Johannes “John Miller” Mueller

  • Birth 1787 Bavaria (Bayern), Germany
  • Death 10 May 1845 Franklin, Lee County, Iowa, USA
  • Burial Lee County, Iowa, USA
  • Memorial ID 94021294

Johannes Mueller or "John Miller" was born about 1787 in Bavaria, Germany. His wife Mary Anna was born in Alsace, France in which the borders changed and sometimes it was in Germany. They had lived in Newcastle on the Danube river or Neuburg an der Donau. John had been a soldier in the Germany Army at some time in his early life.

The family immigrated from Bavaria, Germany in 1841. When they came to America John lists his occupation as being a farmer and being age 54. There was also a Joseph Miller who could be John's brother or oldest son that came with them. They landed in New York then moved to Lancaster, Pennsylvania. A couple of years later they moved to Cinncinati, Ohio, then Columbiana County, Ohio to be a Mennonite Preacher. It is unknown but likely that John was a Preacher back in Germany also.

Henry Leiza or Leicy came to Lee County, Iowa and bought land in the Franklin area. He cleared the land, built a log cabin and went back to Cleveland, Ohio to marry Elizabeth, the daughter of John and Mary Miller.

They had only been married a couple of months when they returned to Iowa along with her parents, her sister Amelia and husband Jacob Risser and a couple of children.

They were seen on the river boat at Keokuk and were noted to have nice possessions, one being a trunk with silver inlay. They also gave the impression that they had money. It is believed that John Miller, a Mennonite preacher, did have money and he planned to invest it in land.

The Lee County History of 1879, where one can find the story, has a few discrepancies when one reads the papers that were printed at the time of the murder. They had been here a couple of weeks according to Mary Miller's testimony at the trial but the Lee County history book states two or three days. During that time they were approached by the Mennonites of the area, who asked Reverend Miller if he would be the pastor of the new church they were planning to build at Franklin, and he assured them he would.

Within a night or two of May 10, 1845, three armed men, their faces covered with mud, entered the Miller home around 11:30 at night and stabbed Miller, clubbing his head and body, and left him dying in a pool of blood just outside the back door. Leiza was shot and stabbed with a big knife made from a file. It took Leiza three weeks and two hours to die as was stated by Jacob Risser when he appeared as a witness at the trial; Lee County History says he lived only a short time. Jacob Risser says he was the one who went for help; one source says there was a young lad in the house who went for help; another source says there were nine people in the house; in the 1850 Census, there is a John Miller of the correct age that could have been a son of the pastor and his wife, a blacksmith.

There was no money taken but as they fled, one of the murderers dropped his cap and this was used as evidence in the trial of William and James Hodges, who claimed to be members of the Mormon Church; both were seized and taken to the Fort Madison Prison. It is believed that a Tom Brown also was one of the murderers but he was not captured. The trial lasted about a week; the Hodges were found guilty and were taken to Burlington and hanged in a ravine on July 15, 1845. There were thousands of people who attended the execution, coming by boats, trains and buggies. The Hodges declared their innocence to the end.

In 1910, sixty-five years later, a Mrs. Mary Hines made a deposition that her husband, John P. Hines, had confessed to her before his death that he and George W. Martin and one other man had killed John Miller and his son-in-law, not the Hodges brothers.

Information for this article was researched and written by Erma DeRosear and taken from the Lee County History of 1879; the Burlington Hawkeye dated June 26, 1845; and the Davenport Gazette, dated May 22, 1845. Also added is information from family records and other various researched documents.


Family Members


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  • Created by: Michelle
  • Added: 22 Jul 2012
  • Find A Grave Memorial 94021294
  • Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for Johannes “John Miller” Mueller (1787–10 May 1845), Find A Grave Memorial no. 94021294, citing Busch Mennonite Cemetery, Lee County, Iowa, USA ; Maintained by Michelle (contributor 47554339) .