Charles E. Miller

Pages 471-472-473 - Charles E. Miller, manager of the Miller Furnace Company, 20 Ionia avenue, southwest, Grand Rapids is a native of this city, born here April 21, 1859. He is the son of William and Jane (Alexander) Miller, both of whom were born at Ayreshire, Scotland, the former October 6, 1833, and the latter December 12, 1832. They were married at Glasgow, Scotland, June 6, 1856. William Miller was a son of Charles Miller, also a native of Scotland, born November 4, 1807. His wife was Jane Stenhouse, who was likewise a native of Scotland, born February 7, 1807. After the death of his wife in Scotland, January 12, 1851, Charles Miller came to Grand Rapids. William Miller and Jane (Alexander) Miller came to Grand Rapids in 1858. He found employment with W. D. Foster, then the only hardware merchant in Grand Rapids. Mr. Miller had received a public school education in Scotland and had learned the trades of plumbing, heating, copper metal work and steam fitting and was an expert in all of these lines. So upon his arrival in Grand Rapids he at once secured the position as superintendent in the sheet metal department of Mr. Fosterís business institution. After working a short time as a gas fitter, beginning in 1859, and at about the time the Civil war broke out in 1861, he went to Brooklyn, where he resided and held a position in New York City. He had two brothers who served in the Civil war. At the close of the war he went to Scotland as superintendent of a sheet metal stamping works. He had only been in Scotland two and a half years when the works where he was employed as superintendent were destroyed by fire. He then came back to Grand Rapids and again became associated with his old employer, W. D. Foster. In 1873 he founded the business now know as the Miller Furnace Company, which was first operated under the name of William Miller. Charles E. Miller in due course of time became a partner with his father and the firm then assumed the title of William Miller & Son. In 1892 another son, David Alexander Miller, associated himself with his father and became a member of the firm. In 1902 William Miller sold his interest in the business to his sons and retired. The firm then became known as the Miller Furnace Company, which name it has since retained. William Miller was always an active member of the Park Congregational church. He died in March 1909, having outlived his wife thirteen years, she having died February 14, 1896. He was a member of the Masonic order, and active in the Burns and Caledonian clubs. Mr. Miller was accounted a genius in his line of work and was also very fond of out-of-doors sports, a trait which has been undoubtedly transmitted to his children and grandchildren. William Miller and wife had six children: Jennie, born in Scotland, July 8, 1857; Charles E., the subject of this record; Rebecca, born in Brooklyn, February 21, 1861; David Alexander, born in Brooklyn, August 26, 1863; Barbara, born in Scotland, Mary 21, 1868, and William J., born in Grand Rapids, April 15, 1871. Rebecca was the wife of Mr. Kingman. Mr. and Mrs. Kingman were missionaries to Africa when she died at Freetown, Liberia, July 11, 1890. Charles E. Miller, the subject of this record, was reared in Grand Rapids, Brooklyn, New York, and Scotland, where he spent about two years of his boyhood from his seventh to his ninth years. There he attended public schools and, being full of mischief with severe teachers, it is recounted that he received punishment quite often by having his hands ruled or being struck over the knuckles, if he failed to hold the pen just right when studying penmanship. He worked when a boy in a factory in Scotland where his father was superintendent, and this began his instruction in the work which has lead to his successful career. With this training he has continued the business established by his father and built up what is now the oldest furnace company in the state of Michigan. After returning to Grand Rapids from Scotland with his parents, Charles E. Miller attended and graduated from the Grand Rapids high school in 1878. In his boyhood days in Grand Rapids he sold newspapers and helped in his fatherís shop, continuing in this work until he became a partner in the business. Mr. Miller is a thirty-second degree Mason and a Shriner. He is fond of all out-door sports, including skating, at which he is an expert even to the present day, golf, a game which he loves and which he is an adept, and he has achieved a recognized record as a baseball player and also as an oarsman. He and his family are active members of the Park Congregational church and are prominent in social circles. Mr. Miller was married in 1887 to Miss Ida May Solomon, a daughter of William H. Solomon, a lumberman now deceased. Mr. Miller and wife have one daughter, Madge Marie, a graduate of the Grand Rapids high school. She is also a graduate from a musical college and is now a concert artist (contralto voice). She has taken private instructions under the eminent musicians Max Specker and Isadore Luckstone, of New York City, and at present resides in Detroit. She has appeared in over five hundred cities in the United States and toured Canada from Quebec to Winnipeg. Like her father she is fond of out-door sports and has won the golf state championship of Michigan. David A. Miller, a brother and partner of Charles E. Miller, received his education in the public and high schools of Grand Rapids. Like his brother, he worked in his fatherís store when a boy, and assisted in the business until he became a partner in the firm. He is also a member of the Masonic order and the Park Congregational church. He married Elizabeth Keeler, of Grand Rapids, June 4, 1889, and they have one son, Earl Kingman Miller, born in Grand Rapids and a graduate of the high school. He is now a salesman for the Miller Furnace Company. He married Mildred Mohrhardt, daughter of Peter D. Mohrhardt, whose career is given in detail elsewhere in this work. They have one son Dannie, born July 17, 1924.

Transcriber:  Nancy Myers
Created:  2 October 2003