Marriage and Family
At age 21, Nelson Miller married Ida Johnson on February 15, 1896, in Viola Township, Lee County, IL They had six children between 1897 and 1906 while living in Garner, Iowa, Westford Township, MN, Amboy, MN, and Rochelle, IL. Various records report Nelson abandoned his family as early as 1904 buttcertainly by 1910 when he was imprisoned in California (see Criminal History).
Alleged to “. . . be a pauper” his wife applied for county relief in April, 1909, for supplies, medical care, and rent in Ogle County, IL. His son Ralph later reported he left the family in 1908. Unable to care for the children, his mother hired the older children out to neighbors and placed two in orphanages. Ralph described his father as “. . . the worst kind of family man . . . a very poor provider.” Census records show Ida and her children were reunited and living in the same household in 1910 but that Nelson was not with them.
Nelson and Ida Miller are listed as husband and wife in the Rockford (Illinois) 1924 City Directory. A number of public notices in Illinois newspapers reported property transfers involving Nelson and Ida Miller between 1924 and 1926, including one transfer to their eldest son, Ralph Miller, at age 27. A foreclosure notice was published in 1937 against “. . . Ida E. Miller and Nelson Miller, her husband . . .” for a mortgage they executed on September 29, 1924, in the city of Rockford, IL.
In 1939, the newly adjudicated Charles Brewster Ross told a reporter in Dixon, IL, about his three marriages and his children. He said he married Ida Johnson on February 15, 1885, (It was actually 1896.) and they had five children. (They had six.) He later married Cora Eversole of Chicago, IL, on August 13, 1930. A license for this marriage was published in Omaha, NE, on August 15, 1929, a year earlier than he reported. The 1930 Federal Census taken on April 10 and 11, 1930, reports Gustave and Cora Blair were living in Riverdale Village, Cook County, IL, as husband and wife. He re-married Cora in 1939 so she would have his Ross name. During the interview he said nothing about divorcing Ida and no record of divorce has been found.