Freeman Miller (1816-1890) was born Kentucky, and grew up on a
farm. He earned a medical degree from Transylvania University in
1838. and practiced medicine for ten years. During that time he
taught himself law, was admitted to the Kentucky bar in 1847,
abandoning his medical practice. Miller became more interested
in politics after he became an attorney. As member of the Whig
Party, Miller was opposed to
slavery, a position that caused him difficulty because of the
increase of pro-slavery sentiments in Kentucky. In 1850, he
moved to Iowa, which was more tolerant of his antislavery views.
He established a law practice in Keokuk and became a prominent
member of the Republican Party and a supporter of Abraham
Lincoln's presidential campaign in 1860. Lincoln appointed
Miller to the U.S. Supreme Court in 1962 where he served until
his death in 1890.
In 1859 Miller built a three–story, 12–room brick home at 318
North 5th Street at a cost of $13,000. Miller and his family
lived in the home only two years before departing for
Washington. In 1965 the Lee County Historical Society bought the
property and it was listed on the National Register of Historic
Places in 1972. Today it serves as a museum and is filled with
period artifacts, Native American items, and a nineteenth
century dental office.
Highlights include the Grand Hallway with portraits of Chief
Keokuk and Miller, and a lithograph of the City of Keokuk in
1857. A lawyer’s study furnished with a revolving bookcase
honors Miller, his partners, and local judges who served in
Keokuk’s Federal Courtroom.
A display of turn of the 20th
century medical instruments is featured in a dental office. Also
featured are a variety of exhibits of period artifacts including
Native American items such as Chief Keokuk’s musket.
Miller House Museum
The museum is open Memorial
Day through Labor Day
1 pm to 4 pm, Friday
The Miller House Museum is located in the
downtown area of Keokuk three blocks northeast of Main Street (US-61,
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