Posted by: downtothesea | January 20, 2010

Treasure Chest Thursday: Aunt Kate (Kate Irene Miller)

This photograph was one of those rediscovered this past December in the long-missing Sibley’s box that belonged to my Gram.

This charming girl is Kate Irene Miller, who was born in Niagara Falls, NY, on September 25, 1887.  Kate was the youngest child of George and Elizabeth (Hislop) Miller, who emigrated from Scotland to Canada between 1873-1874.  She was the youngest sister of my great-grandfather, William H. Miller.

And Kate was my Gram’s favorite aunt.

I can still remember how Gram said Kate’s name, pronouncing “aunt” like “ant,” on account of her soft Western New York accent.  Kate was quite a beauty in her day, and independent to boot.  In the early decades of the 20th century, at a time when few women worked outside the home, Kate held a good job as a switchboard operator for Bell Telephone in Niagara Falls.  Gram revealed to my mother in hushed tones that Kate had even been married once, but that the union had ended quickly when Kate discovered her new husband already had a wife!

Kate, plucky and proud, kept the diamond.

Kate was a tiny wisp of a woman, not even five feet tall, and entirely proper and poised–that is, until someone told a joke.  And then oh, Gram said, oh how Katie could laugh!  That’s one of the reasons why I love this picture of Aunt Kate so much:  you can see laughter in her lovely dark eyes and just a hint of mischief in her Mona Lisa smile.

My father was lucky enough to grow up seeing Aunt Kate often.  She loved baseball and Dad remembers Kate attending one of his Little League games when he was 8 years old or so.  My father recalls that during the ballgame Kate had smoked her way through her pack of Camels (without inhaling–too much of a lady for that), and by the time the game was over she was brazenly bumming Chesterfields off my grandfather.

Aunt Kate passed away in February of 1974, two years before I was born.  Although I will always regret that I never knew her, I am so thankful that my father and mother remember her so well and delight in sharing Katie’s stories with me.



  1. How neat! Thanks for sharing. We knew the box was filled with jewels!

    Bill 😉
    Author of “13 Ways to Tell Your Ancestor Stories”

    • Thanks, Bill! I still must get my hands on a scanner so I can digitize the rest of the goodies…no fair continuing to pester my husband with “can you scan this?” requests!


  2. I’m also a New Englander so it is great to see some family history of others from the area.

    Thanks for sharing this wonderful bit of family information on today’s blog.


    • Hi Lucie,

      Thanks for commenting! I’m going to enjoy perusing your blog during my lunchbreak today!


  3. Lovely photograph! And, what a lovely description of her you’ve written to go with it, Amy. I can almost see her at the ball game!

  4. Goodness sakes! I am in love with that Sibley’s box1 And Aunt Kate is lovely!

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