Randolph  County,  Indiana

William  E. Miller

               The student interested in the history of Randolph county does not have to carry his investigations far into its annals before learning that William E. Miller has long been an active and leading representative of its business interests and that his labors have proven a potent force in keeping this county abreast of her sister counties of the great Hoosier commonwealth. During a period of forty-two years he has carried on a mercantile business in this county, the major portion of which has been spent in Winchester where he is now the head of one of the largest stores in this section of the state, and while he has prospered in this, he has also found ample opportunity to assist in the material, civic and moral development of the county, and his cooperation has been of value for the general good. He is one of the honored veterans of the Union army who, when the tocsin of war sounded in the nation's greatest crisis, uncomplainingly went forth to defend with his life, if need be, the honor of the old flag. His career in every respect has been one of commendation and is well worth study and emulation by the young man just starting on his life work.
            Mr. Miller was born June 2, 1846 in Germantown, Montgomery county, Ohio. He is a son of  Samuel and Nancy (Troup) Miller, both of whom were born in the vicinity of Germantown where they grew up and were married. Daniel Miller, the paternal grandfather, came from Lancaster county, Pennsylvania with his family in an early day and settled at Germantown and there engaged in the tailoring business, spending the remainder of his life there. There his son Samuel learned the blacksmith's trade.
            William E. Miller was educated in the public schools. Leaving school when thirteen years of age, he began working in a bakery, and when his employer enlisted in the army he went to Dayton, Ohio and worked in a bakery there, returning to Germantown at the age of fifteen and purchased the bakery which had been formerly operated by his first employer. Young Miller had only eighteen dollars to pay down on his property, going in debt for the balance. He operated the bakery about a year and had it all paid for when the oven fell in and the party owning the building would not reconstruct it, so Mr. Miller quit the bakery business and began clerking in a grocery store. Thus we see how a seemingly minor accident changed completely a business career for he remained a merchant instead of a baker. In 1864, he became a clerk in a dry goods store, but remained there only a short time when he enlisted in Company D, One Hundred and Eighty-fourth Ohio Volunteer Infantry in which he served faithfully until in September, 1865.
            After being honorably discharged from the army he attended Commercial College at Dayton for three months, after which he resumed clerking in Germantown in the dry goods store. In 1867 he went to Dayton and clerked in the large dry goods store of A. B. Darst, eventually becoming the general buyer for that store and made frequent trips to New York City. Having mastered the various ins and outs of the dry goods business, in the fall of 1871, Mr. Miller went to Ridgeville, Randolph county, Indiana as manager of the firm of W. E. Miller & Company, a branch of the Dayton store, and he remained in Ridgeville nine years, building up a large business. In 1872 Henry T. Kitselman, of that town became owner of one-half of the business, the firm name then becoming Miller & Kitselman, which partnership continued successfully until 1880, when Mr. Miller sold his interest to Kitselman, Seeney & Company, who continued the business. In the fall of 1880 Mr. Miller came to Winchester and began business alone handling dry goods, clothing and carpets, being successful from the first, his trade increasing with advancing years through his persistency, able management and uniform honesty and courtesy to his customers. In 1898 he organized the stock company under the firm name of The W. E. Miller Company, of which he became president.
            When he opened his store at Ridgeville in 1871, Mr. Miller introduced the one price business for this part of the state, a system now in use in all first-class stores over the country. The wonderful growth of his business he attributes to his plan of fair dealing to one and all alike.
            It war in the year 1883 that Mr. Miller built his present substantial business block, and in 1898 when he organized the stock company the building was remodeled, being greatly enlarged, having now a sixty-one foot frontage and being one hundred and sixty feet deep, with three stories and a basement, all occupied by The W. E. Miller Company, one of the largest department stores outside of the large cities in the state and an extensive and lucrative business is carried on with the city and surrounding country. The store is modern in all its appointments, with electric elevators, cash carriers etc. Everything is under a superb system and a very large and well-selected stock of goods, commonly found in all up-to-date department stores, is carried at all seasons. The store is a favorite gathering place for the country people when in the county-seat and everyone is here made to feel at home and accorded uniform courtesy and fairness.
            Mr. Miller is deserving of a great deal of credit for what he has accomplished alone and in the face of obstacles that would have discouraged men of less sterling fiber.  From the humblest beginning he has forged to the front and is one of the substantial and influential citizens of one of the leading counties of the state. He is a heavy stockholder in the Randolph County Bank, the Farmers and Merchants Bank and the Loan and Trust Company He is a director in the Citizens Water & Light Company, of which he was a promoter, and he is a stockholder of the Eastern Indiana Telephone Company. He is vice-president of the Woodbury Glass Company. He also has, valuable and extensive farming interests in Randolph county, owning in all over six hundred and sixty acres of fine agricultural land under a high state of improvement and cultivation.
            Mr. Miller was married in October, 1871 to Mary Mosier, of Dayton, Ohio, where she was reared and educated. To this union one son and two daughters have been born, namely: Vora, now the wife of Thomas L. Ward, assistant cashier of the Randolph County Bank; Olive, now the wife of John P. Clark with The W. E. Miller Company, and John D. Miller who is associated with his father in the store. These children were all given excellent educational advantages and are all highly respected by a wide circle of friends.
            William E. Miller has been a staunch Republican since attaining his majority, but has never been active in public affairs other than to encourage such movements as made for the general progress of his city and county. He is a member of the Masonic Order and also the Grand Army of the Republic, Nelson Trusler Post. His family belong to the Presbyterian church, he being a liberal supporter of the same and of all benevolent work.
Past and Present of Randolph County, Indiana, 1914.
Contributed by Gina Richardson

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