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Esta Leroy Miller

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Miller, Esta Leroy (1885–1912)

By Milton Hook

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Milton Hook, Ed.D. (Andrews University, Berrien Springs, Michigan, the United States). Hook retired in 1997 as a minister in the Greater Sydney Conference, Australia. An Australian by birth Hook has served the Church as a teacher at the elementary, academy and college levels, a missionary in Papua New Guinea, and as a local church pastor. In retirement he is a conjoint senior lecturer at Avondale College of Higher Education. He has authored Flames Over Battle Creek, Avondale: Experiment on the Dora, Desmond Ford: Reformist Theologian, Gospel Revivalist, the Seventh-day Adventist Heritage Series, and many magazine articles. He is married to Noeleen and has two sons and three grandchildren.

First Published: August 8, 2020

Esta Miller was a younger brother of Dr. Harry Miller, a pioneer missionary to China. He was counted among the early Seventh-day Adventists who learned the Mandarin language and was instrumental in winning the initial Chinese converts prior to his premature death at twenty-six years of age.

Heritage

Esta Miller was born at rural Newton Township, Miami County, Ohio, on May 1, 1885. His parents were John and Amanda (Ehler) Miller. The 1900 United States Census recorded the fact that John was a salesman, possibly a colporteur. They had five children: Harry Willis (b.1879), Clarence (b.1882), Esta Leroy (b.1885), Mabel (b.1888), and Alice (b.1897).1 In 1905 John appeared in the Ohio Conference listed as an ordained minister.2 Esta attended Mount Vernon College but cut short his studies in order to join his elder brother, Harry, who was serving as a missionary in China.3

Ministry in China

In 1907 Esta sailed to Shanghai, China, to assist his brother and others in mission activities and learn the Mandarin language.4 He traveled inland to Honan (or Hunan) Province to help Australian missionary Arthur Allum conduct a Bible school at Cheo-Chia-K’ou (now Changsha).5 He returned to his homeland in 1909 to resume his studies at Mount Vernon with every intention of going back to China.6 Even though he was only twenty-four years of age, he was selected as one of five delegates to represent the China mission field at the 1909 General Conference Session, Takoma Park, Washington, D.C.7 During the report of their mission advances in China, a quartet of missionaries, including Esta, sang a hymn in Mandarin to the assembly.8

While Esta was in the course of further study at Mount Vernon, he married Laura Louise Atwell in Ashtabula, northern Ohio, on September 8, 1910. His father performed their ceremony.9 In the fall of 1911 the newlyweds sailed for Shanghai where Esta was placed in charge of mission work in the Hubei Province with headquarters at Hankow (now Pusan).10 Allum transferred north to work alongside him. They opened a street chapel in the city and held meetings every day. Several were baptized as a result of their efforts. They pushed further inland, starting an out-station 65 kilometers west of Hankow, and established a company of converts.11 These advances were made in the face of difficulties due to civil unrest, expatriate women and children at one stage ordered to find refuge in Shanghai.12

Calamity

Esta had suffered an appendicitis attack but made a recovery, only to become ill again on February 14, 1912, while in Shanghai. Emergency surgery was performed at the local Harvard Medical School and the best nursing care was provided. However, his condition rapidly deteriorated, and he passed away on February 20. He was interred in the Bubbling Well Road Cemetery13 near the Jing’an Temple. The neighborhood was a settlement by folk from overseas and the tree-lined road leading to the cemetery was their popular strolling area. The cemetery, formerly known as Wai Guo Fen Shan (Hill of Foreign Tombs), has had all the tombstones removed, and only a white marble pavilion remains in a beautiful public park, an oasis of trees around a bubbling pool in the heart of the city.14

Postscript

Laura took her little infant, Esta Leroy Miller, Jr., back to America. Tragedy struck her a second time when six-year-old Esta died with diphtheria in 1918.15 He rests in Oak Hill Cemetery, Battle Creek. She had married Harold Herman Yingling, a worker in the Postum Cereal factory at Battle Creek. They had one daughter, Dorothy, born 1920.16

Sources

Allum, F. Arthur. “China.” ARH, November 19, 1908.

Bowen, Tyler E. “Our Fallen Brother.” ARH, May 9, 1912.

“Delegates to the General Conference.” General Conference Bulletin, May 14, 1909.

“Esta Leroy Miller.” FamilySearch, Intellectual Reserve, 2021. Accessed September 7, 2021. https://www.familysearch.org/tree/pedigree/landscape/LL7X-R78

Evans, Irwin H. “Esta L. Miller.” ARH, April 25, 1912.

Gaylord, Oliver F. “Esta Leroy Miller, Jr.” ARH, November 28, 1918.

“Harold H. Yingling.” FamilySearch, Intellectual Reserve, 2021. Accessed September 8, 2021. https://www.familysearch.org/tree/pedigree/landscape/MP2W-4J2

Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook. Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1905-1912.

“Shanghai Municipal People’s Government.” Shanghai.Gov.Cn. December 2019. Accessed September 9, 2021. http://english.shanghai.gov.cn/nw46669/index.html

“The Chinese Union Mission Field.” General Conference Bulletin, May 19, 1909.

“We know that in these days…” ARH, December 7, 1911.

Notes

  1. “Esta Leroy Miller,” FamilySearch, Intellectual Reserve, 2021, accessed September 7, 2021, https://www.familysearch.org/tree/pedigree/landscape/LL7X-R78

  2. “Ohio Conference,” Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook (Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1905), 38-39.

  3. Irwin H. Evans, “Esta L. Miller,” ARH, April 25, 1912, 23.

  4. Ibid.

  5. F. Arthur Allum, “China,” ARH, November 19, 1908, 21-22.

  6. Irwin H. Evans, “Esta L. Miller,” ARH, April 25, 1912, 23.

  7. “Delegates to the General Conference,” General Conference Bulletin, May 14, 1909, 1-2.

  8. “The Chinese Union Mission Field,” General Conference Bulletin, May 19, 1909, 62-69.

  9. “Esta Leroy Miller,” FamilySearch, Intellectual Reserve, 2021, accessed September 7, 2021, https://www.familysearch.org/tree/pedigree/landscape/LL7X-R78.

  10. Irwin H. Evans, “Esta L. Miller,” ARH, April 25, 1912, 23.

  11. Tyler E. Bowen, “Our Fallen Brother,” ARH, May 9, 1912, 13.

  12. “We know that in these days…” ARH, December 7, 1911, 24.

  13. Irwin H. Evans, “Esta L. Miller,” ARH, April 25, 1912, 23.

  14. “Shanghai Municipal People’s Government,” Shanghai.Gov.Cn, December 2019, accessed September 9, 2021, http://english.shanghai.gov.cn/nw46669/index.html.

  15. Oliver F. Gaylord, “Esta Leroy Miller, Jr.,” ARH, November 28, 1918, 28.

  16. “Harold H. Yingling,” FamilySearch, Intellectual Reserve, 2021, accessed September 8, 2021, https://www.familysearch.org/tree/pedigree/landscape/MP2W-4J2.

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Hook, Milton. "Miller, Esta Leroy (1885–1912)." Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. August 08, 2020. Accessed December 01, 2022. https://encyclopedia.adventist.org/article?id=B8JO.

Hook, Milton. "Miller, Esta Leroy (1885–1912)." Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. August 08, 2020. Date of access December 01, 2022, https://encyclopedia.adventist.org/article?id=B8JO.

Hook, Milton (2020, August 08). Miller, Esta Leroy (1885–1912). Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. Retrieved December 01, 2022, https://encyclopedia.adventist.org/article?id=B8JO.