LYMAN MILLER. That the reclamation of the plains of Western Kansas required a strong, sturdy and virile people needs no supporting evidence when one reads the early accounts of the struggles and privatations of the early pioneers. Of this pioneer class a family that deserves notice is that of Lyman Miller in Edwards County. Mr. Miller, now one of the leading farmers of Fellsburg in Franklin Township, was a boy when he accompanied the family to Kansas, but was old enough to appreciate what life in this country meant. He came to his present location in 1900, but has lived in Edwards County since 1884,
He represents old American stock. Grandfather Miller was born in the State of New York and served from there as a soldier in the War of 1812. He took part in the battle of Lundy's Lane, in which the British General Brock was killed. Grandfather Miller cut off a patch of that British general's military coat. This patch contained numerous buttons, and later he divided these trophies among his children. This old soldier subsequently pre-empted land in Clark County, Illinois, and spent most of his life there as a farmer and tanner. His wife, Mary DeHart, came out to Kansas and died at Belpre at the age of eighty-nine. Among their children were: Chambers, who died in Coles County, Illinois; George, of St. Joseph, Missouri; William, the father of Lyman Miller; Amanda, who married Rufus Cox and died in Clark County, Illinois; and two older daughters who married and crossed the plains to California in 1849.
The head of the family when it came to Edwards County, Kansas, was William Miller. He was born in Clark County, Illinois, and married Elizabeth Flood, a native of the same county. From Charleston, Illinois, he went into the Union army and was in service three years, being still in arms when Lee surrendered. Most of his work as a soldier was done in Arkansas and the region west of the Mississippi. He escaped wounds and capture. For many years he was identified with the Grand Army of the Republic, and attended some of its encampments both state and national.
On leaving Illinois William Miller and family moved first to Worth County in Northwest Missouri, but after four years there came on to Kansas. He and his family were typical "movers" and drove into this state with an old wagon, one good horse and a scrub animal. The family consisted of his wife and five children. Mr. Miller took up a tract of school land at Belpre. His first home there was a dugout of a single room. The younger children played on the bare ground of the floor and the roof was of boards and dirt. After about a year a better sod house of two rooms of comfortable size was constructed, and this sheltered the household for about five years more. In the meantime William Miller had made some advancement as a farmer and was then able to build a frame house and a barn. His early enterprise was directed to the growing of corn and broom corn. His best profits came from broom corn. William Miller had an industrious wife. There were a few cows pastured around the farm and she diligently utilized their products and made the dairy the firm stronghold of the household's resources for a number of years. William Miller was satisfied to be a modest farmer and as long as his surroundings were comfortable and convenient he was well content without increasing his holdings. He died on his farm in 1901, at the age of sixty-eight, and his widow survived him until 1909, passing away at the age of sixty-seven.
William Miller was a man of progressive ideas, especially manifested in matters of community interest. He assisted in organizing the Gibson school district and was a member of its board for many years. Politically he was a democrat. He never belonged to a church. It was his belief that if one always gave value received to his neighbor and lived an honorable and upright life all would be well with him before the Judge of All. Mrs. Miller was a birthright Friend or Quaker and lived and died in that faith. Their children were: Lyman; Eugene, of Garden City, Kansas; Mary, wife of Walter Scott, of Beaver County, Oklahoma; John, of Garden City; Leonard of Belpre, Kansas; and Hattie, wife of Gilbert Clark, of Belpre.
These early Kansan experiences befell Lyman Miller while he was growing from a youth to manhood. He was born in Clark County, Illinois, September 25, 1868. He never had any schooling outside the rural district and was not able to attend even the country schools beyond a few months a year. After coming to Edwards County his services were utilized in work on neighboring farms and until he was twenty-one his wages were always turned into the family purse. It is a distinction that he may well prize and his descendants after him that he raised the first wheat shipped out of Belpre and sent the first carload of that grain from that station. As a youth he was employed by the well known pioneer, Dudley Posey, of Pawnee County, and also by F. N. Cole, now a well known merchant of Kinsley. His first independent wheat sowing was on the Posey farm. He furnished the seed while Mr. Posey furnished the teams and ground. This allows him to make the claim, which he humorously prefers, that he "started Mr. Posey in the wheat business." From the profits of his first crop as a wheat sower Mr. Miller bought a team and he continued renting for eight or ten years.
Out of the proceeds of his renting experience Mr. Miller bought his first land. It was in Franklin Township where he now resides and for the northwest quarter of section 10, township 26, range 17 he paid $480. On that farm he now has a commodious home of eight rooms, but it has been built piecemeal and contains the nucleus of his first shelter there. He also has a good barn 32x36 feet. Gradually he bought other land until he now has 400 acres in section 10. For a subsequent quarter he paid a thousand dollars and for still another sixteen hundred dollars. The last land he bought cost him $55 an acre. Outside of his home farm Mr. Miller's profits as a wheat and stock farmer have brought him extensive possessions in Edwards County, comprising altogether 1,320 acres. Most of this is now in cultivation and of itself stands as a magnificent contribution to the agricultural resources of Kansas.
Occasional and even repeated failures of wheat crops have failed to discourage Mr. Miller and taking the years altogether his success has been largely as a wheat farmer. For four consecutive years, from 1893 to 1896 inclusive, he had almost total failures of wheat. In 1917 his 400 acres in that crop came to a total loss through drought and cold weather. His best crop yield has been thirty bushels to the acre. In matter of price he has sold wheat as low as 35 cents a bushel. In 1917 some of his surplus crop went to market at $3.15 a bushel. But he has never practiced the principle of putting all his eggs in one basket. His lands have made high yields of corn. In 1915 his crop of this cereal was 15,000 bushels. He held a large quantity of this over until he was able to sell at the fancy price of $1.65 a bushel.
While as an agriculturist Mr. Miller deserves a share of the prestige now attaching to the great American farmer, his name is not unknown in other fields. He is a man of good judgment in public affairs. This has been especially manifested in school concerns. He advocated strongly and did all he could to bring about a system of consolidated schools in his community, and while this measure failed to carry he was instrumental in getting the rural high school organized. Besides serving as a trustee of the township he was elected in 1916 a member of the State Legislature. He succeeded Charles Mosher in the House and was elected on the democratic ticket, though Edwards County has a normal republican majority of from three hundred to four hundred. The majority given him in the 1916 election was 240. In the twenty-eighth session of the Legislature Mr. Miller was a member of the committees on insurance, cities of the second and third class, judiciary apportionment and local judiciary. In that session he supported the Bone Dry Bill but opposed the Good Roads Measure and the Utilities Measure, the latter bill being vetoed by the governor. He also opposed the consolidation of the State Boards,
In Edwards County, May 13, 1901, Mr. Miller married Miss Lillie Plowman. She was born June 24, 1878, a daughter of Emmer and Nancy (Shy) Plowman. Her father came from Douglas County, Illinois, to Kansas in the early '80s and was a homesteader in Edwards County. Besides Mrs. Miller the other children of her parents are: Cora, wife of A. R. Young; Minnie, wife of Harvey Smith; William, Clyde and Marvin. Mr. and Mrs. Miller have two children: Leah and Lloyd.
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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