Shelby  County  Indiana

John  C.  Miller

The  Shelbyville  Republican
Monday June 9, 1947
Page 4 column 3
            The village blacksmith shop, once an integral part of every community with its ringing anvil and glowing forge, exists now in most towns only, as a heart-warming memory. And with the passing of the horse age, ferriers are few and far between.
            The forge at Shelbyville’s lone blacksmith shop at 33 East Jackson Street, glows fitfully now and only when ploughshares need sharpening or cultivator shovels have grown dull.
             John C. Miller, the kindly smithy, works alone now-no one wants to learn blacksmithing anymore, it seems, although in bygone days a half-dozen or more young fellows learned their trade under “Uncle John’s” tutelage.  Louis Rosenfield  and  Leonard Bogeman  were two of his apprentices.
            In the smoke-darkened shop on East Jackson street, a long row of iron rings sunk in the brick sidewall is rusted evidence that once horses stood tied to that wall from the front to the rear waiting to be shod. And higher on the wall are seven long rows of nails on which used to hang hundreds of shining new horseshoes.
            “Back in the those days,” said Mr. Miller with a nostalgic smile, “we used to have good times around here.”
            Many Shelbyville children, now grown men, wiled away pleasant boyhood hours shooing flies in Mr. Miller’s blacksmith shop.  Although “Uncle John,” as he was dubbed by his youthful following, and Mrs. Miller never had any children of their own, boys and girls alike flocked to the blacksmith shop and to the Miller home on Polk street, where they never failed to find sympathy and understanding.
            The smithy had quite a sideline in curing poison ivy, too. Residue at the bottom of the “slack tub,” where steel is tempered, is an effective, although messy, cure for ivy poisoning when applied as a poultice.  Many local persons treated by “Uncle John’s” iron-water will testify willingly as to its success.
            John C. Miller was born December 26, 1864, and brought up in Letts, down below Greensburg, where he learned the trade from his father, Abe Miller, a successful blacksmith in that community.  When John was about 17, the board and room he received from his father as wages no longer satisfied the lad who wanted to try making his own way.  So with his father’s understanding consent, he came to Shelbyville to work.
            It was here he met and married Miss Ella Moore who died several years ago.  Their meeting occurred at a Christian Endeavor gathering.  All his life, Mr. Miller has been extremely active in activities at the First Christian Church.  He was a Sunday school song leader for years and years and recently was made a life member of the Board of deacons after service on the board for nearly half a century.  In addition, he served several terms on the church’s Board of Trustees.  Now, although his voice is cracked with years of use, he still hums a true tenor as he goes about his work.
            After a partnership with Bill Bassett was dissolved, Mr. Miller opened his own blacksmith shop and has operated it for more than 40 years.  He and his sister, Mrs. Maude Henry, make their home together on South Harrison street.
            Since his youth, the sturdy little smithy has been a lover of the outdoors.  Some of his happiest times have been spent camping along streams in Shelby county where he hunted and fished to his heart’s content.  One of his prize possessions is a book, bound in purple suede, written and prepared for him by a close friend.  The book is an illustrated story of a fortnight’s camping trip more than 25 years ago in a cabin on Brandywine creek near the old Barlow-Hering grist mill, west of Shelbyville, which served the community for almost a century.
            Mr. Miller says he has read the book so often he knows it almost word for word-and he had no intention of breaking the habit.
Contributed by Barb Huff

Note:  Before 1900, John C. Miller operated a blacksmith shop with  Bill Bassett  as a partner.  John C. Miller was the last blacksmith in Shelbyville, Indiana.  For 40 years he operated his own shop.  The Shelbyville Republican of Mon. June 9, 1947, pg. 4 col. 3, did a nice write up with a photo.  I have never seen the article or photo, but this could be it.  John C. Miller was born 26 Dec 1869 in Letts, Decatur County, Indiana, USA, and died sometime after the 1947 newspaper article was published.  John married 30 Sep 1891  Emma Luella "Ella" Moore, the daughter of  Noah Orson and Nancy (Chesser) Moore  in Shelby County.  Ella was born Aug. 1869 Shelby County, Indiana, and died 19 May 1944 in Shelbyville.  John C. and Ella (Moore) Miller lived on Polk Street and were members of the First Christian Church.  They had one child in 1897 which died shortly after birth. -- Linda Read Chesser

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