The general fiction section of the Grant County Library is not the place you would think to look for a biography of a local hero and early Grant County Judge. However A Deeper Wild is indeed the life of Cincinatus Hiner Miller, our county judge during the heydays of the Canyon City gold rush.
Those of you who dont recognize the name may be more familiar with the pen name Joaquin Miller. Barring that, think of the small cabin by the museum you pass whenever you drive through Canyon City.
Author William Sullivan, a prolific Oregon writer, put a great deal of research into this biography and only diverted from historical facts (diaries, published works, newspaper articles, etc.) to fill in blanks left by the earliest years, i.e. missing diaries and such. This allows the telling of a more complete story of this intriguing man and his times.
Miller walked to Oregon in 1853 with a wagon train, which arrived only a few years after the one my family arrived on (and which is now memorialized in the film Meeks Cutoff).
He arrived in Canyon City during gold rush days seeking to support a young family. These were heady times in the west and Miller (known as Ned) lived them with the most adventurous. In the case of his judgeship, he learned the law as he went along. Being a writer was his burning desire, it was also the passion of his wife (pen name Minnie Myrtle) whom he began courting after reading her poems in a Westside newspaper.
Like many trying to survive in these early years in Oregon, Miller tried various attempts at a livelihood after leaving Grant County, perhaps the most lucrative being a joint owner and rider on a pony express run. This was not without the challenges as the main thing transported was gold.
Not having much success with the publication of his writing, he later traveled to England with his last savings to promote himself to a wider public, and after trials and tribulations he actually succeeded.
Miller threw himself into life with an enthusiasm that makes for a good story, especially since it relates to our own local history.
Linda Driskill is a life-long resident of Grant County and volunteers at the library.