Lewis. A. Miller - a.k.a. "L. A." Miller

Diaries - Background

The following image illustrates how the L. A. Miller diaries traveled from Darrtown to Colorado and back to Darrtown.


A more detailed explanation of the discovery and recovery of the Miller diaries appears below the image.

 Dear Reader, This section supplements the above image by providing a more detailed explanation of how the L.A. Miller diaries were returned to the Darrtown community in 2013...nearly eighty (80) years after Mr. Miller wrote his 1937 diary - which is the last diary in the collection that we possess. Fred Lindley December 20, 2015 It all started when I received the following email message.


"DATE: APRIL 03, 2013




Hello! I am a school teacher in Colorado and two years ago I purchased a set of yearly diaries in an antique auction. The diaries start in 1910 and go through 1936. I have used them in teaching diary writing; but, after seeing your website and learning about your town's history I believe you would be interested in them.


They are diaries of L.A. Miller and contain a day to day journal of the high and low temperatures, what he did that day, and what was happening in the world. As a history major in college, I am fascinated with this wonderful account of Darrtown and the world through this man's eyes.


I don't know why these left his family and managed to be sold at an auction, but I know that, if I were a family member, I wouldn't let them out of the family. I paid about $85 for the set and somewhere I have the receipt.


From what I have learned, Mr. Miller was involved with the telephone company and maybe gave it to his son. In your newspaper page, I checked and it said that Mr. Miller visited a friend in another town and after looking up the date in the diary, he mentioned the visit.


Are there any surviving family members that would want these diaries?


I hope to hear from you soon.


Loyd Mowery"


I promptly responded to Mr. Mowery’s email, with enthusiastic interest. After Mr. Mowery and I exchanged several e-mail messages, Mr. Mowery agreed to mail the L. A. Miller diaries to me. Mr. Loyd Mowery proved to be a man of his word. He mailed the collection of L. A. Miller diaries - from Colorado to Ohio. And, he did so, at his expense! The box was delivered by the U. S. Mail service, on April 30, 2013. Delighted to have received the diaries, one question continued to puzzle me: how did the Miller diaries travel from Darrtown to Colorado? A partial answer was provided by a sheet of paper that was included in the box that Mr. Mowery used to ship the diaries. A February 26, 2011 “Buyer Statement,” issued by the Gorman Auctions, LLC of Manitou Springs, Colorado, revealed that a quantity of three “Trays Diaries” sold for $25 each. The purchase cost, including taxes and a buyer's fee, was $89.76. However, the document did not offer any information about the seller. So, I contacted the Gorman Auction company and explained my interest in learning how the diaries were placed for auction. The text of my email message to Annelise at the Gorman company read:




I appreciate the info that you provided and understand that your knowledge of the diaries is limited to what you wrote above.


However, the really intriguing question for me is: how did the L. A. Miller diaries get from Darrtown, Ohio to Colorado?


If you can provide any insight to that question...GREAT!


If not, then I will stop pestering you with inquiries.


Thank you for your time and information [past – and future, if you have any more to add].


Best regards,




And, then I waited. Thankfully, Annelise, proved to be helpful person, as she obviously pursued the matter with the seller - as evidenced by my receipt of the following email message from Bryan Ponce - the buyer of the Miller diaries.


On 5/15/13 9:40 PM, "Bryan Ponce" wrote:




Thanks, I just wanted to be sure that this was not some scam or you had another ulterior motive.  I purchased the 2 story house next to Don's Carry out in ~1996 and restored it.  The house was a wreck and was in the possession of a bank.  I purchased the house and contents from the bank.  After the closing, the heirs of the Miller Estate took a few items from the house, but the diaries were among the things they left behind. Other than that I do not know much more about them.  In addition to that house, I believe the Miller family also owned a one story house on the way out of town as you head to Hamilton.  it is the house that is on a triangle-shaped piece of property between two streets.  It was in worse condition and is why I went with the house next to Don's.    If I run across any more of his ephemera I will let you know.  I still have a large framed  late 19th ink etching of a leaping deer that is marked as from Butler County that was left in the house. If you have more questions let me know.




Having received Bryan’s email (above), I sent the following email message to him.


Date: Wed, 15 May 2013 06:22:13 -0400


Subject: Re: Identity of seller?

From: fredlindley

To: bryanponce


Re: Identity of seller?




Thank you for writing and thank you for your patience with me.


I am pursuing the history of the L. A. Miller diaries, because I am interested in Darrtown (Ohio) history, as evidenced by the fact that I am the webmaster for the Darrtown website [see http://www.darrtown.com]


Below, you will see the passage that you provided Annelise at Gorman Auctions – and she, in turn, forwarded to me.



On 5/14/13 10:26 PM, "Bryan Ponce wrote (to Annelise at Gorman Auctions):


“If they are the small leather bound diaries dating back to the 19th century (I believe some were from 1870s), they were left in a 1880s house that we purchased in Darrtown Ohio (NW of Cincinnati).  It belonged to the Miller family who had lived in the area at least since before WWII...but most likely earlier, as I have one pen drawing from Butler County from the same Estate that was late 19th century. It was an estate and bank owned, so that is all I know.”


After reading about Bryan’s purchase of the Miller property on Main Street, I responded with the following email message to him.

Date: Thu, 16 May 2013 01:28:51 -0400


Subject: Re: Identity of seller?

From: fredlindley

To: bryanponce


"Re: Identity of seller?




I understand that you would want to be certain about why I made my inquiry about the L. A. Miller diaries.


Now, given the info that you provided in your note of 9:40 PM, 5/15/13 below, here is where we again prove the truthfulness of the old adage that it is indeed “a small world.”


I know the house that you bought.


I visited there as, a kid in the 1950’s, as my uncle, Paul Weiss, rented the house from Ernie and Belle Miller. Ernie was the son of Mr. L. A. Miller.


Paul Weiss, his wife, Lois, and their three children (my cousins) Francis, Bill, and Linn, lived in that house north of Don’s Carry-Out. At that time, the property was in good shape.


I can confirm that the Millers owned the house immediately north of Don’s Carry-Out (known in the 1950’s as Glardon’s Grocery), because Paul Weiss’s daughter, Francis, told me about the times that she delivered the monthly rent check to the Millers, by riding her bike from the Weiss home to Ernie and Belle’s home [located in the triangular piece of property that you describe below].


I personally recall that Ernie and Belle Miller, along with their son, Bill, lived in that house in the triangle south of Scott Road and east of Rt. 177 – as I grew up on a farm south of Darrtown and drove past the property a “bazillion” times.


If you are interested, you may see a photo of the Miller/Weiss home at the Darrtown website. See www.darrtown.com and visit Families / Weiss, Paul


Also, you might find it interesting to see the connection between the Miller family and the Darrtown Telephone company. See Businesses / Page 5.


Then, I suggest that you visit the NEW page that I added just last week, which tells the story about how the Miller diaries wound up in my hands. See Families / Miller, L. A.


With your permission, I would very much like to add the latest info [which you supplied below] to the L. A. Miller page/story.


If you are still reading this protracted response, I will ask you to indulge me with a few more curiosity questions:


Where were you located when you bought the Miller house? I assume that you were “local” [in the tri-state area of Ohio, Indiana, and Kentucky] and not in Colorado.

Do you have any idea how the Miller diaries traveled from Darrtown to Colorado?


With great and genuine appreciation for your response and information,




Later the same day, i received the following email message from Bryan's wife, Amy.


On 5/20/13 2:43 PM, "Bryan Ponce" wrote:


"Hello Fred


This is Bryan's wife, Amy, answering.   Bryan is pretty swamped with work right now, and as he is a lover of history, he is glad to help.  While he's short on time, I can fill in a few details. . .



Bryan was an active duty SWO in the US Navy, in Oxford for his shore duty, which was teaching at Miami U's NROTC program.  (He was also studying for his MA in History.)



He lived in the Dartown house throughout all his renovations and I'm sure would be thrilled to expand on the details of all his restorations of that house if you're interested.   (He has many, many interior photos of his pre-restoration work--not sure if you could find any clues from these.)  Small world, indeed.


With his graduate work done and his shore tour complete, he left Ohio and was never stationed there again.  He took all his stuff with him, and that's how the diaries ended up in Colorado.



One more bit about those diaries:  I knew Bryan as a fellow grad student.  We were part of a Bible study group and were friends through this group.  Just before leaving for his next assignment, he invited me to the "open house"--at last his long project was complete and ready for guests.


I don't know that I would have gone to this party.  Bryan was nice enough, but I was busy with my own work.


Then he mentioned that there was a set of diaries left behind and sold as contents, diaries from the 19th century.


I was doing my work in English and writing, you see, so how could I resist reading someone else's diaries?   Thus lured, I went to the party.


And now I'm married to Bryan.


Had I known the diaries would faithfully report each day's weather and every trip into town while leaving out things like marriage proposals and dramatic birth stories and daily strife, I don't know that I'd have taken that bait.  Still: It seems the efforts of L. A. Miller reached far ahead to play a part in someone else's diary."



Acknowledging the power of the Internet

and the thoughtful generosity of Loyd Mowery!


Without the Internet and the thoughtful generosity of Loyd Mowery, it is highly unlikely that this page would have been created. Furthermore, the history told by the diaries of Mr. L. A. Miller would have gone unknown to persons interested in Darrtown.

Now what?


The recovery of the Miller diaries underscores the need for a place where Darrtown artifacts can be preserved. Again, the question arises; will some individual or group step forward and initiate the creation of a Darrtown Historical Society and/or a Darrtown museum?


The Diaries arrived April 30, 2013!

BELOW:  Mr. Loyd Mowery was true to his word. As promised, he mailed the collection of L. A. Miller diaries - from Colorado to Ohio. And, he did so, at his expense! The box was delivered by the U. S. Mail service.

BELOW: This is a view of the diaries, still in the box. There are 26 diaries - one for each year from 1910 through 1937 (unfortunately, the 1912 diary was missing).

RIGHT: This is a view of the 26 diaries in chronological order. Most of the diaries are three inches wide by six inches tall.

Buyer Statement included as proof of purchase


The following "Buyer Statement" was included inside the box that contained the L. A. Miller diaries. This February 26, 2011 document, issued by the Gorman Auctions, LLC of Manitou Springs, Colorado, confirms that a quantity of three Trays Diaries sold for $25 each. The purchase cost, including taxes and a buyer's fee, was $89.76.

More background on the Miller diaries...

What was a diary to L. A. Miller?


Mr. L. A. Miller offered the following thoughts regarding the keeping of a diary:


"A diary is a record. If to be handed down to coming generations, it should not contain any personal matter that may offend or in any way leave a blot in the ancestors or of the writer's relatives or of the Writer and his relations - A destruction of the Diary, might follow."

Who Was L. A. Miller?


The front section of each Miller diary contained space for personal data. In the 1910 diary, Mr. Miller listed the following about himself:

  • Name: L. A. Miller
  • Address: R. R. #2 Oxford, Ohio
  • Home Phone No. 31
  •  Emergency Contact: Eva M. Miller
  • Weight: 170 - 185 lbs.
  •  Height: 6 ft. 2 in.
  • Hat size: 7 3/8 in.
  • Collar: 15 1/2
  • Shoes: 9 1/2

Who Was Arnold Miller?


In his diaries, Mr. L. A. Miller frequently refers to "Arnold," as someone who assists him. From the following entries in his 1915 diary, we can deduce that "Arnold" was his only son, Ernest. See:

April 9, 1915 ~ "Ernest should be at home with us. He is our only son living."

July 16, 1915 ~ "Arnold Miller, my son."

Entry No. 1


RIGHT: This is the first entry for the first day in the first diary in the L. A. Miller collection.


This entry, on January 1, 1910, is typical of the entries recorded by Mr. L. A. Miller - every day, every year - from 1910 through 1937 - in this collection of diaries.


At the top of each page, Mr. Miller routinely recorded the temperature three times per day. Hence, the temperature on January 1, 1910 in Darrtown, Ohio ranged from six degrees to a high of 18 degrees to a night-time low of 10 degrees.


Mr. Miller then recorded his activities for the day and often noted news for the local area and beyond - frequently commenting on national and world affairs.


On this day, Mr. Miller wrote, "At home all day. I did not go to Hamilton today, it being a holiday. We had a few New Year calls and made some about town. New Year, I salute you. You will be what we make of you - largely Prosperity to some, Adversity to others."

L. A. Miller diary confirms newspaper account of legendary 1920 Darrtown baseball game


From newspaper accounts and local folklore, Darrtown has long been believed to be a bastion of good, old "country baseball." The success and notoriety of Darrtown's native son, Walter "Smokey" Alston, is one example.


The famous 1920 baseball game played on Darrtown's field, south of town, stands out as the most memorable game played by the Darrtown boys. The story of this game, which featured two professional baseball pitchers, made the newspaper; see the story, with a photograph of the players, at "1920 Baseball" at: Events / Miscellaneous / Sports.


A perusal of Mr. Miller's diaries reveals numerous references to baseball games played by "the home team." Mr. Miller regularly reports scores of games played against other small Butler County villages, such as Jacksonburg, Shandon, and Somerville. Occasionally, there are reports of playing teams from the larger city of Hamilton (Ohio).

Does Mr. Miller's diary include any record of the storied 1920 Darrtown baseball game, in which Hod Eller, of the Cincinnati Reds, pitched for Darrtown and Charlie Root, of the Chicago Cubs, pitched for the Hamilton Hoovens?

Indeed it does!

Upon searching the pages of Mr. Miller's 1920 diary, a reference to the memorable ball game appears for Sunday, October 17, 1920.


This is a significant discovery, as Mr. Miller's record provides more information about the memorable game than does the newspaper account that appears at: Events / Miscellaneous / Sports.


Mr. Miller's journal entry tells us:

  • The exact date of the game (October 17, 1920).
  • The weather ("fair to cloudy"), with morning, mid-day, and evening temperatures of 65-80-70 degrees.
  • The number of paid admissions (3,000).
  • The final score (1-0, in Darrtown's favor; heretofore, the final score was reported to be either 2-1 or 1-0).


As shown in the following image, Mr. Miller's handwritten notes for October 17, 1920 read as follows:


"Warm, dusty, and dirty. Mr. Laughton & family visited with us today. We all attended the ball game. Hoovens vs. Darrtown. Score 0 to 1. Hod Eller pitched for Darrtown. Root for the Hoovens. The teams were very evenly matched. 3,000 people witnessed the game. Over 2,200 pd admissions, children free. 0 - 1 favor of Darrtown."

Clarification Note: When Mr. Miller wrote the phrase, "Root for the Hoovens," he was not acting as a cheerleader. He was reporting that Charlie Root was the pitcher for the Hoovens team.

Extra info: Apparently, L. A. Miller was looking forward to the baseball game, because on the preceding day (October 16), he wrote: "Still summer weather. No rain and cooler, but not much. A good day for ball game tomorrow. This is my birthday. Nobody said anything. They never do. I am now 58 - getting older & no mistake."


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