John Frederick Miller

John F. and Nettie (Sawyer) Miller


John Frederick Miller is one of the most extensive landowners in Franklin township, his holdings comprising several fine farms, all in a high state of cultivation. Upon his home property of one hundred and twenty acres he carries on general farming and stock-raising and, being influenced at all times by a spirit of enterprise and initiative, has achieved a gratifying measure of success. He has lived in this part of Iowa since he was six years of age, but was born at Frankville, Winneshiek county, February 15, 1858, a son of John Casper and Catherine Barbara (Merkel) Miller, natives of Baden, Germany, the former born January 2, 1821, and the latter November 29, 1836. The father acquired his education in the public schools of Germany and at the age of fourteen began learning the blacksmith’s trade, at which he worked for some time in Switzerland and other European countries. He crossed the Atlantic in early life and settled first in New York, later in Pittsburgh and then in Dubuque, whence he went to Frankville, Winneshiek county, Iowa, about 1851. He set up a blacksmith shop in Frankville and followed his trade there until 1864, when he came to Franklin Township, Allamakee county, buying forty acres of land on section 19 and turning his attention to general farming. Upon this property he built a log house and brush-thatched sheds, his stock at this time consisting of one horse. The breaking of the soil was done by hired men with ox teams and after it was accomplished Mr. Miller turned his attention to the further development of his land, continuing to reside upon it until his death, which occurred on the 2d of May, 1897. His wife survived him some time, dying April 19, 1909. To their union were born four children, of whom the subject of this review is the eldest.

John F. Miller acquired his education in district school No. 7, Franklin Township. When his father died he assumed the entire management of the homestead, transacting all the business connected with its operation and proving himself a practical and able agriculturist. About 1886 he purchased a farm adjoining the homestead. In 1898 he bought the farm upon which he now was reared. He has improved his farm with a fine modern residence and substantial barns and outbuildings, installing also labor-saving machinery. In addition to the cultivation of the fields he is also extensively interested in stock-raising, breeding pedigreed stock and dealing in pure-bred shorthorn cattle. He now owns altogether four hundred and forty acres of farming land in Franklin township, operating one hundred and twenty in his home farm and supervising the management of about half the remainder. The other half is rented to responsible tenants and brings him a gratifying annual income. Mr. Miller is a direct and vice president of the Luana Savings Bank, president of the Luana Shipping cooperative Society and a stockholder in the Farmers Cooperative Creamery of Luana, and his ability is widely recognized in business circles.

On the 13th of December, 1888, Mr. Miller was united in marriage to Miss Nettie Sawyer, who was born in this township March 7, 1866, a daughter of Cuyler and Elizabeth (Wartenbe) Sawyer, natives of Ohio, the former born in 1822 and the latter at Defiance in 1832. They emigrated to Wisconsin and settled near Janesville, whence they came after one year to Iowa, locating in Monona township, near Hardin, in Clayton county, in 1852. They soon afterward moved to Franklin township, Allamakee county, where the father became an extensive landowner and prominent in public affairs, serving as township trustee and school director for several years. He died upon his farm on the 4th of November, 1883, and was survived by his wife until April 2, 1896. Mr. and Mrs. Miller became the parents of six children. Winnie May, who was born December 17, 1889, is a graduate of the Highland Park College at Des Moines and is now a stenographer in Kellogg, Iowa. Frank Leslie, whose birth occurred on the 7th of May, 1891, is operating a portion of his father’s property. Florence Annetta, born January 5, 1895, is attending high school at Postville. Earl Frederick, who was born August 8, 1897, is also attending high school at Postville. Ross Caspar, born December 19, 1900, and Harva Oscar, born December 18, 1903, are both pupils in the school at Hardin.

Mr. Miller is a devout member of the United Brethren church and his political allegiance is given to the republican party. He is public-spirited and progressive in matters of citizenship and has held various responsible public positions, serving from 1879 to 1913 as school director. He has been also township trustee and township assessor and his public service has been at all times capable, loyal and disinterested. He has made substantial and important contributions to the agricultural development of this part of the county and during the long period of his residence here has commanded and held the confidence and high regard of all his associates.

-source: Past & Present of Allamakee County; by Ellery M. Hancock; S. J. Clarke Pub. Co.; 1913
-transcribed by Diana Diedrich

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