Van Buren County
Also see [Railway Officials in America 1906]
John and Fannie Miller were among the pioneers of the State of Michigan, having settled here before it was admitted
as a State. They were natives of New York, were married there, and made a permanent settlement in Monroe Co., Mich.,
in 1831. Their children were as follows: L. B., born in New York; J. G., Cynthia S., L. C., John F., Fannie, and
Sophia J., born in Michigan. The children are all living but two, Cynthia S. and Sopbia J., L. B. John F., and
Fannie are still residents of Monroe County; L. C. has made his home in Bangor.
J. G. Miller was born in 1833, and was reared surrounded by the impediments and difficulties usually attending
the settlement of a new country. Losing his mother when only thirteen years of age, necessity compelled him to
depend upon his own efforts for a livelihood, and he began his career under adverse circumstances. Realizing the
advantages even of a limited education, he made a manly effort to secure one, and engaged for two winters in sawing
wood, this affording him the opportunity of attending school. He afterwards worked two years, receiving as compensation
three dollars per month, which enabled him to clothe himself and also to render assistance to his sisters. The
following ycar his salary was doubled, and he then passed seven summers as an employee on the Wabash and Miami
Canal, where he made his first one hundred dollars. Finding employment during a portion only of the last three
years, he invested his money in a thrashing machine and a horse, Esquire Thomas McManus, of Monroe County, becoming
his indorscr, as Mr. Miller was compelled to incur some indebtedness. In this business he remained until 1856,
when he leased an uncle's farm. Cynthia and Lovisa superintended the internal arrangements of the household, Cynthia
teaching a portion of the time, and here several members of the family were able to attend school. In 1858 he arrived
with a team and wagon in Bangor, which he exchanged for forty acres of land. He immediately returned, securing
a situation in a brickyard. In the fall he purchased a horse and buggy and drove to Bangor, where he purchased
the farm now owned by him, and of which a view appears in this work, giving in payment one hundred dollars, his
first purchase of forty acres, and his horse and buggy. In 1860 he followed his trade, that of carpenter and joiner,
and worked in a sawmill as an employee of J. H. Nyman. In the spring of 1861 he returned to his trade, working
at it until Sept. 25, 1861, when he united in marriage with Miss Eveline Watkins. They began their married life
with a farm paid for and thirty dollars in cash.
Thomas Watkins, the father of Mrs. Miller, was born near Pittsburgh, Pa., in 1802. He married there, and moved
to Mount Vernon, Ohio, where John and William were born. He lost his first wife in Mount Vernon, and afterwards
married Miss Katie Spaughn. Mrs. Miller was born at Mount Vernon, Ohio, in 1836. James and Levi were also born
there. Katie, Mrs. Miller's mother, died in Hancock Co., Ohio, to which place they removed in 1857. Mr. Watkins
then married Melvina Litrick. The names of his last children are Henry, Martin, Francis, Martha Jane, Charles,
and Jackson, who, with the exception of one who died in Ohio, are still living.
After Mr. and Mrs. Miller's marriage they passed eleven years on the farm, where three children were born, viz.,
Ida, July 10, 1862, died in 1872; Omar, Sept. 6, 1865; John J., Dec. 26, 1869.
Mr. Miller having achieved success in farming, and having acquired the necessary means, engaged in business in
the village of Bangor in 1872, having built a store in 1871. He commenced with a partner, whose interest he purchased
in February, 1875. The village had been continually increasing in population, and the surrounding country been
rapidly developed. Mr. Miller recognized the importance of having a public ball. The Opera House, of which a view
is given, is the result. It is a building fortyfour by ninety-four feet, with a seating capacity of five hundred.
The hail is on the second floor, and Mr. Miller occupies a portion of the first floor as a hardware store, renting
Mr. Miller's career was begun as a poor boy. By energy and perseverance, united with economy and good business
qualifications, he has secured a competency, and is now living in the enjoyment of the comforts and luxuries wealth
affords. The records show him to be one of the heaviest tax-payers in his school district and township. Politically,
he is a Democrat.
History of Berrien and Van Buren Counties, Michigan
With Illistrations and Biographical Sketches
of Its Prominent Men and Pioneers.
D. W. Ensign & Co., Philadelphia 1880
Press of J. B. Lippincoff & Co., Philadelphia.