Back to Robert Phillips story

Below is a modern topographical map showing the location of Robert Miller's property (highlighted in yellow).  Just east of his land, less than 3/4 of a mile, is a covered bridge at the location of Bell(s) Mill.  I have placed red dots along what I thought was the close proximity of the Old Braddock Trail which was established in 1755. However, further research shows that the trail crossed the Big Sewickley about 5 miles to the east near the small town of Hunker, PA.  The Braddock trail did follow old Indian trails that coursed through the area for many years before. Then the trail was widened by General Braddock and his Expedition for wagon traffic in order to accommodate military supplies.  The road on my map also perhaps followed old Indian trails as the land close by was originally sold to settlers as early as 1769.

We know that Caspar Marklein's Land was purchased from Gideon Miller in 1774 and that Gideon's land claim was there as early as 1769 as well as Robert Miller's land who purchased his land from a previous owner, William Lindsay who in turn also put a warrant claim on that land as early as 1769.  Markle's Blockhouse is mentioned as a handy "stopover" for military troop movements in pre-Revolutionary War history books.  Why would these settlers not want to have their land near a traveled "highway".


Also, you can see that the trail travels closely by two very old Presbyterian churches.  United Presbyterian Church at the top of the map was established in 1772 (See a picture of this church below), and their grave yard has some of our Millers buried there. This church is also know as Dick's Church or Sewickley United Presbyterian Church.  This is where Robert's son Isaac and Isaac's wife Susanna Miller are buried.  Around their graves is a large empty space indicating that there may be others in the family buried there and that their markers have long ago deteriorated.  It is even possible that Robert Miller himself is buried there since the church was already established there there when he died in 1775.  He also may be buried somewhere on his own land where he died.

Also, in that same cemetery there is the grave of a "Robert Hanna" which I thought at first glance could be
the Robert Hanna who established Hannastown. However, this Robert Hanna would have been born in 1752, the same year as our ancestor Silas Miller, Robert Miller's second son. The Robert Hanna buried in the Sewickley church cemetery would have been too young to to be the Robert Hanna of Hannastown.  Beside this Robert Hanna's grave is the grave of a "Jannet Hanna". Robert Hanna had a daughter named Jannet or Jennet, called "Jennie" who is recorded as having survived the attack on Hannastown in 1782.  The Robert Hanna of Hannastown fame, did not have any sons but he did have four daughters, one named Jannet.   These Hannas could be relatives of some sort but the connection is unknown to me.  When Greg and I visited Westmoreland Co. Recorder of Deeds office in July of 2009 we found a copy of the will of the Robert Hanna of Hannastown and he died after an prolonged illness in the spring of of 1786.   Find this and more about Robert Hanna here.

This  "new" church building was built in 1806 and then rebuilt twice again in the 1800s.  I am standing on the front steps - October 2008.

This is the grave marker reads In "Memory of Robert Hanna, who departed this life on the 16th of November 1844, aged 92 years".  At the bottom the words are "Put up by Joseph Hanna". The flag marker indicates that this Robert was a veteran of the Revolutionary War.
      See here a short biography of Robert Hanna

The above marker reads: "In memory of Jannet Hanna who departed  this life December 27, 1824." I could not read her age or what was written on the bottom. Church records say that it reads "Aged 62 Years". See more about Jannet Hanna on the above link to Robert Hanna's Biography.

The Bells Mill covered bridge over the Big Sewickley Creek looking from the South Huntingdon Township side, Westmoreland County.

  The bridge from the Sewickley Township (north) side of the creek.

The Bells Mill sign over the north entrance of the bridge built in 1850

When we visited the Sewickley Presbyterian Church near the covered bridge crossing, we found no graves of Millers we recognized as relatives there.  However, there are Millers buried there. Then there is the Markle family cemetery located on the property of Gaspard Marklien (many variations in the spelling of this name) who was friend and neighbor to both Robert and his son, Isaac. Remember, too the there was a substantial block house on the Markle property that would have provided a safe haven to both travelers along the Braddock Trail/Road and for those who lived near by in case of marauding Indians and British soldiers during the Revolutionary War.  This area was a dangerous place to live until after the close of the war in 1883.

One last clue that the Braddock Road was somewhere nearby:  Miller family history tells that Isaac Miller and one of the Martin boys who were kidnapped by Indians in 1755 at Big Cove
"escaped after some time and went to Big Sewickley Creek in Westmoreland County." (See Robert Phillips story on the former page).  After they escaped or were freed, both Isaac and the escaped Martin boys lived and owned property in close proximity to each other and in the same area.

▼Below is the Big Sewickley Creek ▼
looking downstream or West from the Bridge.
A beautiful autumn day, October 2008