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Sorting out the Margaret Elizabeth Riley Family Story


§  Margaret Elizabeth Riley was the second daughter of Timothy W. and Mary Jane Riley of Bear River East, NS. She appears to have been born in Bear River East on May 3, 1878. Except for the fact that she was commonly called Maggie and was still recorded as part of the family in the 1891 census, little is known of her early life. 


§  The 1900 US census indicates she immigrated to the US (West Somerville, MA) in what would have been mid-February of 1900 as a 22 year old. There she worked as a domestic servant in the household of 71 year old Curtis Kempton located at 402 Highland Ave, Somerville. Curtis’s daughter Hattie Pinkham and family (present in the 1880 census), including two small children, lived in the same residence. Interestingly Mr. Kempton, wife and daughter are listed as Canadians with the former having been in the US since 1849, and the 33 year old daughter since 1870. There is a chance that Margaret, still listed as Maggie in the census, may have had an extended connection to the family as there were Kemptons in Bear River.  


§  Margaret’s actual immigration record is poorly known. The 1910 census indicates she immigrated in 1898. There is one record of one 20 year old M. Riley, traveling from Yarmouth to Boston on Sept 3, 1899, and a 22 year old Miss Riley traveling from Yarmouth to Boston on October 22, 1899. Neither of these fit with the census information, unless perhaps she made the trip twice in a few months (home for Xmas??) and was not as careful with her age as a young lady at that age is wont to be.


§  Margaret married William Frederick (Fred) Millner on August 22, 1905 in Clementsport, NS. She was listed as Baptist in the marriage index. Her age was listed as 21 and his as 28. The birthplaces of each were listed as Clementsvale which was also listed as their residence locations at time of marriage. Her mother Mary Jane was listed as a witness at the marriage.  


§  Fred Millner, a first son and second child of Zachius (various spellings) and Elizabeth (Campbell) Millner, variously of Clementsvale and Bear River, was born on November 6, 1875.  


§  Fred’s early whereabouts are somewhat cloudy. McAlpine’s Directory for 1896 lists a William Millner, farmer, living in Clementsvale (there was an older William there in the 1870’s). However, there is record of a W F (given as S but the actual file suggests F) Milner landing in Boston on April 16, 1896 which indeed could be our man.  In the 1901census he is recorded as living with his mother and a younger sister, L. Della, in Bear River.  There is a recorded landing of a Fred Milner in Boston from Yarmouth on April 16, 1904. Given the consistent April dates it may be that Fred was commuting to MA annually or bi-annually for the farming season. A few Bear River locals were still finding seasonal work in MA as late as the 1950’s.


§  It is instructive that a ‘Fredric Milner’ was a witness and incidentally involved in the Oct. 29, 1901 knife wielding incident by Maggie’s father Timothy W. in Bear River East. This is likely our Fred but the information available is not sufficient to prove same. If it was then Fred can be placed in Bear River East in October of 1901 and in June of 1902 at the time of TWR’s trial. 


§  The record of the married couple’s return to MA has not yet been located. We first pick them up as a couple (?) in 1909 located in Wakefield, MA at 141 Pleasant St. Fred is listed in the Directory as a farmhand. Interestingly, they are living across the road from Asa Goldsmith, sister Viva’s father-in-law; sister Viva and husband Herbert were likewise living across the street. The Millner’s are not living at 141 Pleasant by the census of April 1910, as the residence is occupied by one John Brophy.


§  In 1910 at the time of the census the couple and their 1 year old son are located in Stoneham, MA at 4 Common Street, where they are living with Fred’s stated brother Charles E. Milner, his wife Agnes and their infant son Arthur V Milner; however, Charles was not Fred’s brother. Their daughter Dorothy’s birth and marriage record lists her 1914 birth location as Wakefield, and they were living in Lynn, MA in mid-1916 at the time of the birth of their second son. The Wakefield 1917 Directory notes that Frederick W Millner had removed to Lynn, MA.  Fred’s 1918 draft card shows the family living at 58 Bennett Street, Wakefield. A George McIntosh lived at 58 Bennett in 1910.


§  The January 1920 census finds the couple still in Wakefield at 58 Bennett Street. With them are son Leslie Frederick, born August 7, 1908 in Wakefield; daughter Dorothy T. born Aug 11, 1914 in Wakefield; and Richard Lawrence, born in Lynn on July 8, 1916. The 1920 census lists them both as aliens with a recorded immigration date of 1909. Fred is listed as a teamster working for an ice company, probably the Wakefield Ice Company, for which he was working at the time of his draft registration in 1918. Interestingly, that company was located at 180 North Ave, just a few doors down from the residence of sister-in-law Jennie Riley Floyd at 193 North Ave.


§  By the time of the census of 1930 Fred appears to have left the picture because we find Margaret, Dorothy, and Leslie living as a family in a three unit apartment on Linden (?) Avenue in Malden. In this document Margaret gives her date of immigration to the US as 1895, her father’s birthplace as Massachusetts (she may not have known of his NB roots), and Dorothy is listed as working as a waitress in a “creamery”. 


§  The 1930 census does provide an entry for a Fred Miller living as a boarder at 297 Martin St. in East Douglas in Worcester Co. The first name, the age (55), the age at date of first marriage (25), birthplace of self and parents (Nova Scotia) all fit the necessary profile. So does the fact that his occupation is listed as ‘odd jobs’  given he had no particular trade other than perhaps farming to fall back on. Apparently with him also as a boarder is a 52 year old Georgiana Miller, first married at age 22, born in Maine and of Canadian English parents.


§  Margaret and family later moved to 39 Clark St., Malden as both Richard (employed in a diner) on Dec. 6, 1934 and Leslie (unemployed) on April 20, 1939 gave that address in their application for a Social Security number. As well, it is provided in a number of directories from the late 1930s into 1945. The 1940 US census shows the family living in ward 5 Malden, MA at 39 Clark St. Margaret is identified as a 58 year old practical nurse with Gr 8; Leslie, 29, as an "elevator starter" in a public building with Gr 7; Dorothy as a 25 year old single waitress also with Gr 7; and Richard as a 23 year old divorcee with two years high school working as a counter man at a restaurant. The census indicates that all members of the family had been living at the same address in 1935.


§  Fred “reappeared” in 1942 when he completed a WWII draft registration card. At that time he was working and living on the farm of Raymond Turner in North Reading, MA. That is the latest record of Fred that has become available to date.


§  There are three possible entries for Margaret traveling between NS and Boston in the 1930’s; however, they would list her under the name of Margaret Riley. While this is an outside chance, her separation from Fred may have been enough to see her revert back to he maiden name, at least for “going home”. Those dates are 16 August, 1931, 2 September, 1932, and 19 April 1935. An additional entry for a Margaret Riley arriving Boston on September 5, 1934 shows her to be traveling with one Harry Riley, and it is doubtful that it is our Margaret.


§  Margaret passed away on November 23, 1957 in the Metropolitan State Hospital in Lexington, MA. She had been a patient in that facility for 3 years and 4 months. Her residence was recorded as 325 Forest St, Malden. Interestingly, her marital status was given as separated, so it would appear that Fred did leave the family sometime in the 1920’s and they were never reunited. The immediate cause of death is listed as broncho-pneumonia with a gastric ulcer being a contributing factor. Margaret was buried in Forestdale cemetery, Malden on November 26, 1957.


§  Eldest child Leslie F Millner married Madalyn E. Pratt and the couple proceeded to have six children: Leslie Frederick “Sonny” Milner Jr was born in 1940, married Helen “Lois” VanBuskirk, and the couple had five children between 1962 and 1969; he subsequently married Margaret Leonard. Leslie Jr died in Florida in 2007; Diane Millner was born in 1942 and married Gustavo Verdini, the couple had four children; Lawrence  Bruce Millner was born in 1948 and subsequently married Terri; Gail Joyce Millner, born in 1952, married Edward Collins; Beverlee Ann Milliner married Walter Godfrey with whom she had three boys between 1968 and 1974, she subsequently married Lois Botta who died of cancer, and later Bernard Green; Beverlee died in Florida in 2012; and finally Lois Joan Millner married one Robert Berry with whom she had five children in the 1970s; she later entered into a relationship with Joseph McDonald.


§  Madalyn (Pratt) Millner died in Lynn on Nov 20, 1990; Leslie Millner died in Beverly, MA on February 23, 1998. His death record indicates he was the owner of a construction business and it gave his residence address as 41 Southside Ave, Lynn, MA. The cause of death was given as post-prostatectomy acute sepsis. He was buried in Pine Grove cemetery, in Lynn, MA on February 26, 1998.


§  The informant on Leslie’s death record was noted to be his daughter Beverlee A. Botta Greene whose address at that time was 21 Margin St. Lynn, MA. In checking the address 21 Margin appeared to be a three story apartment building. There was a B. Botta living therein. There was also a Bernard E. Green listed in the same building.  


§  Dorothy Thelma Millner married 25 year old Karl E. Stearns on June 27, 1939 when she was 24 and he 25 years of age. Karl’s address was given as 854 Salem St, Malden. Karl’s father’s name is given as Thomas and his mother’s as Nellie Dixon; Dorothy’s parents’ names are recorded correctly. She was working as a waitress at the time of marriage; he a truck driver. He was listed as having been born in Winthrop, MA. It was the first marriage for both individuals.


§  Malden-based and MA born Karl E. Stearns is found as a corporal in the National Guard at the beginning of WW2, having enlisted on the 16 of January, 1941. His education is noted as 2 years of high school and his occupation truck driver. However, his military records note him as single and without dependents, suggesting the marriage to Dorothy T was short lived and likely ended in divorce. Dorothy is listed under her maiden name working in Malden in 1940/1941 and living in the family home at 39 Clark Street, Malden.  


§  In searching for the continuing lives of Karl and Dorothy Stearns, I ran across a Karl Stearns in the California Death Index with the following associated information: Karl Edward Stearns, DoB 01/15/1915, born in MA, mother’s maiden name Dixon, died Salinas, Monterey, CA 08/24/92. His wife, however, was noted as Dorothy Alice, DoB 12/26/1916, mother’s maiden name McIntyre and Father’s last name Pickett, born in MA, died Salinas, Monterey, CA 08/07/87. A check of Dorothy Alice’s Social Security application, filed Dec. 5, 1836 confirms she is not our Dorothy, however, this Dorothy was likewise born in Malden and at the time of application was living at 11 Laurel St., Malden.  


§  Dorothy Thelma Milliner married Edward J Bushnoe, likely in early 1943 and likely in Malden. Edward joined the US Army in late 1942 wherein he reported as single; however, in the 1943 Malden directory Mrs. Dorothy Bushnoe, waitress, continued to live in the Millner family home at 39 Clark. Dorothy and Edward Bushnoe had two children, Wayne D in 1947 and Joan, who subsequently became Joan Halsey and produced one grandson. Dorothy (Millner) Bushnoe, a widow, died in Ayer, MA on Mar 14, 1968.    


§  Richard married Lillian Iannello c 1937 and the couple had one daughter, Joan. The liaison was short-lived and ended in divorce by 1940. Richard served in the US Army during and after WWII. In the 1950’s Richard subsequently married Stefanina “Nina” Zampitella, and the couple had one daughter Margaret in June of 1958. Margaret married a Tom Wright and the couple was living in Texas in 2009; the Wrights had one daughter, Alexis.


§  Richard Millner died September 2, 1983 in the Malden Hospital, Malden, MA; cause of death was listed as respiratory failure due to malignant metastatic melanoma (a virulent form of skin cancer). His residential address was listed as 58 Waite St., Malden. He had seen military service during WW2, and his occupation was listed as expeditor of a Department Store. His death record, which was informed by his wife Nina, listed his correct birthdate, and had both his parents born in Canada, although his mother’s first name was given as Margarite. He was buried in Holy Cross Cemetery, Malden on September 7, 1983.


RAR - 31.07.05

Updated - 23.01.13