These rather large families by today’s standards were necessary for help on the farm. Zick and Oliva Miller made their home in Sunset, where they had a farm and a small store. Oliva spoke only French and was known as Maw Maw Petite while Zick spoke both English and French. They had an Acadian style home with a picket fence reminiscent of those depicted in drawings by Floyd Sonnier. Like most families of this time they grew everything they could and only bought the absolute necessities. Joyce Miller Coreil of Ville Platte, granddaughter of Zick and Oliva, and daughter of Jack and Joyce Miller, remembers spending a couple of weeks every summer out at the old Miller home place in Sunset. She said, “I can remember how they had all kinds of fruit trees such as: figs, mulberry, pomegranates, etc. They would grow almost everything including watermelons, cantaloupes, and peanuts. I remember a large assortment of vegetables. Anything that could be grown, was. They also had plenty of livestock such as: cows, chickens, ducks, horses and pigs.”
“I remember Maw Maw had a long table and when the table was set there were always three kinds of meats and all the fruits and vegetables you could eat. A tradition at that time was that the men ate first while the women served them then the women would eat and then finally the children. Also the children were to remain and play outside while the adults ate. Maw Maw for a long time cooked on a wood fire stove and there was no electric lights, only lanterns. Also there was no indoor bathroom. Slowley they added electricity and other new amenities but they were an old fashioned people and like life simple.” She did not recall the store as clearly as her brother Kermit Miller who was told about it by his dad Jack Miller. “Remember at the time there were no regular grocery delivery trucks to Daddy (Jack) said that “drummers,” people who would carry loads of everything from flour to pots and pans on makeshift backpacks, would walk from one country store to the next selling there wears. Often these ‘traveling salesman’ would board with the family overnight.” Many hours were spent by Oliva and her daughters sewing whether it was making clothes, mending or making quilts. They would pass away hours rocking and sewing. Joyce said, “I can remember going up into the attic and seeing garlic cloves drying and potatoes and preserves being stored. On Sunday the family would go to mass in Grand Coteau. On Sundays and Holidays we would have big dinners at Maw Maw and Paw Paw’s houlse. All of the aunts, uncles, and cousins would come over for dinner.
The house was heated only by the fireplace. They made their own mattresses out of moss and Maw Maw was known for home remedies such as mustard plasters. Going to Maw Maw and Paw Paws’ house was like taking a trip back to yesteryear. One final memory that is vivid is how paw Paw (Zick) was laid out in the kitchen for his wake.” Here is certainly a glimplse into a world that had passed away, though times were harder, life was simpler. On Hwy 93 at Zick Miller Rd. south of Sunset Zicks’ mercantile store and home can still be seen today.
This family is not the only example of a country farming family, it is merely one out of many who lived deliberately. These families living in the rural areas of St. Landry Parish in the early twentieth century lived close to the land. Theirs was a world not of the surplus waste which overwhelms us today, but rather a simple life carved out by their own hands from the plentiful land they tended. Eventually Zick’s daughters Lillian and Louise along with their brother Alexis “Boo-key” sspent the remainder of his days in a local nursing home until his death.
Genealogy of Dosite “Zick” Miller
Alexon and Alicia L. Millers children were:
Dosite’ “Zick” Miller
Alexon “Beb” Miller married to Eva Lavergne. They had three children.
Theogen “Tage” Miller married to Elzora Lavergne. They had five children.
Elena “NaNa” M. Cetrephon. They had two daughters.
Elia “Ya” M. Barton had no children.
Clarice Marie M. married Philogen Savoy.
Artemese Miller never married.
Cellizza M. married Enos Burleigh.
There were two more children who died young or at birth.
Parents and sibling of Oliva Faul Miller
Philip Valmon Faul and Eva B. Fauls’ children were:
Arcard Faul married Melissa Vidrine.
Ovile Faul married Mr. Palnay Meche.
Louis Faul married Mabel M.
Tanis Faul married Adel Venable.
Oliva Faul married Dosite’ “Zick” Miller
Ammont Faul married Will Venable.
Louise Faul married Laynore Kaddy.
Azola Faul married Saul Richard.
Zuima Faul married Marius Venable.
Agnes Faul married Jules Doucet.
Arvina Faul married Dosilite Venable.
Zick and Oliva in turn had twelve children they were:
Charles Miller married Emma Vesseur who died then he married Alice Bernard [with whom] he had a total of six children: Leeverta, Emma, Mildred, Alex, J.D. “Joe,” and Anna Bellee.
Rose M. Doucet.
Odile M. married Gaston Dugas.
Jack Dosite Miller married to Joyce Helen Chapman together they had four children: Joyce, Jackie, Kermit, and Oliva.
Alexis “Boo-key” Miller
Eva M. married to Rene Thibodeaux together they had three children: Ruby, Philip, and Raymond.
Phillip Miller married to ? together they had three children: Nolan, Robert, and AV.
Theresa M. married to Lewis Marks together they had three children: James, Pauline, and Allen.
Simon Millers’ Clock Ship
Zick and Oliva Miller’s fourth oldest son Simon took over the store after his dad. Simon in youth had been crippled by what we can gather must have been polio. He was permanently hunched over and could not stand upright. Zick built a special ledge on the family’s porch that Simon could lean against and rest. It was here Simon began tinkering with watches and other mechanical items. Over the years Simon taught himself to fix watches, clocks, sewing machines, etc. Though life had thrown him a curve he overcame it and because a well established and much sought after clock and sewing machine repairman. People from all around the area brought Simon things to work on. Monette Miller granddaughter of Jack Miller recounted, “I remember walking in his store and there were clocks everywhere and he always gave us kids Kit Kat and a Coke in a glass bottle while the clocks were constantly chiming.” The memory always brings a simile to her face. Simon was also known for his great sense of humor. His passing marked an era, both for the family and the community.
Related article on the George Miller Louisiana Family.
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