Larry helps out in the garden
Larry Miller spent his childhood at the farm. Entire summers were spent riding the tractor along with his Grandpa, Will Miller and hearing the stories of the past. Recently, following a question from Tim Huitger, Larry sent some emails of memories. I want to capture some of those memories for those interested in Miller Ecological Park, as well as for our family.
Tim Huitger's question to Larry concerned a skull that Tim and his boys had found. He wondered if the family ever kept goats. This was Larry's response:
Granddad told me about Dad raising sheep (or maybe goats) for a 4H or FFA project as a boy. Several drank some antifreeze from a bucket and died. The middle field, there were three on the west boundry of the farm, in what is now Millers Crossing was a walnut forest until it was logged during the first world war to make rifle stocks.
Our Granddad always fed pigs behind the cattle and in later years only had
pigs. I know there were also foxes, raccoons, and other wildlife. Does the
skull have horns? Teeth?
I actually spent much more time with Grandpa than Dad. And I wish I had
asked lots more questions. I have an old shotgun from 1826 that was on the
farm long before I was born. I would love that story.
I have meant to write down some stories about what I learned on the farm.
One would be the story Grandpa told of driving by a farm in Indiana on his
was to visit family. He told of how the city surrounded it, and finally
engulfed it. He loved his farm in Lebanon and even then I knew he realized the same would
one day happen to "Grandview Farm," the name my Grandmother had for the farm.
Once my sister sister Nancy took sister Sue and me and a tour of the
Lebanon cemetery. She showed us the different branches of our family that
date back to the earliest settlers of the area. It brought back the
stories I heard riding on the old Farmall M with Grandpa as he answered all
my questions (as he cultivated corn or otherwise worked the fields) and tied
I am sorry not to be at the Dedication of Miller Ecological Park. Traveling
is not my favorite thing. Like my Granddad, and all of our family, I loved
the farm. When I first visit the Park, I think I want time to think of what it was
on my own, while learning to accept the reality of "progress".
I want to thank all that helped in creating this Park. Grandpa would be
very happy, and proud, as would our father, and all of the family.
Why the Farm is so Important to the Family: (March 28, 2013)
I have been thinking of the farm. And why we are so attached to it. A little
family history might help explain. Life is not easy. But it was much harder for those who came before us.
Those were the stories Grandpa told me while he was working the fields of Miller
A short history starting with Great Grandpa Miller:
He followed his love, Lucy Evans, west from Warren County and married her there. She fought off wolves from the
front porch, and then failed crops caused them to return to Ohio and Warren County. They ended up on Miller Farm, already owned by the family. Great Grandmother Lucy died young helping a sick friend. Great Granddad died young from a problem
that is now simple to fix. Grandpa went to work on the farm, and had to quit school before he graduated, while his older brother graduated from Ohio State. Brother Roy became an engineer for the City of Lebanon.
Grandpa farmed on shares for many years, as his uncle Pete Miller, owned the farm.
After marrying our Grandmother, Harriet Snook, whose family helped settle Ohio, life did not get any easier. My Dad and Aunt Ellen were born in the farm house and both births were difficult, and it took many years to pay these medical debts. All through this period and into the depression, life was not easy.
My Grandparents never complained. They eventually were able to buy the farm in the late 1940's. They worked hard, and prayed. I remember Grandpa walking with two canes to do his chores. Still no complaints. They suffered no fools. I
Will, Harriet, Edwin, and Harriet Ellen Miller: 1942
The Miller Farm, consisting of approximately 114 acres, was originally purchased in 1877 by Peter and Margaret Koegel Miller, immigrants from Germany. William, grandson of Peter, and his wife Harriet Snook farmed the land until Will died in 1982.
Edwin Lee Miller and Ellen Miller Mullett, children of Will and Harriet, inherited the land in 1988.
In 1993, Edwin sold the farmhouse and surrounding land to Steve and Kathie Henry. He sold the remaining 46.2 acres to the City of Lebanon at a reduced cost so that a park could be developed in memory of his and Ellen's parents, Will and Harriet Miller.
Ellen tried very hard to have her portion of the land added to the portion that the city purchased for a park, but at that point, the City of Lebanon was not prepared to purchase the additional land. She sold the land in 1996 to a developer who promised to honor the land and her parents and the development became Miller's Crossing.
Miller’s Crossing is a beautifully laid out community with 147 families, a neighborhood pool and pool house, a tennis court and play ground. On the south side of Miller’s Crossing there is a 3-acre lake and over 30 acres of green space with direct access to the Will and Harriet Miller Ecological Park.
For additional pictures of the Miller Farm and Family, click here.
Miller Farm Mid-20th Century
"Is This Your Farm?"
In 1955 the Western Star ran a feature every Thursday entitled, "Is This Your Farm?" An aerial photo of the farm appeared and if the property owner recognized the farm and went to the Western Star office and told the story of the farm, the owner received a mounted picture of the farm. Extra pictures or picture cards were also available.
On July 14, 1955, this photo of the Miller Farm was featured. The farmhouse and ten acres are now owned by Steve and Kathie Henry. The small shed to the right of the barn served first as milk house and then as an apple storage shed. It is still standing and the Henrys own the tractor that is sitting in front of it. That and the farmhouse are all that remain of this era.
The large barn in the photo was built in 1919.
Miller Farm, 1978
Jake Henry, whose parents own the farmhouse and ten acres of the original Miller farm found this 1978 photo on-line. It shows much of the land that is now Will and Harriet Miller Ecological Park and some of the Miller Crossings subdivision. (photo courtesy of Vintage Aerial)
Nancy Miller Myerholtz then had the photo painted through State Aerial Farm Statsitics in Maumee, Ohio.
Peter and Margaret Miller
Peter Miller was born on March 26, 1826 in the Reichenpfalz of Germany near Bergzabern. Margaret Koegel was born January 29, 1832, also in Germany, in OberRamstadt near Darmstadt.
Peter worked as a stone-cutter from the age of sixteen until twenty-two when in May of 1848 he was drafted into the Royal Army by the King of Bavaria. However, he only fought for the King for six months. Then he joined the Liberal Army and fought against the King. In July, 1850, he emigrated to America where he continued his work as a stone mason.
Margaret grew up in Germany and one of her early memories was walking five miles every morning to market with a basket on her head. At the age of eighteen she came to America. She travelled alone on an ocean sailboat to New York, and since it was calm with no winds, the journey was very long, lasting 52 days. She worked in the kitchen of a family that had paid her passage after arriving in America.
On September 29, 1852, Peter and Margaret were married in Cincinnati and their first child Margaret was born there on December 27, 1853. In the spring of 1855 the family moved to Lebanon, Ohio. Katherine was born on December 26, 1855; Peter was born on January 5, 1858; Karl (Charles) was born on April 26, 1860. The family first owned a home and small strip of land near the fairgrounds. Then in 1877, they purchased the farm on what would become Miller Road.
Kate, Margaret, Charles, and Peter (Children of Peter and Margaret)
Margaret Elizabeth "Maggie" Miller was married on October 29, 1874 to David E. Thompson in Warren County Ohio and they spent their entire life here. Margaret and David had three children: Clyde, Gertrude, and Miles. Only Gertrude married and none of the children ever had any children. Stories say that Clyde went away to study law and had a breakdown. At any rate, he came home and farmed. Gertrude did marry a man named Edwin W. Jewell. He did not have a very good reputation and rumor was that he left her. From postcards, it appears she was a school teacher in Indiana and she died young in 1921. Miles was head of the Latin Department at Princeton High School in Princeton, New Jersey. Throughout his lifetime, he traveled widely but would come home every Easter. He enjoyed good laughter and at his death he provided for the entire Miller family. From postcard messages, it is clear that David and Maggie Thompson and their children were very close.
Katherine "Kate" Miller was married January 2, 1927 to Chris Kalberer of Indiana and moved to West Lafayette, Indiana. Chris and Kate had one daughter, Maude.
Peter Miller married Carrie Elma Cowan in 1890 in Lebanon, Ohio. Family lore says that Peter and Carrie went to Hawaii on their honeymoon and that Peter was an Indian agent and had a store that sold goods on a reservation in California. Peter and Carrie came back to Ohio where she died in 1899. Peter then married Lela Hill. He inherited the Miller Farm from his mother in 1917. William Miller, son of Peter's brother Charles, was the one who farmed the land. Peter died in February, 1946. In Peter's will he provided that at Lela's death 1/2 of the farm would go to William. The other 1/2 he divided into 9 parts: (1) To nephew, Roy Miller, (2) nephew, William Miller (3) Niece,Ruby Lollar, (4) Niece, Maude Massie, (5) Niece, Nell Banta.
The remainder of the nine shares went to relatives of Lela Hill: (6) Juanita Paddock of Portand, Oregon; Don Murray Wolf of Hamilton, Montana,; Shriver Wolfe of San Francisco. (7) Maude Jones of Lebanon, Ohio (8) Cornelia Bradford of Lebanon, Ohio; (9) Betty Hill of Montgomery, Ohio Curtis Hill Jr. of Alton, Illinois.
Charles Miller followed his "love" Lucy Evans's family to Missouri. Lucy, the youngest of eleven children, was born August 14, 1862 in Lebanon to Mary Banta and Willliam Evans. The Evans family moved to Missouri in 1881. On March 12, 1884, Charles and Lucy Evans were married in Holden, Missouri and lived on a farm there for seven years. Their first three children were born there: Nell, Roy, and William.
Continuous failure of crops brought Charles, Lucy and their children back to Lebanon, Ohio. They moved to a farm on Drake Road. Here daughter Ruby was born.
Ruby was only three years old when Lucy died in February, 1897, of pneumonia. She had ridden in an open carriage to go care for a friend who was ill and then became ill herself.
Charles and his family of four children then moved to the Peter and Margaret Miller home on what is now Miller Road. Here Grandmother Margaret shared in the care of these four children. Nell was twelve years of age and tried in every way to fill the vacuum left by a loving and devoted mother's death.
NELL MAY BANTA
August 21, 1885 - MARCH 18, 1956
Nell May Banta was born on April 21, 1885 in Holden, Missouri, the oldest child of Charles and Lucy (Evans) Miller. Lucy died of pneumonia when Nell was twelve years old, and about this time Charles and his four children moved into the Miller Homestead and lived with his parents, Peter and Margaret Miller. As the oldest child, Nell became a "mother" figure to her brothers and sister. When her father married Nina Sellers in 1900, she still played an important role in their caretaking.
Nell married Oliver "Earl" Banta on February 26, 1913, and they lived east of Lebanon on Oregonia Road. While they never had any children of their own, they were very close with their "Miller" nieces and nephews: Children of Ruby Miller: Katherine and Robert Rowland, Children of Will Miller: Edwin and Ellen Miller, and Child of Roy Miller: Margaret Miller.
Ellen, Katherine, and Margaret would each spend a week at a time with Earl and Nell. Ellen remembers that Nell always had games to play, and Katherine remembers that she and Margaret once made a play house out of the corn crib which was empty in spring. Katherine loved running on the long sidewalk there.
When remembering Nell and Earl, their home always comes to mind: Hanging lamps with Indian head pull strings, a large, inherited collection of books filling the wall of the formal living room, the entry room with a winding stair case at the far end, and a table with an antique clock where games were played. Then there was the out-house; they never had inside plumbing. But the outhouse was always spotless, with linen towels. Nell was a loving, shy, stay-at-home type of person. She always wore an apron over her dress and had her hair done up in a bun. Her home was immaculate, not a speck of dust to be found anywhere. Katherine remembers that Earl and Nell had a complicated machine for separating milk inside the house and that cleaning and sterilizing it was quite an ordeal.
Earl enjoyed whittling and made many interesting miniature items. The Banta family owned a large peach orchard, and Earl was quite creative with the pits. A small monkey that he carved is a treasured keepsake today. Katherine remembers that her Uncle Earl always had a stick of juicy fruit gum for her in his inside coat pocket.
Earl and Nell attended the Genntown Church with others in the Banta family. Earl's brother, Albert, married Georgia Snook, the sister of Harriet Snook Miller. Harriet was Nell's sister-in-law. Albert and Georgia had four sons, and so although Earl and Nell did not have any children, there were many gatherings the Banta and Miller cousins. Nell gave her portion of the farm inheritance to her brother Will.
ROY EVANS MILLER
February 18, 1887- May 25, 1964
Roy Evans Miller was born February 18, 1887 in Holden, Missouri, the second child of Charles and Lucy Miller. Roy Miller attended the one-room Hart School and then went to high school in Lebanon and graduated in the Class of 1904. The Miller family valued education highly and encouraged him to attend college. He worked his way through Ohio State University, earning a degree in Civil Engineering. After his graduation in 1908, he returned to Lebanon where he worked for Mr. Sam Henkle who was County Engineer.
Roy married Ethel Gustin in 1909, a daughter of Irwin and Ellen Brown Gustin. Ethel was a lifelong resident of Lebanon and charter member of the Main Street Presbyterian Church. Roy and Ethel moved into a home on Mound Street where they lived until 1950 when they built a house on High Street. Roy followed Sam Henkle as the Warren County Surveyor (County Engineer) in 1914 and held the post until 1920. He then worked for Armco in Middletown.
Roy and Ethel had one daughter, Margaret (Peg) Eleanor Miller who was born June 21, 1915. They were very active in the Presbyterian Church and Roy was involved in an adult Lebanon Volleyball team as a young man . "He knew every nook and cranny of Warren County and had fast friends in every corner. He was the kind of individual people were glad to know and profited by his friendship." He gave his share of the farm to his brother Will who was the son chosen to work the farm rather than attend college. When it was time for his nephew Edwin to go to college, Roy helped support him financially.
Margaret Eleanor Miller married Clarence (Rance) Dieterich in 1936 and they had two children: David Arlen Dieterich and Bonnie Suellen Dieterich Stalter.
WILLIAM P. MILLER
November 3, 1888 - May 21, 1982
William P. Miller was born in Holden, Missouri on November 3, 1888 the third child of Charles and Lucy (Evans) Miller. When Will was eight years old, his mother died.
Will's father, Charles, married Nina Sellers in 1900. In 1906, when Will was almost eighteen, his father died. The next year Will's grandfather, Peter Miller, died also. Will's grandmother, Margaret Miller, continued living on the farm for a number of years. Roy attended college, and Will took over the responsibility of the farm. Stepmother, Nina stayed awhile, but soon after Ruby was married she went to live with her orphaned nieces and nephews.
On February 3, 1916, Will married Harriet Elizabeth Snook (see below) and brought her home to the Miller farm.The farm at that point was owned by Will's Grandmother Margaret, and at her death in 1917, she willed it to her son Peter. While he did not own the farm until 1948, he was a 50-year member of the Lebanon Grange, a charter member of the Warren County Farm Bureau, and a member of the Warren County Historical Society. Throughout his life he was active and well-respected in the community. His honesty and integrity were never questioned. He was also a member, Sunday School teacher, and deacon of the Lebanon Presbyterian Church.
Family was always first with Will. Ellen tells the story of when she was a small child and had several stomach aches, "he left his work in the fields and rocked me, " and he attended all of Ed's sports events. There were difficult years, but his basic common sense guided the family through these times. One of his memorable messages was, "No one makes you anything. You have the final word." When he needed to take a stand and be strong and independent, he never hesitated. When a neighbor who was involved politically came by and told him he had to join the New Deal Crop Program or he'd be sorry, Will answered, "Man, you are threatening me. Get off my land." For some, this is hard to imagine, since he was always so even mannered and content. Grandson, Larry, remembers spending his summers riding the tractor with Will and asking his grandfather endless questions. Will was always patient and shared many stories.
Into his nineties, Will was still climbing ladders to pick apples, working on his farm, and enjoying the company of great-grandchildren.
Son Edwin married Margaret Bartter Miller in 1943 and they had five children: Nancy Elizabeth Miller Myerholtz, Susan Helen Miller McDaniel, Larry Edwin Miller, William Milford Miller, and Anne Margaret Miller Goodwin.
Daughter, Ellen married Thomas Alan Mullett in 1944 and they had two children: Michael Alan Mullett and Barbara Gail Mullett Ladewski.
HARRIET ELIZABETH (SNOOK) MILLER
November 28, 1882 - June 9, 1987
Harriet Elizabeth Snook was born on November 28, 1892, the third of six daughters born to Grant and Ella Larsh (Runyan) Snook. She grew up in the area referred to as "The Ridge" near Lebanon, Ohio. Harriet, who always enjoyed learning, graduated from Lebanon High School in 1910 and National Normal University in 1912. She taught at Wellman School near Harveysburg for several years after graduation and then returned to substitute teaching for the Lebanon Schools after World War II. She continued substituting into her 80s.
On February 3, 1916, Harriet and William P. Miller were married at the home of her parents. Years later, Harriet remembered their first date on July 4, 1914 when Will asked to take her home after the celebration at Harmon Park. She also remembered that Will would bring her boxes of chocolate and lovely blue plums from the farm. They enjoyed a two-week honeymoon in West Virginia visiting Will's stepmother, Nina Sellers. While the life they shared for sixty-six years was challenging and difficult at times, the love between them was always visible.
Will and Harriet had two children: Edwin Lee and Ellen Harriet. No matter how busy it was on the farm, Will and Harriet were always involved in their children's activities: sports events for Edwin; elocution contests for Ellen. Harriet's faith and membership in the Lebanon Presbyterian Church were very important to her, and she taught Bible in the Philathea Class for over 40 years.
Whenever Harriet became involved in an activity, she was passionate about it. She enjoyed baking and for years entered blue-ribbon cakes in the Warren County Fair. She possessed a talent for tatting, and she created many beautiful lace doilies for family, bazaars, and herself. Harriet was very decided about political matters and wrote a number of Letters to the Editor to express her opinions, as well as letters to the President of the United States, himself. As the family genealogist, she handwrote in beautiful script, the genealogies of the Snook, Runyan, and Miller lines. She was an avid researcher and communicated throughout the years with many "cousins".
Harriet enjoyed her grandchildren and shared her words of wisdom with them at every opportunity. She also passed on her talents of tatting, researching genealogy, and making the best applesauce ever!
RUBY MILDRED MILLER
March 16, 1894- February 10, 1970
Ruby Mildred Miller was born March 16, 1894 in Turtlecreek Township, Warren County Ohio, the fourth child of Charles and Lucy Miller. The family had returned to Ohio about 1891 and Ruby was the only child to be born here. The family was living on Drake Road and Ruby was just three years old when her mother died. Charles moved back to the homestead on the Miller Farm where his mother, Margaret, helped care for the children. In 1900, Charles married Nina Sellers and Ruby had a step-mother although her sister Nell did much to care for her also. Then in 1906 Ruby's father died. At this time she was about twelve years old.
Ruby attended Hart School and graduated in 1910 and then also graduated from the National Normal School in Lebanon. On August 19. 1914, she married Harry David Lollar who had grown up on the Lollar Farm on the Ridge in Union Township, Warren County. He was a studious young man and attended Bartlett Commercial College in Cincinnati and then worked in Dayton, New Jersey, and Indiana before his father died June 11, 1911 and he returned to the farm to be with his mother and manage the farm.
Ruby and Harry lived on the Lollar Farm Home Place until 1923 when they built a new home for themselves just down the road. Son Robert Miller Lollar was born May 17, 1915 and daughter Katherine Lucile Lollar was born September 24, 1918. Harry managed the large farm and also kept books for businesses in Lebanon, including the Feed Mill and Crissenbury's Garage. Ruby and Harry were active members of the Cumberland Presbyterian church on Main Street, and later the Lebanon Presbyterian Church after the two churches combined into one congregation.
Ruby was active in founding the Union Ridge Community Club and interested in family history and genealogy. After daughter Katherine was married, Harry and Ruby went to live in town...living in several locations including one on Mound Street and then finally at 407 Main street. Ruby gave her farm inheritance to her brother Will. Harry continued to manage the farm lands. Harry died in 1963 and Ruby died in Illinois in 1970 where she was living near son Robert.
Katherine married an artist, Elden Rowland on May 13, 1939. They spent their life travelling and creating and had no children.
Robert married Dorothy Williams on January 1, 1931. Dorothy and Robert had two children: Janet Ruth Lollar Schneider and Katherine Louise Lollar.
Six of the seven grandchildren and 19 total descendants of Will and Harriet Miller attended the Dedication Event on May 11. They came from Texas, Washington State, Washington DC, Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, and Maryland.
The strong connection to family ties and the importance and influence of this place in their lives is evident.
Larry Miller, oldest son of Edwin and Margaret Miller, has been researching family history and discovered "Three Pioneer Masons of the Early West ," an article about Ephraim Kibby, a colorful ancestor in the Builder Magazine, November 1928. Click here for the article.