Featured, Local History, The Centennial History of Hurricane

Centennial History of Hurricane (1994 Edition): Ralph Miller Family

McCallister’s Store with Ralph Miller clerking.

In 1988, The Centennial History of Hurricane, WV was published to commemorate the town’s 100th anniversary. In 1994, the Centennial Committee published a follow up book which included family histories which were not submitted in time for the 1988 Centennial History. This week’s selection is the 35th history from The Centennial History of Hurricane WV Continued — 1994.

Submitted by The Miller Children

One of the more familiar faces on Main Street for nearly half a century was Ralph Franklin Miller. The accompanying photos show him as a young man when he worked in the stores of Dee Oxley and Bill McCallister.

Ralph was born on Sycamore Creek a few miles south of Hurricane, December 10, 1892. He grew up primarily on the farm of his grandparents, John and Frances Miller. As they were getting older, his mother, Ida, allowed him to spend a lot of time helping out on her parents farm. On January 11, 1915, Ralph was married to Della Frances Smith. It could be said that he married his childhood sweetheart, as they grew up on adjoining farms. Della was the daughter of John and Victoria Smith and was born in April 1889. They were the parents of five children:

  1. Victoria Mae, b. Aug. 1, 1916, m. Carl Smith and they still live on Main Street in Hurricane.
  2. James Henry, b. April 5, 1918, m. Helen Thacker and lived in Hurricane.
  3. Margaret Lee, b. April 5, 1922, m. Robert Davies, lives in Cross Lanes.
  4. Norris “Mose”, b. Nov. 30, 1925, m. Brucilla Smith, lives in Columbus Ohio.
  5. Betty Lou, b. Jan. 11, 1928, m. Bill Litton, lives in Hurricane.

Ralph and Della went to housekeeping on Bee Branch, a tributary of Sycamore Creek, where Mae and James were born. Later, they moved to Hurricane and lived on Virginia Avenue, where Margaret was born.

Their next move took them to Rhoda Street where Norris and Betty were born. As mentioned, Ralph worked in different stores in Hurricane. Eventually, they moved back to the farm for a few years. The Miller farm had been divided among seven heirs and Ralph had purchased five of the shares.

In the early thirties, they returned to Rhoda Street in Hurricane where Ralph opened his own store on Main Street. The venture failed due to the depression. At the time, no one realized how severe the depression was or how long it would last. About 1937, Ralph went to work for Carbide in South Charleston, riding the bus both ways. It was here that he acquired the nickname “Stubby”. The name had nothing to do with his stature, as he was a big man. Smoking was not permitted in the plant, but his co-workers noticed that he usually was chewing on the stub of a cigar – thus, the nickname “Stubby”.

He retired from Carbide about 1957. The next year, Della died Jan. 1, 1958. Ralph continued living on Rhoda Street and died Aug. 14, 1968, just short of 76 years of age. They are both buried in White Chapel Cemetery in Barboursville.

McCallister’s Store with Ralph Miller clerking.
Ralph Miller, L. D. Rife, and Dee Oxley.
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