Women in History

Emily Miree

Emily Miree was born at Fort Snelling in 1836. At that time, the fort was part of Michigan Territory. Today it is part of Minnesota. Within a couple of years surrounding her birth, dozens of famous people passed through the fort. Abraham Lincoln was a spy in the Black Hawk war in 1832. Jefferson Davis eloped with Zachary Taylor’s daughter in 1835–both men were also at the fort. Eliza Hamilton, widow of Alexander Hamilton, visited her son in 1837. He was a lead miner in nearby Galena, and took her to see the falls of St. Anthony above Fort Snelling. Dred Scott met and married his wife at Fort Snelling during this time. John Jacob Astor owned American Fur Company, which was a huge presence in the area around the fort. William Clark, of Lewis and Clark, was Indian Agent for the territory.

Baby Emily, of course, was unaware of history unfolding around her. Her father, Alexander Miree, was the postmaster at Fort Snelling. Her mother, Samantha (Lockwood) Miree, was the sister of James Henry Lockwood, a prominent leader in the territory. Lockwood owned a store in Prairie du Chien, near Fort Crawford, a few miles down the Mississippi from Fort Snelling. He was a judge, lawyer, merchant, and postmaster in Prairie du Chien. Emily lived with her uncle and his family when she was fifteen while her mother went on a honeymoon trip with her second husband, James Churchman.

Churchman went to Valparaiso, Chile, as an ambassador for President Lincoln, a personal friend. Afterwards, he took his family to California. Samantha and James’s daughter, Nina, was an actress and dancing instructor. She was also one of Mark Twain’s Innocents Abroad. Emily married Edward Williams and became my great-great grandmother. I am currently researching and outlining my next book about Emily and her family.