J. Conrad Miller
Brooklyn Township


J. Conrad Miller, a native of this county, born October 10, 1865, in Brooklyn Township, still lives on the old homestead, which is under his management. He is one of the most enterprising stockmen of this part of Illinois, and, though one of the youngest of his class, is carrying on an extensive business in buying and shiping stock, and in raising high grade cattle and standard-bred horses. He bids fair to become one the foremost in his line in this section at no distant day.

Our subject is a son of Conrad Miller, by whose untimely death Brooklyn Township lost a citizen who was doing valuable work in its upbuilding by industriously developing a farm from its original wildness. He was a German by birth, born in Hesse-Darmstadt in August, 1832. His father, who bore the same name as himself, and his mother, Mary Miller, were both life-long residents of Hesse-Darmstadt. The father of our subject was reared on a farm, and obtained his education in the schools of his native land. He continued to live in the Old Country until 1858, when, ambitious to try life on American soil, he started for this country, setting sail from Havre in May, and landing in New York City in July, after a voyage of seven weeks. He immediately came to lllinois, and located at Perkins Grove, Lee County.

A stranger in a strange land, and without capital with which to begin his new life, Mr. Miller Sr. had strength and courage, and went to work with a good will as a farmer on rented land. He was thus engaged for eight years, and during that time invested some of the money that he thus made in an eighty-acre tract of land on section 25, Brooklyn Township, which formed the nucleus of the fine large farm now owned by his family. Forty-five acres of the land were broken, and the remainder was in its original wild condition, the whole costing him $25 an acre. He moved a house to his homestead, and lived and labored upon it until death stayed his hand June 9, 1867, while he was yet in the prime of life.

Mr. Miller was not married until shortly after he came to this county, and here he was wedded August 15, 1858, to Katherina Sinner, a country­woman of his who had crossed the water in the same ship that had borne him hither, and he found in her a true helpmate, who cheerfully shared with him the burdens of pioneer life. Mrs. Miller was born March 19, 1841, and is a daugbter of Conrad and Anna Maria Sinner, who were also natives of Hesse-Darmstadt.

By the death of her husband the mother of our subject was left a widow with two sons, Philip and Conrad, to care for, and a farm only partly improved to look after. And well did she do her part, training her sons to a self-reliant, honorable manhood, so that they have become valuable citizens of their respective communities. Philip, the elder, who was but five and a half years old when his father died, developed a decided taste for the Mercantile business, and is now prosperously engaged in the sale of hardware and agricultural implements at Chadwick, in Carroll County. He is married, and has three children - Lina M., Cora and Lloyd Conrad. The mother of our subject when left to her own resources by the removal of the head of the household, displayed a marked aptitude for managing affairs in a businesslike way. Possessing much force of character, intelligence, and thrift, under her vigilant care everything about the place throve, the fields were placed under admirable tillage, improvements of a good class were constantly being made, and when at last she was able to yield up the charge of tbe farm to her son, and lay down the burden so long and so bravely borne, she had the satisfaction of knowing that her work had been well performed, and tbat the old homestead left her hand in a fine condition.

The subject of this sketch was reared and educated in Brooklyn Township, and for the past ten years has had charge of the farm where he has always lived, entering upon his career as a farmer when scarcely more than a boy, and even at that early age he evinced a decided talent for the business he has since so successfully pursued, and a capability for judicious management not often fonnd in one so young. He has dealt quite extensively in stock, buying and shipping and also raising stock. A view of the old homestead is presented in connection with this sketch. The farm, which now contains upward of four hundred acres, is well adapted to stock-raising purposes, and is well stocked with high grade Shorthorn cattle and standard bred horses. His favorites in horses are the Norman and Clydes for draft horses, while for driving horses he prefers the Wilkes strain of the Hambletonian breed. He has several fine steppers as well as some first-class draft horses, and he is the fortunate owner of the famous stallion "Star W.K." son of "Alkantara" with a record of 2:23.

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Ambition, energy and enterprise, guided and controlled by sound and practical business judgment, have marked the basis of the success of J.C. Miller, who is one of the largest landowners in Wyoming township and one of the most progressive and successful farmers and stock-raisers in Lee county. He was born in Brooklyn township, October 10. 1865, a son of Conrad and Catherine (Sinner) Miller, natives of Germany. The parents came from that country in 1858 and settled first at Perkins Grove, in Lee county. The father was at that time without capital and in a strange country, but with characteristic courage and determination he began farming on rented land and after eight years had accumulated enough money to purchase an eighty acre tract in Brooklyn township. This he bought for twenty-five dollars per acre and he labored at its cultivation until his death, which occurred June 9, 1867. He is buried in the Perkins Grove cemetery and his wife survives him. She makes her home in North Dixon and is now seventy-two years of age.

J.C. Miller acquired his education in the district schools of Brooklyn township and in Naperville College. He began his independent career by renting property and when he had saved enough money bought one hundred acres of land in Wyoming township. By judicious purchase he has since increased this to about six hundred acres and this he has divided into three farms, each equipped with excellent buildings and provided with modern machinery. Mr. Miller raises stock on an extensive scale, dealing largely in cattle and horses. He has a comfortable residence in Paw Paw but gives his personal supervision to the conduct of his farm. He is a director and stockholder in the Compton National Bank and well known in financial circles as a man of ability and enterprise.

In Brooklyn township, on the 27th of September, 1891, Mr. Miller 'married Miss Nettie Miller, a daughter of S.B. and Sarah Miller, pioneers in Lee county. The father makes his home in Paw Paw, having survived his wife since 1885. Mr. and Mrs. Miller have become the parents of six children: Lelah and Samuel A., graduates of the Paw Paw high school; Lora, Grace and Hazel, also attending school; and Bina M., aged live.

Mr. Miller is a republican in his political beliefs and is now a member of the board of aldermen of Paw Paw. Through his energy and ability in promoting his personal interests he has contributed in substantial measure to the welfare and growth of the community which numbers him among its most respected and representative citizens.

Transcribed by Karen Holt - 1914 History of Lee County Illinois Vol 2 by Frank E. Stevens.

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