Lee County Biography

Rinear Miller
Viola Township


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Rinear Miller, a representative of one of the pioneer families of this county, is well known as one of the leading apiarists of this portion of the state, and is also a successful farmer, owning a good farm in Viola Township, upon which he makes his home. He is a native of County Brant, Province of Ontario Canada and July 16, 1835 is the date of his birth. His father, whose name is Jacob Miller, was born in the town of ANcaster, in the same Canadian province as himself. He was the son of another Jacob Miller, who was a native of Germany. During the time of a revolution in their native country he and tow of his brothers abandoned their property there and sought a new home in America. One of the brothers settled in New York, another in Philadelphia, while the grandfather of our subject sought a dwelling in the primeval wilds of Canada, and was one of the early settlers in the town of Ancaster. He cleared a farm from the forests, and ended his days thereon. He was the father of thirteen children, twelve of whom grew to maturity, and nine of them became useful citizens of the United States,

The father of our subject was reared amid the pioneer scenes of his birthplace, and after marriage removed from Ancaster to the town of Burford, where he bought a tract of timber land. On this he built a log house, the same in which our subject was born, and in time, by hard pioneer labor, he hewed a farm from the wilderness. He had heard much of the attractions of Illinois and he determined to come hither to judge for himself as to whether it afforded superior facilities for farming, and renting his farm for five years, in 1846 he started on the long journey with teams, taking with him his wife and eight children, and while on their way they stopped at noon and night to rest and cook their food. After his arrival in this land of promise he purchased a squatter's claim in the northeastern part of Brooklyn Township, Lee County, and moved his family into the house that stood on the place. He was one of the early settlers of the township, and had but few neighbors, the plentifulness of deer, wild turkeys and other game indicating that civilization had not made much progress here at that time. For years Peru and Ottawa were the nearest markets, and were not then accessible by railway. Once each year the father of our subject went with a load of grain or pork all the way to Chicago, which was quite an undertaking in those days.

In the fall of 1850, Mr. Miller and his family retured to Canada and did not come back again until 1853, when he sold his Canadian farm, and once more took up his residence on his farm in Brooklyn Township, and there he remained the rest of his days, doing good service as a pioneer, and winning respect and esteem from all with whom he came in contact. His life was brought to an end Octoher, 1865. His wife is stil1 living at a venerable age in Brooklyn Township. She bore the maiden name of Esther Van Sickle, and was born at Dundas, Canada, a daughter of Rinear and Esther Van Sickle, who both spent their last years on their farm close to Dundas.

Our subject is one of the nine children that his parents reared to lives of usefulness. He wa eleven years old when they came first to Illinois. He had attended school in Canada previously, and after coming to this County completed his education in the pioneer schools of Brooklyn Township. He also gained a thorough training in all kinds of farm work, so that when he came to carry on agricultural pursuits on his own account, he was perfectly capable of managing a farm to the best advantage. He remained under the parental roof until he married and established a home of his own. For a time after his marriage he rented land an devoted himself exclusively to tilling the land. In the meantime he had been making a study of bee culture, and in 1865 began to make a regular business of it, and has been engaged in it the most of the time since then, and has found it very profitable. He now has one hundred and nineteen swarms of bees in his apiary, and the delicious honey that they make commands a high price and a ready market. Mr. Miller has by no means confined himself to the care of his bees since he established his apiary, but has also actively engaged in farming. He settled on his present farm in 1871, and has placed upon it many substantial improvements that have greatly added to its value since it came into his possession.

Mr. Miller married in 1857 Miss Ann Scott, a native of Guelph, Canada: and a daughter of George and Rebecca Scott. Wedded life has brought to them many joys and sorrows, and in the former may be counted the eleven sons born to them, of whom three died in infancy, and eight are spared to bless their declining years, namely, Lafayette, Canvess D., Lincoln C., Francis T; Grenville, Harrison, Nelson and Andrew.

Nearly half a century has rolled by since our subject came to Lee County as a boy, and he has not only been a witness of its gradual growth from a sparsely inhabited wilderness to a populous and well developed agricultnral region, but it may be his pride that he has helped to bring about the grand transformation. He remembers well the days before railways were common in this country, and when the mail facilities were not such as to encourage correspondence, as postage stamps were unknown, and eaach letter cost twenty-five cents. Our subject knew also something of the hardships and privations of pioneer life, which experiences tended but to strengthen his character, and perhaps contributed to make him more self-reliant, helpful toward others and neighborly in he true sense of the word, so that non fear to ask of hiim a favor or to appeal to him for sympathy and assistance in times of trouble.

Portraits and Biographical Lee County IL Pg 464

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