Mormon Missionary Diaries
About the Collection
Reuben Gardner Miller
by Jeffrey S. Hardy
Reuben Gardner Miller was born on 7 November 1861 in Mill Creek, Salt Lake County, Utah, to James Robinson Miller and Mary Jane Gardner. On 1 November 1877 his grandfather, Reuben Miller, baptized him into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS). Three years later he obtained his first horse from his father, in return promising never to use tobacco again. During his youth he worked on the family farm and attended school during the winter months. His devotion to education led him to study at the University of Utah for two years, from 1880 to 1882. On 10 December 1884 he married Anna Jane Winder in Logan, Utah, and they were blessed over the course of their marriage with nine children.
On 6 November 1888 Reuben left home and journeyed to Chattanooga, Tennessee, as a missionary assigned to the Southern States Mission of the LDS Church. On this momentous occasion Reuben recorded, “Leaving home was one of the hardest trials which I had ever experienced. To be separated from my family, relatives, and friends…caused many a tear to flow.”1 After arriving in Chattanooga he was assigned to labor in the West Virginia conference. Like other missionaries laboring in the South during this time, Reuben faced much opposition, including mob violence and death treats. For example, on 28 February 1889 he found the following notice posted on a tree: “We hereby notify the Mormon preachers that they must leave Raleigh County within 24 hours…or we will hang them to a tree. Vigil Committee.”2 The mobs did not succeed in achieving their stated goals, but they did make it difficult for Reuben to openly declare his gospel message.
Despite this, Reuben wrote home that “the people of [West Virginia] are very charitable and will do all they can to make one at home and comfortable.”3 He also declared: “The Gospel which I have come out here to preach is true…The Spirit of the Lord is with me and I know that I shall be protected and cared for.”4 On 6 November 1889 Reuben returned to Chattanooga to serve as mission secretary to President William Spry. As such he maintained mission records and frequently toured the mission with President Spry, attending conferences and meetings. After serving for two year as a missionary Reuben returned home in December 1890.
Shortly after returning home Reuben moved his family to Price, Carbon County, Utah. There he divided his time between working to provide for his family, and laboring in various civic and ecclesiastical responsibilities. His first occupation was raising livestock, but in 1905 he founded the Eastern Utah Telephone Co. Civically, he was mayor of Price, county commissioner for Carbon County, and twice-elected member of the Utah State Legislature. In the Church organization he served for twelve years as president of the Emery Stake, and was a lifetime member of the Utah Genealogical Society. After the death of his first wife, Reuben married Mattie Nelson on 25 June 1903, and during his later years he resided in Salt Lake City. Reuben Gardner Miller died on 5 May 1954 at the age of ninety-two.
1 Reuben G. Miller, “Diary, 1888–1889,” 6 November 1888. MSS 418, L. Tom Perry Special Collections, Harold B. Lee Library, Brigham Young University.
2 JohnMiller, “Diary, Jan 1889 – Apr 1889,” 28 February 1889. MSS 418, LTPSC.
3 R. G. Miller to J. R. Miller, 8 December 1888. MSS 418, LTPSC.
Ancestry World Tree Project. Provo, Utah: MyFamily.com Inc., 2003. 8 March 2004 available from http://www.ancestry.com/trees/awt/main.htm
Bitton, Davis. Guide to Mormon Diaries & Autobiographies. Provo, Utah: Brigham Young University Press, 1977.
Jenson, Andrew. Latter-day Saint Biographical Encyclopedia: A Compilation of Biographical Sketches of Prominent Men and Women in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Vol. 1. Salt Lake City: Andrew Jenson Historical Co., 1901–1934.
Miller, Reuben G. “Papers, 1849–1953.” MSS 418, L. Tom Perry Special Collections, Harold B. Lee Library, Brigham Young University.
Rowley, Dennis, and Heidi Rude. Register of Reuben Garner Miller. Provo, Utah: Archives and Manuscripts, Harold B. Lee Library, 1980.