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Alvin J. Miller Papers Index
Alvin J. Miller papers Box #1
Alvin J. Miller papers Box #2
Alvin J. Miller papers Box #3
Alvin J. Miller papers Box #4
Alvin J. Miller papers Box #5
Alvin J. Miller papers Box #6
Alvin J. Miller papers Box #7
Casselman Historians Archives
Collection: PC A-5, Alvin J. Miller (1883-1981)
The following biographical sketch, by Alvin’s nephew, Ivan J. Miller, appeared in The Newsletter of the Casselman Valley Conservative Mennonite Churches, issue of December 6, 1981. Additional and detailed information is found in the collection, including the resumes in Box number 1 and folder number 50.
Alvin J. Miller was born to Bishop Joel J. and Savilla (Beachy) Miller, December 11, 1883, just two years after the Amish Mennonites had built their four meeting houses in the area. Maple Glen, first known as the “Miller” house was located less than a mile from the Miller farmstead This was the family’s home church. [The Joel J. Miller farm is the first farm north of Grantsville on the west side of Dorsey Hotel Road.]
Alvin was ten years old when the Amish Mennonite opened two Sunday schools in 1893, one at Maple Glen and one at Flag Run. Two years later, 1895, an unfortunate schism divided the churches in our two counties. The group in the bishop charge of Alvin’s father became one of the founding churches of the Conservative Amish Mennonite Conference. The other group adopted the name Old Order Amish. Until then the churches were simply known as Amish Mennonite.
Under these circumstances, Alvin spent his boyhood years in the farm home of his bishop father. School opportunities were limited, but he taught two terms of public school (1903-1905) in Garrett County. He graduated from Goshen College (A.B.) in 1912. He studied and taught in various colleges before joining the faculty of Kent State University (Ohio) in 1915. His last teaching for Ken was a course on the Mansfield campus in 1972.
Alvin had several leave of absences from Kent, the most significant in 1919-1935, when he went to Europe under Friends’ Service Committee for reconstruction and relief work after World War I. He was commissioned a captain in the American Red Cross, but transferred to the staff of MCC when Mennonites became organized to help the starving in Russia. He negotiated the contract with the Russian government for MCC and became the director of MCC’s extensive Russian relief in 1921-1926. He had numerous difficult contracts with high Russian officials as well as working relations with Hebert Hoover’s American relief Organization. The book, Feeding the Hungry, describes those relief efforts. Robert Kreider of MCC is currently doing a study of Alvin’s contribution during those years and plans to publish an account in the future. Rejoining the Kent faculty in 1936, Alvin had another leave of absence in the 1940s when he served as executive director of the Baltimore office of the National Conference of Christians and Jews.
As a young man, Alvin changed his church membership to Mennonite church where he was a member (Springs congregation) when he died, November 9, 1981. The funeral was held at Maple Glen, November 13, and his body was laid to rest near the graves of his parents in accordance with a request made by him in the 1960s. The funeral was in charge of Walter Otto. David I. Miller preached the sermon. A group of great-nephews and great-nieces contributed hymns. Dr. Roy Wenger and Urbane Peachey, representing Kent State University and MCC respectively, made appropriate remarks. Ivan J. Miller, a nephew spoke as a personal friend. Elmer H. Maust conducted the graveside services.
Uncle Alvin was not married and he was the last of his family to depart this life. He always referred to Grantsville as “home.” His interest in the education of young people, especially of this community, will be remembered with gratitude. His personal dignity and warm friendship, as he lived his Christian faith, will continue an inspiration to many of us.
The Alvin J. Miller Collection in 2019 consists of 20 boxes. The materials in this collection were among the effects of Alvin J. Miller after his death and were placed into the archives of the Casselman Historians, located on Alvin’s “home place.”
Read about Alvin J. Miller in this July 2000 issue of the Historian.