Esther Beryl Miller – born December 25, 1905 to Lula Josephine (Kluesener) Miller and Edman Harvey Miller in Dugger, Indiana.
I was born in a log cabin in the small town of Dugger in the South Western part of Indiana. My father at that time worked in the coal mines.
My older brother, Harley Cleo Miller was born August 20, 1903.
Our maternal grandparents, Joseph and Josephine Kluesener, lived in this same small town. I was told that my brother and I were allowed to visit them(going alone) provided that Harley would hold my hand and use special caution when we arrived at the railroad crossing. He was a good policeman and would not let me cross the track if he heard a train a mile away.
Our father taught us obedience at an early age. He also taught us to be devoted to each other would not allow unkind words spoken.
I can remember very little of the first two and three years of my life. Our mother died when I was two years and three months, after giving birth to our brother, Joseph, who died with a few hours. This was indeed a great loss for our father and my brother and I. I am now in my eightieth year and I often feel the impact of that loss to this day.
Our father put forth a valiant effort to keep a home for us. We moved to Linton Indiana when I was between three and four years old. Our mothers sister, Aunt Bethel, stayed with us until our father could find a house keeper. The first one was Mary Williams, a white haired grandma type. We called her Aunt Mary.
In Linton we had our Aunt Kitty(Dad’s sister) and Uncle Uriah and cousins, Wayne and Paul. Also there was Aunt Mat, Dad’s half sister, who was very fond of Harley. Aunt Mat was old enough to be Dad’s mother and she looked after him as such.
In 1911 Dad’s leg was broken in the mine from slate falling on it. He left the mine then and in the summer of that year our family moved to Indianapolis, taking our housekeeper, Aunt Mary with us.
In Indianapolis we moved into a house on 28th Street. Our neighbors on the west side were the Robolt family. They had two daughters(Venny & Verny) and two small boys. The father was the Church of God pastor. He seemed to look after us in a special way.
Our father had work at Crown Hill Cemetery for some time. He also worked in the home and grounds of one of the millionaires on Cold Spring Road. He told us many stories of his work.
Our housekeeper became unacceptable by punishing Harley by tying him to the bed post. Dad let her go and we were sent to Bloomfield, Ind. for the winter school term.
Harley lived with Uncle Sam and Aunt Mary Bradford and I was with Uncle Calvin & Aunt Sarah Fig. We attended a one room school house called the Miller School.
Once during that cold winter when there was snow & ice a plenty, Uncle Calvin took us to school in a one-horse sleigh. Another occasion at Thanksgiving we drove to Uncle Eli and Aunt Lizzie in the surrey with fringe on the top. During that winter Dad came to visit us at Christmas. I seemed so overjoyed to have him there, that I hardly left his lap while he was there.
We went back home when school out and Dad had found a housekeeper. Her name was May Laskey. We lived at Flackville and went to the school below 30th Street on Lafayette Road.
May did many things for us. She made Christmas nice for us and taught us to do had work. I learned to hemstitch by hand when I was seven and did handkerchiefs for my Aunts, Harley made mats from braid that he made on a wooden spool.
May was with us about two years. Again, we were alone, and we lived in the three rooms above the Zimmerman family. Dad would cook for us and we managed somehow on our own. However, Dad was not at ease with this situation. We moved in with the Shoptaw family. There were several children and the mother looked after us along with her own.
I am sure that our father was feeling desperate about our situation. At the church there were a few unmarried women. He began seeing a maiden lady who taught the young girl’s class that I was in. Her name was Dorothy Koch.
Our father & Dorothy were married in December 1916. We moved into a six room double in the 1300 block on West 30th Street. However, we were just there two months when a house at 1428 West 21st Street was located for sale and our parents bought the house and some of the furnishings
Until this move, Harley & I attended Sloan School #41. In our new location we attended Riverside School # 44. We were pleased to see Mr. Weir(the district superintendent of schools) was over our new school also. He spoke to us and this gave us a warm feeling that we were recognized among all our new school mates. The new home was comfortable, and we soon found a pattern of school, home duties and church attendance filled our lives.
By late spring of that first year in the new home, we were informed that a new member to the family was on the way. Charles Edward was born September 12th, 1917. I was delighted with a baby in the house. I learned many things that year.
Sometime in the following months my brother, Harley, became very restless. He joined the Navy after his 14th birthday by false statement of his age. This was indeed a shock to me since I had never been seperated from him. I would cry at night in bed wondering about his welfare.
The month following my 13th birthday, another member was added to the family. Delpha Alberta was born January 28, 1919. Now our household became very lively with two babies to care for. Again, I was learning many new things. I was very busy.
School had become very important to me. I loved to learn and a desire to make good grades was of prime importance to me. Harley would come homme on leave from a few days and this was good. Home was not the same with him away. Before his 16th birthday, he had made 12 trips to France or Europe.
After I graduated from elementary school, I had one year of high school. Then I felt that I wanted employment. I found an ad in our daily newspaper of a family wanting help in the home. I visited the home and was hired as a mother’s helper. There was a three year old boy in the family. The parents were Theodore and Hilda Berg. The child’s name was Billy. I went to work in the early fall of 1921, a few months before I was 16 yrs. Mrs. Berg kept a very clean house. The kitchen floor was washed every day, down on my knees. The basement was cleaned once a month. She taught me many things about cooking and baking. We also canned fruit in the summer. I liked to care for the child. Billy was a mind agreeable boy who was not difficult to manage.
In the spring of 1922, another baby was coming to our family. My parents asked me to come home to help for a few weeks. The Bergs gave me leave since they were building a new home that we would move into in the fall. Robert Dale was born May 7, 1922. I helped the family for several weeks then returned to the Bergs. We moved to the new home at 4138 North Pennsylvania. I had a very nice room in the new home. Once I was allowed to have my girlfriends from church for a evening. About this time, I had begun to date Russell Feldman, the son of one of our church families. Russell was learning the trade of brick mason. We dated for two years and were married August 26, 1924.
We started our home in a three room apartment at 1163 Wests 36th Street. This was in the home of the seniar Oldhams. Our first child was born ten months later, a son, Richard Dale. He was a happy healthy boy and re really filled my life. Two years later Russell’s work became slack and he and his father found work in Cincinnati. Dick and I moved in with Russell’s Aunt Cora until a place was found for us in Cinci.