Jacob A. Miller was born on October 25, 1857 and was the son Jacob Miller and Mary Ann (Anstine) Miller. He married Bertha Meyer, daughter of John and Catherine Meyer, on May 12, 1885 at St. John’s Reformed Church in Red Lion. The fact that Jacob was an early businessman in Red Lion and was married to the daughter of Catherine Meyer lead to the fact that he was very influential in the development of Red Lion.
Jacob started out as a teacher at the age of 16. He taught at Raab’s
school in York Township, at Gehley’s in Windsor Township and also at Miller’s school, which was located on his family’s homestead in Windsor Township. After serving as a teacher for several years, Jacob then became a farmer, but it didn’t take long for him to become engaged in commerce. On September 3, 1881 he purchased land from John Wise in Red Lion and began operating a general store which was called the Red Lion Emporium. The 1881 business directory of York County lists Jacob as operating a general store in Red Lion, the second such store opened in the borough, the other being the store of his future mother-in-law Catherine Meyer. This store was located along the south side of East Broadway, just to the west of the Ma & Pa railroad tracks.
In March 1884, Jacob went into business with his brothers William H. Miller and David A. Miller, and they added a lumber yard on the north side of East Broadway near the railroad tracks to the business. However, by 1885 he was once again operating the general store by himself (his brother William H. Miller acquired the lumber yard which later became known as Arnold’s Lumber). He operated the general store at this location for at least 10 years, until the store was sold.
After operating the store for at least 10 years, Jacob spent the remainder of his life in the insurance and real estate business. At first, he operated this out of his house in Red Lion, which was located on the northeast corner of W. High St. and N. Charles St. Eventually, he opened an office at 65 N Main St. in Red Lion and also an office at the P. A. & S. Small Building in downtown York. As he progressed in age, he closed those offices and conducted business out of his home. In the 1890’s, he also served as the excursion agent for the Baltimore & Lehigh Railroad (a predecessor to the Ma & Pa). In 1902, Jacob started the first rural free mail delivery route out of Red Lion. For the last 18 years of his life, Jacob was also the Red Lion correspondent for “The Gazette” newspaper of York.
Jacob’s civic contributions to the institutions and places in Red Lion were instrumental and important to the development of the borough. In 1884, he was elected as a Councilman to Red Lion borough and later was appointed Secretary of Red Lion borough. He served numerous terms as a member of the school board for the Red Lion. He served as Sunday School Superintendent for both St. John’s Reformed Church and Grace Evangelical Lutheran Church. When the Leo Independent Fire Company was organized in 1894, Jacob was appointed
to a committee to obtain the charter for the company and to solicit additional charter members. He was one of the leaders in establishing the Farmers and Merchants National Bank, having solicited the majority of stock for the new financial institution. Jacob was instrumental in setting up the first electrical power plant in Red Lion and launched a movement to build an opera house in town and was elected Secretary of the Red Lion Opera House Association. The formation of Fairmount Park can be credited to him since in 1891, he received permission from his mother-in-law Catherine Meyer, who owned the land, to clear part of the grounds for picnic purposes. When Catherine Meyer passed away in 1920, it was Jacob who made it possible for the transfer of the park to the borough of Red Lion. He also purchased Fairmount Cemetery from his mother-in-law in 1916, added two additional acres in 1920 and then sold it to the Red Lion Cemetery Association in 1930 when it became known as the Red Lion Cemetery.