Christian Miller (sometimes known as Johann Ernest Conrad Christopher Miller) was born in Hanau, Germany in March 1767. A detailed memoir of his life was composed by a minister from Fishkill and published in 1848. Spiritual in nature, it nonetheless provides an unparalleled account of his long life.
At age fourteen, he is said to have accompanied his father from Germany to America. [That would have been about 1781.] After a short visit, the elder Miller returned to Germany leaving Christian in the charge of a New York City grocer named Thomas to learn the business. The boy believed he too would return home. Although father and son sustained a cordial correspondance as he grew up, he would not see his parents again.
By 1790, his family had convinced him that he would be better off if he made America his permanent home. In that year, the household of a "Christian Miller" (including a man, a boy, and two females) was listed on the census in New York City. Upon completing his apprenticeship, he was encouraged to move to Albany by John Tayler.
He is said to have settled in Albany in 1789 and to have served as Tayler's chief clerk until 1792 when he first "engaged in business on his own account."
At that time, he joined the Albany Dutch church. He was a devout member and later became a church officer (deacon and elder) and pillar of the Middle Dutch church - which served the people of the Southside of the city. In April 1837, this noted churchman laid the cornerstone of the Third Reformed Church located on the corner of Green and Ferry Streets. His insightful memoir reveals a lifetime of pious christianity.
In April 1797, he became an American citizen. At that time, he was called a "merchant of Albany" and a subject of the Emperor of Germany. He was presented by John Tayler. In 1799, his house and lot in the third ward and his lot in the first ward were valued on the city assessment roll. In 1800, his budding third ward household was configured on the census and included three slaves.
The first city directory in 1813, and subsequent annual editions afterwards, identified him as a merchant living and conducting business at what became 58 State Street. Until 1820, his partner was Jacob J. Fort. In that year, he began a formal partnership with his son, William, which lasted until the father retired in 1824 or the year after. During his peak business years, this wealthy businessman sat on the boards of numerous community-based organizations.
He is said to have been a "sometime agent" in the fur business of John Jacob Astor.
Christian Miller died in December 1844 at the age of seventy-eight. His will passed probate in 1848. His widow passed on in 1850.
Sources: The life of Christian Miller has not been assigned a CAP biography number. This sketch is derived chiefly from family and community-based resources. The full title of the Miller memoir is Memoirs of an Old Disciple and his Descendants by Franics M. Kip.
first posted: 2/25/08