Skip Ribbon Commands
Skip to main content
History and Traditions
Student Profile
Charles Rollin Miller
Class of: 1860

Capt. Charles Rollin Miller was born in Moravia, Cayuga county, New York, June 7, 1834, and came to Michigan with his parents in 1837. He remained under the parental roof and labored with his father until he was nineteen years old, profiting by all the school privileges that were then extant. He labored at farm work summers and taught school winters until he was able to attend the State Normal School at Ypsilanti, in which he graduated in 1855. He then entered the literary department of Michigan University, graduating there in 1858, and in the law department of the same institution, in 1860. He then located in St. Joseph, Mo., and commenced the practice of law, but after about two years' residence there he found the secession sentiment very strong, and he returned to Michigan. In August, 1862, he enlisted in Company C, Eighteenth Michigan Infantry, as second lieutenant, but soon thereafter was promoted to first lieutenant. At Nashville, Tenn., he was detached from his company and put on the staff of the post commander, and soon thereafter was made assistant judge advocate, on the staff of Major-General Rousseau. Not many months after this, by special order of Gen. George I-I. Thomas, he was made assistant judge advocate of the Department of the Cumberland, on the staff of General Thomas.  At the close of the war, in 1865, he was mustered out with a captain's commission. In the summer of 1865 he returned to Adrian and immediately entered into a law partnership with I-Ion. Norman Geddes, under the firm name of Geddes & Miller, which partnership continued for over twenty years, when Mr. Geddes was elected judge of probate. Mr. Miller carried on the business until 1894, when he retired from the law to give his entire attention to his extensive business interests. He was twice elected prosecuting attorney.
--From History of Lenawee Co. p - 1901. Washtenaw Historical Society
I was born in Moravia, N. Y., June 7th, 1834, and came in a lumber wagon through Canada to Washtenaw County, Mich, in 1838. The Pioneer cabin of my father had not a nail or an iron hinge used in its construction. The floor of split and hewed logs; the chimney of split shakes laid up and covered with mud. I lived on a farm in Bridgwater and Saline Townships till summer of 1853. I prepared for the University at the Normal School, Ypsilanti, and entered as a sophomore in Michigan University in 1855, and graduated in 1858. I read law one year with Governor Alpheus Felch at Ann Arbor; entered the law school at the University and graduated with the first law class in April 1860. I went the same spring to St. Joe, Mo., and opened a law office in partnership with Hon. George M. Landon, now of Monroe, Mich. The Lincoln presidential campaign followed the same year. The fierce excitement following his election and inauguration, the firing on Sumter, the secession of the Southern States, the calling for volunteers, the battle of Bull Run, the capture of Camp Jackson at St. Louis, reduced the possibilities of legal success for two young Yankee Union lawyers to the minimum. Too full of grit to back out and hopeful that 90 days, as they talked, might end the trouble, I hung on. Out of money and in debt for board and bed, I finally took a clerkship in the St. Joe post office. I helped make up the first overland mail across the plains sent by coaches from that place, working for 52 hours without rest or sleep to get it ready. On New Years, 1862 I went home on a visit and while there was offered a law partnership by the Hon. Norman Geddes at Adrian, Mich. I accepted it and when the call came for "300,000 more," I answered and helped raise a Company for the 18th Michigan Volunteer Infantry. I was mustered in as Lieutenant, August 27th, 1862 and left at once for Kentucky. I spent the fall and winter of 1862-63 at and around Lexington and Danville in that state. In spring of 1863 we were ordered to Tennessee. I was promoted to Captain and detached for duty on staff of General Robert S. Granger, Post Commander at Nashville. After that I was on staff of General Miller, then on the staff of General Rosseau, and for the last 9 months of the war on the staff of General George H. Thomas, Commanding Department of Cumberland as Assistant Judge Advocate. I was in the great battle of Nashville, there receiving my only injury during the war. From that I soon recovered. _ At the close of the war I was mustered out at Nashville; when I was retained for the defense in a number of important cases before the Military Courts, receiving in 90 days time $3,500 in fees. With this I returned to Michigan and married Miss Mary L. Becker, daughter of Hon. Hiram Becker of Ann Arbor. I returned to Adrian, Mich, and resumed the law partnership with Judge Geddes, which he had kept open for me the three years of my Military service. I have lived and prospered in Adrian ever since, and mixed somewhat in politics as a Republican. I had a narrow escape from being nominated to Congress (lacked one vote). For this escape I have been profoundly grateful ever since. I served as Secretary of the Public School Board of Adrian for 11 years and as Prosecuting Attorney for Lenawee County from 1868 to 1872. I was appointed by Gov. Croswell a member of the Board of Control of the Michigan Reform School for Girls (now Industrial Home for Girls) and was re-appointed by Gov. Jerome and served as Secretary and Treasurer of the Board. I was appointed by Gov. Pingree to a ten year term as member of the Mackinac Island State Park Commission, serving as its Secretary and Treasurer. I was re-appointed by Gov. Warner for a second term of ten years and am now President of the Park Commission. My domestic life has been happy. I have two daughters, Mary S. and Jesse F., born of my first wife who died in 1889. I married again, my second wife being Mrs. Anna M. Hale Wendell, a Virginian lady by birth and descent, and with whom I am quietly and happily gliding down the years leading to old age. In my business life I have been reasonably fortunate and successful, having accumulated a moderate fortune. My law practice was always remunerative. I quit active practice 17 years ago finding I was undermining my health by too much work. My business ventures have been as a rule successful. I am President of a Wire Fence Company, of a Brewery, of a productive Oil Company, and of a Bank, all in successful operation. I have been quite largely interested in Michigan timber and farming lands, owning 1000 acres of valuable farms in Lenawee County as well as several thousand acres of timber land and farms in Northern Michigan. Eight years ago I bought 1200 acres, 40 miles northwest of Alpena, Mich., and platted a village upon it called after myself, "Millersburg." It is now a thriving village of 1000 inhabitants and will be my monument on the map of Michigan. In closing this brief memorial, I wish to put on record my great appreciation of the 50th anniversary of the Class of '58 and of the good fellows who there gathered under the Oak. Whatever success in life has been mine I have never failed to give credit for it to the mental and moral training I received at our Alma Mater under the fatherly care and guidance of our Great Chancellor Henry P. Tappan.
The writer of the above sketch died at his home in Adrian, Michigan, October 13th, 1908.
Contributed by Janice Rice
Image Biography
Additional Information on Charles Rollin Miller
Browse a different year
Members of Class of 1860
Michigan Law Wordmark Print View