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It was Carlyle who said that the history of the world is the biographies of great mer.. In one respect, this is true of the Church. This institution today is largely what influential men have made it. To know the history of these men is to know much of the history of the Church. The Church of the Brethren has produced great men; not great in the eyes of the world, but in depth of soul, largeness of heart, breadth of intellect and sincere devotion to a noble cause, they are the peers of many whose names are prominent in the pages of history. The author believes that to know more of these men and their labors will create a greater love for the church, and fire the heart with zeal for better service. It was this conviction that prompted the undertaking of this work, which records the life and services of one of the most valiant of God's children.
Our church fathers showed in many ways their intense love for the church. No sacrifice was too great for them to make, if only they could be of use to the Master. They did not go as foreign missionaries, but their work at home proved that they had the true missionary spirit. Not only did they give their means, but they gave themselves. Though the churches failed to do their duty in supporting them in a financial way, yet they did not falter. Their interest in perishing souls was too great to permit them to wait until they
were paid for their services. They cared little for worldly honor. They thought only of preserving the church in its purity and truth, keeping it free from the vanities and evils of the world. To the careless observer, their work may seem insignificant; but a more careful study of their lives forces the conviction that the present generation must bestir itself or it will not accomplish as much of real value for the church as did our fathers. They have handed down to us a precious heritage, which we should improve and pass on to succeeding generations.
No claim is made to original knowledge concerning the facts in this volume. The work has been written from data gleaned in many fields. On another page is found a bibliography of books used. Many persons have kindly furnished important information. Acknowledgment of help is made where convenient to do so; but I owe thanks to many whose names cannot be mentioned, because the list of those that I have consulted is too long. Special mention, however, should be made of help received from Elders S. S. Ulrey and L. W. Teeter and D. L. Miller. The latter two have read the manuscript and offered corrections and appropriate suggestions. Sister R. H. Miller has gladly furnished me with manuscripts and papers that Brother Robert left in his own handwriting. The work is now sent forth with the hope that it will prove a useful addition to our church literature,
OTHO WINGER. North Manchester, Ind., Sept., 1909.
EARLY LIFE AND MINISTRY.
Many citizens of Indiana and Illinois trace the westward movement of their ancestors from Virginia or the Carolinas to Kentucky, and in turn from this pioneer transallegheny State to more promising lands lying beyond the Ohio River. This movement began in the last quarter of the eighteenth century and continued for more than fifty years. These early settlers generally came in bands, but often single families would lead the way to unknown regions. They generally stopped in Kentucky for a few years before moving on. They became small landholders but, as a rule, they were neither ambitious nor thrifty. They were not seeking for riches but for homes. They were men and women of strong will, adventurous spirit, and virile character. They were often rude in manners and manifested little interest in education. They showed a marked individuality and a great love of freedom. They possessed unquestioned patriotism and frequently intense religious zeal, though they were generally narrow in their views of religious toleration. From these pioneers have descended a class of citizens whom the nation now honors among her noblest children; and among these is included the name of the subject of this biography.
Robert Henry Miller was born in Shelby County, Ky., June 7, 1825. His father, Robert Miller, was a
native of Rockbridge County, Va. When a young man he emigrated to Shelby County, Ky., where he married Miss Mary Blaydes. To them eight children were born, of whom Robert H. was the second. The parents were poor and when Robert was seven years old they moved to Montgomery County, Ind., and settled near Ladoga. The country was then new and the educational advantages were few. In the old log schoolhouses, for which Indiana has become famous in literature, Robert enjoyed for a few months each year the meagre educational advantages in those days. He was quiet and studious, and during vacation he would rather take his books and spend a day in the woods in deep meditation than to play with other boys.
From a boy he took great delight in debating and was always noted for the force of the arguments he brought to bear upon the proposition he undertook to prove. Though naturally timid, his opponent in debate could never intimidate him and drive him from his position. One of his early debates was with Oliver Wilson on the question of capital punishment, which Robert opposed. One who was present tells of the interest aroused in the neighborhoood over this debate and says, “No difference how strong the arguments O1 Wilson would bring forward, Bob Miller was ready to uproot them.”
These early debates, held in the country schoolhouses when Robert was yet in his teens, were unconsciously preparing him for the discussion of greater questions in after years. He also took an active part in a mock legislature that continued for a long time. Here he showed ability that would likely have mani
fested itself at a later date in the State or National Congress, had not the Master called him to the higher and nobler work of the ministry.
In his early years his voice was not good, but he made successful efforts to control it. He was awkward in gait, and also in manner when before an audience. He was a ready wit and often put his antagonist to a decided disadvantage in repartee. Among his young men associates he had no enemies, and was frequently the leader in many of their sports.
After careful study at home, he attended the Waveland (Indiana) Academy, a Presbyterian school for the preparation of teachers. How long he attended this school is not definitely known, but he probably completed the course that was then offered. He afterwards studied law, but never regularly practiced at the bar; though he was engaged in minor cases and was called in the language of those days, " a pettifogger." He early came in demand as a temperance speaker and as such was well known in his own and surrounding neighborhoods. He also took some part in political campaigns.
He taught two terms of school. This was in a typical Indiana schoolhouse of that day: A log structure with stick chimney, slab benches, poor light, few books and very little of the comfort of the schoolhouse of later years. The students took their exercise by going to the forest and cutting their own firewood. Elder W. R. Harshbarger, who still lives at Ladoga, Ind., and a brother-in-law to Robert, was one of the small boys in that school.
The strong and unbending character, that was so