Gerrit Smith Miller

Gerrit Smith "Gat" Miller (January 30, 1845 – March 10, 1937) was a grandson of and named for the famous abolitionist, businessman, and philanthropist Gerrit Smith. His parents were Smith's daughter, Elizabeth Smith Miller, and her husband Charles Dudley Miller. He grew up on the family's estate in Peterboro, New York, helping his grandfather by hiding escaped slaves in a barn or attic.[1]: 2  Starting in October 1860 he attended the school of Epes Sargent Dixwell in Boston,[1]: 2  and in 1867 married Dixwell's daughter Susan Hunt Dixwell. (Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., married a sister.[2]) He enrolled in Harvard in 1865, but set back by health problems, left before graduating;[1]: 2  in 1924 the university awarded him a honorary Master of Arts degree.[2]

Gerrit Smith Miller
Gerrit S. Miller.jpg
Born(1845-01-30)January 30, 1845
DiedMarch 10, 1937(1937-03-10) (aged 92)
Peterboro, New York
OccupationDairy farmer; bred cows
Known forInventor of American football
Spouse(s)Susan Hunt Dixwell
ChildrenGerrit Smith Miller, Jr., zoologist; Basil Dixwell Miller

Miller was primarily an importer and breeder of Holstein-Friesian cattle.[2] His was the first herd of Holsteins in the country, according to a 1929 souvenir program of a Holstein field day and picnic, held at his farm.[3] In Madison County, New York, where Peterboro is located, there were in 1931 more Holstein cattle than in any other county in the country, and more than in most states. More than half of the milk consumed in the United States came from this breed.[1]: 5 

"On this field the Oneida Football Club of Boston, the first organized football club in the United States played against all comers from 1862 to 1865 — The Oneida goal was never crossed

This monument is placed on Boston Common November 1925 by the seven surviving members of the Team"

He was the founder ot the first American football team, the Oneida Football Club of Boston, in 1862.[2] (Because of this, there was in the late 1940s talk of hosting a national football hall of fame in Cazenovia.[4]) He subsequently played on Harvard's baseball team, and was known later in Cazenovia and Peterboro as "the best base ball player in this part of the country,” according to the page on him in the baseball history section of the National Baseball Hall of Fame.

He was a member of the New York State Assembly in 1880.[5]

He was the donor of land and otherwise supported the George Junior Republic at Freeville, New York,[5] of which he was a trustee from 1897 to 1907.[6]

Miller's health failed after the burning on March 2, 1936, of his home, built by his great-grandfather, Peter Smith, in 1803.[6] He died a year later.[7] Fortunately, Miller had already, in 1928, given to the Syracuse University Libraries his grandfather's huge collection of correspondence, business records, daybooks, and pamphlets.[1]: 6  Some of his own papers were destroyed in the fire.

He and his wife had three sons, of whom two reached adulthood: Gerrit Smith Miller Jr., a renowned zoologist, and Basil Dixwell Miller.[8]


  1. ^ a b c d e Galpin, W. Freeman (Jan 1931). "Gerrit Smith Miller, a Pioneer in the Dairy and Cattle Industry". Agricultural History. 5 (1): 1–6. JSTOR 3739563.
  2. ^ a b c d "Death Takes Father of Football in U. S.—Gerrit Smith Miller Was Organizer of Oneidas". The Boston Globe. 11 Mar 1937. p. 21.
  3. ^ New York State Holstein field day and picnic, August 17, 1929 at the Gerrit S. Miller farm, Peterboro, N.Y., home of America's oldest Holstein herd. Souvenir program, August 17, 1929, OCLC 8287591
  4. ^ Croyle, Johnathan (May 4, 2019). "1949: How John Brown's Raid almost brought a football hall of fame to Cazenovia". Syracuse Post-Standard.
  5. ^ a b "Funeral Plans for Gerrit S. Miller". Daily Freeman. Kingston, New York. 11 Mar 1937. p. 3.
  6. ^ a b "Gerrit Miller, of Famous U.S. Family, Dies at 92". Chicago Tribune. 11 Mar 1937. p. 23.
  7. ^ "Gerrit Smith Miller Dies at Age of 92". The Gazette and Daily. York, Pennsylvania. 11 Mar 1937. p. 7.
  8. ^ "Death Takes Descendant of City Father". Democrat and Chronicle. Rochester, New York. 12 Mar 1937. p. 15.

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