HENRY NESBIT MILLER, a retired railroad man, living in the borough of Freeport, Armstrong county, was born Feb. 6, 1835, in Young township, Indiana Co., Pa., son of Michael Miller, a native of Lancaster county, Pa., born August 28, 1806. His father was born Dec. 24, 1775. The Miller family is of German descent and has been settled in Pennsylvania for over a century.
Michael Miller, father of Henry N. Miller, grew up in Lancaster county, receiving his education in the common schools, and there married Christian Burns, of Scotland, who came to America when three years old, the family finally settling in Young township, Indiana Co., Pa. Her father, Thomas Burns, was a farmer: he and his wife and all their family died in Indiana county. Michael Miller learned the trade of shoemaker and followed it for a number of years, but farming was his principal occupation. He lived in Conemaugh township, and retired some years before his death, which occurred in Indiana county July 24, 1891. His wife died Oct. 19, 1883. Mr. Miller was originally an old-line Whig and later a Republican. He and his wife were members of the U.P. Church. They had the following children: Henry Nesbit; Robert Burns, deceased, who was a capenter and farmer; Ann Elizabeth, who married John Lowman (both are deceased); Graham, at one time a railroad man, who was injured on the road and afterward worked in a store in Allegheny, Pa., where he died; Mary Jane, who died unmarried; Harvey, a farmer, living on the old place in Indiana county, Pa.; Margaret, who died unmarried; and two who died young.
Henry N. Miller received most of his education at the common schools, attending the Jacksonville Academy for four summer terms, between 1850 and 1860. He taught eleven terms of school in his native county. In April, 1863, he entered the service of the Pennsylvania Railroad Company, as a laborer, at Blairsville, Pa., and in the fall of that year was made conductor on a construction train, being thus employed until July 4, 1864. He was on the subdivision at Saltsburg, Pa., in 1864, worked between Kiskiminetas Junction and Salstburg, with headquarters at Apollo, Pa., and later was transferred to Blairsville, having charge of the first section on the Indiana branch. Subsequently he was made yard foreman, and on March 1, 1874, was promoted to the supervision of Division 19, with headquarters at Freeport, in this capacity having charge of all the track from Kiskiminetas Juction to the west end of the division. While holding that position he built, in 1887, 1888 and 1890, twenty-two miles of the second track on the West Pennsylvania railroad east of the Allegheny. Mr Miller retired in 1902, after serving the Pennsylvania Company forty-two years in all. He owned a farm in Conemaugh township, Indiana county, but has sold the surface, reserving the coal.
Mr. Miller was married at Blairsville, Pa., April 2, 1861 to Florence C. Nesbit, of Indiana county, a daughter of Nathaniel and Sarah Nesbit. Her father was a farmer in Indiana county; only two of his family are now living, Mrs. Miller and Mrs. Martha McMeans, the latter of Homestead, Pa. Mr. and Mrs. Miller have four children: Martin E. went to work for the Pennsylvania Railroad Company May 1, 1875, as a clerk, and later was operator at different places, agent at Freeport for many years, and now lives at home with his parents because of poor health (he is a member of the I.O.O.F.); Thomas went to work for the Pennsylvania Railroad Company as bookkeeper and later as conductor, and is now with Parks Mills Company at Pittsburgh, Pa. (he married in September, 1885, Mary Johnson, and they have two children, Mary and Thomas R.); Wilbert H., a fireman lives at home; Jessie A. is at home.
Mr. Miller served as member of the Freeport council three years, was on the school board for six years, and is now a member of the poor board. He votes the Republican ticket. For many years he has been an Elder in the U.P. Church at Freeport, and active in church work. The poems which appear below were written by him, and the one first given was read July 30, 1912, at the installation of the present pastor of his church. Mr. Miller has composed a number of verses and takes considerable pleasure in writing rhymes and other productions. During the panic year of 1908 he wrote about twenty poems, long and short, which were published in the town paper. Some of the old railroad men there have requested him to gather his verses into a volume for publication. A number of his poems are on the Sabbath school lessons and similar subjects, the longest containing seventy-five lines. Though in his eightieth year he is well preserved, has good eyesight and an excellent memory.
With hearts sincere we welcome you,
This very eve as here we meet,
And trust to you we'll each be true
With Christian tempers pure and sweat.
As pastor and teacher
With sucess may you be crowned,
And may your efforts as a preacher
Show in doctrine that you are sound.
And may God's Spirit guide your thoughts
In all your sermon preparations,
So that your mind may be confined
To scripture facts, not speculations.
And while you labor in this field,
May all our members do their part
To help your teachings good fruit yeild
And blessings bring to one's heart.
We trust each member day by day
In earnestness will pray for you,
That ev'rything you do or say
May help us better work to do
Then with assurance we can rest
Through Spirit guidance from above
That all our labors will be blest
And we'll increase in faith and love.
We trust that all, both young and old
In unity may work together
In such a way as to unfold
Our Christian treatment of each other
Let Spirit guidance be our rule
In all departments of church work
So that our zeal may never cool
And cause us inthe rear to lurk.
To do good work should be our aim
In all church work in ev'ry line,
Doing all in our Savior's name
In detail at the proper time.
July 30, 1912
If but two days you work a week,
It's better than no work at all;
Cut down your expenses, too.
In all details, however small.
Because you can't get in full time
Don't kick; keep cool; don't be profane;
For that will only make things worse,
Your record blacken, stain your name.
In household lines stop ev'ry leak
In all details of food supplies;
The luxuries cut out complete,
The cut in cost will you surprise.
At supper time eat mush and milk--
The best of food in winter weather;
Don't purchase suits as fine as silk,
Let patches hold old suits together.
With plainest food and raiment, too,
You'll find you can contented be;
You'll find your health will not decline
From doctor bills you will be free.
A penny saved, the Scotchmen say,
Is just as good as one hard-earned.
In many ways a man can save
When common sense he has once learned.
A patch on patch is no disgrace.
Provided all is neat and clean;
Such will not change good looks a bit,
Nor turn fat flesh to that of lean.
Jan. 17, 1908
Those charming birds we call the robin
This spring did promptly come to hand,
With songs as sweet as heretofore,
In solos thrilling, simply grand.
They skip about from day to day
Among the branches of the trees,
And in their habits they display
No discontent but perfect ease.
Their aptness in the search of food
On grassy lawns, from day to day,
Is demonstrated by their actions
Which so acutely they display.
They manifest expertness rare
As to location of a nest;
Among the branches of the trees
They never fail to find the best.
And when it's time to build the nest,
They clearly show they understand
The outs and ins of nest construction
In all details completely planned.
And while the building's going on
They cheer us with their morning song.
As work progresses day by day,
No strikes occur to cause delay.
No architect doth them direct
How they the structure should erect;
By instinct guided no mistake
Occurs in efforts that they make.
If poor frail man was just as wise
Methinks we could at once surmise
That labor troubles would decline
And disappear in course of time;
That common sense would rule the house
And judgment wise assert its power.
Source: Pages 737-739 Armstrong County, Pa., Her People, Past and Present, J.H. Beers & Co., 1914
Transcribed October 1998 by Rodney G Rosborough for the Armstrong County Beers Project
Contributed for use by the Armstrong County Genealogy Project (http://www.pa-roots.com/armstrong/)
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