Miller State Park and General Miller Highway in Temple are named for Peterborough native

  • Gov. James Miller’s portrait on display at the Old State House in Little Rock, Arkansas. COURTESY OF ARKANSAS SECRETARY OF STATE AND OLD STATE HOUSE MUSEUM

  • MIller State Park was named for prominent Peterborough resident James Miller. STAFF PHOTO

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Published: 3/6/2017 10:08:38 PM

It has been 166 years since James Miller passed away in his Temple home, but travelers entering the town from nearly all directions are reminded of his legacy every day.

A historical marker just east of downtown Temple marks the home he died in on July 7, 1851, at age 75 due to complications from a stroke he suffered two years earlier.

The road adjacent to the historic site is, of course, General Miller Highway. Miller was born in Peterborough, which along with Temple holds another landmark to which he lends his name: Miller State Park.

It’s what Miller did between his birth in 1776 in Peterborough and his death in Temple that makes him noteworthy.

According to the Central Arkansas Library, which chronicles Miller’s life in it’s Encyclopedia of Arkansas History and Culture (we’ll get to why in a minute), he studied at Williams College in Williamstown, Massachusetts, before returning home to practice law. He opened for business in Greenfield in 1803 until he was commissioned as a major in the Fourth U.S. Infantry.

During the War of 1812, he led his troops to victory at the Battle of Lundy’s Lane near Niagra Falls. Considered a hero after the victory, he was promoted to Brigadier-General and awarded the Congressional Gold Medal. In 1819, he was appointed to be the first governor of the Arkansas territory. During his tenure, he helped establish the capital at Little Rock. Miller County Arkansas is also named for him.

The Arkansas Library suggests his heart never left New Hampshire. His wife remained here and he returned in 1824, refusing a seat in the state house to take an appointment as port collector in Salem, Massachusetts, where he met Nathaniel Hawthorne, author of classic New England literature, like “The House of the Seven Gables.”

Hawthorne, according to the marker along General Miller Highway, frequently visited the region, and called Miller, “New England’s Most Distinguished Soldier.”

Miller State Park, located at the Temple-Peterborough border and accessible from Route 101, was created in 1891.

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