Miller City Elevator and Train Depot (1889) — The Miller City Elevator (formerly owned by the Hiegel family and ran by the Clarence Alt family) was located just north of the railroad tracks and near the corner of W. Railroad Avenue and S. Miller Street. The Train Depot was formerly located just south of the railroad tracks near the main railroad crossing/Main Street (St. Rt. 108). (Photo submitted)
Miller City Elevator and Train Depot (1889) — The Miller City Elevator (formerly owned by the Hiegel family and ran by the Clarence Alt family) was located just north of the railroad tracks and near the corner of W. Railroad Avenue and S. Miller Street. The Train Depot was formerly located just south of the railroad tracks near the main railroad crossing/Main Street (St. Rt. 108). (Photo submitted)
MILLER CITY — How are your Miller City history trivia skills? Do you know who founded Miller City? What was the original name of Miller City? What year was Miller City legally incorporated and under what name was it dedicated? It’s probably safe to say that there are very few Miller City residents, past or present, who know the answers to these questions. Due to the upcoming Quasquicentennial of Miller City, I thought that it would be the perfect time to share the research that I’ve done on this topic. It is my hope that you will share this with the younger members of your family, so they too can share it with their families one day.

Miller City was originally established by two land owners, Nicholas Miller, Sr. and Nicholas Noirot, Sr. (both men had a son with their same name and corresponding, Jr.). The original name of the town was Saint Nicholas (St. Nicholas) or in some official documents it was referred to as the Village of St. Nicholas. It was later called Miller City, and was dedicated under the name of St. Nicholas and incorporated on November 26th, 1890. Its 125th anniversary is this year on November 26th, 2015, but in order to alleviate conflicts with Thanksgiving there will be a celebration two months prior to this date at 4 pm on Saturday, September 26th, 2015, at the Miller City Sportsmen Club. This is indeed a cause to celebrate, the birthday of a village that all “wildcats” love and a place “we” love to call home!

The first part of my research involved finding out when Miller City was legally established or incorporated. Upon asking around it was evident that pinpointing an exact date may be a bit more challenging than I had anticipated. When a person drives through a small town, some of them have “established in” or “founded on” and the corresponding date written on their welcome signs, but ours didn’t, so I had to do a little detective work. Thankfully, my wife’s grandmother was the great-granddaughter of one of the founders (Nicholas Miller), so I thought that was as good of place as any to start. After some digging, she pointed me to an article written by Ferdinand Ball (former teacher and superintendent of Palmer High School / Miller City High School), in a handbook published by the Putnam County Pioneer Association on the Centennial History of different townships in Putnam County, ours being Palmer Township (formerly North Greensburg and named for John N. Palmer, the first Common Pleas Judge in Putnam County). The handbook states “Miller City was laid out and platted by Aaron Overbeck on August 22, 1882, and dedicated under the name of St. Nicholas, by Nicholas Noirot and Nicholas Miller, the proprietors of the two parcels of land upon which the village plat was located. On November 26, 1890, the town of St. Nicholas was incorporated and given its present name, Miller City, in honor of Nicholas Miller, one of the original proprietors” (Ball 100-101).

In general terms Miller City was a combination of land provided by Nicholas Noirot and Nicholas Miller. Nicholas Noirot provided parcels of land east of the Miller City “cut-off” ditch, while Nicholas Miller provided parcels of land west of the cut-off, to include parcels south of the Nickel Plate Railroad tracks (N. & W. R.R. / N.Y.C. & St. Louis R.R.).

Also, input from Don, Mary, and Louie Noirot pointed me to an approximate year from several historical documents that helped support the 1890 timeframe. St. Nicholas Catholic Church was constructed on donated land in 1886 and dedicated on August 26th, 1888, and Miller City was incorporated just over two years after the dedication. “St. Nicholas in Miller City (the original namesake of the village) has been joined to Holy Family in New Cleveland since 1978 and the twinned, sister parishes still share a priest today” (Hanley and Scalia 161 and 167). Furthermore, due to a controversial vote around 1943, New Cleveland consolidated with Miller City and both are part of a significantly expanded school district which remains under the name of Miller City-New Cleveland.

Then, with the help of Cathy Recker, courthouse records were found verifying that the municipal incorporation of the Hamlet of Miller City (as it was also called) was petitioned on September 25th, 1890, and a corresponding hearing was set at the County Commissioner’s office in the Putnam County Courthouse on November 25th, 1890 (Putnam County Recorder’s Office 216 - 225). The petition was approved the following day and Miller City was incorporated on November 26th, 1890. Finally, a historical book titled Putnam County Ohio, retained by the Eugene and Patricia Schroeder family confirmed that, “Upon petition to the county commissioners, the town was duly incorporated on November 26, 1890, under the name of Miller City, being so named for the original proprietor, Nicholas Miller” (Anonymous 143-144 ).

In closing, some people ask if the correct name of the village is Miller’s City or Miller City. After reviewing courthouse documents, all I can tell you for sure is that Nicholas Miller added onto the Village of St. Nicholas and/or Miller City in Putnam County in 1884 (six years prior to its incorporation in 1890). “Miller’s Addition to Miller City received the official seal of approval on February 2nd, 1884 and was recorded at the Putnam County Courthouse on February 4th, 1884” (Putnam County Recorder’s Office 169). In fact, when I was younger, Richard “Dick” Wenzinger, a lifelong resident of rural Miller City showed his son Russ and me a sign he had bought at an auction for .25 cents and used to hang above the Nickel Plate Railroad Depot that read Millers City (no apostrophe) vice Miller City. It also referenced a capitalized “B” for Buffalo, New York (318 mi) on the left side of the sign and a capitalized “C” for Chicago, Illinois (205 mi) on the right side. Louie Noirot and Joe Balbaugh also showed me historic pictures of the railroad depot where you can see Millers City written on the side of the building and of the same sign that Dick Wenzinger currently has in his garage, hanging from it. So, some residents must have referred to it as Millers City as evidenced by the railroad depot/sign, but the abbreviated version of Miller City was the one that stood the test of time and the official incorporation court documents…probably due to the standardization of naming conventions, but maybe because the possessive (Miller’s City) just didn’t roll off the tongue very well. Lastly, I’d just like to say, “Happy 125th Birthday Miller City, “we” love you!” May God continue to bless the great village and people of Miller City! So, some residents must have referred to it as Millers City as evidenced by the railroad depot/sign, but the abbreviated version of Miller City was the one that stood the test of time and the official incorporation court documents…probably due to the standardization of naming conventions, but maybe because the possessive (Miller’s City) just didn’t roll off the tongue very well. Lastly, I’d just like to say, “Happy 125th Birthday Miller City, “we” love you!” May God continue to bless the great village and people of Miller City!

Come and join us as we celebrate the birthday of Miller City on Saturday, September 26th, 2015, at the Miller City Sportsmen Club. All are welcome…doors open at 4 pm and close at 1 am…bring your family and friends…Miller Lite NWO Beverage will be supporting this event and Zak’s Tracks Entertainment will be playing on Saturday night.

Special thanks in writing this article goes to the following individuals: Patricia “June” Sullivan - Niese (daughter of Kegon Sullivan and Mary “Miller” Sullivan, granddaughter of Tony and Allie Miller - Mary’s parents, and great-granddaughter of Nicholas Miller, Sr.), Cathy S. Recker (Putnam County Recorder), Donald and Mary Noirot, Louie Noirot (Donald and Louie are both distance relatives of Nicholas Noirot, Sr.), Ferdinand Ball (deceased), Joseph Balbaugh, Janet “Alt” Gable, John and Helen Alt, Carrie “Gerschutz” Gable (great, great, great, granddaughter of Nicholas Miller, Sr.), Dick Wenzinger, Russ Wenzinger, Joan “Niese” Gerschutz (great, great, granddaughter of Nicholas Miller, Sr.), Alice “Siefker” Gable, Eileen “Gable” Kohls, Brian Dukes, John and Mary Jane Niese (John is the great, great grandson of Nicholas Miller, Sr.), Scott Niese (great, great, great grandson of Nicholas Miller, Sr.), Julie “Niese” Douglas (great, great, great, granddaughter of Nicholas Miller, Sr.), and Nate Schroeder.

Iconic pictures of Miller City were provided by Dolores and John Siefker, Richard, Sarah, Rick and Julie Barlage, Jacki and Clarence Verhoff, Louie Noirot, Joseph Balbaugh, Janet “Alt” Gable, Dan Kern, and Patricia and Francis Kern.

* To the best of my knowledge, everything in this article is factual and in most cases based on corroborating information from multiple sources.

Works Cited

Anonymous. Putnam County Ohio. Indianapolis: B.F. Bowen & Co., Indianapolis, IN, 1915. Print.

Ball, Ferdinand. Putnam County Pioneer Association Centennial History 1873-1973.

Columbus Grove: Heffner Printing Company, Columbus Grove, OH, 1972. Print.

Hanley, John and Scalia, Rosalia. The History of the Diocese of Toledo. Strasbourg: Éditions du

Signe, Strasbourg, France, 2009. Copyright Text - The Diocese of Toledo, 2009. Print.

Putnam County Courthouse. Plat Book Record No. 1, Miller’s Addition to Miller City.

Putnam County Recorder’s Office, Ottawa, OH, pg. 169 (x2), 1884. Print.

Putnam County Courthouse. Plat Book Record No. 2, Incorporation of the Hamlet of Miller City.