In an April 1849 letter from the Curate of St. Louis Church, New Orleans, to twenty year old Mary Frances, it advises that in “this morning’s Picaquine (newspaper), Ramon De La Torre, who was recently elected Alcade [a Spanish municipal magistrate with judicial and administrative functions] of the City of Tampico, State of Tamaulipas, Republic of Mexico; it is probable that this gentleman is the same one, who is your God Father. …write him, so as to obtain such informations relative to your birth or Baptism, that he might let you know how it is that you have been baptized on the name of Mary Francis Petely, instead of Mary Francis Miller, and also inquire of him such other informations which he might know, concerning your parents or yourself.”
It seems that Mary Frances is relocating and James Gallier is unsure of her residence. In Mr. Gallier's December 5, 1849 letter he states "I write this with uncertainty whether it may reach you; not knowing whether you yet stay at Miss Mears'. If you receive this, I shall be very glad to hear from you, and shall in my next give your more particulars, and send you some money."
"Your faithful friend, J. G." was his closing in a December 21, 1849 letter to Mary Frances. She is in East Baton Rouge and apparently has relocated from the New Orleans suburb of Lafayette. This time he addresses the envelope to "Miss Mary F. Gallagher". It is unknown why he addressed the envelope this way. The contents of the letter clearly address issues discussed prior to this letter. He states "I write to explain why I wished you to address Mr. T [Turpin, his assistant] on the subject of receiving the money." He discusses his ill health and the need to avoid business and remain in this city [New Orleans] as little as possible. He goes on the say he may not be there when she comes for the money to be paid to her.
In words of sincere encouragement, J. Gallier says "I am sorry to see by your letter that you continue to cherish so much melancholy and dissatisfaction with regard to the world: every man and woman too, have their own troubles to contend with, and it is the worst kind of philosophy to give way to discontent with our position; we should look around and try to examine whether we are not much better off than one thousands of others who are equally worthy as ourselves of a better condition; and instead of reframing ; make the best of the circumstances within our reach, and enjoy the world to the best of our ability."
On February 9, 1850, Mary Frances Miller writes to "my dear brother" in Baton Rouge. She is despairing of seeing him before she leaves and has postponed her departure to the City thinking she would have seen him in the past month. She asks him to visit her before she leaves at Mrs. Mears' and is anxious to tell him she has ascertained their mother's name as Ann Vogle when she married their father Jacob Miller, widow of the late Charles Vogle (she states Vogle in German means hawk and she was sometimes called Mrs. Hawk) and has obtained a copy of her marriage contract. By the contract, Jacob Miller settled on her the sum of $ 800, but she does not have the certificate of the marriage ceremony. She asks him to find out who performed the marriage ceremony, how long they lived together after being married and to write to her in New Orleans, LA if he finds out.
She leaves toys for William, Ann Eliza and the baby with Mrs. Mears. She asks him to keep secret that a Mr. Charles Harivel, the person they met in the street the last day she saw him (in Baton Rouge?) who went with her to Mr. Garig's asked if she would marry him, when she will have become a widow. Perhaps this is the reason J. Gallier addressed his letter to her on December 29, 1849 as Miss Mary F. Gallagher. It does not explain why he used "Miss" and not Mrs. It seems that if Mary is married, then her husband is ill and expected to die as she will "...become a widow."
She told Mr. Charles Harivel she did not know. He said he would wait a year for her and would find out her decision from him (her brother) when she will have become a widow and where she lives in the City. She asks her brother not to give him any information unless she says and asks him to caution Joe, in case he should apply to him. She says he should understand her reasons but does not want to communicate them by letter for fear it will fall into the wrong hands. Signed "Your affectionate sister, Mary F. M. If she were married, she never used her married surname.
James Gallier wrote to Mary F. Miller in April 1850 advising her that he has “…made inquiries at the book stores for Doctor Hollick’s ‘diseases of women’; they say they have not any copies of it at present…” He goes on to say “…I shall be so much engaged from morning till night every day until I quit the city, that I shall not have time to make you another visit. You have in the mean time my best wishes for your good health happiness and prosperity. I am my dear Mary your faithful friend. J. G.”
In May 1850, M. F. Miller writes to her brother in Baton Rouge. She is in the Lafayette community in uptown New Orleans. She mentions "Mr. G" left for the City on the 15th by the Steamship Ohio for New York and he intends to sail to Europe. On the 14th March last, she says she wrote to her godfather and confided the letter to the care of Mr. Quemper, Secretary to the curate of the Cathedral who would send it to him by friend who was going to Tampico shortly Apparently her godfather is in Tampico, Mexico. If the friend returned in May and if her godfather should write, he would bring the letter to Mr. Quemper to give to her.
She says she delayed writing to her brother in the hopes of hearing from her godfather but has not heard from him yet and had to write. She is still in search of her parents' marriage act through Col. Bills, a Justice of the Peace in East Baton Rouge She receives a reply from Mr. Gayarre' saying he cannot give her any information she requested about a successor, etc. She is anxious to hear about the state of her brother's health and that she may return to Baton Rouge in the summer but doesn't want him to inform anyone of this but family. Signed "Your affectionate sister M.F.M."
Mary F. Miller writes again to her brother Charles in July 1850. She is happy to that Mrs. Mears and he have good health. She mentions her many little problems and vexations. She has changed boarding places from Mlle. Missonnet's to Dr. McLean's on Washington St., Lafayette (a community near New Orleans). She learns that Mr. Quemper is dead. He is the man who sent the letter to her godfather and now that he is dead she does not know how she will obtain an answer to her letter. She contacted his successor and he will check into it. She ends the letter sending her respects to Mrs. Mears and to his family.
By June 1852, Mary F. Miller is in New Orleans. She writes to her brother Charles that brother Jacob Jackson left for Baton Rouge last month but has not heard from him. Additionally, she states that the City is unhealthy with many dying of cholera.
A letter from Geo. M. Church to C. Fred Miller dated June 5, 1855 informs him of the death of his sister, Mary F. Miller. "She had every attention during the time she was with me and was buried very respectable at a cost of some one hundred dollars." She died on the 15th of consumption and her clothing is at his house and waiting to be disposed. In a follow up letter after Charles' response, Mr. Church states that there are no liabilities against his heir Mary F. Miller. If he is the heir, her personal affects will be sent to him.
Mr. Gallier, Sr. is traveling with his family in Europe. In his autobiography, he mentions that is was necessary for him to return to New Orleans alone. He left his wife in Switzerland and arrives in New Orleans in November 1855. He stayed nine months and returned to Switzerland.
In summary, suffice to say that Mary F. Miller was a troubled young lady, born out of wedlock and probably never met her father and may have never established who he was and why he never became a part of her troubled life.
Will we ever find out how Mr. Gallier, a successful business person in New Orleans, became acquainted with Mary F. Miller? What was the reason for his kindness and his interest in her well being and why did he provide her financial support? At age 24 on May 15, 1855, Mary Francis is dead and buried the same day.
In October 1986, Brenda Gray Felder, Denham Springs, LA, a descendant of Jacob Miller, Jr., wrote to Kenneth McLeod, Jr., M.D., the great-great grandson of James Gallier, Sr. and inquired about the relationship of Mr. Gallier to Mary F. Miller. He was not aware of their relationship and could not provide any information that would lead to more understanding about Mary F. Miller and her short life in the mid 1800's.