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]

Jack (John Francis) Schafer wrote, [3]

Rohnert Park, CA, 3-30-2003

The following is a copy of a letter written by Elise Cushman, my Great-Great-Grandmother, to her Grandson, Francis Frederick Miles (my Grandfather), with her advice to him shortly after his marriage, dated 12-26-1883. I have the original handwritten letter.

Frank, who died in 1900, and his widow Ada, must have cherished this 1883 letter from his Grandmother, as it remained in Ada's papers at the time of her death at their daughter Ella's home in Pullman in 1945. Following Ella's (my Mother) death in 1958, my Dad sent me the letter in 1959 with the following note:

Pullman, Washington
September 27, 1959

Dear Jack,

When you, Joyce, and Patty were here in 1950, I think, Mother showed you a letter that her (Great) Grand Mother Cushman wrote to her Father at the time Mother's parents were married. You indicated your interest in the letter. Evidently Mother wrote lightly near the top of the first page, "This is for Jack."

It would seem as though your Grand Father, Frank Miles treasured it enough so that he kept it. I think it was among your Grand Mother Miles' things when she came to our home in 1944. It came to our attention again when Judith was here and did sorting.

You will see that it is a nicely written top quality level letter and that the sentiments expressed are most interesting. Since it was written in 1883, it will not stand much handling, so I had copies made and am enclosing one copy. If George and Judith each care for a copy, I will send copies to them.

To read the letter one feels that he is almost intruding, particularly as you read, "I know you will excuse these few hints, Frank dear, I only whisper them into your ear--" and then note her closing, your ever loving Grand Ma".

I am sorry that I am substituting for Mother in sending you this letter. Likely she was not ready to part with it at the time you read it and thought of it as a keepsake. However, she marked it for you. And I am sure it would have pleased her to know that you would sometime have it. I am sure that you will treasure it highly.

I send love,
Dad

1883 On December 26, Eliza (Delehoy) (Billing) (Miles) Cushman wrote to her grandson Francis Frederick Miles:

195 Main St. Bunker Hill, Boston
Dec. 26th, '83

My dear Frank,

I can lose no time in thanking you for the very beautiful Christmas gift which arrived, without damage, yesterday. It is the most unique thing of the kind I ever saw, & will be greatly admired by all who enter our parlor through the winter. In buying it, you laid out too much money on your poor old Grandma; but she values your kindness greatly.

I also thank you for the note which accompanies it, & it makes me so glad to know you are so happy & that you can say you have everything in your home that you can wish for. To quote one of the selections in this lovely Christmas souvenir, "Love is better than spectacles to make everything look nice." I fully believe that you have made no mistake in the selection of a companion for life, and all I hear of Ada, confirms me in that opinion. And I congratulate Ada too on securing such a husband as I feel entirely sure my dear grandson will be to her. Your lives will not be an unmingled current of happiness, because your Heavenly Father knows it would not be good for any of His children to have it so. Trials will come; of what kind you have no idea now, but it will be all right, because God never made a mistake. But you are very happy now between yourselves, & God grant it may ever be so! I think many men would retain the affection and love of the women they marry much longer if they would express the tenderness they really feel, oftener. Women like to hear a husband say that he loves, over & over again. They like to hear them tell them in plain terms that he misses them when they are absent. They like compliments, when they come from the heart, & a little praise of dress or manner, or arrangement of household goods, is a great comfort to one who has given herself to one man for a life time. A term of endearment, a pet name, so little token that she is to him what no other woman is, will make her feel matrimony a happier estate than the merriest time of girlhood. I know you will excuse these few hints, Frank, dear. I only whisper them into your ear, for I have seen a great deal of married life, & I speak that I do know.

I thought so much of you all yesterday & wanted greatly to know what presents you had at the office. I wonder if they were the same as last Xmas, & if your salary will be raised.

We had a very nice Xmas-day, & it brought us each & all many presents. A lovely cardbook from your father, & a very pretty ditto from Herbert, dear child! Also a letter & card from Will, & this morning, your Aunt Ella has started for New York for a week's holiday,--"on a bust" to use her own expressive language! How you would both of you, love Ella if you knew her! She is always bright & happy, & enjoys everything. What a pleasant thing life would be if the days were filled with sunshine & the sunshine was never dimmed by shadows. But it would not be good for us. We would get scorched!

The Old Year has almost passed away, bearing its record to Heaven. For myself, it has certainly not been spent as it should have been or valued as it ought to have been, or improved as it might have been.

But farewell to it, & to its hopes, & joys & sorrows. It brought us many pleasures, amongst not the least of which is my becoming acquainted with all my grandchildren.

I am so sorry about poor little Rosie, but hope she is daily gaining strength. What a confinement it has been for that sweet Mother of yours! Will says in his letter that he shall not marry until he finds just such another woman as his Mother. So, we will set poor Will down for a confirmed bachelor.

An now, having come to the end of my paper I will love & leave you.

God bless you both, & become to you an ever-present, joyful reality.

I am now going to write to your Mother, to Will, & to Herbert.

Your ever loving Grandma!

E. Cushman


Footnotes:

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

[2] Family Document, Evelyn Miles Krase Notes.

[3] Family Document, Notes of John Francis Schafer.


Citation: Robert and Janet Chevalley Wolfe, Janet and Robert Wolfe Genealogy, "Notes for Francis Frederick Miles"
Webpage: www.umich.edu/~bobwolfe/gen/pn/p40.htm
Email address: JanetRobertWolfeGenealogy@gmail.com
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