Title

Collection - Emma Miller Papers (c.00005)

This collection consists of Civil War letters received by Emma Miller of Chikaming, Michigan, mostly from her love interest, Mark D. Flower. There are also a handful of letters from Mark's cousin, William DeLoss Hawkins, who served alongside Flower throughout the war. In his letters, Flower describes headquarters routine, camp life, the battle of Iuka, Mississippi, but most of all, he professes his love for Emma Miller, whom he met just before leaving for the front lines. Mark was in Chikaming for several months working for his uncle before he met Emma. He repeatedly refers to Miller as his "promised bride," but it seems that they were never formally engaged. The letters detail the ups and downs of their whirlwind relationship, which is strained by distance and gossip, much of it filtered through James F. Gowdy, an acquaintance of Mark who was a friend and possible suitor to Emma.

Emma Miller was born in New Buffalo, Michigan, circa April 27, 1844, to Mary D. and William B. Miller, and raised in Chikaming, Michigan. The 1860 census lists only Emma and her mother, so it seems likely she had no other siblings and that her father had passed away. Her mother Mary was identified as a farmer. 

Marcus "Mark" DeLoss Flower was born in Chagrin Falls, Ohio, on March 31, 1842, to Cybele (maiden name Brooks) (1819-1898) and Marcus Tullius Cicero Flower (1814-1903). He was the middle child, born between his older sister Cordelia (1838-1913) and his younger sister, Ida (1853-1943). Marcus T. C. Flower was a hotel owner who relocated his family relocated to Michigan City, Indiana, then Chicago, then Meriden, Minnesota, in 1855. In 1857, Mark Flower began attendance at the Aurora Institute and Clark Seminary in Illinois. He likely met Emma Miller near the end of the winter 1861.

At the age of 20, Flower mustered into Company C of the 7th Illinois Infantry as a private on April 25, 1861, at Aurora, Illinois. When his initial three-month term ended, he hoped to enlist in the Navy, but ended up as an unasssigned recruit in the Company A "Dragoons" that were attached to the 36th Illinois Volunteer Infantry. This unit served as the escort for Major General William S. Rosecrans at the Battle of Iuka and, subsquently, for Brigadier General Charles S. Hamilton when he took command of the left wing of the Army of the Tennessee. Flower seems to have mainly worked in the adjutant general's office during this time. On December 25, 1862, his unit detached and became Company I of the 15th Illinois Cavalry. They were moved to Memphis, Tennessee, to continue serving under General Hamilton at the Union headquarters of the District of West Tennessee. In February 1863, Flower was detailed as a clerk in the Office Commissary of Subsistence. By April, he was transferred to the Office of the Assistant Adjutant General of the District of Memphis under Brigadier General James C. Veatch.

During this time, Emma Miller was periodically sick, but she went to school and attended parties and balls, often accompanied by her friend, James Gowdy. In early October, Mark was able to visit Emma after performing duties in St. Paul and visiting family in Mankato, Minnesota. In December, General William T. Sherman promoted Flower to the rank of captain and appointed him Assistant Adjutant General of the newly formed First Brigade of Memphis Enrolled Militia. On top of his increased responsibilities, Mark became very ill in the spring of 1864, so he wrote fewer and fewer letters to Emma. Later, Mark explained he received letters from people in Chikaming in the summer of 1863 that claimed Emma was too close with James Gowdy for someone who was considered Mark's "betrothed." Mark and Emma seem to also have a disagreement over when to get married. Emma suspected Mark of taking pleasure from winning "her affections to trample upon them." They seem to end their relationship around July 1864. At some point, Mark was transferred to Company M of the Illinois 10th Cavalry, where he served until mustering out on June 5, 1865. 

In August 1864, Mark offered to visit Emma that fall to prove he is "not dishonorable." One month later, he married Lena "Tante" Gullum Gutherz (1847-1915) whom he met while stationed in Memphis. The same day, Flower's cousin William DeLoss Hawkins (1842-1909) married Lena's sister, Anna "Mutie" Gutherz (1845-1922).

Lena and Anna immigrated to the United States from the German-speaking Northern region of Switzerland in 1851 with their parents, Henrietta (maiden name Loescher) (1825?-1870) and Heinrich "Henry" Gutherz (1817?-ca. 1860s), as well as their brothers Gottfried "Fred" (1843-1880), Will (birth and death dates unknown), Carl (1844-1907)—who went on to become a reknowed artist—and sister Lenala (1852-1926). They settled first in Cincinnati, Ohio, where Henry established an artisan terra cotta workshop. He soon joined the Swiss Colonization Society and was elected to the board of directors to establish a communal city in Indiana called Tell City. When the terra cotta business failed in 1859, the Gutherz's moved to Memphis, Tennessee. Henry died sometime during the Civil War and Fred fought for the Confederacy, enlisting as a Sargeant in Company D of the Tennessee 154th Infantry Regiment (aka the First Tennessee Volunteers). 

After the war, Mark and Lena moved to Mankato, Minnesota, so that Mark could work as a landlord at his father's hotel, Clifton House, and later, at a milling business.

Emma Miller passed away from illness on June 6, 1867. Her death certificate lists her as married with the last name of Disbrow, but no records of her marriage or her husband have been located.

Mark and Lena resettled to St. Paul in 1870, and the same year, Governor Horace Austin appointed Flower Adjutant General of Minnesota. During this time, he was an ex officio member of and secretary for the Board of Trustees for the Protestant Orphan Asylum in St. Paul that took in children of soldiers killed during the Civil War. Lena's brother Carl visited them often and eventually, he opened his own artists' studio in their residence at 162 Broadway. Flower resigned from his Adjutant General position in November 1875 so he could purchase and captain a steamboat that shipped mostly along the Mississippi River and its tributaries. In 1877, while traveling on the Yellowstone River, a cyclone hit the boat. He and Lena were unharmed but the boat and cargo were destroyed. Uninsured, this left the couple heavily in debt.

They returned to St. Paul where Flower took a position as Chief Clerk of the House of Representatives at the Minnesota State Legislature. In 1879, he was appointed Deputy Collector of Customs for the port of St. Paul and in 1880, he became a district Supervising Inspector of Steamboats for the federal government. He moved to work as a claims adjuster for the Chicago, Great Western Railroad in 1885 after President Grover Cleveland removed him from his position as Supervising Inspector "for offensive partisanship." Flower was promoted to Director of the railroad company in 1889 and he soon became President of the St. Paul Union Stockyards Company. 

Mark and Lena never had children of their own, but would later legally adopt the third of William and Anna Hawkins's five children, Grace "Gracie" Flower Hawkins (1873-1923), on July 2, 1893. (Note: The 1880 census lists Grace as a member of the Hawkins household in St. Paul, Minnesota, but by the 1885 census, it appears Grace had moved in with the Flowers, who were also living in St. Paul). In 1904, Flower was elected to the Minnesota House of Representatives and a year later, was appointed postmaster of St. Paul. He died on February 3, 1907. Lena managed their home on 428 Ashland Avenue as a boarding house and collected a widow's pension until her death on September 25, 1915.

For a deeper dive into this collection, visit Flowers to Emma, An American Civil War Love Story This site describes text analysis done on the letters and provides a map of Mark Flowers location when writing his letters to Emma Miller.
Michigan State University Archives & Historical Collections

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