Past Calling: this is a phrase—not so much used anymore—to describe a former occupation that one had. It is also the name of a monthly feature brought to you jointly by LebTown and the Lebanon County Historical Society.

In each installment of this feature the Society will share a different historic photo, document, or object from its collection. We welcome you, the reader, to examine, investigate, and share anything you know or discover about the object or document in question.

Last time on Past Calling…

A photograph of a man in formal clothing with several objects. The text below the picture reads “[…] Ritter” and “LEBANON, PA.” The torn-off corner in full likely reads “M. G. Ritter.” The other side of the photograph has the name “Henry Miller.” (Full resolution)

In our very first installment of Past Calling, we presented this photograph of a man named Henry Miller. Here’s what our readers thought of him from the photo above:

  • “First police officer in Lebanon”
  • “He looks like a cobbler. A shoemaker.”
  • “Worked or owned Miller Brothers Lumber 6th n Willow street”

Taking advantage of resources at the Historical Society, we consulted Lebanon City directories and obituaries in the Lebanon Daily Newspaper, where we confirmed Henry M. Miller (1869-1920) to have been co-owner and president of Miller Brothers Lumber Company.

He resided at 923 Chestnut Street, and the business he and his brother Charles ran was located at 6th and Willow Streets. Highly active in the affairs of the city and county, his activities included directorships of Lebanon County Trust Company, Fidelity Building and Loan Association, Lebanon Chamber of Commerce, Washington Mutual Fire Insurance Company, Lebanon Valley Furniture Company, Mt. Lebanon Cemetery Association, and Lebanon Sand Company.

He served as president of the board of trustees of the Fourth Street Presbyterian Church and was a member of the local council for the Boy Scouts. He also belonged to the Mount Lebanon Lodge, the Elks, Masons, Knights Templar, Steitz Club, and the Fortnightly Club. He was even a one-term Lebanon County Commissioner! Miller was especially known for his keen knowledge and assessment of real estate values in the area.

Hence the tools surrounding Miller in the photograph: the saw under his left arm, the hammer or hatchet in his right hand, and the wood plane standing against the wall. His shotgun, also visible, probably symbolized his enjoyment of outdoor activity, something also noted in his obituary.

The photographer, Ritter, was active in Lebanon from 1899 to 1913, making Miller between 30 and 43 years of age when the image was taken.

This month’s artifact

A photograph of a football team dated to 1913. The initials on the football itself (lower center) indicate these young men played for Lebanon High School. (Full resolution)

As football season continues through the winter months, this photograph of a 1913 football team reminds us that the sport has seen lots of changes over the course of a century. Can you identify any of the players in this picture? Know anything about the old-fashioned gear they’re wearing? Share your thoughts and comments and we’ll tell you what we’ve found out in the next installment!


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