Biographical / Historical
Joseph Miller (1885-1971) was born in Russia, a second son in a Jewish family of seven children. All nine Millers emigrated to the United States in the early twentieth century, bringing with them the family cutlery business. Joseph became a naturalized U.S. citizen in 1912, and in 1917, he joined his brother David in business, forming J & D Miller. The shop specialized in fashioning circumcision knives and kosher knives, like the schochet, for rabbis and mohels. In addition, the company also made knives for surgeons, circus performers, and industrial uses, sold sharpening stones, and accepted dull or broken knives for repair. The company of J & D Miller, communicating in English and Yiddish, shipped its merchandise all over the United States and to foreign countries as remote as Afghanistan, Argentina, and Algeria.
Joseph had two children, Irving and Irene, by his first wife, Essie. In 1961, Joseph lost an adult son, possibly a child from his second marriage, to Gertie. Although Joseph retired from J & D Miller in 1955 at the age of 70, he continued fashioning knives in a basement workshop of his Laurelton home. At his death at 86, Joseph was still receiving international requests for his knives. Joseph was committed to keeping the Miller clan together in America; his poems and family correspondence reveal a man devoted to his family.