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Fayette County, Iowa
Past and Present of Fayette County Iowa, 1910
Author: G. Blessin
B. F. Bowen & Company, Indianapolis, Indiana
Vol. I, Biographical Sketches
J. W. Miller
Switzerland, though a small and mountainous country, has made a history highly creditable to herself, while sending out her sons to all parts of the world to take part in the development of other regions. They are noted for their industrious habits, skill in the trades and various branches of manufacture and also in farming and gardening, especially all branches of dairying. Such people are valuable acquisitions to any state, but they were especially desirable in the Northwest when that section was bring settled and needed skillful farmers and dairymen. Iowa, which is naturally adapted to the dairy business, found need for all immigrants who understand the business and she had land for all industrious homeseekers who came over during the formative period. Sprinkled all through this ideal agricultural state will be found Scandinavian, German and Swiss farmers, to whose energy and skill is due much of the prosperity now common to the people of this great commonwealth. They had a marvelous faculty of acquiring and improving land and many of the best farmers in the state are now owned by men who crossed the ocean with just enough means to get to their destination. The present generation is reaping the benefits of the toil and privation of their emigrant ancestors and worthily managing the properties which they inherited. This sketch deals with a representative family of the kind above described and a few biographical notes concerning them will be found of interest.
John F. Miller was born in canton Bern, Switzerland, in the early half of the nineteenth century, and when seventeen years old decided to cast his fortunes with the great republic beyond the sea. He had but scanty means, little more than enough to pay his passage over, but he had a brave heart and an ambitions to succeed that usually brings success. After reaching the United States he made his way directly across the continent, accompanied by a brother named Christian, their objective point being Iowa. Reaching Fayette county, the two brothers decided to locate in Pleasant Valley township, which "looked good" to them. They engaged in farm work and by industry and attention to duty in time "made good." John F. was not long in securing a farm of his own, which he cultivated with success while rearing a large family. He married Mary Islie, a native of Switzerland, who came to this country with her parents when five years of age, twelve years prior to the arrival of her future husband. The Islies first located in Ohio, but soon located in Fayette county on a farm in Pleasant Valley township. They had ten children, devoted all their lives to farming, belonged to the Baptist church and were good all-around citizens of the kind that build up communities.
Among the ten children above mentioned was J. W. Miller, who was born on the homestead in Pleasant Valley township, Fayette county, Iowa, April 4, 1863. He obtained the usual common school education, but from earliest boyhood was trained to hard work just as his ancestors had been for generations. After working for wages for some years he eventually acquired three hundred and ten acres of his own in Pleasant Valley township, which he had improved and cultivated. He devotes himself to general farming and stock-raising and gives up his whole time to the duties called for by the business. He has been a director in the Clermont Creamery since the second year after the organization and paid considerable attention to making a success of the business. For eight years he served as assessor of the township, discharging his duties well and gave entire satisfaction to his constituents. He is regarded as a reliable man in all the duties of life and stands well in the community. He and his family are members of the Baptist church and Mr. Miller has always been affiliated with the Republican party.
On November, 1884, Mr. Miller married Mary Muchlenthoner, a native of Switzerland, and they have eleven children. Louisa, Esther, Mary, Wesley, Hulda, George, Lilly, Bennie, Otto, Florence and Ada. They live quietly and unostentatiously in a neat home on a farm that is well managed and successfully cultivated.
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