The Millers Lived Here

Oliver Miller and his family produced whiskey from their homestead in South Park.



The building influenced the basic design of structures in South Park.

Like most of us who grew up in Bethel Park, I learned early on that the old stone house in South Park was historic. It’s called the Oliver Miller Homestead now, but we kids knew it as “Stone Manse.” It was where the Miller family, some of the first Europeans to settle in the hills south of Pittsburgh, made their home. In 1975, it was placed on the National Register of Historic Places.

When Oliver Miller first came here in the 1760s, this part of the world was wilderness. Miller left Ireland in 1742, lived near Fort Bedford for a while, got married, then reportedly started making “improvements” along our local stream called Catfish Run in 1762. His youngest son, James, was born here in 1763, the first child of European roots born in the area. By 1772, Oliver Miller and his family had a two-story log house with a fancy shingled roof. Nonetheless, when there were threats of attacks by local Native Americans, the Millers hurried to one of the local forts for protection.

Their house became a meeting spot, and when missionary preacher John McMillan came through in November 1776, he held services there and baptized five children. That gathering is considered the first service—the founding event—for at least two local congregations, including Bethel Presbyterian. And that may be why someone dubbed it “Stone Manse,” “manse” being a word for the home of a Presbyterian minister.

The Millers were farmers, however. They cultivated grain and used it to make whiskey, a distinctive and profitable product. When Oliver Miller died in 1782, he left his land to his six sons, and the log house went to James, who was just 19 years old.

Then, in 1794, two federal agents came to serve a writ on brother William who did not live far away. William still hadn’t registered his land and hadn’t paid the new American tax on whiskey. When William ordered the men off his property, farmers in nearby fields fired rifles at the men. No one was hurt, but these were the first shots of what became known as the Whiskey Rebellion. The Millers and neighboring farmers fought against the tax but eventually signed Oaths of Allegiance to restore their status as U.S. citizens.

In 1808, James decided to add a new stone structure onto the log house, and then, in 1830, his son, Oliver, replaced the log house with a bigger stone house, creating the five-room structure that we know today. In 1927, Allegheny County bought the house from the Millers to be part of the new South Park. At the time, Corrigan Drive was still called Catfish Run Road. Since then, groups from the Federation of Women’s Clubs of Allegheny County to the current Oliver Miller Homestead Associates have cared for the house. During the summer months, it’s often open to the public on Sundays.

For several months now, I’ve been gathering material for a TV show about the joys of North Park and South Park and the local pride we develop for these places. My research tells me that there’s nothing like the Oliver Miller Homestead in that other park to the north.
 

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module
Edit Module

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module Edit ModuleShow Tags

On the Blogs


Watch: Scarehouse Visit is One These Steelers Won't Forget

Watch: Scarehouse Visit is One These Steelers Won't Forget

Bud Dupree, L.T. Walton, Cam Heyward and Ryan Shazier were among those on the Halloween adventure to the renowned haunted house in Etna.

Comments


All the foodie news that's fit to blog
TasteBuds Is Returning To Pittsburgh

TasteBuds Is Returning To Pittsburgh

The event pairs the city's top chefs with young adults living with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

Comments


Not just good stuff. Great stuff.
The 5 Best Underrated Fountains in Pittsburgh

The 5 Best Underrated Fountains in Pittsburgh

While we all know and love the grandeur of the fountain at Point State Park, there are many hidden fountain gems throughout the city. These are a few of our lesser-known favorites.

Comments


Madness and Mayhem in the ScareHouse Basement

Madness and Mayhem in the ScareHouse Basement

Visiting the world-famous haunted attraction's adults-only, subterranean experience.

Comments


Mike Prisuta's Sports Section

A weekly look at the games people are playing and the people who are playing them.
Steelers' Latest Soap Opera is Timely If Not Manufactured

Steelers' Latest Soap Opera is Timely If Not Manufactured

All of a sudden the Steelers have that us-against-the-world mentality many a team has sought to manufacture in tough times such as these.

Comments


Style. Design. Goods. Hide your credit card.
#Gottahaveit: Take It To the Hoop

#Gottahaveit: Take It To the Hoop

Robert Hallett, Goldsmith, handcrafts the jewelry in his Oakmont shop.

Comments


The movies that are playing in Pittsburgh –– and, more importantly, whether or not they're worth your time.
Celebrate the Life and Work of George Romero This Week

Celebrate the Life and Work of George Romero This Week

A preview of the week-long tribute to the late filmmaker, plus reviews and more movie news.

Comments


Everything you need to know about getting married in Pittsburgh today.
The Pick of the Patch: Pumpkin-Themed Proposals

The Pick of the Patch: Pumpkin-Themed Proposals

In honor of fall, we’re showcasing three couples whose proposals involved one of the best things about the season: pumpkins.

Comments


Weekly inspiration for your home from the editors of Pittsburgh Magazine
Who's Building and Buying Tiny Homes in Pittsburgh

Who's Building and Buying Tiny Homes in Pittsburgh

With two tiny homes under construction, builder David Gould talks about Pittsburgh's growing demand for less square footage.

Comments


The hottest topics in higher education
Tuition Increases at the University of Pittsburgh

Tuition Increases at the University of Pittsburgh

School trustees voted this week to increase tuition for in-state and out-of-state students.

Comments

Edit Module

Edit Module