Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Thomas Miller

Thomas Miller was a Quaker minister and Indian agent who lived a long life of service.

He was born on Aug, 12, 1812 in Fayette County, Pennsylvania.

On May 14, 1834 Miller married Eliza Curl at the New Hope Meeting House in Greene County, Ohio. Eliza was 24 years old having been born on June 16, 1810.

The new couple moved to Springboro in Warren County, Ohio about 1838. They purchased 65 acres of land from Powel and Irene Crosley at $54 an acre. According to the deed, a two story brick farm house was built in August of 1848. Elmer K. Miller in his Gayen Miller an Irish Quaker and His American Descendents, 1675-1993 states the family may have lived in a log cabin, on the property, until the house was built. The brick residence still stands today at 45 Homestead Court in Springboro.

The Millers had five children: Ruth, Susan, Solomon, Rhoda, and Samuel

As a young man Miller received a calling to be a minister. He had gone to Cincinnati with his brother, a merchant in Springboro, to buy goods for his store. They stayed overnight at a hotel. Miller woke in the night and heard a voice saying, “Four years from now thou shalt lose they companion and be called to the ministry.” He prayed that his wife be spared and promised to faithfully serve. His prayer was answered and Thomas worked as a Quaker minister for 60 years.

U. S. President Ulysses S. Grant took an innovative action when he decided to relocated the Plains Indians. In his December 6, 1869 message to Congress he described his decision, “The Society of Friends is well known as having succeeded in living in peace with the Indians-for their opposition to all strife, and for their strict integrity and fair dealings. These considerations induced me to give the management of a few reservations of Indians to them and to throw the burden of the selection of agents upon the society itself.” Quaker clergy were recruited as Indian agents. Miller was one of the first selected.

In 1869 he was sent to Lawrence, Kansas to help move 700 members of the Sac and Fox American Indian tribes 300 miles south to near Stroud, Oklahoma. Copies of his official papers and letters home during this period have been preserved by family members. After two years Miller returned to Springboro and continued with his ministry. He was very busy. For example, at the age of 90 he traveled over 1,700 miles and visited in 200 homes.

Miller’s wife died at Wilmington, Ohio on Feb, 6, 1893.

He lived with his granddaughter, Elizabeth Hare Binford, in Rush County Indiana when he was no longer able to continue his work.

Miller died in Indiana on Feb.13, 1906. Both he and his wife are buried in the Springfield Friends Cemetery in Clinton County. The grave is marked by a redwood historic marker which says “Indian Agent”.

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