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Oct 11

Jacob Miller Estate Sale, 1918

I always enjoyed going to auctions and sales, although I don’t go to many anymore because I really don’t need more stuff. But I find it interesting see what was sold at my great-grandfather’s estate sale 100 years ago.

Back then people weren’t interested in antiques as collectibles. What we call antiques today are the items they often used every day. The items sold at their estate sales were useful and people would continue to use them around the farm and the house. And today, many of these same items continue to be sold over and over, still sold at sales and antique shops, but now considered collectible antiques. I am sure grandma never imagined that her old crocks and kitchenware would be so desirable decades after she used them. She took such good care of her china and fancy glassware, but it is the everyday items that are popular now.  

Jacob Miller (1843-1918).

My great-grandfather, Jacob Miller, immigrated to this country in 1871 and did quite well for himself here in Mercer County, considering that he probably left Bavaria with very little and ended up owning 80 acres of farmland a couple miles north of Chatt. Eighty acres was an average-sized farm in Mercer County, but it would have been considered a lot of property in Germany, then and now.

Jacob Miller was born 7 March 1843 in Bierbach, Bavaria, and died 15 June 1918, at the age of 75.

Jacob died without leaving a will and his son-in-law Howard Caffee was appointed administrator of his estate on 9 August 1918. 

Howard Caffee, Administrator of Jacob Miller Estate, 1918.

A public sale was held on 27 November 1918 at 10:00 a.m. It is no surprise that the sale was advertised in the Willshire Herald. The farm items and some livestock were to be sold, not the household items. His widow Christene would have needed the household items.

Items to be sold:

Horses & Cattle: 1 bay horse, 4 years old; 4 year-old roan horse; 11 year-old roan mare, 8 year-old driving mare; 2 year-old bay colt; 7 year-old spotted cow; 4 year-old roan cow, will be fresh in May; 2 year-old black heifer, will be fresh in May.

Implements: Milwaukee mower, hay tedder, Asbarn hay loader, low lift manure spreader, Deering binder, disc harrow, disc drill, gale corn planter, Iowa seed buncher, spring tooth harrow, a harrow spike harrow, Scotch clipper, breaking plow, hay rake, shovel plow, farming mill, 2-horse farm wagon, hay ladders and hog rigging, cob buggy, double set work harness, single set work harness, sixty gal. feed cooker, iron kettles, spades & tile scoop, post auger, 20 grain bags, 26 ft. of log chain, 600 bushels of corn in crib, 400 bushels of oats in bin, and other articles not mentioned.

Below is the list of the items sold, who bought them, and for how much:

Pile of junk to Carl Miller for $11.25 (valued at $5)
3 horse evener. Floyd Vining, $3.11
Feed cooker. Henry Gehm, $12.48, (valued at $5)
Iron kettle, Carl Miller $7.50 (valued at $2)
Spaders & tile scoop, Monroe Byers, $1.45 (valued at $2)
Post auger. J.D. Bollenbacher, $1 (valued at $1.50)
26 ft. log chain. John Bebout, $5 (valued at $3)
Farming mill. Peter Miller, $4.75 (valued at $5)
Shovel plows, Floyd Vining, $1.25 (valued at $1)
Scotch clipper plow. Carl Miller, $2 (valued at $2)
Walking cultivator. Earl Hains, $1 (valued at $1)
Riding corn plow. Geo Fisher, $17.53 (valued at $7)
Spike tooth harrow. Carl Miller, $3.50 (valued at $4)
A harrow. Frank Presho, $1 (valued at $1)
Spring tooth harrow. Chas White, $5 (valued at $5)
Disc harrow. Carl Miller, $15 (valued at $10)
Corn planter. Lewis Eggar, $38.40 (valued at $30)
Cloverherd buncher. Leonard Sauer, $1 (valued at $2)
Mower. Carl Miller, $16 (valued at $20)
Hay tedder. Carl Miller, $2 (valued at $5)
Hay loader. Caroline Caffee, $75 (valued at $50)
Deering binder. Caroline Caffee, $54 (valued at $25)
Manure spreader. Peter Miller, $62 (valued at $75)
Wagon. Mike Kallenberger, $19.44 (valued at $15)
Hog rack & hay laden. Milo Campbell, $7 (valued at $8)
Double set of work harnesses. Carl Miller $30 (valued at $20)
Single set of work harnesses. Fred Marbaugh, $8.16 (valued at $8)
Single buggy harness. [Mrs?] ? W. Baker, $10.50
Grain bags. J. P. Brookhart, $16.31 (valued at $5)
Cab Buggy. Lee Hilard, $72 (valued at $75)
Bay gelding. Carl Miller, $162.50 (valued at $150)
Roan gelding. Peter Miller, $127 (valued at $120)
Roan mare. Mike Kallenberger, $106.60 (valued at $100)
Bay colt. Carl Miller, $126 (valued at $100)
Driving mare. J. Pifer, $87 (valued at $75)
Roan cow. Floyd Vining $97 (valued at $75)
Spotted cow. D. Dudgeon, $86.40 (valued at $80)
Black heifer. Christian Miller, $58 (valued at $45)
Drill. Floyd Vining, $20 (valued at $15)

Corn. Wesley Rutledge, $352.40, John Leistner, $120.5, George Rothau, $120.53 (valued at $560)

Oats. J.J. Hilda, $35.30, Joe Teple $215, Christina Miller $14.64, Willshire Grain Co., $93.70 (valued at $308)

Plow. Carl Miller, $.50

Total from sale: $2381.90
[Cash: $812.72; Time & Notes: $1494.18; Taken by widow at appraisement: $75]

Account of Final Distribution, 1 November 1919:
Balance for Distribution: $1931.64
Christena Miller, widow of Jacob Miller: $710.54
Each of Jacob’s five living children received $244.22: John J. Miller, Peter Miller, Carl Miller, Caroline (Miller) Caffee, and Clara Miller.

Several of Jacob’s children were deceased at the time of his death, but those children left no spouses or children of their own.

Some people paid over value for some of the items, as the items were inventoried before the sale. My grandfather, Carl Miller, stayed on the farm and eventually owned it, so keeping many of the items was valuable and useful to him.  

The first entry of the items sold interested me and evidently caught my grandfather Carl’s eye, too—pile of junk.

Who doesn’t like a pile of junk? My dad would have liked a pile of junk and now I know where he got that.

Just what did they consider junk? Grandpa even payed over double the appraised value for the pile of junk. There must have been some good stuff in the pile.

There is something about going through a pile of junk. The unknown. Hoping there might be some special treasure hidden in the pile.  

I would love to go through that pile of junk today and see what was in there! 

Jacob Miller Sale Bill, 1918.

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