MILLER, Major J. Frank, was born in Annville, Lebanon County, June 13, 1830. His grandfather John Miller, spelled his name Muller; he was a native of Switzerland, and came to this county with his parents who settled in Dauphin county, then included in Lancaster county. He owned a large tract of land, then covered with timber, on which he cleared several farms, and was extensively engaged in agriculture. He married in Lancaster, the name of his wife can not now be given with certainty, but it was probably Snavely. The names of his children, so far as known, are: John, Isaac, Abraham, Jacob, Christian, Magdalena; but there were others whose names cannot be ascertained. He died in Hanover, Lebanon county. He was a Whig and a member of the Mennonite denomination.
Isaac Miller, father of the major, received a good education in subscription schools. He spent his younger days with his father on the farm, and became a competent business man. When he became of age he bought a farm of one hundred and forty acres in South Annville township, Lebanon county, which he occupied and improved and continued to cultivate until 1847. He then retired from active work, bought property in Annville, and reside there until his death. Besides farming, he did a large business in live stock, buying in the west and shipping to the eastern markets. His business in horses was very successful.
Isaac Miller was married at the place of his birth. Hanover township, Lebanon county, to Mollie Fernsler, a native of that place: they had eight children: Henry, deceased, a farmer; Sarah, widow of John Frensler, Annville, Lebanon county; Christiana, widow of Jacob Bachman, Annville; Magdalena, deceased, wife of Philip Wolfenberger, of Illinois; Elizabeth, second wife of the same Philip Wolfenberger, Princeton, Ill.; J. Frank; Jacob, in real estate business, Princeton, Ill.; Mollie died in infancy. Mr. Miller died at Annville in 1878. He was originally a Whig, and afterwards a Republican, and took an active part in political movements. He possessed great business ability and was always successful in his enterprises. He and his wife became members of the United Brethren church at Annville, and attended the services there up to the time of their death.
J. Frank Miller was educated at subscription schools taught in German, and learned his first lessons in that tongue; in that course he went as far as the psalter. He also attended the Meyerstown Academy for on year, and attended the Annville Academy, Lebanon county, for two years. He worked on the farm with his father until 1848 and then went to Iowa; remained a short time, and returned as far as Mansfield, Ohio, near which place he had charge of a grist mill for just six months, when he was taken ill, and returned to his home at Annville, Pa., and taught winter school for three terms. After this Mr. Miller was for two years in the shoe and hat factory business at Meyerstown, and was reasonably successful. During this time he received his first commission from Governor Bigler, as Lieutenant of State militia.
In 1854 Mr. Miller went to Princeton. Ill., and engaged in the grain business, which yielded him very satisfactory profits until the panic of 1858 prostrated all business. He did not, however, abandon the business there until 1860, when he returned to Dauphin county, Pa. During his stay at Princeton he became identified with the underground railroad. In 1853 he received from Governor Bissell, of Illinois, a commission as first lieutenant in the Illinois State Militia. After his return to Pennsylvania he resided at Berrysburg until the war broke out in 1861.
In June of year Mr. Miller enlisted in company B, Ninth regiment, Pennsylvania cavalry, as second lieutenant, under Colonel Williams and Capt. E. G. Savage. He served with the regiment in this rank until August 2,, 1862, when he was promoted and mustered in the first lieutenant, company C; May 23, 1863, he was again promoted and mustered in as captain of company K. He was promoted to major of the regiment June 23, 1865. During his time of service Major Miller was in the following engagements: Paris, Ky., July 9, 1862; Richmond, Ky., September 2, 1862; Perrysville, Ky., October 8, 1862; Carterís raid into East Tennessee, December, 1862; commanded by General Carter, 1,104 men in the saddle; marched twenty-one days, often continuously day and night, two hundred and seventy-three miles into the enemyís lines; Franklin, Tenn., March 4, 1863; Spring Hill, Tenn., March 10, 1863; Triune, Tenn., June 11, 1863; Shelbyville, Tenn., June 28, 1863; Lafayette, Ga., September 13, 1863; Chickamaugua, Ga., September 19, 20, 21, 1863; New Market, Ala., October 6, 1863; Dandridge, Tenn., December 24, 1863; Mossy Creek, Tenn., December 26, 27, 28, 1863; Dandridge, Tenn., January 16, 1864; Lovejoy Station, Ga., November 16, 1864; Macon, Ga.; November 20, 1864; Waynesboro, Ga., November 28, 1864; Savannah, Ga., December 21, 1864; Columbia, S. C., February 18, 1865; Averysboro, N. C., March 16, 1865; Bentonville, N. C., March 19, 20, 1865; Raleigh, N. C., April 12, 1865; Morrisville, N. C., April 13, 1865; and at the surrender of Johnson and his army at Bentonís house, N.C., April 26, 1865. Major Miller was discharged from the service at Harrisburg in September, 1865.
For the first year after his return from the army he was engaged in mercantile business at Berrysburg. He then became agent for several companies manufacturing agricultural implements, and was thus occupied for a number of years. He has now practically retired from active business.
Maj. J. Frank Miller was married, at Berrysburg, July 4, 1855 to Emma J., Daughter of Dr. H. C. and Mary (Boyer) Beshler, born at Freeburg, Union county, now Snyder county, March 6, 1835. Their children are: Henry I., born February 24, 1857, educated in Berrysburg Seminary, taught school, and became a music dealer, he married Addie Moyer, of Georgetown, Northumberland county, and they have four children: Frank, Ralph, Albert, and George, deceased; Anna Laura, born August 24, 1859, educated in Berrysburg Seminary, married George D. Romberger, insurance agent, at Berrysburg, and they have ten children of whom eight are living.
Major Miller was for four years postmaster at Berrysburg, commissioned under President Harrison. He was also justice of the peace for five years, and was a careful, impartial and popular official. He was school director for two terms, and is an ardent advocate of compulsory education. He has served as both State and county tax collector, and was census taker for Lykens Valley in 1870 and 1880. He was a candidate for sheriff on the Republican ticket in 1866, but was defeated. He is a member of Princeton Lodge, No 112, F. & A. M., Princeton; he is also a member of Kilpatrick Post, G. A. R., at Millersburg, Pa. Major Miller is a member of the Lutheran church, new school.
Dr. H. C. Beshler, father of Mrs. Miller, was a well-known physician at Berrysburg. He was a native of Northumberland county, and of German descent. His wife was born in Snyder county, also of German ancestry. They had three children: Emma J., Mrs. Miller; Annie E., deceased, wife of D. K. McClure; John B., deceased, a prominent physician, of Berrysburg.
Historical Review of Dauphin County