Hiram B. Miller. Kansas wheat and corn and other farm products have been so much emphasized as partly to obscure the fact that the great basic industry of the state up to twenty-five or thirty years ago was live stock. Older residents of the state, now a little past their prime, will recall that the leading industry of their youth, except perhaps in the few counties along the eastern border, was the raising of live stock on the great ranges. Of the men who stood pre-eminent in that industry special mention should be made of the late Hiram B. Miller, who, however, was more than a cattle man and stock farmer. He impressed his influence on the legislation and civic well-being of Kansas and was one of the state’s most honored citizens when he died at his home in Topeka, October 23, 1912.
In fact he was a historic character. He might fittingly be described as a product of the great West, for it was in the West that the greater part of his life was passed. He was a representative of that class whose virility, steadfastness of character and forcefulness leveled the waste places of the West and converted them into fertile fields and thriving cities.
Born in Cuyahoga County, Ohio, February 2, 1848, he spent his early youth in the vicinity of the present great City of Cleveland, had a common school education, and when a boy of sixteen enlisted for the defense of the Union in Company E of the Second Ohio Cavalry. He served in General Custer’s Division of General Sheridan’s Corps until peace was declared. Returning to his home state, for the succeeding four years he combined farming with teaching of district schools.
It was in 1869 Mr. Miller came out to Kansas. The Union Pacific Railroad had been completed only a year or so and very little of the country west of the Missouri was intersected with railroads. Kansas was still on the frontier, and one might travel for miles across its plains without meeting the obstruction of a fence. At first Mr. Miller was a teacher at Topeka, but in 1872 he moved to Osage City, which city will always honor his name and long residence. He set up a store at Osage, but being gifted with more than the average degree of intelligence and education it was but natural that his superabundant vitality would cause him to be identified with public as well as private affairs. He early saw the possibilities of Kansas as a live-stock producing community, and with the passing of time became extensively interested in the raising and handling of live stock. This interest he retained during the balance of his life, and he was always a leader in the industry. At one time associated with his brother, William W., he operated over 10,000 acres of land, and their herds were numbered by the thousand.
In 1896 he became one of the organizers and a director of the Osage County Bank. At the time of his death he was vice president of the Miller Live Stock Investment Company at Topeka, in which city he resided for the last three years. He was always a zealous republican, but his good citizenship transcended partisanship. He served at one time as mayor of Osage City and was twice elected state senator from Osage County. Not content with merely holding the office, he proved a legislator in the best sense of the term, and whether in such an office or in the management of his private affairs he exerted himself always for the good of Kansas. He was particularly active in progressive railroad legislation. His work and wisdom as a legislator led to his name being brought forward in 1892 for the governorship of Kansas, but he failed by a narrow majority in securing the nomination. In 1910 he was prominently mentioned for the same office, but he declined to enter the campaign. Mr. Miller was well known in Grand Army of the Republic circles and was always affiliated with the Masonic Order and the Knights of Pythias.
In 1873 he married Miss Eva L. Lapham. They had two sons: Clyde W., who lives at Miller, Kansas; and Ardie L., who died in 1890.
Successful from a material standpoint in the opinion of his fellow man, the late Mr. Miller was much more than that. He was honest, free-hearted, sociable, respected for his many sterling qualities, and among men was always considered a man. He left an impress for good, and his memory is to be revered because of what he accomplished and also for his love of home, country and his unblemished American citizenship.