Janet and Robert Wolfe Genealogy --- Go to Genealogy Page for Francis Frederick Miles

Notes for Francis Frederick Miles

Jack Schafer wrote, [1]

I recall my mother talking about "Papa", but she was only 14 when he was gone. My written references of him include a letter to him in 1883 from his French grandmother shortly after his marriage with advice and sweet suggestions. He and later his widow saved this letter, so that at her death in 1945, my mother found it in her belongings. After Mother's death in 1958, my father sent it to me on the basis of a note Mother made on it at the time of our visit some years previously. It is now in my little "strong box" and has had many copies made for distribution.

The other reference is a series of daily work-related telegrams from P. D. Armour, of meat packing fame, his boss at a distance, and former partner of his father. The telegrams are in the archives of the Washington State University library, where my father placed them following the death of my mother.

Grandpapa Miles--should I call him that?--he likely wasn't even thinking about grandfathering when he died. He was too busy being father, with nine children, seven living at the time of his much too early death. Mr. Miles was born in Milwaukee, where his formerly Canadian parents lived for about 12 years, this being the location of the partnership of his father, Frederick Billing Miles, with Armour, in a grain business, according to the account on Armour in the 14th Edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica. (My parents had a set of this edition of the Britannica, which I remember perusing at some length in my childhood.) Frank's family moved back to Canada in 1869, then returned to the U.S., to Chicago in 1881. The Canadian connection remained strong, as Frank's bride in 1883 was Ada Elinor Harte of Hamilton, Ontario. They were married in Belleville, Ontario. Frank and Ada must very shortly have returned to the U.S. where Frank worked for Armour and Co. in Chicago, the meat packing company headed by P.D. Armour, the former grain business partner with Frank's father. According to the recent (2003) PBS documentary on Chicago, the Milwaukee enterprise was an interlude for Armour between his gold prospecting in California and his meat packing in Chicago.

F. B. Miles (Elise Delahaye's son and Frank's father), died in 1891. Armour, in turn, had hired several (I believe) of the Miles' sons. Frank was the second of nine children, the first to die. His brother, William, one year older, lived in Kansas City until his death in 1929. His brother, Arthur, two years younger, was a minister in Ontario. He had a sister named Ella, also the name of his mother, his daughter (my mother) and of his aunt, F. B. Miles' half-sister, mentioned in Elise's (Grandma Cushman) letter.

The sixth sibling was Herbert Delahaye Miles, who became a wealthy business man in Ashville, North Carolina, according to my mother, with a building there named the Miles Building. When driving through Ashville some years ago, Joyce and I briefly looked for it but did not persevere long enough to find it. Uncle Herbert was also a poet in his older years. I have two books of his poetry, inherited from Mother. The records prepared by Aunt Evelyn show a death date of 1958 for him, making him the last of his siblings. I have a 1958 get well and sympathy letter from him to my dad during Mother's illness leading to her death also in 1958. Uncle Herbert earlier sent Joyce and me a wedding check, but we never met him.

The youngest brother, Reginald, 22 years younger than Frank, only five years older than my mother, also died in his forties. He was the father of Josephine Miles, a much beloved and highly respected poet and English professor at UC-Berkeley. I met Josephine and her mother, also Josephine, in Berkeley with my parents when attending the San Francisco World's Fair in 1938. Josephine was crippled from childhood, I believe, in a wheel chair and cared for by her mother at that time and likely during much of her early adulthood. When Josephine died several years ago, Janice sent us a San Francisco newspaper article about her career at Berkeley.

Frank and Ada settled in LaGrange, Illinois, in 1894 from where Frank commuted to downtown Chicago by suburban train to his work for Armour and Co. My mother, born in Chicago, spent her middle childhood in LaGrange. Her papa must have been a last-minute person, as they lived a block from the suburban rail station, and she told me of his frequently hurdling the closed train-gate to catch his commuter train.

Mother reminisced about a train trip with Papa and older sister Marion and next younger brother Johnie, when she was 9 or 10, possibly mainly a business trip, but a great experience for the three of them.

The winter of 1895-96 was greatly tragic for the Miles Family. Two-year-old Douglas died first. Six-year-old Marshall was deathly ill, but survived (subsequently to die of influenza at 29 in 1919). Eight-year-old Johnie died later in the winter, and Papa was diagnosed with tuberculosis from which he succumbed four years later. To the best of my knowledge all of these four illnesses were different. I was always impressed by the recounting of these childhood experiences of my mother as my own childhood in her family was tragedy-free.

Mr. Miles was manager of the pork division of Armour and Company at this time and apparently a part of the senior management of what was likely a heavily one-man-dominated family-owned company. In 1899 Frank was transferred to Omaha, ostensibly to be the Armour manager there. I am not sure that he was able to work full-time, but he did receive daily telegrams from Mr. Armour, the hard-driving boss in Chicago, not always complimentary and full of zip and push and advice. Grandpapa's health continued to deteriorate, and he was again transferred, to Longmont, Colorado, again as the Armour manager in a small location, but possibly in bed much of the time. He and Ada even spent several months in Arizona during this year, but before the year was gone he passed away from his tuberculosis, leaving Ada a widow of 38 with seven children, the eldest, Marion, being about 16.

This was a reasonably well-to-do family of the day, but in 1900 that was no guarantee against illness and early death. Apparently the family continued to have adequate, although much reduced, income. Mr. Armour seems to have been kindly and generous, although not necessarily always pleasant in his management style.

I know very little about Grandpapa Frank's childhood, except that he was born in Milwaukee of an English father (who had a French mother--Grandma Cushman) and a Canadian mother. His father, Frederick Billing Miles, was listed in the Armour article in the encyclopedia as a long-time friend of Armour's. Frank married 21-year-old Ada at age 24, in Ontario where Ada was born. His adult business life--possibly 17 years--must have all been spent as an employee and manager for Armour and Co. In spite of the nature of the business Mother remembered her early childhood in a business family, not an agricultural family. Most of her memories seemed to be more of the widowed family and being 14, an older girl, in a family of seven children ranging from one to 16. She and Marion seemed to be quite different personalities and I would judge not terribly close. Marion likely was bookish and Mother more fun loving, although in later life she was known for being so well organized. I have a lovely letter from Aunt Marion to my parents during Mother's final illness.

Grandpapa's mother was Canadian, with many generations in North America. Aunt Evelyn traced Great-grandmother Ella Victoria Smith's heritage on her mother's side back many generations to the Tilley and Howland families of the Mayflower in the original Plymouth group and other early New England immigrants. After several generations in New England, the Mayflower line of ancestors moved to Nova Scotia in 1760. Subsequent generations moved to New Brunswick and later Ontario. On Ella's father's side the heritage included English Loyalists at the time of the American revolution who moved to New Brunswick in 1783. Great-grandmother Ella Victoria Smith married the English immigrant Frederick Billing Miles in St. John, New Brunswick in 1857. They very shortly moved to Milwaukee and business partnership with Mr. Armour. Frank was born there in 1859.

Grandpapa Miles appears to have been a gentle, kindly man who entered business through the earlier connection of his father with Mr. Armour. He had a relatively short life (41 years) with family tragedy and personal poor health toward the end. I gather that he was a well-liked and reasonably successful manager, but much less aggressive than the hard-driving Armour desired. He was, however, extolled by the now elderly Armour, in a letter to the widowed Ada. This letter, along with Armour's business telegrams should be in the Washington State, Illinois, and Purdue University library archives, where Dad sent them (with copies to Illinois and Purdue) after Mother's death in 1958.

Francis Frederick was a Salesmanager Ham & Bacon, Armour & Co. [2]


[1] Family Document, Notes written by John Francis (Jack) Schafer.

[2] Family Document, Evelyn Miles Krase Notes.

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