Sunday, March 31, 2013

Charles D. Miles

Charles Dalles Miles, born in Ohio, July 1852, is the father of Frank O. Miles, and grandfather of Mary Miles, who is the wife of Robert (Bob) Van Huss.

Charles, like the majority of males in the United States in the second half of the 19th century, was a farmer. He first tried his luck in the Dakota territory around 1890, then, sometime later, moved on to Oklahoma, first near Stillwater and Payne County, then near Morrison, Autry Township, Noble County. He then moved to Arkansas before returning to Oklahoma, to be near his daughter Hattie. He and his wife Fannie May (Brewster) Miles are buried in the nearby Morrison cemetery.

Little is known of Charles other than the few facts that can be gleaned from the four US census records where his name appears. These records are from the following decades: 1880, 1900, 1910, and 1920 (the records of 1890 were destroyed in a fire). Even though Fannie died in 1935 and Charles in 1943, I have found no other records for them.


The census record of 1880 reveals that Charles, then aged 27 and his wife, Fannie M., 5 years his junior, were living in the territory of Dakota. Statehood would not come until 1889. The census records the location as Virginia Township, Union County. The location is just north of Sioux City, Iowa and near the present town of  Hawarden, South Dakota. See Map. Charles and Fannie had, at the time, one daughter, Hattie F., who was then only one year old. Charles farmed while Fannie kept the house.

The other few tantalizing facts revealed by the census include Charles' place of birth, Ohio, and those of his father and mother, Pennsylvania and Ohio. Fannie's place of birth was Kansas, and those of her father and mother, both of New York.

US Census 1880 for Frank and Fannie Miles
The young Miles family had to endure the Hard Winter of 1880-1881. Snow fell in October and over the succeeding months, accumulated to over ten feet. When  a late spring finally arrived, the snows melted turning the flat prairie into a giant lake.

There are too many coincidence of name to mention them all. But, it seems appropriate to say a little about General Nelson Miles. As Nelson Miles was originally from Massachusettes, it is unlikely that there is any direct family connection.

Following General Armstrong Custer's defeat at the Battle of the Little Big Horn in 1876, General Nelson Miles was dispatched to track down Sitting Bull. The cause of all the trouble was the discovery of gold in the Black Hills of the Dakota territory. The Sioux naturally resisted the white man's incursions and war followed. The area where Charles and Fannie settled was the historic home of the Yankton Sioux.


The census of 1900 places the family in Stillwater, Okalahoma, in Payne County. Frank and Fannie are now 47 and 42 years old, and one son, Frank O. Miles, age 16, born in Iowa, lives with them. (Note, the census record incorrectly lists Charles' father as being born in Ohio.)  Eleven year old Hattie is missing from the census. Son, Charles is helping on the farm. Charles owns his farm, but it is mortgaged to the bank.

US Census 1900, Frank and Fannie Miles


Ten years later, when the census of 1910 is taken, the Miles family has moved to Noble County and Autry Township. Charles and Fannie are now aged 52 and 47; and, the household has again changed. Both children, Hattie and Frank are now gone. But there is the mysterious appearance of four new individuals. These are daughter, Elsie M. Duree, age 28, divorced;  granddaughters Alpha A. and Hattie O., ages 7 and 5, and a hired-man, Sirie Crits, age 21.

Now I said that both Hattie and Frank had left the household, but then, who is Elsie M. Duree?  And how is it that the 1910 census says that Charles and Fannie are only 5 years older than the 1900 census? Shouldn't they be 57 and 47, respectively?

One has to be mindful that census recorders can err. Then too, we all like to lie about our age, and shaving five years off is not an uncommon thing.

The bigger mystery for me is, "Who is Elsie M. Duree?"

Hattie, Charles and Fannie's daughter, was 31 years old in 1910. She appears on another 1910 census record, and married to Allison (A) A. Hileman. Hattie died and was buried in the Morrison cemetery in Oklahoma alongside her husband.

[Charles Dallas Miles and Frances May Miles are also buried in the Morrison cemetery.]

Could it be that Elsie is a third child?

The 1910 census records that Fannie had four children, three of whom were living at the time the 1910 census was taken. Don't know, but this is the first and last time Elsie's name appears. Need more research.

US Census 1910, Frank and Fannie Miles

By 1920, Charles and Fannie, now living alone and listed at the ages of  66 and 62,  have moved on to Esculapia Township, Benton County, Arkansas. Charles is still farming.

US Census 1920, Charles and Fannie Miles


The 1940 census records that Charles Miles, age 86, was living with his daughter Hattie, age 61, and her husband A.A. Hileman in Otoe, Pawnee County, Oklahoma. [I haven't seen the record.] The reference to Otoe, an Indian tribe related to the Sioux, fuels the family lore that the Miles family is part Indian.

Morrison Cemetery

The Morrison cemetery records Fannies's death as 1935 and Charles in 1943.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Frank Miles in the 1920's

I have already written that Frank Miles went to the oil fields in French Algeria where he met his wife to be, Maria Llabres. They married and,

" November of 1925, Frank, his wife Maria, and baby son Charles left Bordeaux [France] for New York aboard the French liner Le Bourdonnais. They settled in Spring Township, Butler County where they remained for the rest of their lives raising their three children Charlie, Joan, and Mary. Maria would remain on the farm with one exception, a trip that she took with her daughter Mary in the late summer of 1954 when she traveled back to France and Algeria to visit relatives."
Arriving as they did in 1925, the small Miles family just missed the devastating tornado of 1924 which struck Augusta Kansas.

Augusta tornado 1924, Bob Bergman
No luck in identifying the nature of the Snodgrass building. A Snodgrass genealogy lists R.L. Snodgrass of Augusta, Kansas, but identifies him as a farmer.

The Miles family grew up near the small community of Haverhill. The son Charlie and the two daughters to come, Joan and Mary (born Mary Maria Miles in 1931), went to school in Leon, walking the dirt road two miles there and back each day. Frank continued to work as an oilman, but it is unknown which company he worked for. It could have been for any of the several refineries in El Dorado, but then it could have also been for one of the three refineries in nearby Augusta.

Oil derrick circa 1920

Photograph from Kansas Memory - Mr. Eliga Carter at Gordon oil field, El Dorado, Kansas.

There is precious little to know of the decade of the twenties. Today, one traveled from Wichita to Augusta in fifteen minutes, but the trip took planning. Not until 1924, was a two lane brick road laid between Wichita and Augusta. Beyond that to Leon and Haverhill where the Miles lived, and to Beaumont, where the Van Huss family lived were dirt roads, impassable when it rained.

The 1920's were a time of change for cities. The streets were paved, and street lights put in. Small grocery stores popped up. Many a lad got his first job stocking shelves with goods and carrying out bags for customers. State law closed businesses on Sunday. Local bands provided weekend entertainment.

Cinemas came to town in the 20's. And the popular movies of the 1920's were such fare as "The Perils of Pauline" and "Buck Rogers" and westerns, like those of William S. Hart and Tom Mix. Not until 1927, did talkies first appear with Al Jolson in the "Jazz Singer."

Cars which had only made their appearance 20 years earlier, now edged out the horse and buggy on the streets and roads. In 1927, Henry Ford watched the 15 millionth Model T roll off the assembly line. It sold for a whopping $260. The oil industry that Frank Miles worked for, would fuel the growth in automobile transportation.