Hoosick Township Historical Society

The Five Millers of Hoosick Falls

Sometime between 1907 and 1910 Hyman Miller, his wife Bessie, and three children arrived in Hoosick Falls, New York. The family came from Lithuania. The children names were Rose, Dora and Louis. In 1910 Hyman opened a saloon on Railroad Avenue where they lived. Soon after they also opened a small grocery on 66 Mechanic street.

At this time Rose is listed as a student. Nine years later they lived at 40 Lyman Street and Rose ran the grocery store on the corner of Railroad Avenue and John Street near the depot with Louis as a clerk. Hyman Miller is listed in the Hoosick Directory as a peddler. In 1923 the whole family was involved in the grocery store which is now located at 61 Church Street. In 1924 Hyman and Bessie Miller purchased the sizeable home at 166 Main Street from Charles and Lucy Getty. By 1934, the grocery store was listed as a family affair with Joseph and Sadye(both born in Hoosick Falls) also working at the store.

On December 7, 1939 the Millers opened a market which was the newest advance in food merchandising.

The local newspaper wrote: within the new store there is now displayed an array of merchandise that would do justice to a very large food market in a metropolitan district. Tons upon tons of the very finest foodstuffs have been placed on display.” The article continues “Opening of the new Miller Market is the culmination of thirty years of painstaking service to the public on the part of Hyman Miller and his family, including Louis and Joseph Miller and the Misses Rose, Dora, and Sadie Miller, all of whom have had their part in the development of the business. Later on it says: One of the earliest to develop the fresh vegetable store theme, the Miller establishment has grown steadily through the years because of the high plane of service it has rendered its constantly growing list of patrons. The Millers invested thousands of dollars in this store which demonstrated the confidence they had in Hoosick Falls. The area demonstrated its appreciation with generous displays of floral good wishes from their many friends in Hoosick Falls, Bennington, Troy, Albany and elsewhere. Celebrating the opening was a gigantic sale on all items in the store with thousands in attendance.

The Miller family was community minded. Local organizations could depend on the Millers to give them big discounts on food needed for banquets and dinners. Donations were made to all drives and if a group needed something they could depend on Louis to call on friends in the Capital area for needed help. They were members and benefactors of Temple Beth El in Troy and instrumental in forming the Jewish Home for the Aged in Albany.

The store was a success and welcomed by the community. They always had large displays and were able to keep prices down by purchasing in volume. In 1963 Joe Miller married Blanche Lehrman, an interior decorator he met in Florida. She was a graduate of Barnard College and had her own business in New York City. They opened a successful business called Blanche Design Studio at 28 Dove Street in Albany, New York. Joe was kitchen remodeling consultant complementing his wife’s talents.

In March of 1973 the Millers closed the store and retired to Florida. This ended over 60 years serving the public in the grocery business.

The store was sold to Rensselaer County and became the Senior Citizen Center and the center for local county offices. The Millers moved to Miami Beach and returned to Hoosick Falls during the summer. In the fall of 1981, the family donated their home at 166 Main Street to the Hoosick Township Historical Society.

The two story home contained 18 rooms, 2 bathrooms, 2 stairways and a porch. In the rear was a three car garage. The building created a place for the Historical Society to preserve artifacts and memorabilia, as well as a place to store the written records of the history of the Town of Hoosick. The building now houses the Louis Miller Museum, 10 rooms of displays, and a library containing many records of the area including genealogical information. It contains over 300 historical pictures and post cards of Hoosick Falls. The Historical Society has 203 paid members as well as a web site that is used all over the country. A historic newsletter is published 10 months of the year and mailed to all members.

Bessie Seaman Miller, mother and wife of Hyman died in 1948. During the next year the family started making plans for a much larger super market. They purchased the Coutts and Tracy buildings south of their present store. which would add 2,800 square feet to the store and form one large L-shaped room. The newspaper article dated December 14, 1950 , the day before its official opening, described the new store as follows: “The solid glass front from one end of the building to the other with aluminum finished metal top and bottom and a sign of modernistic design combine to change the appearance of Church Street completely. Three check-out stations, all modernly equipped, will facilitate the handling of customers and eliminate delays at this point....The remainder of the new building and a large part of the old store will be used for the display of groceries and allied items. Several sections of gondola shelving of the most modern type have been installed. Wide spacious aisles between the gondola shelving will facilitate the flow of customers and will make selection a matter of ease and comfort.” Fluorescent lighting through out the store and a harmonious color scheme made the inside of the store very attractive. The newest in refrigeration and refrigerated frozen food display cases were purchased This was the prototype of the modern stores we have today. Joe Miller took over the sale of appliances in the store and a complete line of paint was added. The excitement of the opening was saddened by the death of Hyman Miller just six weeks before opening the new store. He had retired several years earlier but stayed interested in the store operations. The planning and operations of the business were in the hands of the five children. They worked harmoniously with excellent results.

The family enjoyed their retirement on Collins Ave. in Miami and became an integral part of the Jewish community of Miami Beach, Florida.. Louis Miller died in 1980 and the local museum was named in his honor. Joseph suddenly died just a few days after their home was turned over to the Historical Society in 1981. We are unable to determine the date of Rose’s death. Dora and Sayde Miller carried on the Miller tradition of giving to important charities in Miami. On January 26, 1994 the two were honored by WIZO Miami. “Sisters Dora and Sadye Miller were honored as great philanthropists of South Florida.......Dora and Sadye have spread their support, joy and smiles to many local charities. They were presented with the WIZO medallion, one of the highest levels of recognition given to WIZO’s family of supporters.”

The Millers always supported financially the local museum named after their brother. They gave a generous donation to the Hoosick Falls Health Center during their expansion drive. They kept in touch with Edith Beaumont and helped with ideas and money needed to turn the home into a museum.

Sadye died in 1995. Chapel services were held on June 15, 1995. Dora became the sole survivor of this wonderful family. Upon the death of Sadye, a substantial donation was left to the Hoosick Township Historical Society. Dora became President of “The Five Miller Foundation” and continued the charitable work of the family.

Dora visited Hoosick Falls and always kept in touch with Edith Beaumont as a friend. She remained interested in the museum of which Edith was Director. She died suddenly on December 17, 1998. Chapel services were held December 28, 1998 in Miami Beach. Dora left money to the Society which has been placed in a Foundation Fund to make sure the building is kept in good condition.

The Miller family ran a thriving grocery business in Hoosick Falls for over 60 years. They later lived for many years in Florida but never forgot the Hoosick Falls community. They were important citizens of this community and helped Hoosick Falls become a better village. They did the same for the area in Florida where they lived for 30 years.