Monday, January 25, 2010

My Hometown on Monday Week 4 - H L Miller

In Week 2, I mentioned that I was related to one of the business persons listed in December, 1886. It was H. L. Miller & Co, bank. This is his Coon Rapids, Iowa story.

Harmon L. (H. L.) MILLER was the 3rd son and 5th child of John and Rebecca Firestone CARLE MILLER, according to family records. He was born 13 Dec 1840 in Ohio.

He first appears in the U.S. Census with his family in the 1850 count on 3 Sep 1850 in Brady Township Dist No. 162, Williams Co, OH, age 9, b. OH. He has already gone out on his own by the time of the 1860 census.

He married Elizabeth Amelia STOUGH on 10 Oct 1867. Records indicate that their first daughter, Clara, was born in late 1868 or early 1869, in Ohio. It also appears they moved to Iowa shortly after her birth. The family appears in the 1870 U.S. Census taken on 20 Jun 1870 in Richland Township, Guthrie Co, IA, Post Office: Panora. Harmon L. is listed as age 29, Farmer, R.E. worth 5,000, P.E. worth 700, b. OH with wife Amelia, age 24, b. OH; Clara, age 2, b. OH; William, born May 1870, IA (William did not survive to his 10th birthday).

Harmon and Amelia and family appear to have prospered in Iowa, as the 1880 U.S. Census reveals a much expanded family and lifestyle status. Still in Richland Township, Guthrie Co, IA, Harmon L. is listed as a Farmer, age 39, E. Amelia, his wife, age 34; Clara, age 11; Frank S., age 9; Charles W., age 5, and Josie, age 3. Five others are in the household: May Stough, age 18, a sister-in-law; and four servants: Frank Rowley, age 22 (actually a nephew); Joseph, age 20, and Stincel Baltasser, age 24, b. PA; and Sessie Erickson, age 22, b. U.S.S. unknown, parents b. Sweden. Family records show that their youngest daughter, Ona, was born in Coon Rapids, late in 1880.

In 1882, H. L. Miller founded The City Bank in Coon Rapids, and served as President, becoming quite successful. His family moved to their residence in Coon Rapids, Carroll Co, IA, just a few miles away from their farm in Richland Township, Guthrie Co, IA.

Several news items appeared in the Coon Rapids Enterprise from the period:

31 May 1883: Ad for The City Bank, H. L. Miller, President
7 Jun 1883: City Councilmen include H. L. Miller.
14 Sep 1883: Republican Primary - delegate to county convention: H. L. Miller
19 Oct 1883: Josie Miller, about eight years of age, daughter of M/M H. L. Miller, died yesterday morning of diptheria after an illness of six days... Ona Miller, another daughter, age three, is also very low with the same disease.
26 Oct 1883: Mr. & Mrs. H. L. Miller desire us to extend their thanks to the kind friends who lent their aid and assistance during the illness and death of their daughters.
9 Nov 1883: In the drawing Monday evening at L. S. Caswell's for the beautiful wax doll which was been on exhibit in their show window for a week now, Master Frank Miller, son of the banker, proved to hold the winning number. Frank is proud of his luck, but more so of his body (sp?), and as he walked off up the street with his handsome price we have no doubt thoughts rested on some fair little girl whom he would like to give it to, if he could manage to keep the boys from finding it out.
14 Mar 1884: Female suffrages in Coon Rapids had a set-back last Monday. In the contest for the election of two school directors Messrs. H. L. Miller and B. H. Shote were candidates on one ticket and their wives on the other, the ladies receiving seven votes each, and the gentlemen eighteen each.
18 Apr 1884: A Coal Company was formed: H. L. Miller elected President.
13 Jun 1884: H. L. and George Miller left last Tuesday for western Nebraska to view the country.
27 Jun 1884: H. L. and George Miller returned Friday from their trip through Kansas, Nebraska and Colorado. They seem to have been very much impressed with the mountains and other scenery of the latter state.
4 July 1884: H. L. Miller got up the lemonade at his bank one of the hot days this week. A seventh child, a daughter, Faye, was born on 9 Jun 1886. She died 25 May 1899, and was buried in Guthrie, OK, in what became the family plot. In about 1886 his uncle Samuel, who had been living with the family, died and was buried in Coon Rapids.
For 1886 -1887, H.L. Miller is listed as City Councilman and George Miller as Street Commissioner.

Son, Frank S. Miller, graduated from Coon Rapids High School in 1888, in the first graduating class there. His sister, Clara, apparently finished her local schooling in Panora, two years earlier. Later, she attended both Grinnell College and Drake University, according to family information. Brother Charles W. Miller graduated from Coon Rapids High School in the Class of 1890, the second graduating class at the school. He lived in Aberdeen, Washington in 1917.

Harmon's father, John Miller, died in Edgerton, Williams Co, OH, on 7 Sep 1888, at the age of nearly 82 years. It appears that shortly thereafter, his mother moved to Coon Rapids to be with his family. About the same time, his sister, Ellen, with her four children, moved to town. She had been recovering from an illness in Ohio. Her children came from their home in Deer Lodge, MT. She was divorced by her husband, James P. Preston in 1889.

Harmon's mother, Rebecca, died on 6 Oct 1892 at their home in Coon Rapids, IA. Her body was returned to Ohio for burial with her husband in the Shiffler Cemetery, Jefferson Township, Williams County.

The H. L. Miller family moved to Guthrie, Logan County, Oklahoma in 1894. A newspaper account of his death describes his activities: "(he) ... came to Logan county shortly after the opening and lived here until a few years ago..."

Family records described Harmon as "Investor in land and oil wells in and near Guthrie, OK" and as "a wealthy banker and speculator."
I (Bill) have personally examined some of his land and oil holdings records in Logan county, OK. They were extensive.

Finally, to close the loop, the youngest of the four children of his sister, Ellen, who moved to Coon Rapids (because H. L. was here!), was my grandmother, Ellen Rebecca PESTON BALLARD SMITH (see listing). Ellen's first husband, Grant BALLARD, died of a freak accident. She married my grandfather, William Emanuel SMITH (from whom I got my first given name) on 11 May 1904 and they had nine children, all born and raised at the Homeplace.

Families are Forever!  ;-)


  1. Bill, I'd bet that the dinner time conversation at the Miller and Shote homes was tense after the 1884 school director election. Thanks for sharing this bit of history.

  2. Yes, wouldn't that have been interesting to hear?!


  3. Very interesting! Thanks for sharing.

  4. Bill,

    Don't you just love those 'society notes' in the newspapers? You can just imagine the scenery they gazed at on their trip! That was a fun read!

    "Guided by the Ancestors"

  5. Yes, George. The 100 years ago and 75 years ago columns in the Hometown paper are my favorites!


  6. I have to say...although I caution the new genealogists to take note of the "whole" paper.. I usually skip to the social "gossip" column first. Then I go back to analyze the rest. How fun!