Josiah Miller papers
This collection contains the papers of Kansas free state activist Josiah Miller, dating from 1854-1870 and those of various members of his family, dating from 1840-1912.
- 1840 - 1912
- Miller, Josiah, 1828-1870 (Person)
Conditions Governing Access
No access restrictions.
Conditions Governing Use
Original letter from Josiah Miller to his parents, located at RH VLT MS P10, is available to view with curatorial permission. Please use the copy available at RH MS P901.
Spencer Library staff may determine use restrictions dependent on the physical condition of manuscript materials.
Biography of Josiah Miller
Josiah Miller (1828-1870) was prominent in the early history of Kansas when it was being settled by Euro-Americans. It has been asserted that it was he who proposed the motto which was included on the State Seal of Kansas ("Ad Astra per aspera," or "To the stars through difficulties"), but this is not fully documented. His business interests, which contributed to the growth of the city of Lawrence, included the publication of the Kansas Free State newspaper (1855-1856) with Robert G. Elliott, original membership in the Lawrence Bridge Company, one-third ownership of the bridge charter across the Kansas River, and corporate partnership in the Leavenworth, Lawrence and Galveston Railroad.
Miller's political activities were closely associated with the Free State movement in Kansas, or those who did not want slavery to enter the new territory. He was a member of the first state senate that met in 1861 and he later served in the state senate in 1866.
A brief biographical outline follows:
- Born, South Carolina, November 12, 1828, to Robert H. and Susannah (McAlliley) Miller
- Graduate, Indiana University (then law school), Poughkeepsie, New York
- Married Agnes B. Carlisle, Bloomington, Indiana, January 3, 1854
- Published first issue, Kansas Free State (January 3, 1855) with his partner, Robert G. Elliott
- Press destroyed May 21, 1856 by proslavery men during sacking of Lawrence.
- Arrested by South Carolina's General Buford, acquitted. Left Lawrence to go east and campaign for presidential election of William Fremont.
- Returned to Lawrence in the fall of 1856
- Probate Judge, Douglas County, Kansas Territory
- Member, first state legislature; resigned to become Lawrence postmaster
- Lawrence postmaster
- Paymaster, U.S. Army with rank of major
- Elected to Kansas state legislature
- Died, July 7, Lawrence
.75 Linear Feet (2 document cases + 3 folders, 4 volumes)
Scope and Contents
The collection contains correspondence, reminiscences, business papers, account books, legal documents, deeds, mortgages, and land transfers. The bulk of the papers that concern Josiah Miller and date to the 1850s and 1860s, when Miller was active in the free state cause, are housed in two volumes. The collection also contains records related to other Miller family members, particularly Josiah's father Robert H., his brothers William and George and his niece Lena (Miller) Owen (daughter of William); and his wife Agnes.
Volumes and photographs have been physically separated from the loose manuscript material. Materials were purchased or donated from several manuscript dealers and a Miller family member; this information is noted throughout the finding aid.
RH MS 4
RH VLT MS P10
RH MS P901
RH MS C24
RH MS E55 - RH MS E57
RH MS-P 4
Immediate Source of Acquisition
Gift, Mrs. E.M. Owen, 1956; Purchases, Smoky Hill Booksellers, 1963-64 and 1972; N. Flaydemer & Co.
Kansas Valley Fair Association collection, RH MS P125, Kenneth Spencer Research Library, University of Kansas
- Guide to the Josiah Miller Collection
- Josiah Miller papers
- Finding aid prepared by ln, 1964 and lgg, 1973 (revised by sfw, 4/1983); mh, 2004. Finding aid encoded by mg, 2004. Finding aid revised by skt, 2010; mwh, 2019.
- Description rules
- Describing Archives: A Content Standard
- Language of description
- Finding aid written in English.
- Finding aid permalink
- Preferred citation
Josiah Miller Collection, RH MS 4, Kenneth Spencer Research Library, University of Kansas.