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Below is a family biography included in Portrait and Biographical Record of Berrien and Cass Counties, Michigan published by Biographical Publishing Company in 1893.  These biographies are valuable for genealogy research in discovering missing ancestors or filling in the details of a family tree. Family biographies often include far more information than can be found in a census record or obituary.  Details will vary with each biography but will often include the date and place of birth, parent names including mothers' maiden name, name of wife including maiden name, her parents' names, name of children (including spouses if married), former places of residence, occupation details, military service, church and social organization affiliations, and more.  There are often ancestry details included that cannot be found in any other type of genealogical record.

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JACOB E. MILLER, a retired farmer residing in Buchanan, was born in Franklin County, Ohio, near the city of Columbus, January 1, 1824. His father, Rev. Adam Miller, was a native of Pennsylvania and was reared in that State, being at an early age initiated into the duties of agriculture, which he followed throughout life. From his German ancestors he inherited the traits of industry perseverance and thrift, so characteristic of the people of that nationality. He was an honorable, upright man, of a deeply religious nature and devoted to the cause of Christianity. A faithful member of the Baptist Church, he labored for years as a minister of the Gospel and often traveled on horseback for miles in order to meet an appointment for preaching, although he never received any recompense for his services, other than the consciousness of having done good.

On his mother’s side our subject is of Scotch descent. She was a native of Pennsylvania and bore the maiden name of Sarah Prior. After her marriage, which took place in Pennsylvania, she located in Franklin County, Ohio, on a farm and resided there for some time. The family came to Michigan in 1830 and located in Cass County, where Mr. Miller pre-empted some Government land in Ontwa Township, and at once commenced the work of clearing and cultivating the farm. He was a pioneer preacher of that county and was highly regarded by his fellow-citizens. His death occurred at the age of seventy-three in St. Joseph County, Ind. He had been twice married, and by his first union had one daughter, Mrs. Sarah Snyder, who is now advanced in years and makes her home in Ohio. Of the second marriage eleven children were born, our subject being the ninth in order of birth.

When about seven years old, Jacob E. Miller accompanied his parents to Cass County, Mich., where he grew to manhood. Prior to removing hither, he had gained the rudiments of his education in the schools of Ohio, and after settling in Cass County he attended the primitive schools held in log houses. The building in which he was initiated into the mysteries of the “three R’s” was rudely constructed of logs; the floor was of puncheon, and the chimney of sticks and mud. Pegs were driven into holes cut in the logs at one end of the building, and upon them was placed a board which served the purpose of a writing-desk for the older pupils. The method of instruction was as primitive as the furnishings of the building, and the teacher was usually a man more renowned for his physical strength and prowess than for his learning.

Amid such surroundings as these Mr. Miller gained his schooling, but as he is a man of close observation and accustomed to read extensively, he has gained a broad knowledge of the world and the important issues of the present day. At the age of seventeen years he established a home of his own. He had more courage than money, and had his life been at stake he would have been unable to raise $25. Locating in St. Joseph County, Ind., he rented a farm, which he operated for three years. He then bought forty acres, paying $55 down and going in debt for the balance, amounting to $175. Three years later he bought forty acres additional in St. Joseph County, paying $75 cash for the land. His next purchase was eighty acres, for which he paid $300, and which was situated in Cass County, near the other land owned by him.

Although he had enjoyed an uninterrupted prosperity in his farming pursuits, Mr. Miller was seized with the Western fever and made arrangements to move into one of the new States, but was prevented by circumstances from going in the summer of 1855, as he originally planned. Instead of so doing, he purchased forty acres adjoining his eighty-acre tract and made his home on that place for one year. He then took the long-delayed visit to the West, traveling through the States of Illinois and Iowa, but he found nothing to suit him, and accordingly returned to Michigan, satisfied to remain in this State. Shortly afterward, he came to Berrien County and bought a farm consisting of one hundred and sixty acres in Buchanan Township. For this he paid $2,000 in cash and gave his note for the balance, $700. The property is located on sections 14 and 15, and through Mr. Miller’s efforts one hundred and fifty acres were improved.

In 1881 Mr. Miller moved to Weesaw Township, Berrien County, where he purchased a forty-acre farm for $2,700. He resided there until after his wife’s death, when he and his daughter came to Buchanan. He had lived here but a short time when his daughter’s dress caught on fire and she was so severely burned that she suffered untold agony until death came to her relief. Four days later Mr. Miller’s son Union died, and his widow is now keeping house for our subject. The wife of our subject, Sarah (Blackford) Miller, was born in Warren County, Ohio, December 20, 1822, and died in 1892, after having become the mother of six sons and five daughters. They are as follows; Anson, born August 16, 1842; Clara, September 25, 1844; William P., August 16, 1846; Sarah E., February 11, 1849; James J., April 1, 1852; Nancy A., June 2, 1854; Adoniram J., November 29, 1856; Margaret E., May 2, 1859; Union, April 25, 1861; Alta M., October 6, 1863; and Jacob E., May 12, 1866. All are deceased with the exception of William, who resides in Buchanan; James J., a resident of Buchanan Township; Margaret E., of Rogers Park, Chicago; and Jacob E., who also makes his home at Rogers Park.

In his undertakings Mr. Miller has been so highly prospered that he is now the owner of eight hundred acres in Berrien County. He has always been deeply interested in religious enterprises and is a devoted member of the Christian Church, with which has been identified for forty-six years. He has served as an Elder for fifteen years and is now filling that position in the church at Buchanan. He was one of the charter members of the Weesaw church, which he was instrumental in organizing five years after he located there. He and his two daughters were the only members of that denomination in the community, but after holding a meeting of six weeks’ duration, with Rev. L. W. Spade as the evangelist, a church composed of seventy-six members was organized. Most of the expense connected with this revival was borne by Mr. Miller, who also contributed with the utmost liberality to the erection of a suitable edifice, which cost $1,400. For forty years or more Mr. Miller has been a strong Prohibitionist and not only does not use tobacco in any form, but also abstains from the use of either tea or coffee. He is a remarkably well-preserved man, and although advanced in years, is hale and rugged and in full possession of his mental faculties.

Mr. Miller was united in marriage June 6, 1893, to Mrs. Mary (Grant) Glover, the widow of James Glover. Mrs. Miller was born near Augusta, Me., her parents being pioneers of that section, they having taken up Government land in that State. Her father, Joshua Grant, was a native of New Hampshire, and her mother, Mary Whitehouse, was a native of the same State. Joshua Grant served in the War of 1812 and also in the late war.

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This family biography is one of numerous biographies included in the Portrait and Biographical Record of Berrien and Cass Counties, Michigan published in 1893. 

View additional Berrien County, Michigan family biographies here: Berrien County, Michigan Biographies

View a map of 1911 Berrien County, Michigan here: Berrien County Michigan Map

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