Collingwood Notables Database
Corn and hay merchant
Rees Miller established his hay and corn store on the corner of Wellington and Gipps Street as early as 1861; his eldest son William Rees Miller eventually went into partnership with him, and continued the business after his father’s death.
Miller became a well-known figure in Collingwood as a long-serving member of several lodges. He was initiated into the Ancient Order of Foresters, Court Perseverance No. 2727, on 17 March 1868; he became District Treasurer of the A.O.F., and was also a member of the Grand United Order of Oddfellows, Britannia Lodge. An Oddfellows Lodge in Richmond was named after him.
If we need any reminder of the very localised nature of life in the mid-nineteenth century, Miller’s choice of a marriage partner would serve. Eliza was the daughter of Eli Perry, a contractor from Somerset who lived just opposite the hay store. Eliza died in 1908, by which date the couple were living with their married daughter in Canterbury.
Corn and hay merchants were as indispensible as petrol stations in earlier times, and Miller apparently ran a successful business, although perhaps little of the money was spent on the premises, since a 1934 photo taken just before demolition shows wooden buildings not much more substantial than the 1860s building. Miller did however accumulate other property and at his death his real estate was valued at £3,737 and personal property at £4,513.
While maintaining both the Collingwood business and his lodge connections, Miller moved out of Collingwood in the 1870s, first to Elsternwick and later Surrey Hills. His son William however continued to live at 2 Gipps Street, a two-storey brick house immediately behind the corn store, before moving to Northcote in later life.
Hay and Corn Store c.1870
2 Gipps Street Collingwood
|Birth Date||Birth Place|
|26 March 1838||Westminster St John the Evangelist, London|
|Spouse Name||Date of Marriage||Children|
|Eliza Jane Perry||7 June 1859, St Mark's Anglican, Fitzroy||Five sons and five daughters born from 1860 -1878; seven survived childhood.|
|Home Street||Home City||Status of Building|
|2 Gipps Street||Collingwood||Demolished|
|Work Street||Work City||Status of Building|
|Wellington Street n cnr Gipps Street||Collingwood||Demolished|
|St Paul's Congregational, North Fitzroy||Ancient Order of Foresters; Grand United Order of Oddfellows|
|Death Date||Death Place||Cemetery|
|21 October 1916||Canterbury||Boroondara|
Family information and additional photos courtesy of descendants, accessible on Ancestry.com.au