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California Genealogy and History Archives

Sacramento County



As a factor in local material and commercial upbuilding the Sacramento Valley Development Association under the secretarial supervision of O. H. Miller has wielded a permanent influence and exercised a beneficial effect. Great as were the achievements of the pioneers in the original settlement of the locality, it was reserved for the progressive minds of the present generation to secure the greatest local advancement and upon the foundation of past accomplishments to erect the superstructure of twentieth century prosperity. Possibly few men have been more helpful in their efforts and certainly no one has displayed more persistent application than Mr. Miller, who as secretary of the association named and also in the capacity of a private citizen has been instrumental in securing a betterment of conditions in the valley.

The Miller family was identified with the very early history of Chicago. The records show that John Miller was instrumental in securing the incorporation of the city of Chicago during the year 1833. Afterward for years he there engaged in extensive business enterprises. Among his children was a son, Capt. Tobias Charles Miller, a native of Chicago and a graduate of Knox college at Galesburg, Ill. To him came the distinction of being chosen as a member of the first government exploring expedition sent into the west under the auspices of the department of the interior. Although only six- teen years of age at the time, he endured the hardships of the long trip across the plains with uncomplaining fortitude and proved a distinct help in the compilation of important data as well as in the blazing of a path for future emigrants. Four times he crossed the plains with emigrant or government expeditions, and his knowledge of the west was exhaustive.

Shortly after the opening of the Civil war Tobias Charles Miller enlisted as a private in the Chicago Board of Trade Battery of Flying Artillery, and for three years he served at the front with his regiment, taking part in many notable engagements, among them the battle of Gettysburg. As a result of a bursting shell he was seriously wounded at Gettysburg, after which he was commissioned captain in recognition of meritorious services. At the time of the assassination of President Lincoln he was stationed at Nashville, Tenn., as a member of the staff of his cousin. Gen. John F. Miller, who at that time was in charge of troops in Tennessee. At the expiration of the war he was chosen the first United States marshal in Tennessee, with headquarters at Nashville, and for some years continued in that office. Later he served by appointment as United States internal revenue collector. Before he retired from office he had become interested iu the lumber business in the south. About 1882 he came to California and settled in Contra Costa county. For many years he was one of California's foremost citizens, serving in the constitutional convention and also as United States senator from this state. His death occurred August 13, 1898.

While living in the south Captain Miller had married at Nashville in 1868 Miss Malona Hanks, a native of Ohio and a very near relative of Nancy Hanks, the mother of Abraham Lincoln. Prior to her marriage she had engaged in teaching school for a number of years. Of her four children, the eldest, John Grant Miller, born June 21, 1870, is a resident of Contra Costa county and has charge of the old homestead of one hundred and fifty acres. The youngest son, Orson H., was born at Twinsburg, Summit county, Ohio, August 20, 1882, and has been a resident of California from his earliest recollections. During boyhood he attended the schools of Clayton, Contra Costa county, and Berkeley. After starting out in the newspaper business he was connected successively with the Berkeley Gazette, Chico Enterprise and the Marysville Appeal, the last-named being one of the oldest newspapers in the whole state. Since 1906 he has devoted his attention to the secretaryship of the Sacramento Valley Development Association. In fraternal affairs he holds membership with the Independent Order of Odd Fellows. March 8, 1903, he was united in marriage with Miss Mary E. Douglass of Berkeley. Two children were born of this union, Frances Ruth on January 15, 1907, and Robert Lincoln on March 7, 1912. 

History of Sacramento County, California
Biographical Sketches of The Leading Men and Women of the County Who Have Been Identified With Its Growth and Development from the Early Days to the Present
History By: William L. Willis
Historic Record Company, Los Angeles, California (1913)

Transcribed by Peggy Hooper 2011