5. William H. Miller (1846-1896)

History and Biography of William Henry Miller and Leah Priscilla Tyson

William Henry Miller was the third child of Jacob Miller and Anna Maria Anstine Miller.
According to the tombstone at Red Lion Cemetery in Red Lion, William was born on March 8, 1846.  Official church baptismal records for William have not been located, however we do have records from his parents bible. The bible also lists his date of birth as March 8, 1846 and states that he was baptized by Reverend William Vandersloot, who was a Reformed pastor in the Freysville Union Church. Based on tax records and property deeds for his father, William was born and raised in Windsor Twp, York County on the Miller homestead.

The story passed down in the family is that William went calling on Leah Priscilla Tyson,
daughter of Benjamin Tyson and Christina Flinchbaugh Tyson in the early 1870’s. However, Benjamin would not allow his youngest daughter to marry William because her older sister Emeline was still unmarried. William relented and on October 8, 1873 he married Emeline Tyson. Emeline was born on January 8, 1850 in Windsor Township, York County.

Unfortunately, not much information is known about their married life. We do know that
William and Emeline did have one son, named Benjamin Miller, who was born in 1874. There are not any records that exist that tell us where they lived or what William did as an occupation to support his young family. Tragedy soon struck the young family, as Emeline passed away on March 22, 1875, leaving William with a young child to raise on his own. The story passed down through the family is Benjamin was not raised by his father, but was raised by his grandparents Benjamin and Christina.  This is supported by the fact the 1880 census for William does not list any male children living in his household, although it does not list Benjamin as living in the household of his grandparents either. Sadly, Benjamin did not live long enough to reach adulthood, having passed away in 1884 at the age of 10 years and 23 days. Both Emeline and her son Benjamin are buried in the cemetery at Lebanon Lutheran Church, which is just to the west of Felton, PA.

William H Miller and Emeline Tyson Miller

Benjamin Miller, son of William Henry and Emeline Miller. Died at age 10

After Emeline passed away, it is believed William went “out west” for a couple of years. We
are not sure if this actually happened or if he did go out west, when he returned. However, we do know that he was back in Windsor Township by early 1878. That is because there is a recorded deed transaction that mentions he purchased approximately 67 acres from Henry Stabley on March 23, 1878.  This land is located north of Felton, PA, near the present-day intersection of Felton Rd and Zion Church Rd. The 1880 census shows William living at this property and his occupation is listed as a farmer.

1876 Atlas of York County, Windsor Twp. The home marked H. Stabley on the map was purchased by William Henry Miller in 1878. Recorded deed transactions mention the property borders lands of John Stabley, Jacob Stabley, William Hake and the church. To the southeast of William’s property is the homestead owned by his father-in-law, Benjamin Tyson (marked as B. Tyson).

The 1880 census also informs us that William has re-married, this time he gets to marry whom
he wanted to the first time, Leah Priscilla Tyson. We do not know the marriage date for them, but they probably were married sometime around 1878 or 1879. Leah Priscilla was born on June 21, 1852 and baptized at Lebanon Lutheran Church on October 23, 1852 by Reverend Andrew Berg. As mentioned previously, she is the youngest daughter of Benjamin Tyson and Christina Flinchbaugh Tyson. Benjamin is the grandson of Henry Tyson, a prominent figure in York County history who was elected York County Commissioner for three years and also elected for several years as a Representative to the PA General Assembly. Christina is descended from Melchior Flinchbaugh, an early York County settler whose descendants were numerous in this section of York County.

William didn’t stay a farmer for long, as he was drawn to the newly formed borough of Red
Lion, where his father and younger brother Jacob A Miller were already residing and working. On March 22, 1884 he went into business with brothers Jacob A Miller and David A Miller. The agreement all three brothers signed was that they would remain in business together for at least one year. Jacob A had owned and operated a general store on the southern side of East Broadway, just to the west of the Ma & Pa railroad tracks since at least 1881. When the three brothers went into business, they sold lumber, grain, coal, phosphate, farm implements, buggies, hardwares, boots, shoes, dry goods, and notions. They operated their business under the name Miller Bros.

Less than 10 days after they went into business together, on April 1, 1884, William purchased a
little over 4 acres of lots within the borough of Red Lion from Solomon Frey for $1600. This land is on the northern side of E Broadway, running from the former Ma & Pa railroad tracks westward to the lot where Golden Crust Pizza is currently located at 53 E Broadway.  The land just to the west of the railroad tracks, and across the street from the general store operated by him and his brothers, would be used as a lumber yard for the brothers business.

1908 Sanborn Fire Insurance Map of Red Lion. The property marked as the Horace Welty Lumber Yard, between Church Alley and the Ma and Pa railroad tracks, was the lumber yard operated by William H Miller and was sold to Horace Welty by William’s estate. The house located in the triangle shaped area between E Broadway, the railroad tracks and Miller Alley in the lower section of the picture was the home of William & Leah P. Miller

The three brothers didn’t stay in business together very long, because by 1886 William Henry is
listed as the owner of a lumber yard on E Broadway in the York County Directory. This is also
confirmed by a business journal for York County, called the Review of York County, which states that the lumber yard operated by W. H. Miller was started by the Miller Bros. and has been operated by W H. Miller as the sole proprietor since 1886. William operated the lumber yard at this location until he passed away. From all accounts, he was a successful businessman and the lumber yard was a prosperous business.

While we know he went into business in Red Lion in 1884, we don’t know exactly when William & Leah moved their family into the borough. As mentioned earlier, he purchased lots in Red Lion in April 1884. On the lot farthest to the east, he eventually had a home built for him and his
family. The lot for the house is bordered by E Broadway on the south, what was then known as Miller Alley on the west and by the railroad tracks on the east and north. More than likely, they were living in this home for a while before March 31, 1888, when they sold the 67 acre farm they owned in Windsor Twp to Francis Grove.

Home of William H. & Leah P. Miller in Red Lion. In front of the home, to the left of the picture is E. Broadway and on the other side of the house is what was known as Miller Alley. The house and small shed behind the house are still standing, the two-story barn behind the small shed was standing until 2014 when it was taken down and the large lumber shed was removed long ago.

After moving into Red Lion, William became an active participant in the borough’s activities and enterprises just like his father and brothers. William and his family attended church at St. John’s Reformed Church in Red Lion located on N. Main St, the church was built in 1882 and when it was formally incorporated in 1890 William is listed as a charter member. As has been a theme in the Miller family, William was very involved in the educational system and served as a member of the School Board for the borough. He was also the treasurer of the newly formed Red Lion Electric Light and Power Company, which brought electricity to the borough.  Finally, William was also a member of the board of directors for the newly formed Red Lion Water Company.

William and Leah were the parents of five children, four girls and one boy. From oldest to youngest, they are Anna Mary Christina, Thomas Clark, Priscilla Eliza, Kate Elmira and Agnes Ellen.  Anna Mary Christina was the oldest daughter, but she passed away several weeks before her 4th birthday.  The story passed down in the family is that she was smothered in the bran bin in the Miller Store operated by William’s brother Jacob along E. Broadway in Red Lion.

Anna Mary Christina Miller

Kate Elmire Miller

Thomas C. Miller married Sarah Ellen Sechrist, daughter of Amos Sechrist and Sarah Craley.  Thomas took over his uncle David Miller’s general store in 1905 at 68-70 E. Broadway in Red Lion.  He lived there and operated the general store until 1921, when he sold the property and moved to First Avenue in Red Lion.  At that location, he owned and operated a cigar factory out of the garage behind his residence.  In 1929, he moved his family to 500 W. Princess St in York where he operated another general store until his retirement.

Thomas C. Miller

Virginia Miller, daughter of Thomas Miller and Sarah Ellen Sechrist, sitting in front of Thomas’s store. Photo circa 1920

Thomas C. Miller and wife Sarah Ellen Sechrist

Thomas C. Miller and his wife Sarah Ellen Sechrist

Priscilla Eliza married Roy Pomraning and moved to Harrisburg, PA where they would reside for the remainder of their lives.  Kate Elmira passed away several months before she turned 2 years old.  Agnes Ellen met a sea captain named Richard Chesser in Washington, DC and married him and moved down to his family home on St. George’s Island, MD, near where the Potomac River empties into the Chesapeake Bay.

Priscilla Miller Pomraning

Samuel Laucks Sr., Roy Pomraning, Thomas C. Miller, John Strobeck, James B. Sechrist. Only individual I know for certain is Thomas C. Miller is in the center of the picture.  Thomas C. Miller and Roy were friends and Roy later married Thomas’s sister Priscilla.  James Sechrist and Samuel Laucks were brothers-in-law, as Samuel married James’s sister Elsie Sechrist.  Thomas C. Miller’s wife Sarah Ellen Sechrist was cousins with James Sechrist and Elsie Sechrist.

Getting back to William, by all appearances he seemed to be on a path to leave his mark in the Red Lion community. He was operating a successful business, was involved in early activities that helped to build the town, was an active member of St. John’s Reformed Church and had a young family. We will never know if he would have made an even greater impact as his life was cut short. After battling an intestinal blockage for some time, William passed away on June 7, 1896, leaving behind a wife and 3 children under the age the age of 13. In his will, he directs that his brother David be listed as guardian for Thomas and his wife Leah be guardian for his daughters Priscilla and Agnes.

With the untimely passing of William, much of the property he owned was sold as part of his estate. The lumber yard was sold to Horace Welty, who owned it until 1919 when it was sold and eventually became known as Arnold Lumber and Supply Company. The Miller homestead, which had been in the family for over 109 years and was acquired by William on April 1, 1896, about 2 months before he passed away, was sold to Levi Kaltreider. Another tract of land in Windsor Township that consisted of 34 acres was sold to Samuel Curran.

Leah purchased the family home along side the railroad tracks and E. Broadway, but it is unknown how long she resided there with the children. On March 31, 1897, less than a year after her husband’s death, and while still owning the family home, she purchased another home along E. Broadway. This house was purchased from her brother-in-law David Miller and was located across the alley from David’s home and general store. The 1898 directory for York County lists Leah living on E. Broadway in Red Lion, however it does not give a house number and there is no way to determine if she was still living in the house along the railroad tracks or the new house across the alley from David, since both homes are located on E. Broadway. However, we know that by 1900 she was living at the new home because the census shows her family living next door to her brother-in-law.

Leah and the children resided at this address until 1904. On March 31, 1904, she sold that house to Dr. J. C. Atkins, a well-known physician in early Red Lion. Dr. Atkins had resided with the family for several years before he purchased the house. After she sold this residence, she moved the family across town to N. Charles St. It was the first house located north of High St. and was located on the east side of N. Charles St. Interestingly, she moved from a house that was located across the alley from her one brother-in-law David and now resided behind the home of her other brother-in-law Jacob. As mentioned previously, his house was located on the northeast corner of W. High St. and N Charles St.

On April 25, 1915, Leah passed away, at the age of 62. Both her and her husband William are buried in the Red Lion Cemetery in Red Lion, PA.

William Henry Miller born March 8, 1846 in Windsor Twp, York County, PA, died June 7, 1896 in Red Lion, York County, PA and buried at Red Lion Cemetery in Red Lion, York County, PA.  He married (first) Emeline Tyson, daughter of Benjamin Tyson and Christina Flinchbaugh.  She was born January 8, 1850 in Windsor Twp, York County, PA, died March 22, 1875 in Windsor Twp, York County, PA and buried at Lebanon Lutheran Church in North Hopewell Twp, York County, PA.  He then married (second) Leah Priscilla Tyson, daughter of Benjamin Tyson and Christina Flinchbaugh.  She was born June 21, 1852 in Windsor Twp, York County, PA, died April 25, 1915 in Red Lion, York County, PA and buried at Red Lion Cemetery in Red Lion, York County, PA

Children and Grandchildren of William H. Miller and his wife Leah Priscilla Tyson:

  1. Anna Mary Christina Miller born October 27, 1880 in York County, PA, died October 8, 1884 in York County, PA and buried at Lebanon Lutheran Church in North Hopewell Twp, York County, PA
  2. Thomas Clark Miller born August 7, 1883 in York County, PA, died July 16, 1958 in York County, PA and buried at Red Lion Cemetery in Red Lion, York County, PA.  He married Sarah Ellen Sechrist, daughter of Amos Sechrist and Sarah Elizabeth Craley.  She was born November 7, 1881 in York County, PA, died May 30, 1981 in York County, PA and buried at Red Lion Cemetery in Red Lion, York County, PA.
    1. Thomas Sechrist Miller born March 16, 1911 in Red Lion, York County, PA, died September 6, 1914 in Red Lion, York County, PA and buried at Red Lion Cemetery in Red Lion, York County, PA.
    2. Miriam Virginia Miller born July 26, 1912 in Red Lion, York County, PA, died February 15, 1997 in York County, PA and buried at Fetterhoff’s Cemetery in Dauphin County, PA.  She married Alan Bowman Laudermilch born August 5, 1898 in Dauphin County, PA, died June 27, 1964 in Dauphin County, PA and buried at Fetterhoff’s Cemetery in Dauphin County, PA.
    3. Leah Elizabeth Miller born March 7, 1921 in Red Lion, York County, PA, died April 26, 2013 in York County, PA and buried at Red Lion Cemetery in Red Lion, York County, PA.  She married Charles Weimer, Jr. born June 19, 1919 in York County, PA, died December 28, 1996 in York County, PA and buried at Red Lion Cemetery in Red Lion, York County, PA.
  3. Priscilla Eliza Miller born November 10, 1886 in York County, PA, died January 14, 1963 in Dauphin County, PA and buried at Harrisburg Cemetery in Harrisburg, Dauphin County, PA.  She married Roy Pomraning born February 21, 1877 in York County, PA, died April 4, 1961 in Dauphin County, PA and buried at Harrisburg Cemetery in Harrisburg, Dauphin County, PA
    1. Leroy Miller Pomraning born July 4, 1925 in PA, died January 30, 2009 in Cumberland County, PA and buried at buried at Prospect Hill Cemetery in Manchester Twp, York County, PA.  He married Dorothy Eisenhower born September 18, 1931 in Cumberland County, PA, died March 21, 2013 in Cumberland County, PA and buried at Prospect Hill Cemetery in Manchester Twp, York County, PA
    2. Mary Elizabeth Pomraning born February 23, 1926, died February 28, 1970 and buried at Woodlawn Memorial Gardens in Dauphin County, PA.  She married Russell Harrison Bechtel born January 9, 1913, died April 14, 1977 and buried at Woodlawn Memorial Gardens in Dauphin County, PA
  4. Kate Elmira Miller born July 22, 1890 in York County, PA, died March 23, 1892 in York County, PA and buried at Red Lion Cemetery in Red Lion, York County, PA.
  5. Agnes Ellen Miller born December 28, 1893 in York County, PA, died September 15, 1970 in St. Mary’s County, MD and buried at First Saints Community Church on St. George’s Island, St. Mary’s County, MD.  She married Richard Chesser born November 10, 1890 in St. Mary’s County, MD, died June 9, 1970 in St. Mary’s County, MD and buried at First Saints Community Church on St. George’s Island, St. Mary’s County, MD
    1. Floyd Miller Chesser born April 29, 1926 in St. Mary’s Cuonty, MD, died September 11, 1993 in St. Mary’s County, MD and buried at Cheltenham Veterans Cemetery in Prince George’s County, MD.  He married Edith Cecilia Gatton born October 23, 1926 in St. Mary’s County, MD, died September 7, 2016 in St. Mary’s County, MD and buried at Cheltenham Veterans Cemetery in Prince George’s County, MD

William H Miller

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