Biography of William Henry Miller
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William Henry Miller was born in Racine, on the 2d of November, 1847. and is a son of Moses and Frances Augusta (Durand) Miller, natives of New Jersey and Connecticut, respectively. The father arrived in Wisconsin about 1844 and was a wholesale merchant of Racine for a number of years prior to the building of railroads to this city. His goods were distributed by four-horse peddling wagons to stores all over the southern part of the state. Later in life he engaged in the insurance business. His influence was always on the side of right and improvement and the many sterling traits of character which he displayed won for him the love and esteem of all with whom he was associated. His wife was a sister of Henry S. Durand who came to Racine in the late ’30s and was one of the prominent pioneers here, building the Racine-Mississippi railroad and actively supporting many other projects of worth to the community. It was in the early ’40s that Frances A. Durand arrived in Racine and here she married Moses Miller, who died in Racine in 1868, at the age of fifty-three years. His widow survived him till 1907, when she passed away at the age of seventy-nine, at Cedar Rapids, Iowa.
William Henry Miller was the oldest of four children. In 1864, when a youth not yet seventeen and a pupil in the Racine high school, he responded to the country’s call for troops and joined Company F, of the Thirty-ninth Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry, which regiment was soon ordered south, being in Memphis at the time of Forrest’s raid into that city. He served as a private for four months, being the youngest man to enlist from Racine. Following his military experience and prior to the time that he reached the age of twenty-one years he embarked in the insurance business. At a later date he spent one year in Chicago, but in 1873 returned to Racine and bought out the insurance agency of Eldad Smith. Since that time he has conducted a real estate, loan and insurance agency and has figured prominently in this connection, building up a business of large and gratifying proportions.
On the 13th of January, 1887, Mr. Miller was married to Jenny R. Hoy, only daughter of Dr. Philo Romayne Hoy, one of the pioneer settlers of Racine, prominent in professional and scientific circles. To this marriage have been born two children, Walton Hoy, who is in business with his father, and Romayne Frances, a trained playground and settlement director. Mr. and Mrs. Miller occupy a beautiful residence at 900 Main Street, which they erected in 1901. Both Mr. and Mrs. Miller are members of the First Presbyterian church. Mr. Miller belongs to the Grand Army of the Republic, his membership being in connection with Harvey Post, No. 17. He is a member of the Racine Commercial Club and in politics is a republican. He stands for all those forces which are matters of civic virtue and civic pride.