The Ancestry of Ava Helen Pauling

Ava Helen Miller, Pearl Miller, LuGorgo Miller, Lillian Miller, Nora Gard Miller, Pat Miller, unidentified, Mary Miller and Blanche Rogers.

The Miller women with the family car, 1914. From left: Ava Helen Miller, Pearl Miller, LuGorgo Miller, Lillian Miller, Nora Gard Miller, Pat Miller, unidentified, Mary Miller and Blanche Rogers.

Ava Helen (Miller) Pauling’s ancestry is less-rigorously documented than is the case for Linus Pauling. We have, however, been able to piece together a family tree and have unearthed a few interesting facts in the process.

On Ava Helen’s mother’s side, we are able to trace the family lineage back to Philip Edmond Linn, a third generation American born in Mercer County, Pennsylvania on November 25, 1811. According to Genealogy of the Philip E. Linn Families (Albert B. Shankland, compiler; 1965) Philip’s father was a “minute man” who fought in the war of 1812 and who, following the conclusion of hostilities, moved his family to Kentucky, where Philip was raised.

In 1831 Philip married Mahala McDannald and the couple eventually moved to Illinois where Philip worked a series of jobs, mostly in timber mills. In the meantime, Mahala gave birth to fourteen children.

Shortly after Mahala’s death in 1859, Philip remarried and, in 1865, set out west for the young state of Oregon. He, his second wife, and many of his sixteen children settled in Clackamas County, near the present-day community of Eagle Creek. Evidently a man of reasonable means, Philip donated the land and materials needed to build the area’s first Southern Methodist church as well as the first bridge to span the Clackamas River at what is now Estacada, Oregon.

The seventh of Philip’s children was a daughter, Mary Ellen, born on October 8, 1844. Little is known about Mary except that, during her family’s westward migration, she walked from Missouri to Oregon (at the age of 17) to help save the strength of her father’s oxen. On April 11, 1867, Mary wed John Jay Gard, an Illinois native who had also traveled to Oregon with his family via covered wagon. John and Mary would have eight children, the eldest of which was Elnora Ellen Gard, born February 19, 1868, and Ava Helen Pauling’s mother.

Ava Helen’s father was George Richard Miller, born on March 5, 1856 in Hindern, Germany. In an interview with Thomas Hager, Linus Pauling recounts a few sketchy memories of his father-in-law

[George] had come from Germany, Hamburg, when he was in his teens, perhaps….And he was a schoolteacher in the elementary school, primary school, in the Willamette Valley, and met Nora Gard in the school. She was a student….So they were married and I suppose that he homesteaded a 160-acre farm.

It was on this farm that Ava Helen Miller and her eleven siblings were raised. In his Force of Nature, Hager describes the hugely-influential setting in which the Miller children grew up

Politics was a part of life in the household. Ava Helen’s mother had been a suffragist, and her father was a liberal Democrat with leanings toward socialism. Her parents divorced when Ava Helen was eleven, and she and her younger brothers and sisters were raised by their mother; the combination of socialist discussions around the dinner table and the example of her self-sufficient mother engendered in Ava Helen a lifelong concern for social justice and a strong feeling that women were capable of anything they set their minds to.

Following her parents’ divorce, Ava Helen kept in close contact with her mother – Nora, in fact, cared for the infant Linus Pauling, Jr. during his parents Guggenheim trip to Europe in 1926-1927 – but seems to have fallen out of touch with her father. In his discussions with Hager, Linus Pauling again notes

The father seems to have been rather…dictatorial, working everyone hard on the farm….I don’t know what his history was after the divorce, but he was living in Chicago in…March of 1926. Ava Helen and I were on our way to Europe and we managed to see him for 15 minutes or 20 minutes perhaps.

An abbreviated family tree of the Miller family is available after the jump, and much more information about Ava Helen’s genealogy, including dozens of letters between the Miller siblings, can be accessed in subseries 3 of the Ava Helen Pauling Papers.

George Richard Miller [3.5.1856 – 2.19.1949] married Elnora Ellen Gard [2.19.1868 – 10.19.1943] on 4.8.1886.


1. George Earl [3.14.1887 – ?]

2. Blanche Elnora   [6.27.1888 – 8.22.1945]

3. Nettie Josephine   [8.9.1889 – ?]

4. Pearl “Peg” Eletha     4.27.1891 – ?]

5. John Percival  [1.26.1893 – ?]

6. Milton Marion   [4.21.1895 – ?]

7. Clay Carl   [ 6.21.1896 – ?]

8. Mary Maxine [10.24.1898 – 5.5.1965]

9. Lulu Gorgo [2.9.1900 – ?]

10. Ava Helen [12.24.1903 – 12.7.1981]

11. Gladys Patricia  [4.27.1905 – ?]

12. Lillian “Dickie” Elberta   [3.4.1907 – 2.7.2006]

Oregon 150

5 Responses

  1. […] Ava’s parents met while her mother was a student in her father’s classroom. Her parents eventually divorced when Ava was nine, having, at that point, had two more children together – a grand total of twelve altogether. Her father eventually settled in Chicago for a time and had little-to-no contact with Ava for most of her life. The farm was left to her mother, who finished raising the youngest children that still remained.  (Much more on Ava Helen’s ancestry is available here.) […]

  2. […] down Pauling’s family tree.  We also featured Pauling’s paternal ancestry as well as Ava Helen’s lineage in separate […]

  3. Please share with me about Phillip E Linn. Where was he born? What was his father’s name? Where was he from? Any information will help for my family search information.
    Thank you,

  4. I would like to see the family member that was in the war of 1812. Please share that.

  5. Carol –

    Philip Linn’s father was William Linn. He fought in the War of 1812. Philip was born in Pennsylvania and died in Estacada, Oregon. He is buried in the Philip E. Linn Pioneer Cemetery in Estacada. Philip was my g.g.g. grandfather.

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