Shimer College Wiki
Humphrys Miller
Humphrys miller 1891.jpg

Full name

Humphrys Henry Clay Miller

Alternative names

H.H.C. Miller, Humphreys Miller, Humphrey Miller

Presence at Shimer


Presence on Earth



University of Michigan 1868


University of Michigan 1871


Seminary period alum

Humphrys Henry Clay Miller, often written H.H.C. Miller, (1845–1910) was a student at Shimer College during the early Seminary period, attending from 1860 to 1864. Miller subsequently attended the University of Michigan, obtaining his AB in 1868 and AM in 1871, and subsequently practiced law in Chicago.

Miller's exact dates of attendance are uncertain, but he is listed on the roll of students in the 1862 Triennial Catalogue, indicating that he attended for some portion of the years 1859-1862.

Miller served three terms as mayor of Evanston (1887-1890) and in other capacities. He was also an active booster of the Seminary, writing frequent testimonials that were reprinted in the Oread.

Writings about Shimer[]

  • in July 1895 Oread, p. 25:
    "I shall always regard my going to the Seminary as the most important event in my life, and among other things for which I am profoundly grateful to my parents, there is no one thing for which I am more grateful than for their decision to send me to Mt. Carroll Seminary."
  • in June 1893 Oread, p. 16-17:
    Chicago, April 4, 1893.
    Oread Committee, Mount Carroll Seminary:
    Ladies — Your letter of the 21st ultimo has put me in a reminiscent mood. I can scarcely realize that the fortieth anniversary of the founding of the Mount Carroll Seminary will occur on the 11th of May, next, and yet my recollection of the Seminary runs back almost that number of years. I remember very well one fourth of July, it must have been in 1857 or 1858, when I was permitted to spend the day in Mount Carroll. In those days, farmers' boys seldom went to town, and this experience was quite an event ii my life. However, all things I saw that day, except one, have long since faded from my memory. That exception is the dear old Seminary. I then saw it for the first time. To my boyish eyes, the buildings seemed immense, although only a small portion of the present buildings were then in existence, and I wondered if I should ever be so fortunate as to be included among its students.
    In the winter of 1860, I first entered the Seminary, and remained there until I was ready to enter college. I shall always regard my going to the Seminary as the most important event in my life, and among the many things for which I am profoundly grateful to my parents, there is no one thing for which I am more grateful than for their decision to send me to Mount Carroll Seminary.
    Although more than thirty eventful years have passed since then, it seems to me but yesterday that my father took me to the Seminary and, for the first time, I saw Mrs. Shimer. I recall very well her cordial grasp of the hand, and the welcome which almost made me feel at home. Then came my father's departure and the feeling of utter loneliness which comes to a boy who, for the first time, finds himself among strangers. In those days, however, there was little opportunity for loneliness. The Seminary was full of bright, ambitious pupils, and there was plenty of work and wholesome recreation. To all Mrs. Shimer was a mother. To every student, her presence was then, as it has been through all subsequent years, a benediction. Miss Gregory, the model teacher, was in her prime; Professor Shimer taught higher mathematics in a manner seldom equaled; Professor Silvernail, the accomplished scholar and refined gentleman, was an inspiration to all who came within his influence; and Miss Holman, a woman of noble character, was the teacher of music. I doubt if any school has ever had better teachers than these. With how much pleasure do the old pupils recall the classes in Henkle's Higher Algebra, Intellectual Arithmetic, Virgil, and Vocal Music. And why? Because of the excellent manner in which these subjects were taught, and because also of the personality of the teachers. How little did they realize what an important part they had in shaping character, and how much do we pupils owe to these faithful friends and teachers.
    Among my classmates were Linnaeus Hostetter, Abram Hostetter, Mamie Hostetter, William Shirk, Samuel Hayes, Libbie McDermont, D. W. Crouse, J. N. Crouse, Morris Rea, E. W. Lyman, "Frankie " Snow, George E. Miller, Rebecca Holderman, S. E. Gross, Nancy Brainard, Virgil Ferguson, W. H. Redman, David Strock, the Mason sisters, and many others, the mere mention of whose names calls up most pleasant memories.
    The Hostetter boys (I always think of my classmates as boys and girls) are still within reach of Mrs. Shimer's call. Mamie Hostetter, now Mrs. Greenleaf, one of the most gifted of Mrs. Shimer's girls, resides at Augusta, Ga.; Will Shirk, who early gave promise of his brilliant and successful career, is one of the most honored citizens of his adopted State, Missouri, and resides in Sedalia, in that State. Sam Hayes, the earnest student, is one of the professors in the law department of the University of Iowa ; D. W. Crouse is a physician of large practice at Waterloo, Iowa. He and Sam Hayes were afterwards my room-mates at college. J. N. Crouse ranks among the first dentists in Chicago; Morris Rea is a successful lawyer at Grundy Center, Iowa; E. W. Lyman and his wife, formerly known to us as "Frankie" Snow, have a beautiful home at Oak Park, Ill., and are greatly respected by all who know them ; George E. Miller is a busy and useful physician at Hanover, Ill. Libbie McDermott and Nancy Brainard are, I think, deceased. S. E. Gross is one of Chicago's millionaires ; Virgil Ferguson is one of the leading members of the Illinois State Senate; W. H. Redman has been Speaker of the House of Representatives of Iowa, but is now practicing law in Chicago.
    During these years, the Philomathean, a literary society of high grade, flourished at the Seminary, and was very helpful to all that belonged to it. Many of us there learned lessons in parliamentary law, which have been useful to us upon many occasions since.
    In 1861, the great Civil War began, and nearly all of the Seminary boys who were old enough, entered the army. Those of us who were too young for service, envied our classmates and watched their career with interest. There was then a large vacant square north of the Seminary grounds, and there the soldiers drilled until they went into camp at Freeport, or elsewhere. I remember well with how much interest I watched their awkard evolutions, and how ambitious 1 was to be at least a drummer boy.
    The girls busied themselves in making temporary uniforms for the new soldiers and beautiful flags for presentation to the companies which went from Mount Carroll. They were fully as patriotic as the boys. But I have already made this letter too long. Some of the references made may call up pleasant memories to the students of "long ago." If so, I shall be glad.
    To me the memory of those far-away school days is very precious, and my gratitude to Mrs. Shimer, and the other teachers who were associated with her, increases as the years go by. May her remaining days be full of the peace and happiness which she has so well earned by long and faithful service in behalf of others.
    Very truly yours
    H. H. C. Miller.


  • in "Personals", Oread, August 1891, p. 25:
    A testimonial reception was tendered in May to Hon. H. H. C. Miller by the citizens of Evanston in recognition of services rendered as president of the village. An immense audience greeted him, and Evanston's most cultured men and women sought to honor their faithful, efficient leader. All who knew the youth in his school life can readily believe that he has proven to be "a Christian gentleman whose atmosphere is well defined and salutary," who merits praise for his "loyalty and friendship," and for his help in all "higher activities."
  • in A Classic Town: The Story of Evanston by 'An Old Timer' , Frances Elizabeth Willard, 1891, p. 70:
    Mr. Miller was the first president elected by the people, the others having been chosen by the members of the board. Mr. Miller served three terms.


  • in Michigan Alumnus, vol. 6, January 1900, p. 182:
    Humphrys Henry Clay Miller, '68, '71, A.M., was born in New York City, October 17, 1845, and registered in the University from Mt. Carroll. In 1870 he was married to Harriet S. Lewis and they have three children. While in college, Mr. Miller was a member of the Alpha Nu literary society, and other student organizations. His home is now in Evanston, Ill., where he has been president of the board of education for fifteen years, and he has been three times mayor, always by unanimous election. He is now president of the civil service commission of Evanston, and a practicing attorney with office 1415 Marquette Bid., Chicago.
  • in The Book of Chicagoans, 1905, p. 411:
    MILLER, Humphrys Henry Clay, lawyer: b. New York, Oct. 17, 1845; s. George and Isabella Miller: located in Illinois, 1854; grad. Univ. of Michigan, 1868; A.M.. 1872; studied law; m. Channahon, Will Co.. Ill.. Dec. 17, 1870, Harriet S. Lewis; children: AKa D.. George H., Donald C. Supt. public schools, Morris, Ill.. 1870-5: admitted to bar, 1875; pres. Board of Education, Evanston, Ill., since 1883; mayor of Evanston, Ill. 1887-90; pres. Board of Civil Service Commissioners, Evanston, 1894-1904; vice-pres. Board of Trustees Northwestern Univ.; senior mem. law firm Miller, Thoman & Oppenheim; was a mem. staff Gov. Yates (Ill.) with rank of col. (appointed, 1901); vicepres. Chicago Evening Post; dir. State Bank of Evanston, Nat. Mutual Church Insurance Co. of Chicago. Children's Aid and Home Soc. Republican. Clubs: Union League. University, Hamilton. Evanston. Evanston Country. Glen View. Office: Marquette Bldg. Residence: Evanston, Ill.
  • in Daily Northwestern, 31:41, November 17, 1910, "Last Sad Rites Today", pages 1 and 3:
    University to Close During Hour of Funeral as a Tribute to Memory of the Deceased.
    Funeral services over the late Humphreys Henry Clay Miller will be held this afternoon at 2 o'clock at the family home, Hinman avenue. *:The services will be conducted by Dr. Timothy P. Frost, pastor of the First Methodist Church, and Dr. Charles J. Little, president of Garrett Biblical Institute.
    As a tribute to the memory of Mr. Miller all activities of the University will be suspended during the hours of the funeral services today, from 2 to 4 p. m.
    Humphreys Henry Clay Miller was born in New York city October 17,1845, the son of George and Isabella Clark Miller. His father was a native of Ireland. When Mr. Miller was 9 years old the family moved to the southern part of Illinois, where he worked on his father's farm between periods of schooling. One winter he taught school in a small log school house for a monthly salary of $25. He prepared for college in Mt. Carroll Seminary, and entered Union College at Schenectady, N. Y., in the fall of 1864; remained there two years, when he was admitted to the junior class at the University of Michigan, graduating from that institution with the degree of A.B. in 1868. During the next seven years, while successively holding the position of superintendent of schools in three different Illinois towns, he studied law, and was admitted to the bar in 1875. The next year he took up the practice of law in Chicago, in which he was still engaged at the time of his death.
    Ever since coming to Chicago Mr. Miller made his home in Evanston. He was president of the village from 1888 to 1890, and president of the board of civil service commissioners from 1894 to 1904, and had been president of the Evanston Board of Education continuously from 1883 until the time of his death. He had been a member of the board of trustees of Northwestern University for many years, and at the time of his death was vice-president of that body. He was long a director of the State Bank of Evanston, and was a member of many clubs both here and in Chicago.
    Mr. Miller was a very friendly and affectionate man, and probably had not a single enemy. He gave large amounts to charitable organizations, but always in a very unostentatious way. He typified the ideal of the word counsellor by his advice keeping his clients out of trouble instead of hurrying them on into the intricacies of the law. One of the members of the board of education said yesterday: “Mr. Miller was extremely sound and level-headed. While progressive and keeping abreast of the times, he never allowed fads to creep into the school system, but always exerted a steadying influence. He was quiet and unassuming, and though always busy, he could positively be depended on. His loss will be most keenly felt.”
  • in "Obituaries" in Michigan Alumnus, volume 17, page 151:
    H. H. C. Miller was born in New York City on Oct. 17, 1845, and died at his home in Evanston, Ill., Nov. 15, 1910. He took the first two years of his college course at Union College and entered this University at the beginning of his junior year in 1866, graduating A.B. in 1868. For some years after graduation he was engaged in educational work, at first as principal of the high school at Channahon, Ill., and two years later as superintendent of schools at Morris, Ill. While holding this position he read law with the Hon. Charles W. Needham, of Morris, and was admitted to the bar in 1875. A year later he formed a co-partnership with his preceptor, and for the next five years they practiced in Chicago. After 1881 he practiced alone and had a large business as counsel for corporations. In 1870 he was married to Miss Hattie S. Lewis, who with two sons and a daughter, survives him. While his law office was in Chicago, his residence was at Evanston, where he was held in the highest esteem by his fellow-citizens. He was thrice elected mayor of the town without opposition. He was President of the Board of Education for Evanston from 1885 to his death. For the last fifteen years of his life he was Vice President of the Board of Trustees of Northwestern University. He was for many years President of the Civil Service Commission of Evanston. He was also a member of the Union League Club of Chicago. His death was due to pneumonia, after a brief illness. His son, George Haven Miller, will succeed to his business.


Note: Part or all of this article is being groomed for possible export to Wikipedia.

Humphrys Henry Clay Miller, or H.H.C. Miller (1845–1910), was an attorney, civic leader and three-term mayor of Evanston, Illinois. He was the first Evanston mayor to be popularly elected. His first name is also frequently spelled Humphrey or Humphreys.

Early life and education[]

I shall always regard my going to the Seminary as the most important event in my life, and among the many things for which I am profoundly grateful to my parents, there is no one thing for which I am more grateful than for their decision to send me to Mount Carroll Seminary.
—Humphrys Henry Clay Miller[1]

Humphrys Henry Clay Miller was born to George and Isabella Clark Miller on October 17, 1845, in New York City.[2] In 1854,[3] his family moved to Illinois, first the southern part of the state and later Mount Carroll, Illinois. For some part of this time, he supported himself by teaching school.

Miller attended the Mount Carroll Seminary (later known as Shimer College) from 1860 to 1864. At the Seminary, in addition to his studies, Miller participated in the school's debating club, the Philomathesian Society.[1] In later life he credited the Society's "lessons in parliamentary law" for helping him in subsequent challenges.[1] He remained closely attached to the institution throughout his life, contributing numerous testimonials that were used in school publications and advertisements.

Upon exiting the Seminary in 1864, Miller attended Union College in Schenectady, New York, transferring after two years to the University of Michigan, where he tested into the junior class. He completed his bachelor's at Michigan in 1868, and his master's in 1871. While at Michigan, he also participated in the Alpha Nu literary society.[2] The society, formed in 1843, was dedicated to the intellectual improvement of its members through writing and debate.[4]

Miller married Harriet S. Lewis in Channahon in December of 1870. They later had three children.[3]

From 1870 to 1875, Miller worked as a school administrator while studying law in his spare time.[2] He served first as principal of the Channahon high school and later as the superintendent of schools for Morris, Illinois. While working as superintendent, he reading law with judge Charles Needham, with whom he formed a partnership after passing the bar.[5]

Political and legal career[]

Miller was admitted to the Illinois bar in 1875.[2] After five years in partnership with his teacher Judge Needham, he entered solo practice as a corporate attorney in 1881.[5] He became known as a specialist in banking law.[6] He practiced for his entire career in Chicago, and by 1905 was a senior member of the firm of Miller, Thoman & Oppenheim, which had its offices in Chicago's Marquette Building.[3]

Miller was elected three times as mayor (or president of the village board) of Evanston. He was the first mayor to be elected by popular vote, the previous occupants of the position having been elected solely by the members of the village board.[7] Upon his retirement in May 1891, the citizens of the town held a large reception in his honor, with some 600 attending.[8]

Particularly known for his educational work, Miller served continuously as head of the Evanston Township Board of Education from 1883 until his death in 1910.[2] He also served on the board of trustees of Northwestern University for many years, where he was instrumental in pushing against an 1893 effort by the state legislature to revoke the university's tax-exempt charter.[9] He was vice-president of the Northwestern University board from 1895 until his death.[5]

Miller also served in numerous other political, business and civic positions. He was appointed to the staff of Governor Yates in 1901, with the rank of colonel.[3] He served as a director of the State Bank of Evanston from its establishment in 1892[10] until his death,[11] and as president of Evanston's Civil Service Commission from 1894 to 1904.[3]

Death and legacy[]

Mr. Miller was a very friendly and affectionate man, and probably had not a single enemy. He gave large amounts to charitable organizations, but always in a very unostentatious way. He typified the ideal of the word counsellor by his advice keeping his clients out of trouble instead of hurrying them on into the intricacies of the law.
Daily Northwestern, 1910[2]

Miller died of pneumonia[5] in 1910 following an illness of less than a week.[6] His wife and children all survived him.[6] His remains were cremated at Graceland Cemetery and interred at Rosehill Cemetery.[12]

On the occasion of Miller's funeral on November 17, 1910, all university activities were halted in honor of his contributions.[2] Northwestern University president Abram W. Harris cut short his business trip to Philadelphia to attend the funeral.[13]

Miller was the namesake of the H.H.C. Miller School in Evanston, which was used as a public school from 1898 to 1976. The building, designed by architect Daniel Burnham, still stands at 425 Dempster in Evanston, and now houses a Montessori school.[14]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 H.H.C. Miller (1893-06). The Oread of Mount Carroll Seminary: pp. 16-17. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 2.6 "Last Sad Rites Today". Daily Northwestern: pp. 1,3. 1910-11-17. 
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 "Miller, Humphrys Henry Clay". The Book of Chicagoans. 1905. p. 411. 
  4. Bentley Historical Library. "Finding aid for Alpha Nu Literary Society (University of Michigan) Records, 1843-1931".;view=text. Retrieved 2013-05-28. 
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 Michigan Alumnus: p. 151. 1910-12. 
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 "N.U. Trustee is Dead". Daily Northwestern: p. 1. 1910-11-16. 
  7. Frances Elizabeth Willard (1891). A Classic Town: The Story of Evanston. p. 70. 
  8. "Gave Evidence of Their Regard: Residents of Evanston Present a Testimonial to H. H. C. Miller". Chicago Daily Tribune: p. 3. 1891-05-08. 
  9. "Evanston Likely to Carry the Day: It is Not Likely the Lyman Bill Will Be Recommended for Passage". Chicago Daily Tribune: p. 3. 1893-03-01. 
  10. "New Evanston Bank". Chicago Daily Inter Ocean: p. 2. 1892-04-16. 
  11. Evanston State Bank (1910-10-18). "Our Directors". Daily Northwestern: p. 2. 
  12. "Hold H.H.C. Miller Funeral". Chicago Daily Tribune. 1910-11-19. 
  13. "President Harris Returns". Daily Northwestern: p. 3. 1910-11-17. 
  14. "History". Chiaravalle Montessori School. Retrieved 2013-05-27. 

External links[]

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