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Thomas Burchinal Miller


Posted By: Shary Ferrall (email)
Date: 5/29/2005 at 01:24:48

Thomas Burchinal Miller came to Montana in role of a school teacher, but soon left that work to take up insurance, and for the past thirty years has been state agent for the Pacific Mutual LIfe Insurance Company of California at Helena, and has one of the largest general insurance agencies in that city. Mr. Miller is a widely known Montana citizen, and has long been prominent as an official in the Masonic Order.

Mr. Miller was born at Rossville, Iowa, March 26, 1862. His people were colonial Americans, and in the different generations have exhibited the qualities of the pioneer, and have kept quite close to the advancing line of civilization in the west. The first ancestor came over at the time of Lord Baltimore, and extablished a home in Pennsylvania.

George R. Miller, father of Thomas B., was born in Pennsylvania January 21, 1831, was reared and married in his native state, and was about twenty-five years of age when in 1856 he located at Rossville, Allamakee County, Iowa. He was a tailor by trade, also studied law, but before getting settled down to the routine of his profession he enlisted in 1862 as a private in the Twenty-Seventh Iowa Infantry. He was rapidly promoted, becoming captain of his company, but after a year and a half of service was honorably discharged, on account of disability in 1863. He then returned to Rossville, built up a good practice as a lawyer, served Allamakee County as a member of the Twelfth General Assembly of the State of Iowa, and in 1869 moved to Mason City, Iowa, where he followed his profession until his death in October, 1885. He was long prominent in the democratic party, the minority party in Iowa, and did much to maintain party strength. He was a delegate to various state and national conventions. He was one of the leading Baptists of Mason City and was affiliated with the Masons, Independent Order of Odd Fellows and the Ancient Order of United Workment, and for several years was grand master workman of the State of Iowa in the last named order. He was also commander of the Mason City Post of the Grand Army of the Republic and was vice commander of the State Encampment of Iowa. George R. Miller married Mary E. Burchinal, who was born at Smithfield, Pennsylvania, December 5, 1835, and died at Los Angeles, June 21, 1920.

Thomas Burchinal Miller acquired a public school education at Mason City, graduating from high school in 1881. The following eight years his work was teaching. He taught one term in Cerro Gordo County, was principal for three years of the schools of Plymouth, Iowa, and for five years principal at Clear Lake. Mr. Miller came to Montana in 1889, the year the state was admitted, and for six months was principal of schools at Dillon.

He resigned his school work to engage in the real estate and insurance business at Butte with Senator Lee Mantle and Gen. Charles S. Warren. Then, in 1890, he bought out the general agency of the Pacific Mutual Life Insurance Company for Montana, and in August of the same year moved his home and business headquarters to Helena. While still the general agent for the Pacific Mutual Company in Montana, he has developed a large organization covering the real estate, insurance and investment fields, and is dean of the fire insurance men at Helena, having the oldest agency that has not changed hands in the city. Mr. Miller's offices are at 37 West Sixth Avenue. He also has some other interests, being secretary of the Scratch Gravel Gold Mining Company and director of the Montana Life Insurance Company. He owns a ranch of 330 acres two miles north of Helena and his city home is at 802 Benton Avenue.

From 1896 to 1903, inclusive, Mr. Miller was secretary of the Republican State Central Committee and is now a member of the Republican County Central Committee. For eight years altogether he served as assayer in charge of the United States Assay Office at Helena, his first appointment being conferred by President Roosevelt. He served through Taft's administration and eight months under President Wilson.

His affiliations as a Mason are with Helena Lodge No. 3, Ancient Free and Accepted Masons; Chapter No. 2, Royal Arch Masons; Helena Commandery No. 2, Knights Templar, of which he is a past commander; Algeria Temple of the Mystic Shrine, which he served as potentate in 1906-07, and Helena Consistory No. 3 of the Scottish Rite. He is a past grand commander of the Grand Commandery of Knights Templar of the state, and is a thirty-third degree honorary Scottish Rite Mason. When Helena Consistory No. 3 was organized he was deputy inspector general for all the Scottish Rite bodies in Helena. He is past sovereign of the Red Cross of Constantine and in 1918 was cammander of the Council of Kadosh of the Scottish Rite bodies.

Mr. Miller is also a member of the Montana Club and the Country Club of Helena, is a former member of the Rocky Mountain Club of New York City, and of the Silver Bow Club of Butte, and is a member of the Helena Rotary Club and Commercial Club.

September 10, 1902, at Helena he married Miss Maud Wall, a daughter of John and Elizabeth (Hand) Wall. Her parents are deceased. Her father was a farmer in Dakota and lived retired for several years at Helena. Mrs. Miller is a graduate of the Helena High School. They have two children: Thomas B., born June 17, 1904, a sophomore in the Helena High School, and George Ross, born February 17, 1908.

-source: Montana, Its Story and Biography; A History of Aboriginal and Territorial Montana and Three Decades of Statehood. Chicago and New York: The American Historical Society, 1921; Vol. 3; pg. 763-764

-transcribed by Sharyl Ferrall


Allamakee Biographies maintained by Sharyl Ferrall.
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