Lilly Library Manuscript Collections


The Irwin mss., 1833-1940, consist of letters and papers of members of the Irwin and Miller families of Columbus, Indiana, including Joseph Ireland Irwin, 1824-1910, businessman; his son, William Glanton Irwin, 1866-1943, businessman; John Chapman Miller, 1831-1901, minister of the Disciples of Christ; and his son, Hugh Thomas Miller, 1867- 1947, teacher, businessman, and lieutenant governor of Indiana.

Career of Joseph Ireland Irwin: born on a farm four miles north of Columbus, Indiana, August 6, 1824; took a job as a clerk in a general store in Columbus, 1846; with a friend bought 30 acres in what is now the heart of Columbus, 1849; operated a dry goods store, 1850-1891, in which he established a banking department during the Civil War; began building toll roads, 1867; in 1871 established Irwin's bank which remained in the Irwin family until 1928 when it merged with the Union Trust Company; delegate to the Republican National Convention, 1872 and 1884; established first telephone line in Indiana, 1878; with William Glanton Irwin, Will, H. Donner, and Philip Matter organized the National Tinplate Company, Anderson, Indiana, 1894; with William Glanton Irwin entered electric inter-urban business with the construction of a line between Indianapolis and Greenwood, 1899; started Union Starch and Refining company, 1904; died, August 13, 1910.

The Joseph Ireland Irwin mss. in the collection, 1887- 1915, consist of papers, 1887-1897, relating to the Erin Stave and Lumber Company of Erin, Tennessee, particularly to the lawsuit of Patrick H. McCormack and Joseph Ireland Irwin vs. Samuel Hege; printed pro-tariff broadsides and pamphlets, 1892, by Joseph Ireland Irwin; notices of his assessments for real estate in Bartholomew County, Indiana, 1895 and 1898- 1899; correspondence, 1896; and bills, receipts, and other papers of Joseph Ireland Irwin and Patrick H. McCormack for the Commerical Hotel, Columbus, Indiana.

Career of William Glanton Irwin: born, Columbus, Indiana, November 24, 1866; son of Joseph Ireland Irwin; B.S., Butler University, 1889; became cashier, Irwin's bank, 1889, and after a short time assumed the chief responsibility for its management; joined his father in organizing the National Tinplate Company; entered the electric inter-urban business with his father, 1899; entered the Union Starch and Refining Company with his father, 1904; bought a large block of common stock in the Van Camp Packing Company, 1914; furnished two- thirds of the capital for the Purity Stores in California, 1925; in 1928 merges Irwin's bank with the Union Trust Company of Columbus, Indiana, of which he was president until his death; member, Republican National Committee, 1938-1940; elected president, Indiana National Bank, Indianapolis, Indiana, 1942; died, December 14, 1943.

The William Glanton Irwin papers in the collection consist of letters to his parents and other members of his family while he was on a trip to Europe in 1883 and letters, 1918- 1937, most of them written to Hugh Thomas Miller. Some of the letters relate to the Cummins Engine Company of Columbus, Indiana, and to other business interests.

Career of John Chapman Miller: born 1831; graduated, Indiana University, 1855; M.A., Bethany College, Bethany, Virginia; pastor, Christian Church, Madison, Indiana, 1862- 1865; pastor, Christian Church, Spencer, Indiana, 1865-1867; pastor, Christian Church, Nineveh, Indiana, 1867-1870; pastor, Third Christian Church, Indianpolis, Indiana, 1870- 1876; for part of latter period also on faculty of Northwestern Christian University (later Butler University); Board of directors, Northwestern Christian University, 1879- ; died, 1901.

The John Chapman Miller mss., 1887-1901, in the collection consist of account books, 1887-1898, containing personal accounts, 1887-1898, church accounts, 1887-1898, and sermon subjects, 1887-1899; a grade book, January 1872-June, 1873; a bank book of A.C. Thompson and Company's bank, Edinburgh, Indiana, 1876-1901; and correspondence, 1854-1896.

Career of Hugh Thomas Miller: born, Johnson County, Indiana, March 21, 1867; son of John Chapman Miller; graduated, Butler University, 1888; taught French at Butler University, 1889-1892; studied history at the universities of Paris and Berlin, 1892-1893; professor of history, Butler University, 1893-1899; became assistant cashier, Irwin's Bank, Columbus, Indiana, 1899; married Nettie Sweeney, daughter of Lennie Irwin and Zachary Taylor Sweeney, and niece of William Glanton Irwin, 1900; elected to Indiana House of Representatives, 1902; lieutenant governor of Indiana, 1905-1909; became a director and vice-president of the Union Trust Company, 1910; director for many years of the Union Starch and Refining Company, and the Cummins Engine Company; died May 26, 1947.

The Hugh Thomas Miller mss. in the collection, 1888-1937, included a notebook of sermons in outline form, August 10-11, 1888; correspondence with Jacob Piatt Dunn, 1901?-1902, in regard to translations of portions of volumes 5 and 6 of Pierre Margry's Decouvertes et etablissements des francais dans l'ouest et dans le sud de l'Amerique... Paris, 1887- 1888, and copies of the translations; and correspondence, 1918-1937, including a number of letters from William Glanton Irwin, letters, 1929-1930, in answer to request from Hugh Thomas Miller, as a director of Butler University, for opinions of Walter Scott Athearn, and letters, 1930-1932, from Lady Anne Elizabeth Grenfell relating to the Labrador mission of her husband, Sir Wilfred Thomason Grenfell.

Correspondents represented in the collection include: David Demaree Banta, John Samuel Benham, Eugene Burgess Crowe, Jacob Piatt Dunn, Lady Anne Elizabeth Grenfell, William Glanton Irwin, Hugh Thomas Miller, Harry Stewart New, Fred Sampson Purnell, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, and James Eli Watson.

Material on the Irwin and Miller families may be found in Richard Harold Gemmecke's "W.G. Irwin and Hugh Thomas Miller: a Study in Free Enterprise in Indiana," Ph.D. dissertation, Department of History, Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana, 1955. (D40 .G3232).

Collection size: 530 items

For more information about this collection and any related materials contact the Public Services Department, Lilly Library, Indiana University, Bloomington, IN 47405. Call (812) 855-2452 or send an email using our Ask a Question form.