The history of David Henry Miller and Medford Oregon go hand in hand. In 1883, Miller became the first permanent resident of Medford Oregon. In 1917 Miller was killed when struck by a train, and was buried in a plot in the Jacksonville Cemetery with his parents.
David Miller was born in Iowa to Henry Ausborne Miller and Nancy Sears. David married Elmira Brous in 1871. In 1875, David, Elmira, Henry and Nancy all moved to Southern Oregon, where many of Nancy’s brothers and sisters lived. On November 28, 1883, David and Elmira settled on a lot in what was just being platted by the Southern Pacific Railroad as Medford. Miller founded the first drug store in Medford and soon expanded it to include hardware. Eventually he sold the drug store and grew the hardware store.
From his early days in Medford, Miller was a strong supporter of public education. In 1893 he was a founder of the Medford Business College. From 1893 to 1898 Miller was Medford’s postmaster. He also served three terms on the Medford City Council and in 1902 was elected County Treasurer.
In 1905, Miller sold his Medford Hardware Store and moved to Gold Hill, where he started a new store. In 1909, he was elected to the state legislature from Southern Oregon as a democrat.
For health, Miller took long walks in the morning on the railroad track near his home. He was profoundly deaf and on February 3, 1917, he did not hear the horn of train 13 that was bearing down on him. Though the engineer tried to stop the train, it still hit Miller and dragged his body nearly 100 feet. He died instantly. His wife had his body buried in the Jacksonville Cemetery with his parents.
Although Miller had no heirs and no Miller relations in Oregon other than his parents and wife, he had many Sears relatives. His mother, Nancy Sears, was one of eleven children. Her sisters Jemima Scott and Minerva Naylor were early settlers. Minerva’s husband was Granville Naylor, who built the first sawmill in Jackson County, on Wagner Creek. Nancy’s nephew Granville Sears established one of the first vineyards in the valley. Many Naylor, Scott and Sears descendants live in southern Oregon and Northern California today. It is thanks to one of them, Chuck Sears, that David Henry Miller’s grave in the Jacksonville Cemetery will have a headstone, nearly one hundred years after his death.