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Stephen 'Douglas' Miller, 1861-1958

MILLER, VIRDEN, FOSTER, HARLAN, LINCOLN

Posted By: Pat Ryan White (email)
Date: 7/29/2019 at 08:44:12

On display was material that had been sent to Helen Virden, about Douglas Miller who once lived in Mt. Pleasant. His son, Stephen, had sent the pictures and clippings. As a young lad he worked for Senator Harlan's family. He lived in Ottumwa for a while later, then went to Des Moines, where he became the head waiter at the Savory Hotel. He became Messenger for the Governors at the State House, serving many of them, and at 93, was the oldest man born in slavery to still be working.

Harlan Foster knew him well and told this, and of his telling him of the time Mrs. James Harlan had him meet Mrs. Robert Lincoln and the children at the depot, and gave him a dollar. He died at the age of 96.

[**Excerpt from "Mt. Pleasant News" article, Henry County Historical Society Program on "The Negro in Southeast Iowa", March 28, 1970, page 6]

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Douglas Miller was born in slavery in Missouri. he recalled coming to Iowa on a Mississippi river steamboat about 1865, when he was four years old. He and his mother landed at Ft. Madison, then traveled by horse and buggy to Mt. Pleasant. Young Miller spent his boyhood and youth in Mt. Pleasant, working on farms in that area. He also worked in a Burlington hotel for a time before moving in 1881 to Des Moines, his home for more than three-fourths of a century.

His last days were spent with his son, a St. Louis dentist.

[**Excerpt from "Ottumwa Daily Courier" article, A Faithful Servant Of Iowa, February 25, 1958, page 4]


 

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