Merritt Miller, a distinguished figure in Lee County, has made his mark both as a successful farmer and a reputable business owner in the grain and agricultural implements sector with Miller & Emmett. Born in Pennsylvania in 1842, Miller’s journey from a dedicated soldier in the Civil War to a prosperous entrepreneur and farmer showcases his diverse capabilities and unwavering work ethic. His farm, a testament to his agricultural expertise, alongside his significant contributions to the community and his country, underline a life of service, dedication, and success. Married to Carrie Norton, Miller’s life is also marked by his active engagement in various organizations, reflecting his commitment to service and community involvement.
Merritt Miller, of the firm of Miller & Emmett, dealers in grain and agricultural implements in the village of Steward, is not only prominent as a businessman, but he has a high record as one of the successful farmers of Lee County, and the proprietor of one of its finely improved farms. He is also honored as one of the brave citizen-soldiers of the late war, who devoted the opening years of his manhood to his country’s service.
Our subject was born in Lackawanna Township, Luzerne County, Pa., October 4, 1842, and is the oldest son of Adam and Mary (Neyhart) Miller, of whom a sketch appears elsewhere in this volume. His early education was conducted in the public schools of Wyoming County, in his native State. He was reared to habits of industry, commencing when very young to be self-supporting, working out by the month on a farm, and later assisting his father in the mill. He came to Lee County with his parents in 1857 and resided with them until 1862. He watched with eager interest the course of the Rebellion, and on August 14 of that year, though he had not then attained his majority, he was allowed to enlist, and he became a member of Company K, Seventy-fifth Illinois Infantry. He served faithfully until after the close of the war, and in the engagements in which he fought, he showed that he had in him the stuff of which true soldiers are made. He took an active part in the battles of Perryville and Stone River, and soon after the latter was placed in detached service as head clerk to the Assistant Adjutant-General, a position for which he was peculiarly fitted by reason of his quick insight into business, despatch in the discharge of his duties, and promptness in obeying orders. He went with the command in Sherman’s Atlanta campaign, and after the fall of Atlanta returned to Nashville, where he became clerk at headquarters in the Quartermaster’s department. He was honorably discharged with his regiment at Chicago, in June 1865.
After he left the army, Mr. Miller returned to this county and purchased two hundred and forty acres of prairie land on sections 16 and 21, of Alto Township. The place was but very little improved, but he wrought a great change in a few years, placing the land in a high state of cultivation, planting choice fruit and shade trees, and erecting a fine set of frame buildings; he has added to his landed estate, and his farm now contains three hundred and twenty acres of land, constituting one of the best places in this part of the county. Our subject continued to carry on general farming and stock-raising until 1886, when he formed a partnership with W. H. Emmett, and they have since engaged in the grain business together, and also in the sale of agricultural implements, and are conducting a large and profitable trade in both lines.
In 1866, Mr. Miller married Miss Carrie Norton, a native of Conneaut, Ohio, and a daughter of Sprowell Norton. Mrs. Miller is a member of the Congregational Church and is one of its most earnest Christian workers. She is a true homemaker, and coziness and comfort reign in the home over which she presides.
Mr. Miller is well known and popular, as he is frank, generous, and manly in his intercourse with others, and always ready to do anyone a kindness or to help anyone in trouble. He is a member of the following organizations: Horicon Lodge, No. 244, A. F. & A. M.; Rochelle Chapter, No. 158, R. A. M.; Crusader Commandery, No. 17, K. T.; Steward Camp, No. 294, M. W. A.; Garrison Lodge, No. 16, Knights of the Globe; and of Rochelle Post No. 546, G. A. R. He joined the Independent Order of Odd Fellows at Rochelle and was demitted to Steward Lodge, of which he remained a member until it was dissolved. In politics, he is a Republican and is unswerving in his allegiance to his party.