in the Coon/Miller Cemetery at Peoria, Linn Co., Oregon but there are no dates or places listed on her gravestone. No further known information.
I: Isaac Miller: Born 19 July 1813 in Carter Co., Tennessee. Married Mary Gingles 20 Oct. 1842 in Mercer Co., Illinois, and died 19 June 1893 in Linn County, Oregon, and is buried in the Coon/Miller Cemetery, Peoria, Linn County, Oregon. He would have been 34 years old during the 1847 trip to Oregon. Isaac and Mary held DLC # 3116 in Benton County, Oregon.
II: Nicholas Miller: Born 15 January 1816 in Wayne Co., Indiana. He was 31 years of age on the 1847 trip to Oregon. He died 16 Apr 1889 in Linn County, Oregon. Buried Pine Grove Cemetery, Shedd, Linn Co., Oregon. Married as his second wife Mary Jane Coon, sister of James Madison Coon 25 Oct. 1849 in Rock Island County, Illinois. No dates or information as to when this couple came west but assumed to be about 1850 to 1852 considering their marriage and DLC dates and locations. The Oregon BLM lists them as the holders of Donation Land Claim (Patent) # 654 in Twp 13S R4W Section 23, Linn County, Oregon.
III: Mary Miller: Born 18 July 1818 in Indiana. She married James King - no date or place known - Died 30 Aug. 1838 at the age of 20, probably in Illinois. No further information known at this writing.
IV: Susanna Miller: Born 20 January 1820 in Indiana. She married Noah King on 30 Sept. 1838. She married Wair Long some time in 1847. No known places for either marriage. She would have been 27 years old on the 1847 trip to Oregon and is known to have died in Oregon and probably is buried in the Coon/Miller Cemetery at Peoria, Linn Co., Oregon but no dates are known.
V: Elizabeth Miller: Born 27 December 1821 in Indiana. She married James F. Jones on 1 April 1847 at Mercer Co., Illinois - just 10 days before the family departure to Oregon. She would have been 25 years old when the family came to Oregon in 1847. She and James are listed as the holders of DLC # 4730 in Linn Co., Oregon. The both died in Oregon but no known place or dates at this writing.
VI: Sarah Miller: Born 6 May 1824 in Montgomery County, Indiana. Was 23 years old when the family came to Oregon in 1847. Married Rev. Jacob L. Coon on 27 Nov 1851 at Peoria Precinct, Linn County, Oregon. Their Donation Land Claim - #661 for 640.00 acres in Twp 13S, R4W Willamette Meridian, Linn County, Oregon, adjoined his father-in- law's - #660 and that of his brother, James Madison Coon, near the present towns of Shedd and Peoria.
VII: Nancy Iness Miller: Born 8 April 1826 in Indiana, married James Madison Coon February 21 1847 in Mercer County, Illinois. She died 7 April 1907 near Halsey, Linn Co., Oregon. These people show in BLM records as the holders of Oregon City DLC # 50, not. # 2563 for 640.00 acres in Twp 13S, R4W Willamette Meridian, Linn County, Oregon, near the present towns of Shedd and Peoria. Nancy was 21 years old at the time of the 1847 trip to Oregon.
VIII: John Miller, Jr.: Born 28 February 1828 in Montgomery Co., Indiana. Twin to Katherine Miller. He was 19 years old on the trip to Oregon. He was on the wagon train accompanying James and Nancy (Miller) Coon and we are told by James M. Coon, Jr.'s interview with Leslie Haskin that it was his child who died September 1st, and his wife Louisa who died September 7th "near the Powder River in eastern Oregon" as quoted from the diary. BLM records show him as the holder of Claim # 64, not. #2538, 160.73 acres in Sec. 3, Twp 13S, R4W, Willamette Meridian, in Linn Co., Oregon near Shedd, adjoining his father's and James M. Coon's claims.
IX: Katherine Miller: Born 28 February 1828 in Montgomery Co., Indiana. Died 14 April 1830 at the age of two years, Twin to John Miller, Jr. Since the family is known to still be in Indiana at the birth of each of the next four children, it is assumed that she died and was buried in Montgomery Co., Indiana.
X: George Washington Miller: Born 6 April 1830 in Montgomery Co, Indiana. Died 25 Oct. 1914 at Dayton, Columbia Co., Washington. He married Sarah Ping on the 25th of Oct. 1858 at Linn Co., Oregon, and married 2nd Mary J. Watkins -date and place not known. He appears on BLM records as the holder of DLC # 38, Not. #2238, 116.34 acres, and DLC # 65, 44.36 acres, Twp 13S, R4W, Willamette Meridian, Linn County, Oregon. This claim crosses the Twp line into Twp 12S, R4W, sec.'s 33 and 34.
XI: Jacob L. Miller: Born 10 September 1831 in Montgomery Co., Indiana. He would have been age 15 at the time of the trip to Oregon. He married Amanda Ella Dawson probably in Linn County, Oregon, and was known to be living in Dayton, Columbia Co., Washington in April of 1907 when Nancy (Miller) Coon died. BLM records show him holding DLC # 4758 in Linn Co., Oregon.
XII: Rachel Miller: Born 10 September 1831 in Montgomery Co., Indiana, twin to Jacob L. Miller. She died 4 Aug 1904 and is buried in the Union Point Cemetery at Banks, Washington County, Oregon. No marriage information is known at this writing.
XIII: Eliza Miller: Born 1 April 1834 in Indiana. She would have been 13 years old at the time of the Oregon trip, and must have either stayed in the east or returned there as the records show that she married Jezreel Vanator on 9 Mar, 1851 at Ft. Dearborn, Dearborn Co., Indiana. She was known to be living in Lakeview, Lake County, Oregon in April of 1907 when Nancy (Miller) Coon died. Eliza died in Lakeview and is buried in the IOOF [Independent Order of Odd Fellows] Cemetery, Lakeview, Lake Co., Oregon - no known dates.
A Samuel W represents a second branch of the Miller family line in this story. Miller, the son of Reverend Abraham Miller Jr. SEE the Abraham Miller, Jr. Bible (Click here) and Julia Ann (Morgan) Miller. Abraham Miller, Jr, was a son of George Miller, who also came with this train. Nancy Iness Miller is a daughter of John Miller, Jr, son of John Miller, Sr., who was also father to George Miller. This makes Samuel Miller and Sarah Caroline Coon cousins. Samuel was married on 29 Nov, 1868 in Linn County, Oregon to Sarah Caroline Coon, the daughter of James Madison and Nancy Iness (Miller) Coon, born 14 Mar, 1849 near Peoria, Linn County, Oregon. Samuel's mother, Julia Ann Morgan, was a sister of Catherine Morgan who married George Kelly Coon, the eldest brother of James Madison Coon, who came to Oregon from western Missouri in 1863 and settled "on Coon Mountain" near the town of Bellfountain in Benton County, Oregon.
Further research into the Miller Family shows that there were at least three John Millers among the travelers on this wagon train, and TWO more arrived in Oregon on other trains the same year. -
Although the diary claims to start at "Sugartree Grove, Illinois", research in the Miller family line indicates that the present-day name for the place in Illinois is "Millersburg" (Named after Abraham Miller, Jr.) - thus the trip actually commences in Millersburg, Mercer County, Illinois and ends at Millersburg (a present day suburb of Albany, also named after Abraham Miller, Jr.), Linn County, Oregon. The Miller family research also indicates that the family were indeed "Millers" - having engaged in flour/grist mill operation at several locations in Indiana, later in Kewanee, Henry County, Illinois and both Millersburgs as well as prior to their immigration to America from Germany (indications are that in Germany, the family name was Mueller - derived from their trade). Ship's passage records for the progenitor immigrant of this Miller line show the spelling Muller where the "u" is an "umlaut" with the dots over the "u". The German heritage of both the Miller and Coon families offers a ready explanation for their group movements together - Virginia to Kentucky and Ohio to Indiana to Illinois and later to Oregon. In fact it is known that the Coons continued to speak German well into the third generation in the new world AND both families had roots in the Pfalz- Zweibruken area of the upper Rhine River Valley near the Allsace Loraine district.
The WPA interviewer, Leslie Haskin was unable to read certain areas of the original diary and as such, substituted question marks (?????) for the unreadable information. This practice is carried forward in this rendition.