Haven History: The Soldier and the Dollhouse

By Lou Bernard in Arts & Entertainment

September 22, 2011


Lou Bernard/Eagle Eye

Hear that sound? That’s the sound of the entire Clinton County Historical Society breathing a sigh of relief. We just hosted the American Veterans’ Traveling Tribute, a moving wall fromWashingtonwith the names of fallen soldiers on it. For the past week, I’ve been assisting soldiers and their families, and providing information to them all.

As the Wall left, I looked at a dollhouse.

Across the hall from my office is the childrens’ bedroom, the museum room preserved as it would have looked for children of the past. Inside sits a large doll house, built in the 1920s. It was designed from plans that appeared in the December 1927 issue of Popular Science Monthly magazine. And in a strange sort of way, the doll house represents both the soldiers, and their families.

It was made by Captain Edward T. Miller ofDunnstown,Pa.

Edward Troutman Miller was born December 18, 1890, to George and Louisa Miller. In school, he became interested in art and theater, and later went to thePhiladelphiaArtSchool. Away at school, he met Eva Scott, a young girl from his classes. The two fell in love.

During World War I, he joined up with Troop K, composed of local boys. He served on the Mexican border until August 1916, when he was promoted to Lieutenant of the 28th Division, and sent to fight inEurope.

Miller and Eva were engaged in February, 1918, and married inPhiladelphiaon April 28, 1918, while Miller was on leave. The two had a daughter, Audrey.

Not long after, he was promoted to Captain. Commanding 260 men, he was sent to the front to assist the French in theArgonneForest. The machine guns blazed. Planes flew over, coming as low as twenty feet in the air, and shot at the soldiers; at least fifteen of Miller’s men died immediately.

Miller was carrying a mess kit on his belt. This saved his life when an explosive went off. Shrapnel penetrated the mess kit, damaging it and bending the prongs of the fork. But none of the shrapnel reached Miller, who continued to fight.

As World War One drew to a close, the community celebrated. A parade and festival was held, and Miller was invited to be one of the guest speakers. He was also invited to speak at a local church, and several other places. The mess kit that saved his life was placed on display in a cigar store window onBellefonte Avenue.

Miller stayed on with the military. He created the National Guard Armory in Dunnstown. Miller acquired the farmland in Dunnstown and had a base built that still stands today. He gathered horses, one for every man in the guard, and found a horse for himself, named Brady.

But mostly, he just spent time with his family.

And appreciated them.

And built his little girl a doll house.

Posted in: A&E

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