Jonathan G. Miller. Ever since the arrival in Crawford County of William Lewis Miller, in 1872, the members of the family bearing this name have been leading factors in the upbuilding of Mulberry and the surrounding community. They have developed its soil as agriculturists, have advanced its prestige as coal operators, have added impetus to its growth along commercial lines as merchants, have contributed to its financial strength as bankers, and to its character have given strength by a fine type of citizenship. One of the worthy representatives of the family of Jonathan Garrett Miller, banker, merchant, landowner, coal operator and public-spirited citizen, than whom no man is better known or more highly esteemed in business and banking circles of this part of the state.
Jonathan G. Miller was born at Mulberry, Crawford County, Kansas, March 18, 1875, and is a son of William Lewis and Mary D. (Sadler) Miller. The family is of German origin, but has been in America for a number of generations. The great-grandfather of Jonathan G. Miller was Jonathan Miller, whose career as a farmer and miller was passed in Greene County, Pennsylvania, where his house, built in 1820, and his barn, erected in 1800, still stand. His son, Asa Miller, was born in Pennsylvania, where he followed the same vocations as did his father, and died at Rosedale, in that state. William Lewis Miller was born October 1, 1839, in Greene County, Pennsylvania, and was there reared on a farm and learned the milling business. During the Civil war he was a captain of State Militia, but his company was never called upon for service. He was married in his native state, and in 1872 came to Kansas, settling at Mulberry when there were but seven or eight families in the little hamlet. Here he became the first merchant of a community which his foresight and judgment told him was to become a thriving commercial center. Subsequently he established a flour mill three miles from the town, the first in this section of the state, and still later interested himself in farming and stock raising. As his interests grew he extended his scope of activity, and soon became recognized as one of the real builders of the community, and his operations as a pioneer coal operator did much to develop the industry in this part of the county. In 1895 Mr. Miller founded what has since grown to be one of the leading concerns in the northern section of Crawford County, that of Miller Brothers & Company. This firm consisted of William Lewis Miller, his three sons, William Henry, Clarence Quinter and Jonathan Garrett Miller, and his daughter, Miss Ada L. Miller. This concern has developed more coal fields and found a market for more coal than any other firm in Kansas. Prior to his death, which occurred December 21, 1915, the father sold out his interests, and the personnel of the concern underwent another change when William Henry Miller disposed of his holdings, prior to his death in July, 1916. The family remained together for twenty years, and Miller Brothers & Company now consists of the two remaining brothers and their sister.
In 1907 the Miller brothers entered the banking field by the establishing of the Mulberry State Bank, which they sold in the fall of 1913. Subsequently, in February, 1914, they founded the Pittsburg State Bank, the officers of which are: C. Q. Miller, president; Dr. J. G. Sandidge, vice president, and J. G. Miller, cashier. This concern has a $50,000 capital and a surplus of $5,000. In February, 1916, the same stockholders took over at Mulberry the Miners State Bank, with a capital of $20,000, the officers being: president, Jonathan G. Miller; vice president, C. Q. Miller; and Dr. J. G. Sandidge, a stockholder.
William Lewis Miller, in 1900, established the first steam shovel to lift the overburden off the top, and was the first to introduce the shovel for stripping. He should also be given credit for the invention of the double shaker machine, which he introduced, but which he failed to patent. The Town of Mulberry is built upon the first forty acres which he owned in Crawford County and on another eighty acres of the family property, but since the advent of the father here the family holdings have extended all over Crawford County and into Bourbon County, Kansas, and Barton and Vernon counties, Missouri. In politics William Lewis Miller was a democrat, and his religious membership was in the Baptist Church.
Mr. Miller married Mary D. Sadler, who was born in 1841, in Fayette County, Pennsylvania, and they became the parents of the following children: Ada L., who is unmarried and resides at Mulherry; Etta B., who died in 1903, as the wife of Charles Perry, a retired merchant and farmer of Mulberry; William Henry, a member of the firm of Miller Brothers & Company, who died in 1915; Clarence Q., one of the firm and a resident of Mulberry; Florence Q., twin of Clarence Q., and wife of Dr. J. G. Sandidge, a physician, surgeon and banker of Mulberry; and Jonathan Garrett, of this review.
Jonathan G. Miller was educated in the public schools of Mulberry and Fort Scott Normal College, which he attended one year. While still in school he evidenced his commercial ability, and as a student handled hogs and cattle very successfully. He continued in livestock and farming, and in his father’s store, until the formation of the firm of Miller Brothers & Company, in 1915, when he became a member. In addition to the enternrises noted above, the concern has two department stores at Mulberry, being the leading merchants of the place, and deals extensively in coal lands, leasing a large amount of property. Mr. Miller is also secretary of the Mulberry Telephone Company, owns a number of farms in Crawford County, and is secretary of the Miller-Cherokee Coal Company, owned by the family and controlling about 1,500 acres of coal land.
Mr. Miller is a democrat and has been active in political affairs. In 1910 he was a candidate for the office of state auditor, and in 1916 was a delegate to the Democratic National Convention at St. Louis and was selected as a committee of one to notify the vice president of his nomination. While his business responsibilities are heavy, entailing an immense amount of thought and labor, Mr. Miller is not indifferent to social relations, and holds membership in the leading clubs and fraternities, in all of which he is popular. His reputation in business circles is one that stamps him as a worthy representative of the honored name he bears, and he is constantly finding something to do that will add to his city’s prestige and thus perpetuate the family name in the annals of the municipality. Mr. Miller is unmarried and makes his home with his mother on Military Street, Mulberry.