Poet Joaquin Miller Marries Three Times

Apr 6, 2015

In the late 1800's, the self-proclaimed “Poet of the Sierras,” Joaquin Miller, was known for his colorful  dress, restless travels, and flamboyant writing about the West.  But like many artists, Miller struggled with his personal relationships with women.

As a teenager in 1857, Miller traveled from a California mining camp to fight Indians with the Oregon Volunteers.  He said an Indian woman treated his wounds when an arrow almost killed him near Klamath Lake.  They got married and had a daughter, but Miller abandoned them to attend the Columbia College law school in Eugene.  He met fellow student Mary Pepiot and dedicated several poems to her.  She considered him her “beau,” but he left to take a job as a pony express rider in Eastern Oregon.

In 1862, near Port Orford, Ore., Miller married fellow poet and writer, Minnie Myrtle Dyer, after a three-day courtship.  They moved to San Francisco and then to Eastern Oregon.  After eight years and a contentious divorce, Miller left Minnie and their three children and went to Europe for a year.  

The poet married for a third and final time in 1879, and stayed married until his death in 1913.


Sources: Ontko, Andrew Gale. Thunder over the Ochoco: Lightning Strikes! Vol. 3. Bend, OR: Maverick Publications, 1997. 119-24. Print; Ward, Jean M. "Minnie Myrtle Miller (Theresa Dyer) (1845-1882)." The Oregon Encyclopedia. The Oregon Historical Society, Web. 19 Mar. 2015.