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Biographical Sketch
of
Sol Miller
Doniphan County, Kansas

 

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The following transcription is from a 750 page book titled "Genealogical and Biographical Record of North-Eastern Kansas, dated 1900.  These have been diligently transcribed and generously contributed by Penny R. Harrell, please give her a very big Thank You for her hard work!

Gold Bar

Sol. Miller.

Perhaps no resident of Kansas was ever better known or more widely appreciated than Mr. Miller, who for many years was the editor of the Troy Chief and earned the reputation of a brilliant newspaper man as well as a loyal citizen and a public official of more than ordinary ability.

From a lengthy article in a historical edition of the Chief, published in 1893 and written in Mr. Miller's unequalled vein of humor, we have culled a few of the principal parts in regard to his life, which came to a close April 17, 1897 and deprived his family of a devoted husband and loving father, as well as the community a valuable worker for the best interest of the city and county.

Mr. Miller combined in his character the best traits of the German and Welsh stock on the one side and of his Holland Dutch and Scotch ancestors on the other.  As he says, "We figure it out that from the Germans we inherited those sturdy qualities which manifest themselves in an abiding love for apple dumplings and buttermilk; from the Welsh we get the "el" that is in us; from the Holland Dutch the winning way that causes so many people to 'damn' us, and from the Scotch our blather and foggy ideas."

His great-grandfather, Frederick Miller, was born in 1760. When eighteen years of age the latter joined the Continental army and served during the last half of the war.  He was in Washington's army at the surrender of Cornwallis at Yorktown.  After the close of the war he married a lady named Sharp, from near Christiansburg, in Montgomery county, Pennsylvania, who was of Welsh descent.

They first made their home in Tennessee and from there went, in the fall of 1863, to Ohio, and after living for a short time at Lebanon located a claim on Twin Creek, near the present town of West Alexandria, to which he removed early in the spring of 1804, being among the very first settlers in that part of the country.  He died on his farm there in 1835.

John Miller, the father of our subject, was born in Anderson county, Tenn., September 19, 1800 and on March 4, 1824, was married to Miss Dicey Runyon.  A few years after he, in 1830, went to what was called the Wabash country and settled in the new town of Lafayette, Tippecanoe county.  He was, however, attacked with the prevailing disease called milk sickness, which left him an invalid all that fall and winter and near proved fatal.

In the spring he decided to go back to Ohio, where he remained until 1836, when the pioneer fever being again strongly upon him, he made a trip to the "St. Joe," as northern Indiana was called, and entered a quarter-section of land in Elkhart county.  He intended soon to move upon the place, but affairs so happened that he never went and he spent the remainder of his life in West Alexandria, where he died August 4, 1876.

The Runyon family were among the early Dutch settlers of New Jersey.  Our subject's mother was a daughter of Michael Runyon, who was born in New Jersey a few years before the outbreak of the Revolutionary War.  When he was a small lad his father removed to Guilford Court House. Michael Runyon married a lady by the name of Blackford, who was born in Rockingham county, Virginia, and was of Scotch descent.  They also were fond of new countries and new scenes and about 1800, or some time previous, settled in Kentucky, in Barren county, near Glasgow.

About 1835 Mr. Runyon emigrated to Ohio and took a claim in the western part of Preble county, a few miles southwest of Eaton, and there Dicey Runyon Miller was born September 29, 1806.  She lived to a good old age and died September 19, 1884.

Sol. Miller was born in Lafayette, Indiana, January 22, 1831.  His early life was full of boyish adventures, many o which he describes in a most amusing manner.  His father was a carpenter and endeavored to bring the boy up to follow the same occupation, but his taste ran in a literary direction and his dearest wish was to learn to print newspapers.  For a time no opportunity offered, but at last he found a place in the Gazette office at Germantown, Ohio.

Here he was indentured for four years for board and clothes, with an extra "freedom suit" at the close of his apprenticeship.  He began his work there on January 28, 1848 and in July, 1852 in connection with a fellow apprentice, he bought the office giving his note and a bill of sale on the office for the first payment.

He made the paper Whig in politics and warmly supported General Winfield Scott for president, "at the close of the campaign being," he says, "greatly surprised to find that our influence had not elected Scott...in fact, otherwise and other contrary, he was hardly in the race at all."  Added to this disappointment was the discovery that the paper was not half paying, and the climax came when in a month or so the building in which the office was took fire and all the contents were destroyed, soon after which Mr. Miller's partner absconded with all the collections which he had made for the firm!

In 1857 Mr. Miller was married to Miss Mary Kaucher and the following year, indulging the pioneer propensity which was transmitted from both sides of the family, found his way to Kansas, which was then in the formative stage.  During his career in Kansas Mr. Miller always held a prominent place in the public eye.

He was elected to the legislature five times, once to the house and four times to the senate, and did much hard and valuable work for his constituent.  As an editor he was ever bold and fearless in his utterances, positive in his convictions and sparing no one whom he deemed deserved censure.  At the same time his sense of humor was so irrepressible and his good will so unbounded that even those who opposed his ideas in politics and other lines could but feel friendly toward him as a man.

He was one of nature's noblemen and one of the few who see a silver lining to every cloud and extracts from every event of life something to be thankful for and to be merry over.  Mr. Miller's son, W. K. Miller, who was born in White Cloud, Kansas, July 3, 1869, succeeded his father in the management of the Troy Chief.

  Gold Bar

Last update: Saturday, January 17, 2004 15:38:22


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