Malone Farmer, September 19, 1917


The Late Milo B. Miller, a Man of Great Intuition and Shrewdness, Long a Leading Citizen of Sarnanac Lake--

Reminescensces of Early Days in That Village Before the Railroads Were Built.

The late Milo B. Miller, of Saranac Lake, who began life as a farmer, log driver and guide in that section, was a man of great intuition and shrewdness, and his vision of the future of that section, together with his fine business ability, made him wealthy. He was a remarkable judge of men and conditions, and made few mistakes in his calculations, either upon those with whom he had business relations or developments, affecting the future of the locality in which he lived. Dropped in the forest where he began life, with only a few log houses occupied at first only when lumbering operations were going on, he might always have remained, like many others, just a riverman or guide working by the day, but his natural business leanings and foresight led him to take advantage of the opportunities which he had, however scant at first, and then to grasp the opportunities which came thick and fast in the early development of Saranac Lake. Before the rush of visitors following the publication of the superb stories of Adirondack Murray, he operated a store, supplying lumber camps and rivermen, and dealt extensively in deer skins and furs. Then, when the invasion of sportsmen and health seekers began and there was not room to house them, he put up shacks and tents in available places, receiving good money for them. Later he bought the Saranac Lake House, owned by "Bill" Martin, enlarged it and did a big summer tourist business there. As the lake country opened up he did an extensive business in furnishing supplies for sportsmen, campers and small hotels all the way through on the water route to beyond the Raquette lakes. His Saranac Lake store became the emporium of a vast regain extending in all directions about Saranac Lake. The invasion of visitors caused the place to grow and become the permanent domicile of quite a number of families, the heads of which found lucrative occupation during all the summer months as guides, but there was little for them to do in winter.

Then Dr. Trudeau came to Saranac Lake in search of health, and, after learning that he could not live elsewhere and that residence winter and summer was required for the cure of tuberculosis patients, he settled down there to carry out a great life-work and the realization of the vision of a great resort for the relief of disease which had almost cut short his then brief career as a physician. The rapidly increasing colony of city guests, many of whom had plenty of money to spend for the comforts which they desired, gave to Mr. Miller's mercantile business further opportunities and for more than a decade following the doctor's arrival its trade was greatly increased. His store contained the postoffice, and the scene each night as the four-horse stage arrived with mail and supplies over the 40 or 50 mile route from Ausable, was one never to be forgotten by residents or visitors in the Adirondack hamlet in the later 70's and early 80's. All the village came out to meet the stage and get the mail, the only excitement which broke the calmness and serenity of life amid the abiding beauties of mountain, lake and forest. In winter the guides were all at home and followed the stage-coming with sitting in a big circle within the store, smoking and telling stories of hunting and fishing and the more intimate things of life, for they were isolated and by themselves and were like one great family. Everybody in Saranac Lake wore felt boots and rubbers in those days, for much of the life of the city dwellers was out-of-doors and comfort demanded the warmest footwear. Dr. Trudeau and his patients, the minister of the little church known as St. Luke's, school teacher and all dressed much alike, and the guides could hardly he distinguished by their costumes. Even on Sunday the sweaters and felt footwear were everywhere seen in church. The minister removed his rubbers and moved about noiselessly in the felts which protruded from his surplice. Teacher and pupils did the same in school and the constant scuffling of feet upon the floor which has characterized school rooms almost from the beginning of time, was absent.

Saranac Lake was then a hamlet of a few frame houses and stores, with numerous primitive log dwellings in the outskirts. The frame buildings included the Berkeley House, Blood's old hotel, Miller's and Tip Spaulding's stores, the school house, St. Luke's church, the Ensign Miller boarding house, and dwellings, a number of which stood on Main street, now a splendid thoroughfare of business structures of masonry. There were no other churches, no town hall and library and no amusements except an occasional house-party or a trip to a church social in Bloomingdale. The Methodists had a Sunday School and occasional afternoon services in the upper room of the school house. There was no railroad nearer than Ausable, the Chateaugay R. R. then being narrow gauge and extending only to Dannemora, and the Mohawk & Malone R. R. not being built. There were a few organs in town, but not a piano and few other musical instruments. The school teacher brought his violin with him in the fall, although he could not play it, and as soon as the young people learned of the presence of the instrument, there were at once plans for a dance at one of the houses. They waited for Ernest Johnson to come down from Big Tupper, then an unbroken wilderness, on one of his periodical visits and then the dance was held in Cal. Brown's big log kitchen well out on the West Harrietstown road, now practically the heart of the village. Ernest could play Money Musk, the Virginia Reel and several quadrilles for the old-fashioned square dances in one or two keys, and it happened that the teacher could play chords in the same keys on the organ. This made quite an orchestra and it was a prime event in the social life of the community. The late Herb. Miller, an older brother of Judge Seaver A. Miller, was manager of the affair and it was a great success. Somebody came near spoiling things by clandestinely pouring a little "stick" into the lemonade. but it was promptly discovered and there was care in sampling it and all went well into the "wee sma’ hours of the morning." We have forgotten whether Ernest came down through the tortuous waterway by row boat or through the woods on snowshoes, the only summer and winter means of transportation along the lakes.

At this time, which soon after witnessed the remarkable growth of Saranac Lake from a mere hamlet into a large village, Milo Miller, the late Van Buren Miller and Eugene Woodruff, were its leading citizens. The former was postmaster and sole trustee of the school, which embraced two departments and two teachers, and the latter had long been supervisor and justice of the peace, and did the law business for the community. Mr. Woodruff was then supervisor, and the manager of the Berkeley hotel. Milo Miller was already a man of large means and was conducting his large store and the big hotel on the Lower lake. He entered heartily into Dr. Trudeau's plans and apparently caught a glimpse of the future as no other man caught it, for he had erected the Berkeley House for invalids and bought valuable building sites and large tracts of land in the vicinity, remaining to his death last week the principal property owner in Saranac Lake. In the 80's the village grew by leaps and bounds and he retired from the mercantile business to give his attention solely to his real estate holdings and money investments. The Reynolds farm of 84 acres adjoining Lake Flower he purchased in 1883 and later on cut the property into 371 building lots which he placed on the market. He acquired more than a thousand acres on Lake Kiwassa, with its valuable camp sites, and woodlands, and a thousand acres on the south shore of Lake Flower and the Saranac river, together with landed property near the Glenwood Estates, assisted people in building homes, took many mortgages and allowed the owners to pay in monthly installments. He helped many whom he knew over tight spots and was known in his village as a true-hearted benefactor. When Dr. Trudeau conceived the idea of his famous sanitarium at Trudeau he knew to whom to go for an intelligent appreciation of its great advantages to Saranac Lake and the country at large, and Mr. Miller donated the land on which the first buildings at Trudeau were erected. After the village was incorporated Mr. Miller served as village trustee, and as village president from 1893 to 95 inclusive, when the place saw its most rapid growth and development. The waterworks and sewerage systems were established during his term of office and he unselfishly gave of his time and means for many years for the good of the community, "in which," as the Adirondack Enterprise well says, "he had implicit faith from the beginning." The passing of this kindly and generous man, whose heart was large and honest and actuated by sympathy and tolerance, is universally mourned in the heart of the Adirondacks.