Lee County Biography

Dennis Miller
Brooklyn Township


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Dennis Miller, who is the proprietor of a good farm in Brooklyn Township, is now living in retirement in the pleasant village of Paw Paw. He is a son of one of the pioneer families of Lee County and is deserving of the honorable title of pioneer himself, as he has been a helper in the great work that has been accomplished in the development of this section of the country. He was bom in Kingston, Province of Ontario, Canada, January 18, 1829. His father Andrew Miller, was also a native of that place, of which his father, our subject's grandfather, Miller a German by birth, was an early settler. The latter was a blacksmith and a wagon maker, and followed those trades for some years after he settled in Canada. He then devoted himself to farming until his death, on his homestead in Kingston.

Andrew Miller learned the trade of a blacksmith of his father, and was engaged at it in his native town several years. In 1845 he made a new departureture and, like his father, sought a new home in a wild, sparsely settled country, coming to Illinois with his wife and eight children, the long an monotonous journey being performed with a team. He bought a tract of wild land in what is now Brooklyn Township, where but few had preceded him. He built a frame house on his homestead for the shelter of his family, buying some of the timber at the Inlet sawmill and some at Chicago. He then turned his attention to preparing his land for cultivation, and in the course of time had a well tilled farm as a reward for his labors. He made it his home for a number of years, but the last part of his life was spent in Cerro Gordo County, Iowa.

The maiden name of the mother of our subject was Lydia Dennis, and she was born in the Province of Ontario, Canada. She died December 24, 1891, at the residence of her daughter, Mrs. Madden, in Brooklyn Township. In her younger days she was an expert in the art of carding, weaving and spinning, and clothed her children in garments which were wholly the production of her own hand. She did her cooking before an open fire in a huge old-fashioned fireplace, and had but few conveniences for doing her housework.

The subject of this life record was a lad of sixteen years when the family came to Illinois, and he still has a keen remembrance of the journey hither and of the pioneer surroundings of the new home in this county. At that time Northern Illinois was but sparsely settled and the Government held most of the land for sale at $1.25 per acre. There were no railways, and Aurora, Ottawa and Peru were the chief markets. Mr. Miller has often seen deer and other kinds of wild game roaming over the prairies, bluffs and river bottoms, where are now fruitful farms and busy towns. The farmers of that day used the cradle in harvesting their grain, and other primitive farming implements were employed that have since been superceded by modern machinery.

Mr. MIller helped his father in the management of his farm and remained all inmate of the parental home until he married, when he commenced farming on his own account. Two years later he bought forty acres of land in Brooklyn Township, which formed the nucleus to his farm. He bought other tracts at different times, and now has one hundred and eighty-six acres of land in a body, well improved and supplied with comfortable buildings. He continued farming until 1881, when he rented his place and took up his residence a5 Paw Paw, where he has since lived, retired from active business.

Mr. Miller was married in 1852 to Miss Ann Beemer a native of Pennsylvania and a daughter of Alexander and Asenath Beemer. Six children have blessed their married life, four of whom are living. The oldest child, William H., died when two and a half years of age; the youngest died in infancy unnamed. Those remaining are JeromeB, Almina A., Nellie E and Edith. Almina married Charles Umphrey and they have three children - Floy E, Edna B and Annie E. Nellie married Arthur Wells and they have a child, Addie N. Mrs. Wells died September 6, 1891.

Mr. Miller is a Republican in politics and a Prohibitionist in principle. He is a man of good habits, of sound and sensible views on all subjects with which he is familiar, and his neighbors and other friends hold him in igh estimation for his sterling character.

Portraits and Biographical Lee County IL Pg 605

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