Biographies from Historical and Biographical Annals by Morton Montgomery


p. 671


The Miller family to which Joshua L. Miller, of Albany township, Berks county, belongs, is descended from Christian Miller, born June 3, 1799, in the vicinity of Milton, Pa.

It is said that Christian Miller came from along the Susquehanna river. He died in Albany township, Feb. 27, 1869. His farm comprised that now owned by James E. Snyder of 125 acres, and Joshua L. Miller of 75 acres. On the Snyder farm he built the stone house in 1844, and the barn in 1855. He was a substantial man, and founded Salem Evangelical Church, bequesting one half acre of land upon which it was built in 1882. He served as class leader and exhorter, and a congregation was organized that built a church thirteen years after his death. The congregation consists of some forty members, the principal families being the Millers, Snyders, Berks, Kneppers, and Maureys. Christian Miller married Sophia Bailey (1808-1868). They had two children: Jacob; and Catharine, m. to James E. Snyder.

Jacob Miller, son of Christian, was born Feb. 20, 1833, died at Kempton, July 21, 1897. He was a farmer and owned the tract now the property of his son Joshua L. In 1886 he retired and built a house at Kempton, where he died. He was active in church life, and is buried at Snyder's Evangelical Association founded by his father. He married Helena Leiby, daughter of Jacob Leiby, of Virginville. They had children: Joshua L.; Valeria m. William Bolich, of Drehersville, Pa.; Kate deceased m. Alfred Miller, deceased; Monroe (1864-1877).

Joshua L. Miller was born in Perry township, Berks county, Sept. 9, 1859. When a child his parents came to Albany, and here he has since made his home. He is a farmer and has a seventy-five acre tract, on which he raises many potatoes. His home is most attractive. He and his family are members of the Salem Evangelical Association near their home, and he has been class leader, exhorter, and trustee. In 1873 he married Priscilla Heisler, and they have children: Monroe, Milton, Edwin, Alvena, Cora, Amelia, Minnie, Mahlon.


p. 1621


Of the numerous Pennsylvania German families of Berks county, none is larger than that of Miller, a worthy representative of which is found in the person of Lafayette Miller of Windsor township. Mr. Miller was born March 31, 1836, on his father's farm, son of Thomas and Catherine (Noecker) Miller, natives of this county.

Three brothers, George, Jacob and John Miller, settled in Windsor township prior to the establishment of the county in 1752.

George Miller, of Windsor township, the grandfather of Lafayette, was a farmer and owned the large property now in the possession of Dr. Allen J. Fink, of Hamburg. He was a Lutheran in his religious belief. George Miller married Margaret Seip, and to them there were born these children: David, John, Solomon, Mrs. Sassaman, Joseph (1799-1857), Thomas (father of Lafayette) and William. John Miller, the second son, was born in Windsor, April 6, 1793, and died Aug. 5, 1827. In 1818 he married Christina, daughter of Joseph Borky, and they had three daughters: Anna Maria m. (first) Benjamin Mayer, and (second) Samuel Meck; Catherine m. Henry Leidenmuth; and Eliza m. Nathan Hatzfield.

Thomas Miller, son of George and Margaret (Seip), was born in Windsor township, June 18, 1800, and his death occurred on his farm, March 15, 1845. He was buried at St. Paul's Church, of which he and his family were Lutheran members. He was a stone mason by trade, which he followed for many years, but in 1837 purchased the farm of 100 acres which is now owned by his son Lafayette. Until his death he followed agricultural pursuits, his widow carrying on the farm thereafter until her death, Oct. 25, 1889, in her 81st year. In 1828 Thomas Miller was married to Catherine Noecker, daughter of John Noecker, and to them were born three sons and one daughter: Annabella m. (first) Daniel Egolf, deceased, and (second) Samuel Lessig Paul m. Maria Becker; Lafayette; and Charles m. Caroline Becker.

Lafayette Miller attended the old pay school immediately back of St. Paul's Church in his township, his teachers being old learned Germans whose salary was made up by contributions from the inhabitants of the community, who also boarded the pedagogues. Mr. Miller also attended the free schools the first year of their establishment. He was reared on his father's farm, and the vocation of agriculturalist has been his occupation all of his life. His present property consists of 148 acres of good land, in a high state of cultivation, it being the original Miller homestead. The nice frame residence on this farm was built by Mr. Miller in 1898 and he has also built the wagon shed and greatly remodelled the new Swiss barn, which was put up by his father. This is a fine up-to-date property in every respect, and its attractive appearance is frequently commented upon by travelers on the State Road. Mr. Miller has another good farm of 75 acres in Windsor township, which is tenanted, and a tract of 12 acres on which is located an excellent dwelling house.

Mr. Miller is very highly esteemed in his community as an honest, upright man and public spirited citizen. He is a Democrat in politics and has served his district as school director and supervisor. He and his wife are consistent members of St. Paul's Union Church, of Windsor township, of which he has been a trustee for 20 years and to which he has always contributed liberally.

Mr. Miller was married to Harriet Reinhart, born Oct. 21, 1833, daughter of Benjamin and Lucenia (Billig) Reinhart, and to this union there have been born four children: Catherine m. David Smith, and lives in Missouri; Mary m. Scott W. Fisher, a manufacturer of Hamburg; Marguerite m. Joseph Mervine; and Thomas, born April 26, 1870, died August 25, 1889.


p 1017


The typical American spirit of enterprise and progressiveness has been significantly shown in the signally successful business career of Levi M. Miller, of Reading, who is the executive and financial head of the Mount Penn Underwear Mill.

Mr. Miller is a native of Berks county, born on the homestead farm, in Upper Bern township, July 12, 1855, son of Jonathan and Mary (Machmer) Miller, both of whom were of German lineage and representatives of families early founded in the old Keystone State.

Jonathan Miller was a prosperous farmer, and continued to be actively identified with agricultural pursuits in this county until his death, in 1864, when about forty-five years of age. His widow, whose maiden name was Mary Machmer, died in 1878, both having been devoted members of the Lutheran church and known for sterling integrity of character. To Jonathan Miller and wife were born three children, namely: Levi M.; Andora, m. to James Glick; and Emma, m. to William Phillips.

Levi M. Miller was afforded the advantages of the schools of Bern township, and on the home farm early learned the lessons and the value of practical industry. After leaving the common schools he completed a course in Professor Brunner's business college, in Reading, from which he graduated. When twenty-one years of age he started for himself by establishing a general store at Mount Zion, Lebanon county, Pa. He took possession of the business, Jan. 1, 1878, and continued at that place successfully for three years, nine months. He was appointed postmaster by President Hayes, at Mt. Zion, serving three years, 1878-1881. He then engaged in the same line of business at Lyons, Berks county, where he met with distinctive success. At the expiration of four years he disposed of his business at that point, and located at Bern Station, where he likewise built up a large and representative business as a general merchant and where he also served as postmaster. In 1892 a lease of the plant of the Bern Creamery Company was obtained, which business he greatly amplified and developed, establishing several branches and properly equipping the same. After nine months the building and all was bought from the Creamery Company. At the expiration of eight years he disposed of this business and engaged in the manufacture of knitted underwear at Mohrsville, this county, where he continued operations until 1905, when he transferred his base of operations to Reading, where he has since continued in the same line of manufacturing, conducting the Mount Penn Underwear Mill, having as partner his former employe, James M. Stoudt (who had worked for Mr. Miller eight years in the creamery business). The plant of the concern is equipped with the best modern machinery and accessories, and its daily output is now two hundred and ten dozen suits of ladies' underwear. About forty-five hands are employed in the factory and its capacity is tested in meeting the demands of its trade, which is constantly expanding. This has necessitated the erection of a new modern three-story brick factory, 44 by 112 feet, which will be ready for occupancy Aug. 15, 1909. The capacity will be 250 dozen per day. This mill was the only one in this particular line which was kept running full during the last period of business depression. Medium grades of goods are manufactured, and the same have gained a reputation for reliability and evenness of texture.

Mr. Miller takes a lively interest in matters of civic importance, and has been more or less active in political affairs for a number of years past, having been a delegate to both State and county conventions. He is now independent in his political attitude, and is well fortified in his opinions as to matters of public polity. In religious matters he is liberal, and he is affiliated with the Independent Order of Odd Fellows and its adjunct organization, the Daughters of Rebekah, with which latter his wife also is identified.

In 1876 Mr. Miller married Miss Mary L. Loose, and of their five children two are living, Mabel V. and Edwin L.


p. 1240


Lewis Miller was one of that energetic and talented class who seem to be born to control men and affairs and leave their impress upon the industrial history of the times. He was a member of a family of French-German descent, founded in America about 1828, by John Miller, his father, who came fro Strasberg, Province of Alsace, Germany, then French territory. The father soon after his arrival located at Royer's Ford, Montgomery Co., Pa. where most of his life was spent. By occupation he was a stonemason and contractor and built several bridges to this part of the world. He married Magdalena Brown and had two sons: Frederick, who was a sea captain and is supposed to have been lost at sea, as nothing was afterward heard of him, and Lewis.

Lewis Miller was born at Royer's Ford, Oct. 13, 1830. He received a common school education , to which he afterward added largely by a wide course of reading and careful study of men and affairs. His early life was spent on his father's farm near Phoenixville, Pa. Afterward locating in Wilmington, Del., he engaged himself at an apprentice to the machinist's trade with the late Jesse Ermise, of that city, and after five years spent in acquiring a mastery of that business became a foreman in the machine shop of Pusey, Jones & Co., at the same place, and later was made general superentendent. In 1857 he associated with Josiah Custard, under the firm name of Miller & Custard, and began building machinery for cotton and wollen mills at Chester, Delaware county.

In 1859, the firm of Miller & Allen was formed and continued the same business until 1872, when it was disolved by the retirement of Mr. Allen. While in this city Mr. Miller, under a contract with Mr. Corliss, was the only builder of the now famous Corliss engines south of new England. Through his agency these engines were introduced to the public in Pennsylvania and the Southern States. During this time Mr. Miller designed and built for Mr. Bruner the handsomest Corliss engines ever erected, every piece having tool linished and no chipping by hand permitted in any partThese engines attracted the attention of skilled machinists coming long distances to inspect them.

After the firm of Miller & Allen was dissolved, Mr. Miller, through the influence of Seyfert & McManus, was induced to come to Reading and become a partner with then in the Scott Foundry. After reorganizing it, he introduced the building of large cotton compress machines and also large and powerful sugar machinerywhich at once put it upon a paying and prosperous basis. During the panic of 1873, when the industries of the country were so seriously crippled that almost all the manufacturing plants of Reading were forced to close their shops, Mr. Miller by remarkable business ability and untirig effort secured a sufficient amount of work to operate the shops of the Scott Foundry at practically the normal capacity, thereby giving employment to a large number of men, which was of immense benefit to the general business conditions of Reading, at a critical time in its history. He remained in the works until 1877, when he retired from the firm and devoted his attention to the building of the "Miller Cotton Press," making improvements from time to time until he perfected the best press known to the public.

In 1882 he left this country and went to Bogota, United States (now Republic) of Columbia, South America, where he succeeded in doing a work that had baffled the united skill of English and French engineers. Away up near the line of perpetual snow, where communication could only be had by mules, he started on the mountain peaks a mill for rolling rails for tramways. As no weighty machinery could be transported on mules over the towering ranges, he was compelled to build a blast furnace and rolling mill from material found on the ground. Nothing daunted, he began the work, and the record of his success reads like one of the stories of Jules Verne. His remarkable ingenuity and wonderful power of resource and expediency were constantly called into play. He made bricks for the furnace, erected te entire plant from foundation to roof, and having dug the ore from the earth near by, smelted it, ran it into pigs and ultimately rolled it into rails, the first ever made in that country.

Owing to the extreme rarefaction of the atmosphere at that high altitude, unable to secure draught enough for combustion, he devised and constructed a machine to compress the air fed to the furnace.

When the first rail was manufactured a great demonstration took place at Bogota. It was made a gala day, with bunting flying, troops, societies and public officials taking part in the display. The first rail was exposed to public view on a decorated wagon, drawn through the streets, amid cheers from the assembled thousands who lined the sidewalks on every hand. On that occasion Mr. Miller, as the honored guest of the Republic, was in a coach drawn by four horses at the head of the parade. during the celebration, speeches were made by the president and other prominent men of national fame. An insurrection, breaking out soon after, arrested the work and Mr. Miller returned to the United States. He then built the present plant of the Penn Steel Castings Company, of Chester, and with the Chester Foundry & Machine Company engaged in the manufacture of the superior cotton press which bears his name. He was also president for a short time of the Limwood iron works. He was a member of the Masonic fraternity and of Franklin Scientific and Mechanical Institute of Philadelphia.

His death occurred May 31, 1893, in the sixty-second year of his age. In 1849 he married Mary A. Dixon, daughter of William and Mary Dixon, of Wilmington, Del. To them was born a family of six children: Ada A. married John E. Nugent; William died in infancy; Mary M. married C. R. Heizmann and died in February, 1892; Laura Amelia became Mr.s Joseph P. Kremp; Lewis J., and Alonzo A.

Mrs. Kremp, the youngest of the three daughters of the subject of this sketch, possesses many of the characteristics of her distinguished father. She has given great attention to works of beneficence as officer and member of institutions in Reading and elsewhere. (Also see sketch of Joseph P. Kremp.)

Lewis J. Miller, who ably sustained the eminent reputation of his father for business activity and mechanical ingenuity, was born in Chester, Pa., May 25, 1859, where he grew to manhood, and received his preliminary instruction in the public schools, finishing his education at the Broad Street Academy, Philadelphia. Leaving school, he served an apprenticeship with his father in the Scott Foundry, at Reading, and after completing his trade became a draftsman in the employ of that firm, remaining there with them until 1877. In the latter year he entered the employ of Pusey, Jones & Co., of Wilmington, Del., as draftsman, and was thus engaged until 1880. He was aftrward employed in ismilar work for various other firms, drawing designs for all kinds of machinery. In 1888 he went to Catasauqua, Lehigh county, Pa., where he planned and made all the drawings for a large rolling-mill.

Later, he became soliciting agent for the Chester Iron & Machine Company of Chester, and in 1889 formed a partnership with William W. Bierce, of Memphis, Tenn., for the manufacture of cotton compresses, at Chester, with offices in Memphis and Philadelphia. This firm continued operation until March, 1891. Upon its dissolutiion Mr. Miller became associated with his father in the same industry and after the death of the latter in 1892 succeeded to the entire business. These presses are made under a number of patents, some of which were owned by the elder Miller, while others were taken out by Lewis J., and cover his own improvements.

Mr. Miller was married in 1888 to Ocy J. Price, daughter of Hugn and Harriet P. (Cox) Price, of Wilmington, Del. Their union was blessed by the birth of three children; Ada A., Lewis J. and Frank P.

Mr. Miller was a resident of Philadelphia until 1892, when he removed to Chester, where he resided in a beautiful home at No. 515 West Seventh street until his decease, in 1894.


p. 867


Lewis F. Miller, a retired agriculturist of Womelsdorf, Berks Co., Pa., was born near Cornwall, Lebanon county, Dec. 26, 1839, son of Lewis and Maria (Fernsler) Miller, and grandson of Nicholas Miller.

Nicholas Miller, great-great-grandfather of Lewis F. came from Germany to America in 1738. In the list of taxables of Heidelberg township, Lancaster county, in 1758, were the names of Nicholas Miller, Sr., and Jr., and Frederick Miller. The latter two were sons of the ancestor who planted this branch of the Millers in the New World.

The great-grandparents of Lewis F. Miller were Nicholas Miller and his wife, Anna Maria Maus, and they had issue as follows: Michael m. Margaret Stump; Ludwig m. Barbara Moyer, moved to Cumberland county, Pa., and was a soldier in the Revolutionary war; Jacob m. Christina Phillippy; Valentine, born Sept. 28, 1759, died July 21, 1821; Frederick, born Sept. 14, 1762; died Sept. 9, 1843; Barbara m. Nicholas Zollinger; Eva m. George Wolfersperger; Nicholas; George, born May 6, 1774, died Aug. 29, 1839; and Henry, born Aug. 3, 1776, died Feb. 8, 1854.

Nicholas Miller, grandfather of Lewis F., was born in Lebanon county, April 22, 1771, and he died on his 142-acre farm near Schaefferstown, March 25, 1853. On this property he erected a barn in 1818, which is still standing. His wife was Catherine Troutman, who bore him twelve children: Catherine, born Sept. 9, 1797, died March 26, 1873: Elizabeth, born March 22, 1799, married George Royer; Samuel, born May 18, 1800, m. Mary Weiss; Sarah, born Feb. 21, 1802, m. Jacob Seibert; Angelica, born Oct. 16, 1803, m. David Royer; Joseph, born Dec. 25, 1806, m. Mary Sholl, and was killed April 2, 1877; Lewis; Anna, born Oct, 17, 1810, m. Benjamin Eckert; Mary, born Sept. 12, 1812, m. John Thomas; Magdalena, born Nov. 1, 1814, m. George Seibert; Susanna, twin to Magdalena, m. Peter Ream; and Henry, born Jan. 19, 1818, m. Anna Humerighous.

Picture of Lewis MillerLewis Miller, the father of Lewis F., was born on the family homestead, near Schaefferstown, Oct. 13, 1808, and died in 1891, in his eighty-third year, both he and his wife being buried at Schaefferstown. He was a successful farmer, and at the time of his death was the possessor of a good deal of property. Mr. Miller married Maria Fernsler of Cornwall, and to them were born these children: Lewis F.; Leah, deceased, married Abel Shaak, of Lebanon county; Susan m. Abraham Filby, the owner of the old Miller homestead near Schaefferstown; Samuel deceased; Elizabeth m. Jere Snabely, and lives in Marion county, Kansas; and Sarah m. Henry Noll, of Kleinfeltersville, Pennsylvania.

Lewis F. Miller was reared on the old homestead, and began farming for himself in 1874, in Heidelberg township, on a small tract of land which he cultivated for many years. He retired in the spring of 1904, and purchased a fine home in Womelsdorf, where he has since lived in contented retirement. He is a Republican in politics, and for three years was a school director in Heidelberg township, and also served as supervisor for one year. In September, 1862, he enlisted in Company K, 142d P. V. I., and while a member of that company participated in the following engagements: Fredericksburg, where he was wounded Dec. 13, 1862, in the left knee, this incapacitating him for six months; Hatcher's Run, Feb. 6, 1865, where he was wounded a second time, receiving a flesh wound in the side, which caused his honorable discharge at Washington, in June, 1865. He is a member of Keim Posts, G. A. R., of Reading. After the war Mr. Miller again resumed his station in the ranks of private life as an agriculturist. He and his family attend the Lutheran Church, and he has a burial plot at St. Daniel's (Corner) Church near Robesonia. In 1874 Mr. Miller was married to Susan Stupp, daughter of John and Sarah (Eckert) Stupp. Mrs. Miller is a lady of fine taste. She has an elegantly furnished home, and is fond of old chinaware and other relics, of which she has a large collection. Mr. Miller's hobby is reading, and he spends much time with his books.

Last Modified Thursday, 16-Oct-2008 20:55:25 EDT

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