A historian to remember

Reflections - By Evelyn Long

I love to talk to historians. I admire their search for history because I want to know more about my home county and home town. This week I want to recognize and honor the most informative historian I have known, the late James (Jim) D. Miller.

Jim, who in 1986, was named by the Morrow County Sentinel as Morrow County Historian, was born March 11, 1931 and inherited a love of history from his father, Lawrence, graduated from Mount Gilead High School in 1949 and graduated from Otterbein College with a double major in of course, History and French. He earned a masters degree in History from The Ohio State University in 1964 and taught Social Studies and French and developed a local history course. He then taught history at the college level at The Ohio State University-Mansfield and Ohio University-Lockbourne Air Force Base.

Jim took time out from 1952 to 1954 to serve in the U. S. Army and began dating Phylis Bush when he came home and followed her to Otterbein on the G I Bill. He graduated in three and one half years which included a summer study at Naval University in Quebec, Canada to get more experience in French.

Jim and Phylis married during spring break of their sophomore year. With their common interest being Morrow County’s history, they joined the Morrow County Historical Society where Jim served as president for 14 years. He helped to dismantle and rebuild the log house on the fairgrounds and had begun work on the Cross House before he suffered a stroke.

The last project Jim saw completed was getting the cannon carriage built, unveiling it at the 2004 fair and firing it with the black powder, all things a historian loves.

As a member of the Methodist Archives and history commission, Jim helped dismantle and rebuild a log church now at Lyme Village near Bellevue. He also hauled a log from his woods which now is incorporated in the building.

Jim and Phylis had two children, Steve and Myrna,and recall taking vacations where the trips were always to museums, forts, battle fields, etc.

He was honored to be chosen as the first person to ring the county bicentennial bell when it was cast at the Morrow County Fair in 2003.

He also was instrumental in producing the Historical Society’s annual calendar in 1993. Jim collected military memorabilia, many of which are part of the society’s military display.

As busy as he was, Jim always had time to answer a question about Morrow County History- I know because I asked. He was one of a kind and is missed. Sadly, Jim died November 22, 2004, the anniversary of President John F. Kennedy’s death.

I am pleased to present this information on a very kind and informed man.



By Evelyn Long