ELLIS P. MILLER is one of the prosperous farmers of River Township, Pawnee County, and it was his good fortune to be brought to the western frontier of Kansas in early infancy. He grew up here, and while he shared in many of the ordeals through which the pioneers passed, his efforts on the whole have been highly productive and he has won financial independence, a fine home, and has these things which worthy ambition chiefly craves.
He came to Pawnee County when but an infant. His father, two uncles and one aunt, with their respective families, made up the party who journeyed from Noble County, Indiana, and arrived in Great Bend Township in August, 1876. All of them had come by train from Indiana to Western Kansas. The other three families homesteaded in Stafford County. The families had enough stock, furniture and implements to make a car load.
The father, Jacob L. Miller, homesteaded the southeast quarter of section 24, township 21, range 15. It was virgin prairie land, and in that early day over the whole expanse of prairie surrounding only three houses could be seen. Jacob Miller erected for his first shelter a two-room box house with a shingle roof. The upstairs was a loft room where the children slept and it was reached by means of a ladder. The first few years of Kansas farming brought more failures to this family than successes. In this critical condition Jacob L. Miller resorted to teaming and also did grading on the Missouri Pacific Railway then being constructed through Western Kansas. He was wililng[sic] to accept any legitimate employment After some years crops became better and prosperity hove in sight. Jacob Miller helped to organize and build the "pioneer" school house of his district, the material for which was hauled from Great Bend. He was also instrumental in organizing the first Sunday school in his community. People came to attend from many miles around. They journeyed on foot, horseback, in lumber wagons and in varied kinds of vehicles. Sometimes ox teams were hitched to sleds, which could glide over the parched grass and sand about as easily as on snow. Ellis Miller recalls one family that came all the way from Stafford County to attend this Sunday school, and being without other means of conveyance they hitched a team of oxen to a wheat drill, and the older children clung to that implement as best they could.
Jacob L. Miller was a man of influence and usefulness in Pawnee County. He was prominent as a democrat in politics, and was a strong supporter of the Farmers Mutual Benefit Association. At different times he was given township offices, and was frequently a delegate to county conventions. In time, as the result of his prosperity he was able to replace the old home with a comfortable two-story, ten-room house, and a barn 32 by 46 by 16, with cow shed attached. He also had a 3,000 bushel granary.
Jacob L. Miller was born and reared in Muffin County, Pennsylvania, and was always faithful to the Mennonite Church, in which he was reared. In 1909 he sold his possessions in Pawnee County and bought land near Greensburg in Kiowa County, where he is still living, at the age of seventy-eight.
Jacob L. Miller married Barbara Byler, daughter of a Pennsylvania farmer whose ancestry was German. The Byler children were: Barbara; Lizzie, wife of Jonathan Kertz, a Mennonite preacher in Noble County, Indiana; John, a carpenter in Arkansas; Rachael, wife of Jacob Miller, of Indiana; Mary, who died in 1916, at the age of sixty-eight, wife of John Kaufman, of Ohio; Mrs. Sarah Eash, of Topeka, Indiana; Samuel, who died in the insane hospital at Logansport, Indiana; Solomon, a harness and shoe maker at Garden City, Missouri.
Jacob L. Miller's brothers and sisters are Joel, a farmer at Enid, Oklahoma; Adam, a resident of the Soldiers Home at Dodge City, Kansas; David, who lives in Chicago and is a Pullman conductor; Sarah, wife of John Byler, of Cleveland, Ohio; Jonas, of Enid, Oklahoma; and Doctor Jonathan, who formerly practiced medicine in Pawnee Rock, Kansas, but died in Chicago, Illinois.
Mrs. Barbara Miller died in Kiowa County, Kansas, March 19, 1915, at the age of sixty-nine. Her children were: Amanda, wife of Albert Seeley, a farmer in Kiowa County; Jesse, who married Gertrude Woodruff, of San Joaquin County, California, and has three children, Lloyd, Earl and Ivan; Ellis P.; Alvin, a farmer of Mullinville, Kansas, who married Effie Pinkston, a daughter of George G. Pinkston, of Larned, and their chidren[sic] are named Elsie, Daisy, Roy, Maggie, Orla, Marvin and Jesse; Calvin, a farmer of Kiowa County, who married Clara Blakeslee and has children named Opal, Loran, Willis, Blaine and Ruth.
Ellis P. Miller was born in Noble County, Indiana, May 26, 1876, and was only a few weeks old when the family came to Western Kansas. The experiences which have been recounted furnished the environment in which he grew up, and he obtained his early education in the Maple Grove School District No. 45. He also attended for two terms the Great Bend Central Normal College. When it came time to begin life on his own account he rented land for seven years. He then paid $2,000 for a section of land in Ford County, Kansas. Later he was able to sell this for $2,500 and then came to River Township of Pawnee County, where he purchased for $8,000 the north half of section 27, township 21, range 15. That has since been the scene of his efforts as an agriculturist and stock man. The improvements show to the superficial observer the thrift and prosperity which have attended him. In 1911 the strictly modern thirteen-room house was built on his farm, and in 1916 he put up one of the finest barns in his township. Its ground dimensions are 36 by 52 feet, and the barn has a base foundation five feet high, while the posts rise 16 feet to the cornice. In arrangement and facilities it is thoroughly adapted to all its purposes. Mr. Miller also has a garage, implement houses, work shop, and a well equipped poultry plant. He is classed as a general farmer, though wheat is his principal crop. He has had a herd of registered Aberdeen Angus cattle. In 1914 he threshed 7,000 bushels of wheat. His best wheat yield was thirty-six bushels to the acre on a field of fifty acres.
Mr. Miller is a member of the Masonic order, belongs to the Grange, and has served on the school board and the township board for a number of years. Politically he is a democrat, and is much interested in church work.
On November 23, 1899, he married Miss Robbins. Mrs. Miller was born in Pennsylvania February 19, 1879, and her mother, Martha Robbins, died soon after her birth. Mr. and Mrs. Miller have three children: Arlie, Arthur and Otis.
Transcribed from A Standard History of Kansas and Kansans, written and compiled by William E. Connelley, Secretary of the Kansas State Historical Society, Topeka. [Revised ed.] Chicago: Lewis Publishing Co., 1919, c1918. 5 v. (xlviii, 2530 p.,  leaves of plates): ill., maps (some fold.), ports.; 27 cm.
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