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Master German Gunsmith Moves to Jacksonville, Ore.

A master gunsmith from Bavaria, Germany, John Miller, came to the United States at the age of 20 in 1830.  He found employment in New Jersey for several years, where he married Mary Smith Smutz, who had also emigrated with her family from Baden, Germany. Together, the couple would raise eight children.

After moving to Burlington, Iowa, which was a frontier outfitting town, tales of the West lured the Millers to Jacksonville, Ore.

Jacksonville was a booming gold town by 1860 and the most important settlement in Southern Oregon and Northern California. Miller established a small shop in Jacksonville and immediately became known as a skilled gunsmith. He expanded his business and opened a hardware store at 109 West California St. He also invested in mines and real estate.  Miller was famous for his fine muzzle-loading, percussion rifles, but only a handful have survived.

Miller died a wealthy man in 1893, and Miller Gulch, off Jackson Creek, was named after him.


Source: Chipman, Art. "Jacksonville Gunsmith." Siskiyou Sites And Sagas ; Yearbook of the Siskiyou Pioneer Sites Foundation 1 (1966): 8-9. Print.

Gail Fiorini-Jenner is a writer and teacher. Her first novel "Across the Sweet Grass Hills", won the 2002 WILLA Literary Award. She co-authored four histories with Arcadia Publishing: Western Siskiyou County: Gold & Dreams, Images of the State of Jefferson, The State of Jefferson: Then & Now, which placed in the 2008 Next Generation Awards for Nonfiction and Postcards from the State of Jefferson.