Laura Miller

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Laura Miller (American, 1868-1965) landscape painter, illustrator and author known for her illustrative work, landscape and seascape paintings, and genre scenes. She was born on September 12, 1868 to Romanta Tillotson Miller (1843-1928) and Etta “Ettie” Jeanette (née Fraser) Miller (1845-1927) who were married on April 23, 1866, and she had seven siblings to include: Romanta T. Miller, Jr. (1867-1958), Oliver Chauncey Miller (1880-1941), James Fraser Miller (1870-1924), Rev. Royal Ransom Miller (1873-1937), Sophia Miller (1873-1971), Ruth Tillotson Miller (1884-1952) and Etta “Ettie” Jeanette Miller (1878-1968). The family lived in their 105-acre historic home called the Romanta T. Miller House on “Fraser Farm” located at 1089 Bowerman (corner of South Road and Bowerman Road) in Wheatland, NY which is three miles south of Scottsville, NY. The Miller house was built for Miller and his family on farmland that was inherited by his wife, Etta and was named “Fraser Farm” after her grandfather William Fraser (1775-1843).

The Romanta T. Miller House was built in 1869–1870, and is a two-story, Italianate style brick and masonry dwelling, designed by Rochester’s first architect, Isaac Loomis (1807-1894). The house has a 1-1/2-story rear kitchen addition and sits on a cut limestone foundation which has an overhanging slate roof. It features a Colonial Revival full-height entrance and sleeping porch designed by architect, Claude Fayette Bragdon (American, 1866-1946) which was added in 1914. Also on the property, are the contributing large "U"-shaped barn (c. 1870, 1940) and a small garden shed/machine shop. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2014.

From 1888-1891, Laura studied Liberal Arts at Oberlin Academy in Oberlin, OH (now Oberlin College) completing her Junior year—though it is not known if she graduated from the Academy that following year. As an interesting side note, her brother Romanta, Jr., an educational businessman, publisher and philanthropist, was graduated from Oberlin College in 1891 had contributed over $1 million to the college over the course of his lifetime and also bequeathed $100,000 when he passed in 1958 stating that $75,000 of it be used within three years for the purchase of artwork for the Oberlin College Allen Memorial Museum. Laura became an illustrator and was most active as a painter from 1890 to 1915. She was known for her illustrations for the Elson Readers series of school texts as well as noted for her cover illustrations in such magazines as: Colliers, The Ladies’ Home Journal, Christian Herald, The American Farm Review, Young Folks and many others. She enjoyed painting scenes of upstate New York and Cape Ann, MA as well as travelled to Europe, Scotland and Haiti during her career. She was a member of and exhibited with the Rochester Art Club of Rochester, NY (November, 1903 three paintings shown to include “A Misty Day”). Other residences included 114 West 80th St., NY, Lake City, FL, Los Angeles, CA, and she also maintained a summer artist’s camp on four acres at a high altitude of 1,600 feet in the Berkshire Hills in Copake, NY (near Mt. Washington, MA). Laura died on Sunday, April 4, 1965 at the age of 96 in and she is buried in the family plot in Oatka Cemetery in Scottsville, NY.—Various websites list her death date incorrectly as dying on April 4, 1963 and is actually 1965.

 

Publications: Genealogies of Miller and Tillotson, by Elbert H. T. Miller (Elbert Harrison Tillotson, 1863-1939); Fraser, Christie, Smith, Wheeler, by Laura Miller, Scottsville, NY, 1951”.

(Written & compiled by Mark Strong of Meibohm Fine Arts, Inc., East Aurora, NY, 14052, meibohmfinearts.com, sources: Too long to list here and are furnished upon request.)

 

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