Elliott C. Miller grew up in Concord Township and spent most of his life in and around Troy. His life, in many ways, was probably relatively typical, but it is still interesting to examine known facts and imagine what his life motivations were. His family’s heritage, from his parents to his daughter, spanned almost 100 years of Troy and Miami County history.
Mr. Miller’s parents were Christley and Hannah (Wright) Miller. Hannah arrived in Miami County at the age of eight in 1807, when her parents settled here. According to his death notice, Christley arrived in the new county in 1810, as a young man of 26 years. He was a native of Pennsylvania, while Hannah was born in Tennessee.
In 1813, Christley purchased the farm on which he would reside the rest of his life. This property of 100, plus, acres, was located west of Troy, but is now in proximity of the West Stanfield and South Stanfield Road intersection. It was here he would bring his bride in 1820, and together they would raise their family of several children, including Elliott, who was born in 1825. Another one of their children was David Miller, who became an early and well-known gunsmith in the area.
Elliott likely grew up on the farm, helping with planting, cultivating and harvesting crops, as well as animal husbandry.
All through his time growing up, Elliott Miller probably did not have to deal with slavery or abolition politics on a personal level, unless it came to the farm. No record of his parent’s assisting in any form. If his parents or siblings felt strongly about the issues, then there is little evidence that remains.
We do know that Elliott signed up to fight in the war in Mexico in May 1846, when he was 20 years old. The war with Mexico was a divisive conflict because of the slavery issue, but also for the reason that many viewed the struggle as a civil war. In many respects, it had many similar issues that Vietnam would have. So, why did Elliott Miller go and fight when so few of his fellow Miami Countians and Buckeyes joined the fight?
Did Miller hold to some 20 year old idealism; was it patriotism, or did he believe the U.S. needed to assist American citizens in Texas? Did he become incensed when it was reported that following a skirmish in Texas, several U.S. soldiers were killed or taken captive?
It is not known if he saw any military action in Mexico, but his commander, Capt. John Caldwell left Ohio with a regiment of Ohio volunteers and proceeded to Mexico in August 1846, when Elliott Miller was still in the service. He was mustered out with his regiment in October, 1846 and returned home. There did not seem to be any excitement, as the news reported the progress of the war, but did not particularly mention any of the men of Miami County returning from the conflict.
Following his return home, Elliott Miller courted and, in 1853, married Eliza Tullis, a granddaughter of early pioneer and Revolutionary War veteran Aaron Tullis, Sr. The couple had two children, a son, who died in infancy, and a daughter, Emma, who lived a full life.
During the next almost 30 years, Elliott Miller held several different occupations, including clerk in the county treasurer’s office and insurance agent. But, he also became a bookstore owner, which he later developed into a stationery store. He must have done well because in the 1870 census it is noted that he had about $5,000 in personal estate, which was a good sum in those days.
I find it fascinating that he became a book dealer because Eliza’s uncle was a publisher, bookbinder, and bookseller. Did Elliott learn his trade from this man? Her uncle, John T. Tullis, published a local paper for a time, sold books in the area and was a well-known abolitionist. It is also interesting that the ardent abolitionist minister Richard Brandriff is the one they chose to perform their wedding. Is this a clue to some of the sentiments that Elliott and Eliza held personally.
During a difficult time in this country, Elliott and Eliza Miller continued to live their lives and moved forward, even building a beautiful brick home in 1878. Unfortunately, his life was cut short by Typhoid Fever in 1884.
People of Miami County and Troy’s past are interesting. They lived in the culture and politics of their day, just as we do now. Their lives and what they left behind are reminders of our history. Yet, they found ways to live life, live convictions, but still be good neighbors.
Patrick D. Kennedy is archivist at the Troy-Miami County Public Library’s Local History Library, 100 W. Main St., Troy. He may be contacted by calling (937) 335-4082 or sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org