Biographical Sketches of Leading Citizens
Lawrence County Pennsylvania 1897


[p. 389] a retired citizen of New Castle, Pa., is a man whose name will not be soon forgotten because of his active connection with the educational development of the town, having been for many years a teacher in the district schools, and a principal of the old Union School. Many men prominent in the county received precious lessons from him in their youth, and no doubt owe much of their present prestige to the beneficent influence he exerted upon them. He was born in New Castle, Sept. 25, 1832, and was the eldest son and child of James M. and Hannah (Rose) Miller, and grandson of William and Nancy Miller. Our subject's grandparents were both born in Scotland, where William Miller started out in the battle of life as a farmer. With the children, who were then born to them, they came to the new and glorious country of America, as it seemed to the Old World resident, and settled in Mercer Co., Pa., where William Miller for a nominal sum bought a level tract of wilderness, comprising in the neighborhood some three hundred acres. Finding a spring with a plentiful supply of clear cold water, he commenced his clearing there, and near by erected his log-house of a very comfortable size, in which he ever afterward lived. He was a very hard worker, but found time to lavish a wealth of affection on his beloved wife, and their sturdy children, for he possessed a happy, loving nature, and his lavish generosity was well-known among his neighbors, and was often the subject of comment. He cleared most of the farm, and took a prominent place in the community as a progressive and wide-awake man; the farm remained his home till released from earthly toil and trouble, being seventy-eight years old at his decease. He served in the War of 1812, was justice of the peace many years and contributed in other ways to the stability and prosperity of the government. His wife passed away at the age of eighty. Their, children were: William; Joseph; James M.; Nancy; and Mary. Several more children were born to them, but they died young.

James M. was born on the homestead, which was located near Grove City, Pa., and served an apprenticeship at the carpenter's trade, and worked on the locks during the construction of the old Pennsylvania Canal. He followed his trade until the age of fifty-five, when, losing his wife who was aged forty-eight years, he went to Galva, Ill., and bought a farm, living there until his death at the age of seventy-six. His first wife, who was a daughter of James Rose, left him seven children, all of whom grew to occupy honorable positions in life; they were: James R.; Martha; William, twin of Martha, deceased; David M., also deceased; Irwin; Sarah; Lavinia. By his second mariage with Miss Kemp he had three children: Charles; John; Lamira. He was originally a Democrat, but in later years voted the Republican ticket; he belonged to the Presbyterian Church.

James R. Miller attended Wilmington College, but when quite young left to teach school, and besides teaching district school taught two terms of select school at Hopedale, two terms in East New Castle, and was teaching in the Union School at New Castle when the war broke out, and the call for volunteers was issued by the President. He was one of the first volunteers from his district, and from his influential position, and from his experience in public life, having served in the House of Representatives of Pennsylvania, he was made sergeant in Co. H of the 12th Reg. Pa. Vol. Inf., enrolling his name for three months' service. After six weeks in the army, he was taken sick with typhoid fever, and cared for in a hotel at York, Pa., as at that time no hospitals had been established. When so far convalescent as to be able to be removed to his home, he was taken to New Castle, but his friends entertained very little hope for his ultimate recovery, for his mind was impaired to an alarming extent. But the loving care of a tender-hearted woman can do wonders toward healing the sick and bringing health and color to the thin and haggard cheek, and so it was his wife's faithful nursing that restored him to health, so that after a long time he was able to attend to his business. For a short period he acted as a clerk in a grocery store, and was then appointed as clerk and baggageman for the N. C. & B. Valley R. R., now known as the E. & P. R. R., which position he held ten years, when his health forced him to resign and to seek-rest for a season. Subsequently he became agent for the N. C. & F. R. R., and continued in that service five years, when his health again became poor, and he was compelled to relinquish the position. He has since lived a quiet, retired life. For a home he bought the P. K. Sedwick estate at No. 63 Milton Avenue, and has made it a very pleasant place of residence.

Sept. 5, 1855, he married Sarah Olivia Morton, daughter of William and Hannah (Slemmons) Morton. Mr. Morton was a well-to-do and generally popular farmer of Perry township, Pa.; he was a justice of the peace many years, represented the town in the Legislature, and held other town offices of responsibility and honor, dying at the age of sixty-seven in 1851. His wife lived to be seventy years old. Their children were: Margaret, the wife of James Wilson; Robert S., a Presbyterian minister; Joseph W., also a Presbyterian minister; Tirza F., the wife of M. Curry, taught for a long time in the High School; William was a farmer; Hannah was a teacher; Mary J., also a teacher, married W. D. Butler; Sarah O., our subject's wife, taught school even after her marriage; Philo S. was a teacher; Samuel was a Presbyterian minister. There were born to our subject and his wife the following children: Horace G., a dealer in cigars and tobacco and manager of the Western Union Telegraph Co. in New Castle, whose sketch appears in full on another page of this work; Ella K., born April 11, 1858, married I. B. Griffith, a grocer of New Castle, and has two children, Olivia M. and Paul B.; Hannah Rose, born June 15, 1860, married J. G. Nothdurft of New Castle, and has one child, Hiram J.; Mary M., born June 3, 1867, married J. W. Reis, a dry goods merchant of New Castle and has two children, Lillian M. and Wilbur W.; Harriet Hersey, born June 18, 1870, graduated from the female seminary at Washington, D. C., in the musical course, and is now employed as an instructor in her special line; William Gray, born Dec. 25, 1873, a student of the Baltimore College of Physicians and Surgeons, is the resident physician of the Shenango Valley Hospital. Mr. Miller is a stanch Republican, and has served as auditor of the county and as a member of the city council. He is a member of the local G. A. R. Post, and belongs to the Presbyterian Church.

Biographical Sketches of Leading Citizens Lawrence County Pennsylvania
Biographical Publishing Company, Buffalo, N.Y., 1897

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