Ed Millner and His Stores

Interesting Local Characters, Miami Businesses

Ed Millner began doing business in Miami with his two brothers Will and Sam. They opened Millner Brothers Hardware in 1902. In 1906, C.J. Fribley became a partner, and Millner-Fribley was born.

17-21 North Main looked dramatically different in the 1920’s. There were two distinct buildings occupying that stretch. Millner-Fribley sat at 19-21 N Main at the time of this photo.

19-21 N Main about 1920

In 1934, Ed Millner became sole owner of Millner-Fribley. Ed’s partner Jim passed away that year.

Millner-Fribley Ad, 1934. Click to Expand

1946 News-Record Ad Giving the History of Millner Hardware

1957 News-Record Article Telling the History of Ed Millner

Ed was elected mayor of Miami in the early 40’s.

In 1947, Ed Millner Hardware became Millner-Berkey. The original buildings were demolished, and the new two-story stretching from 17 to 21 North Main was constructed. Here’s a News-Record article telling the details about the August 15 opening.

A year later, tragedy struck. A massive fire consumed the building, leaving a burnt-out shell.

August 19 Article from the News-Record Detailing the Fire

August 18, 1948 Fire at Millner-Berkey

August 18, 1948 Fire at Millner-Berkey

The Burnt-Out Millner-Berkey Building in 1948

Less than a month later, on September 18, 1948, Millner-Berkey reopened at 14-16 South Main. Not a bad recovery, huh?

In January 1949, Walter Schmidt was selected to begin rebuilding the store.

On Friday, August 19, the brand new building had its grand opening.


Millner-Berkey reopens at 19 N Main.

The long history of Ed Millner’s stores came to a close on January 27, 1966, when it was announced that Millner-Berkey had been purchased by the Belk’s corporation.

The Belk’s in Miami is gone, but the chain continues to thrive, as opposed to so many others in the post-Wal Mart era.

Ed Millner’s gravestone

Ed rests in the GAR cemetery, not too far from his friend and businesses associate Jim Fribley. In fact, that part of the memorial park is marked by a sign that says “Millner-Fribley.” He bequeathed $10,000 gifts to the chamber of commerce, Miami Baptist Hospital, and the Presbyterian church that he attended.

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