-Elizabeth Kumler Miller

1835 - 1908


Elizabeth Kumler was born on 1st February, 1835 on her family's farm near Millville, Butler County, Ohio. Her parents were the Rev. Daniel C Kumler and Katharine Walter. She was one of nine children who all pitched in with the copious work of a family farm.

There was, however, time for the little village school which was, fortunately, a mile and a half from the farm, and so a walk-able distance for the Kumler children. She studied hard and did well in school. At the age of seventeen, this promising young woman was sent to Oxford Female Seminary which only whetted further her appetite for learning. She applied and was accepted to Otterbein University at the age of nineteen, for which she would be forever grateful, and she graduated in 1858.

After graduation, Elizabeth landed a job as a teacher of primary school in the village of Seven Mile, Ohio. Here she was responsible for teaching the "three R's" to a large classroom of sixty children, and as her sister describes in her biographical sketch at the beginning of the book, five of these children were "colored".

Her primary school teaching career was brief, as on 31 May 1859 she married John S Miller of Pataskala, Ohio. The couple lived in a little log home at the edge of a great forest, where they delighted in tapping the huge maples that grew there. Their son Amos Daniel was born there in October of 1861, but he sickened and died in August 1863.

Otterbein University

In 1862, Elizabeth had been offered the position of principal of the Ladies' Dept. at Otterbein University, a job which she happily accepted, though a working mother was a very rare thing at the time. However, the death of her son and then her husband a few months later of typhoid caused her to take a year's break from her professional life. She did return, and held the position for five more years.

Her next endeavor was to become trustee and later president, in 1887, of the Women's Missionary Association. Many of her poems have to do with the conversion of people in foreign lands to Christianity. As president she traveled to London for the World's Missionary Conference, a trip that proved to be a highlight in her life. She also served as associate editor and then editor of the Women's Evangel, the magazine of the Missionary Association, from 1888 to 1904.

In the summer of 1904, Elizabeth fell ill and was unable to return from her summer vacation to her position as editor. She convalesced at the home of one sister, and later at the home of sister Susan Margaret Funkhouser, but never regained her health, and died on 23 October 1908 at the age of seventy-three.

Her book, Poems, a compilation of poetry written throughout her adult life, was published posthumously in 1909 by her sister Susan. It includes an emotional tribute to Elizabeth as well as a biography from which the above information was taken.



by Elizabeth Kumler Miller

with a tribute by her sister Mrs. G A Funkhouser

Impromptu Cradle Song

The Boys in Blue

Two little girls rush up the stair,

To see our little Daniel.

Each eager first to capture him,

Our little baby Daniel!

And now, far into night he sobs,

Our tiny little Daniel.

Sleeping, he sobs from very fright,

Our sweetie, baby, Daniel!

O Jesus, shepherd, brother, friend,

See'st thou our little Daniel?

Then give one tender look, and soothe

Our sobbing baby Daniel.

Wert thou on earth, O holy One!

We'd take our little Daniel.

And traverse hills and rivers wild,

To have you touch sweet Daniel.

By faith we lift our arms aloft,

And lift aloft our Daniel;

Oh, take into thy arms and bless

Our wee, wee, baby, Daniel!

*this is a poem in memory of her baby who died - the pain and sense of helplessness is palpable

'Tis "Memorial Day", and I hear the sweet

Strains of the bands that are playing: and oh!

The thought will come up of the dear boys in blue

Who went off to war in that long time ago;

And it seems all so new!

I can see them yet -- so young and so true,

As proudly they stepped to the fife and drum;

Away from school in the old college town--

And so many remained -- out on the field,

And never came home -- though the fife and the drum

Keep thumping and calling so long.

Now, how can one write when the drum and the fife

And the horn -- go marching along:

And the flowers and the flags and the tears

Are all one can give to the grave of each

Hero of old -- who fought to the death

Our Union to save -- in that long, long ago?

Thanksgiving Bells

To The Girls and Boys

Thanksgiving bells, oh, her them call

Across the beautiful snow;

And arm in arm, 'long winding ways,--

As our fathers did in the olden days,

Their hearts with love all aglow,--

We'll heed the call, at the altar kneel,

In glad response to the bell's sweet peal

And the heart-chimes of long ago.

Are you marching with the ages,

Keeping with the times abreast?

Are you helping on right's mission?

Let me urge you -- do your best!

Life is far too short and precious,

As the years thus haste away,

To be growling and complaining

That things will not go your way!

Life is far too short and precious

To be croaking like a frog

In the stagnant pool of summer,

Perched upon his slimy log!

Do not hang upon old coaches,

Rather push the coach along;

Crack your whip and shout "Ho! Onward!"

Drive the wheels of right o'er wrong.

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