Milo B. Miller Milo B. Miller's tombstone in Pine Ridge Cemetery
Born: July 21, 1844
Died: September 8, 1917
Married: Katherine Finegan
Children: Mary Miller
Milo Bushnell Miller was a pioneer resident of Saranac Lake and played a major role in its development.
Milo Miller was a son of Pliny H. Miller, born in St. Armand, New York. The family moved to Saranac Lake when he was three. After attending local schools, he was employed as a farm hand and lumberman, and as a guide working for William F. Martin.
He served in the American Civil War, enlisting in Company E, One Hundred and Sixth Regiment of New York Volunteers in August, 1864, and served in the Third Brigade of the Third Division, Sixth Army Corps under General Phillip H. Sheridan; he participated in battles in the Shenandoah Valley early in his service.
Upon his return, he bought a store in the center of the village at 24 Main Street, in the Van Buren Miller building. When his first store burned in 1867, he built a new store at 44 Main St., which he ran until 1890, subsequently leasing it to Aaron Goldsmith.
He also bought all of the land between Main Street and the Saranac River from 30 to 76 Main Street, all for $250, where he would build several large stores. He also owned over a thousand acres on Lake Kiwassa and Lower Saranac Lake.
In 1880, he bought the Saranac Lake House (Martin's), changing its name to Miller House and spending $100,000 on refurbishing; in 1886, he sold the Berkeley house to Streeter and Dennison. He ran Miller House until it was consumed by fire on April 23, 1894.
Donaldson, Alfred L. A History of the Adirondacks, New York: The Century Co., 1921 (reprinted by Purple Mountain Press, Fleischmanns, NY, 1992)
Milo Bushnell Miller obituary, unidentified news clipping in Alfred L. Donaldson's Scrapbook 8, Adirondack Research Room, Saranac Lake Free Library
Adirondack Enterprise, Tuesday, Sept. 11, 1917
Milo B. Miller
Milo B. Miller, aged 73, pioneer resident of Saranac Lake and more closely connected with the history of the village than any other man, died Saturday morning at 2 o’clock at his home, No. 53 Riverside Drive. He had been in ill health for three years, but his condition had not been serious until June 15 last. After that he was able only to take an automobile ride daily. Two weeks ago he became confined to his room and gradually his strength waned. He was in a semi-comatose state for a short time previous to his death and slept peacefully away. Death was due to a complication of ailments.
Milo Bushnell Miller was the son of Pliny Hilliard Miller, guide, lumberman and business man, who died in Saranac Lake November 20, 1867, and Louise Bushnell, who died here June 14, 1854. He was born at St. Armand, Essex County, July 21, 1844. At the age of three he came to Saranac Lake with his parents and attended the public school here until he was 18 years old. He then worked alternately on a farm, in the lumber camps and at log driving. He spent many years as a guide in the Adirondacks in the employ of William F. Martin.
In August, 1864, he enlisted in Company E., One Hundred and Sixth Regiment, New York Volunteers, and served at the Third Brigade of the Third Division, Sixth Army Corps, under General Phillip H. Sheridan. During the first months of service he participated in much hard fighting under “Fighting Phil,” in the Valley of the Shenandoah. He was mustered out of the Federal Service in 1865 and from the State service in July of same year.
The “Murray Rush”
Mr. Miller years ago handled thousands of deer for the New York market and fur was also plentiful. At this time muskrat hides were the most plentiful of the fur business, although there were many mink, sable, otter, red fox and black bear skins, Deer skins were tanned here. This was just before the “Murray Rush,” which boomed this village. Previous to this time Saranac Lake was the scene only of lumbering operations, the men leaving as soon as the ice went out. At that time buildings were few. There were Bloods Hotel, where the Riverside Inn now stands; the Van Buren Miller residence; a small barn on the present site of the Town Hall; a small building where Goldsmith’s store is and a small house near the present site of the Methodist Church. The nearest church was at Black Brook, Clinton County. At this period Rev. W. H. H. Murray began to write of the woods and the lakes and the trout and deer and how tuberculosis could be cured in the mountains. People came from all parts of the world, many dying on the way because of the lack of transportation facilities, there being only a line of stages from Port Kent via Keeseville and Ausable Forks. The leading hotel at that time was the Saranac Lake House, which was built in 1849 by William F. Martin. The hotel could not accommodate one-third of the people who came and Mr. Miller and the other settlers put up shacks and tents. The country benefited the health everyone who came and the town grew rapidly, receiving a further boom when the late Dr. Trudeau found a method to treat the sick people and cure them. Mr. Miller realized the future possibilities of the country and, with the shrewd business qualities that made him the principal property owner of Saranac Lake at the time of his death began to acquire valuable land in the Adirondack region.
Vast Real Estate Holdings
He opened a general store in the VanBuren Miller building in 1865 and continued for several years. Later he moved his business to a new building which he erected and which is now occupied by A. Goldsmith & Son. In the fall of 1865 he bought for the sum of $250 all the land on the west side of Broadway from the present site of the Town Hall to the iron bridge. In 1888 he sold his stock and leased his store. He was very successful in real estate deals. He became the owner of the grist mill at Bloomingdale, where for eight years or more he made flour for this entire region. In 1876 he purchased land and built the Berkeley Hotel, which was the first public building intended for occupance by invalids seeking health in the Adirondacks. He sold the hotel to Streeter & Dennison in 1886. He bought the Saranac Lake House in 1880 and later changed its name to the Miller House after remodeling and refurnishing it at a cost of $100,000. This hotel he conducted for 14 years. It was destroyed by fire April 23, 1894, causing the owner a heavy loss. Mr. Miller acquired vast real estate holdings. He owned over a thousand acres of valuable land on Lake Kiwassa, including handsome camp sites and woodland tracts. He owned the stores occupied by William Mullen, Jr., the Adirondack Beef Company and A. Goldsmith & Son on Main Street; about a thousand acres on the south shore of Lake Flower and Saranac River and property near the Glenwood Estates. He bought the Reynolds farm of 84 acres adjoining Lake Flower, in the village in 1883 and cut the property into 37 building lots on one of which he built his own handsome residence in 1892. He also made many private investments. Mr. Miller accumulated a large fortune.
Transcribed 2/21/2013 from Adirondack Research Room Scrapbook 2.1 by Michele A. Tucker
Adirondack Daily Enterprise, November 6, 1993
Profiling Milo Miller, Saranac Lake's first tycoon
In 1847 Pliny H. Miller decided to leave St. Armand and join his father, Capt. Pliny Miller, at the tiny settlement on the Saranac River. Among his many children was a three-year-old son named Milo Bushnell Miller, whose middle name was for his mother, the former Lois E. Bushnell who was a daughter of Alric Mann Bushnell, Capt Miller's friend and partner. The settlement by the river had not as yet assumed village status but young Milo was destined to change that some 35 years later.
Milo was born on July 21, 1844 in the Town of St Armand, which had been formed three years earlier upon being set aside from the Town of Wilmington. He attended school until reaching the age of 19 when he decided to step out and make his own living. For the next several years he turned his hand to those types of work available at that time and place. After a stint at farming he took to the woods, working in the lumber camps and on the river log drives. The experience gained in these activities eventually led to the occupation of Adirondack guide. He spent the next four years in the employ of William F. Martin, who was the popular proprietor of the Saranac Lake House on Lower Saranac Lake. This hotel would later play an important role in Milo's business ventures.
As rumbles of the Civil War reached into the backwoods, Milo decided to enlist. In August of 1864, at the age of 20, he joined Company E, 106th Regiment of the New York Volunteers serving under General Phil Sheridan in the 3rd Division of the 6th Army Corps. As the war ended in the following year, Milo returned home where he opened a general store in the basement of his cousin Van Buren's home. This first commercial venture sparked the young man's interest into the realm of business.
Toward the end of 1865 Milo purchased, for the sum of $250, all of the land on the west side of Main Street between the site of today's Town Hall and the Broadway bridge. He then built a new store in this tract which later would be numbered 42-44 Main Street. Eventually this building was sold to Aaron Goldsmith who operated a dry goods business there for over 50 years. Another store was sold to C. L. Sherrill at the top of Broadway hill. Miller next opened a real estate office, which was hugely successful in a very brief time. In Bloomingdale he erected a grist mill manufacturing flour for the entire region.
Quick to recognize the potential value of surrounding lands he began to purchase large parcels adjacent to the Saranac River and the Kiwassa Lake area. With a strong belief in the future prosperity of the settlement he amassed close to a thousand acres. It turned out to be a smart investment!
Surprisingly, with his obvious business acumen, Milo did not organize a banking enterprise. He did, however, become involved with money-lending. Two of the mortgages which he held included two of the area's leading hotels. Charles Gray had built the Berkeley Hotel a few years prior to Miller's mortgage foreclosure in 1879. Apparently Milo felt that he was too busy to run the place so he leased it to R.E. Woodruff, a local builder. A second, and more surprising foreclosing, took place in 1881 when Miller assumed ownership of the Saranac Lake House owned by William F. Martin, where Milo had worked as a guide several years earlier.
Miller had married Catherine Finnegan in 1878 and the couple had one daughter. When he took over Martin's hotel Milo decided to run the place himself. He immediately commenced a complete project of rebuilding the 30-year-old structure with an investment of $100,000. He renamed the hotel simply as "Miller's" and operated it until it burned in 1888.
By now the community had grown by leaps and bounds and was enjoying a season of prosperity. The post office had been officially designated as Saranac Lake but a village had not as yet been incorporated. Milo could see the need for such a move to provide all of the services necessary to maintain a municipality. He was postmaster at the time and found a supportive advocate in the person of Frederick A. Isham, a local attorney. The two men compaigned for legal incorporation and most of the village fathers agreed. The proposal was quickly approved and the first election placed Dr. E.L. Trudeau as village president with Milo B. Miller, Francis M. Bull, and Dr. Charles F. Wicker as trustees. Attorney Isham was named village clerk. The first board meeting was held in Isham's office on June 16, 1892, and Saranac Lake Village was off and running.
Dr. Trudeau did not seek a second term and Milo Miller was elected without any opposition in 1893 and was voted in again in 1894. He was a Democrat of the Jeffersonian category and held a variety of public offices. In addition to being postmaster for over 15 years he served as Harrietstown's town clerk and highway commissioner. In the field of education Milo sat as the lone school trustee for six years. While serving as village president he promoted a municipal water system as well as the original sewer lines. In those early years of incorporation public works were a major concern and Milo's business background was a definite plus for the community.
Saranac Lake soon boasted many amenities which invited a steady population growth. There was a new high school, a national bank, an expanding electric system, and not one but two railroad lines serving the village. There were many good hotels, guide service for the sportsmen and a healthy climate. Winter sports were emerging as a viable attraction thanks to the spirited exuberance of the Pontiac Club. All in all these were exciting times and Milo Miller was in the catbird seat.
Milo's older brother, Ensine, was also a prominent businessman but who operated in the opposite end of the village. He had married into another leading family of the early community and, in so doing, closed an important link in the Democratic chain. Ensine's marriage to Col. Milote Baker's daughter established a lasting alliance in the Miller-Baker relationship. Col. Baker arrived from Keeseville in 1852 building a hotel and store next to the river at the present site of the Pine Street bridge. Two years later he became the settlement's first postmaster and, together with his new son-in-law, invested in land purchases and joint business ventures. Ensine had been born 17 years before Milo and died 40 years before his younger brother.
Among Milo's contemporaries were many other prominent citizens sharing in the responsibilities of political office and community improvements. His fellow trustees on the initial Village Board contributed, each in his own way, to the area's benefit during those formative years. Dr. Charles F. Wicker came to the settlement in 1880 from Burlington, Vt, where he was born in 1857. He earned his degree at Albany Medical College prior to his arrival here. He married Gertrude Pope and the couple raised two children. As a physician he served a wide area in the north country when such an occupation was urgently needed.
With the village safely incorporated and showing stable growth Milo had retired from the board but continued actively in politics as well as in his many business affairs. He had become the largest land owner in the region and certainly the wealthiest of village residents. He lived on into the 20th century and he died in Saranac Lake in 1917.
From: The Adirondack Enterprise Supplement, Vol. I, No. I, Thursday, February 21, 1895, page 2. Transcribed by Mary Hotaling from a bad photocopy, 3/31/2010.
President Milo B. Miller
Milo Bushnell Miller, president of Saranac Lake village, was born in the town of St. Armand, July 21, 1844, and being fifty-one years of age. He is not only one of our most prominent and popular citizens, but is well-known to thousands of tourists who have been guests of his house during the past ten years.
Mr. Miller's father was Pliny H. Miller, who lived at St. Armand, and who moved to Saranac Lake when Milo B. was a boy of two or three years of age. Here Miller attended school until he was eighteen or nineteen years old. Then he started out to earn his own living. For several years he worked alternately on a farm, in the lumber woods and upon the river driving logs. Four years were spent guiding in the employ of Wm. F. Martin.
In August, 1864, Mr. Miller enlisted for the war and was a member of Co. E 106th Regt. N. Y. Volunteers, and served in the Third Brigade of the Third Division of the 6th Army Corps, under Gen. P. H. Sheridan. During the months following his enlistment, Mr. Miller saw much service following "Fighting Phil" through the valley of the Shenandoah.
Returning home in 1865 Mr. Miller started a general store in the Van Buren Miller building. There he continued for several years, or until he erected the present building occupied by Goldsmith. In the fall of 1865 he purchased all the land on the west side of Broadway from the present site of the town hall to the iron bridge. He paid $250 for this property. Mr. Miller continued in the general mercantile business until 1888 when he sold his stock of goods to C. L. Sherrill. The store was then, as now, located in the Miller Block on Broadway. While engaged in the general store, Mr. Miller also dealt extensively in real estate and was very successful. He also became owner of a grist mill at Bloomingdale, where for eight or ten years he made flour for the entire region.
Mr. Miller's first experience in the hotel business was not in connection with the Saranac Lake House, which he purchased in 1880 [or 1890 - not perfectly legible], for in 1876 he had purchased land for and erected the Berkeley House — the first public house for the reception of invalids in the Adirondack mountains. Because of competent hotel management the Berkeley was a success and brought handsome financial reward.
Coming into possession of the Saranac Lake House, Mr. Miller's progressive spirit manifested itself again and he at once almost completely rebuilt and refurnished this famous hostelry at a cost of about $100,000. This house, as the reader perhaps well remembers, was burned on the night of April 23rd, 1894, entailing a heavy loss.
Mr. Miller, by strict attention to business, with a desire to amass an honorable fortune, has become wealthy in Saranac Lake and is the chief real estate holder in the village. Believing in the future prosperity of the place he has constantly invested here. Besides his property on Main street and his hotel lands upon the lower lake, Mr. Miller owns about a thousand acres on the south shore of Lake Flower and the Saranac river.
President Miller has held many offices of business and social trust. He was Town Clerk of Harrietstown, held the office of Highway Commissioner, and for six years was sole school trustee. He held the office of Postmaster of Saranac Lake for over fifteen years, during which time the revenue of the office increased from $42 per year to $800. His service was very satisfactory both to the people and the government.
Mr. Miller was one of the early advocates, with Mr. Isham, of the incorporation scheme for Saranac Lake and when the first village election was held the people made Mr. Miller one of the long term trustees. Dr. Trudeau was then president.
In 1893, Mr. Miller was unanimously chosen Village President and his services were so satisfactory to the citizens that he was re-elected in 1894 [?] without opposition. During his term of two years as President, Mr. Miller has been untiring in his efforts to push public enterprises, and has not failed to watch with zealous care the work of putting in the water systems and [sewer?] works.
Mr. Miller is a Democrat of the Jeffersonian line. He married in 1878, Miss Kate Finnegan, of Franklin. One child, a daughter, now Mrs. H. H. Tousley, was born to Mr. and Mrs. Miller. Mr. Miller is a member of the Episcopalian church.