Mr. Miles' grandfather was Thomas Miles, a native of England and of English family. He is one of three brothers who left the mother country and established homes in America during the colonial days. Thomas Miles saw service as a soldier in the Revolutionary war, and few Blackford county citizens have more interesting colonial and revolutionary antecedents that Mr. and Mrs. Miles. Thomas Miles was with a Massachusetts regiment. He was married either in Massachusetts or New Jersey, and began life as a farmer near Boston, Massachusetts. While the family lived there Lorenzo, father of A. Winslow Miles, was born in 1802. Also another son, William, and two daughters Rebecca and Fannie, were also added to the family while living near Boston, and after their birth the parents moved to New Jersey, and some years later removed from the vicinity of Newark to Steuben county, New York.
It was about 1835 or 1836 that the Miles family started on it long migration from Western New York to the state of Indiana. They first found a home in Fayette county, lived on a farm, and both Thomas and Lorenzo Miles followed their trade as shoemakers in that locality. There were very few cobblers in any of the early communities if Indiana, and as practically all footwear was made by hand their services were appreciated accordingly, and it was easy for them to exchange their service at their trade for work performed in clearing up their land, and in that way they improved their little farms. Both were men comparatively humble in circumstances, but were honored for their integrity and useful citizenship, and gradually got ahead in material goods. In 1840 they moved to Grant county, and both Thomas and Lorenzo entered eighty acres of land. Lorenzo entered his in Jefferson township, Grant county, and Thomas in Blackford county, Washington township. Once more they took up the work of pioneer settlers and combined the vocations of farming with shoemaking. Their early home was a double round-log house with a puncheon floor, and people for miles around frequented that place in order to get their shoes made. Gradually their land was cleared up, and they lived in prosperous circumstances for their time. Lorenzo Miles was one of the men engaged in the early transportation business before the era of railroads, and for about ten years hauled goods from Cincinnati, Ohio, to Hartford City. It was necessary for him to resort to this occupation since it was more profitable than cutting cheap wood or working at his cobbler's bench, and he had a large family of twelve children to provide for and every dollar was appreciated. Lorenzo Miles spent the rest of his years on the farm which he had acquired direct from the government, and died August 20, 1877. The Revolutionary soldier, Thomas Miles had died on an adjacent farm, also acquired from the government in 1838, his death occurring in 1849, when little past eight years of age. It is from this dame general stock of the Miles family that the noted soldier, Nelson A. Miles, at one time
head of the United States army, is descended. Further data concerning the Miles connections will be found elsewhere in this publication.
In 1825 Lorenzo Miles was married in Steuben county, New York, to Miss Phoebe Wass, who was born in New Jersey in June, 1805. Her early childhood and young womanhood were spent largely in Steuben county, New York, and she died at the old homestead in Grant county in March, 1869. Her father, Adam Wass, was a native of New Jersey, but died in New York state, and was of Dutch ancestry. In the earlier generations the Miles family was not especially noted for religious affiliations or work, but Phoebe Wass was a member of the Methodist denomination. Lorenzo Miles and wife, as already stated, had twelve children, and A. Winslow was the ninth in order of birth. The only one who did not attain maturity and marry was who served as a chaplain in a Nebraska regiment during the Civil war, and while returning from the South was stricken with illness and died in a hospital
at St. Louis, his body now resting in unknown grave. The only survivors of this large family are the Hartford City resident and Mrs. Fannie Synder of Maxwell, Nebraska, the latter being eighty years of age.
Mr. A. Winslow Miles was born on the old homestead previously mentioned in Jefferson township of Grant county, March 17, 1844, and has already passed the mark of three score and ten. His recollections include many interesting circumstances of pioneer days in Grant and Blackford county. The school he attended was kept in a log building and was known as the Bunker Hill schoolhouse, but he learned more from the practice of doing things in the woods and on the farm than through the literary instruction supplied the children of that day. On November 15, 1864, when a little past twenty years of age, he enlisted for service in Company B of the Twenty-third Indiana Infantry, and continued with his command until the close of hostilities, being honorably discharged in May, 1865. It was from the
exposure and hardships of a soldier's life that he suffered more than from actual conflict with the enemy. Sleeping out on the bare ground or on a hard board, in all kinds of weather, finally resulted in typhoid fever, and in addition during his long illness his sufferings were aggravated by bed sores, so that he returned from the war much shaken in health. After that trying experience he lived with his father at the old homestead until the latter's death in August 1866, and somewhat later started out in life on his own account. It is only after several years of hard work and careful economy that he was able to make his first purchase, and his first deed called for fifty acres in Section 3 of Licking township in Blackford county, and is dated November 12, 1872. He got a start financially by cutting off and selling some large hickory butts which stood on his land, and from this gradually went ahead until he was regarded as one of the successful farmers and business men of Blackford county. In 1883,
he increased his land by the purchase of twenty-eight acres, and gradually all of it came under the plow and has ever since been one of the productive farms of Blackford county. It was improved with a good barn and a substantial eight-room house. On February 5, 1911, Mr. Miles sold this good homestead which represented so much of his early labors and sacrifices for eight thousand nine hundred dollars.
Many years ago his business judgment and popularity brought him into the public life of the county, and in 1888 he was elected county commissioner and re-elected for a second term, serving six years altogether. It was during his administration that the present courthouse was built. In 1891, Mr. Miles moved to Hartford City, went back to the farm in 1895, but in 1898 returned and has since resided at 606 West Kickapoo street.
In hard work, thrift and careful watch over all details, by which his prosperity has been won, Mr. Miles gives full credit to his wife, whose helpfulness has
been an important factor in the acquisition of their modest fortune. She was always ready with a willing heart and skillful hands to assist her husband in hard labor to accumulate enough of this world's wealth to provide for themselves a comfortable home and a good living. During the last three and a half years while on the farm she milked three cows and made two thousand four hundred and forty-four and a half pounds of butter to sell, receiving twenty-five cents a pound, also raising numbers of chickens and selling many dozens of eggs at the same time, and always attending to her home duties. She is a Blackford county woman and Mr. Miles met her in that county and they were married January 17, 1867. Her maiden name was Mary Casterline, and her family likewise goes back to the old days of colonial history and the revolutionary war. She was born in Licking township of Blackford county August 28, 1849, and has spent all her life in this county. Her parents were Ira and Melinda (Saxon) Casterline who were
both born in New Jersey, but were married in Steuben county New York, and in 1836, an early year in Indiana history, brought their family to Fayette county, driving all the way with ox teams and wagons, and were six weeks between New York state and Indiana. In 1840 the Casterline family settled in Blackford county, and acquired a tract of wild land in Licking township, from which was developed in the course of years a good farm. Ira Casterline died there November 16, 1898, at the venerable age of ninety-three years, three months and fifteen days. His wife had passed away in 1863 when fifty-six years old. Going back still another generation in the Casterline genealogy, Ira Casterline was a son of Loamo and Charlotta (Fairchilds) Casterline, who were born either in New Jersey or New York. Loamo Casterline when eighteen years of age enlisted for service with the American troops under Washington at Winsted, New Jersey. That was during the memorable winter following the battle of Trenton, when the American
troops were encamped in New Jersey, and suffered almost as severely as they did at Valley Forge. Charlotta Fairchilds, who married Loamo Casterline, was the daughter of Phineas Fairchilds, a New Jersey resident who was likewise with General Washington during a large part of the revolution, and Mr. Washington fed himself and had his horse cared for at the home of the Fairchilds during a portion of the cold winter just mentioned. Phineas Fairchilds also did some good service by using a six-horse team to haul woof for the army. Both Phineas Fairchilds and wife were prominent people in their community, and belonged to the New York State branch of that old and prominent relationship. Loamo Casterline and wife were married just about the close of the Revolutionary War, spent some years in New Jersey and later in New York, and died in the latter state.
Mr. and Mrs. Miles have no children. For the past three years they have been active members of the Seventh Day Adventist church in Hartford City, and
Mr. Miles serves as a trustee and treasurer. He is an earnest church worker, and has always been liberal in use of time and means to promote any good cause and improve the moral and spiritual welfare of his fellow men. Besides his public service as county commissioner, he served in 1893 as superintendent of construction during the erection of the courthouse. He has also for some years held office as drainage commissioner in the county.
BLACKFORD AND GRANT COUNTIES, INDIANA; Complied Under the Editorial Supervision of Benjamin G. Shinn; Vols. 1 & 2; THE LEWIS PUBLISHING COMPANY, 118 ADAMS STREET, CHICAGO, 1914 Pages 150-153)
Submitted by Peggy Karol
Mr. Miles belongs to the distinguished Miles family which produced that great military figure, Gen. Nelson A. Miles. He was born in the state of New Jersey, April 7, 1819, and is a son of William and Keturah (Casterline) Miles, the former born in Massachusetts in 1795 and the latter in New Jersey in 1797. They were married in the latter state and in 1824 left Jersey for Steuben county, New York,
where they made their home for a period of ten years. In 1834 they came overland with teams in Indiana and first located in Fayette county, but in February, 1841, moved to Washington township, Blackford county and settled on virgin soil in section 32, where the father purchased a tract of eighty acres of land. The parents of William Miles, Thomas and Mary (Underwood) Miles came on from their New York state home, joined their son in Indiana, and there passed away in advanced years. During the Revolutionary War Thomas Miles enlisted for service in the American army, following the Bunker Hill battle. He is reported to have never been hurt or captured, the greater part of his service being confined to duty as a home guard. He and his wife were laid to rest in the Miles Cemetery in Washington township, a plot laid out by later members of the family on their farm.
William Miles continued to be engaged in farming throughout the remainder of his life in Washington township, but died in January 1875,
aged about eighty years, at Rockford, Illinois. He was a Jacksonian democrat, as had been his father. Although not a member of any religious denomination, he was a believer in the good accomplished by churches, and was a ready contributor to movements of a worthy nature. Mrs. Miles, who died November 3, 1842, in Washington Township, at the age of forty-five years, was a member of the Free Will Baptist church. Six sons and four daughters were born to these worthy couple, of whom two sons and one daughter were married. Alfred is the only survivor.
Alfred Miles was a child of five years when taken to New York by his parents, and was fifteen years old when he made the long overland trip to Indiana. He was twenty-two years old when he came to Blackford county, and from that time to the present has been connected with its agricultural interests, a period of seventy-three years. Mr. Miles is the owner of a farm of 145 acres, in section 32, and 80 acres of the old William Miles homestead is
still owned by him. Although he is ninety-five years of age, he still retains his faculties in a remarkable degree, is active in body and alert in mind, and is able to accomplish more than many men who are thirty years younger. His memory is excellent, and he recalls readily the scenes and incidents of the early days when neighbors were few and between, and the county, still in its infancy, gave but little promise of the wonderful development which was to take place within its borders. He has led a clean and industrious life and to this may be attributed his good health and great age. Like his father, he has been a lifelong democrat, but has not desired public office and has been content to do his full duty as a citizen, without asking political favors of any kind. He is a devout and God-fearing man, but has held to no particular creed, supporting all churches and charitable organizations.
Mr. Miles was married in Grant county, Indiana, in 1845, to Miss Lucinda Galispie, who was born in
Fairfield county, Ohio, August 13, 1820. She was a young lady of seventeen years, when she accompanied her parents to Grant county, they being James and Mary (Peter) Galispie, who came to Grant county in 1837, located on a new farm, which they improved and cultivated, and passed the remaining years of their lives in Monroe township, the father passing away when eighty-four years of age and the mother when several years younger. Mrs. Miles passed away at her home in Washington township, May 22, 1906, when in her eighty-sixth year. She had been a devoted wife and mother, and was able to assist her husband materially in his efforts to gain success. Four children were born to Mr. and Mrs. Miles, namely: Jefferson and George, both of whom passed away in youth; Junius, a successful farmer of Washington township, who makes his home with his father, married Almira Townsend, and has had four children - James, Carrie and Harry, who are married and have children, and Ella, who is deceased; and Rebecca, who
is the wie of Andrew J. Townsend, a farmer of Grant County, has four daughters and four sons - Elmore, deceased, George N., Franklin and Thomas, Lucy, Gertie and Polly, who are all married and Mary, who is single and resides with her parents.
BLACKFORD AND GRANT COUNTIES, INDIANA; Complied Under the Editorial Supervision of Benjamin G. Shinn; Vols. 1 & 2; THE LEWIS PUBLISHING COMPANY, 118 ADAMS STREET, CHICAGO, 1914 Pages 148-150)
Submitted by Peggy Karol
The supply of light thus furnished would be considered quite insufficient in this year of grace, 1900, but the children of sixty years ago must have been endowed with better eyesight than those of to-day. Such a thing as a child wearing glasses was unknown and unthought of then. In fact when adult persons began to wear spectacles they were considered to have reached the immediate vicinity of the grave, and that it had become necessary for them to employ artificial assistance to their natural vision so that they night not miss their way on the journey to the last resting place. The furnishing of the house and the text books of the scholars (there were no pupils then) were in keeping with the scant, rough and ready furnishings of the homes.
About the only text books that the average scholar could command, were a spelling book and a testament and two or three children were compelled to get their lessons from a single book. The outfit for exercises in penmanship were
a sheet or two of foolscap paper, a small bottle of ink, made of a decoction of maple bark, and goose quill pen. The teacher had a pen knife and made pens and then set the regulation copy,. "Command you may your mind from play." A few of the ambitious and high-toned boys, who had dreams of future fame and occasional faint glimpses of the presidency, studied arithmetic, or rather "learned to cipher." The teacher as a general rule was presumed to be able to take the scholars to the "single rule or three." There was no arithmetic class. Each one "shifted for himself."
The boys brought the arithmetics that their fathers used, and one had Talbott's arithmetic, another Slocomb's, another Daboll's and a fourth the Western Calculator. The schools were known as subscription schools, and the parents paid a certain amount per capita for a term of three months. It was "tough" on the man with a large family and the majority had large families. Occasionally there would be a failure of the corn
crop, the wheat crop or potato crop, but "young America" put in an appearance with unfailing regularity.
But with all the disadvantages of the situation these primitive schools did much valuable work, and quite a number of Blackford county youths, whose education was commenced in the log school house in the woods, in later years secured diplomas of graduation from the colleges and universities of the country.
In the matter of school house architecture there have been four distinct eras in Blackford county. The first was the period of the round-log cabin with the clapboard roof, with almost one entire end occupied by an outside fireplace constructed of puncheons and earth and seats made of linn saplings split in two, hewed smooth on the flat side and holes bored through near the ends, into which were driven wooden pins or legs at each end to support the seat at the proper height. One advantage enjoyed in those times was that the fuel was abundant, cheap and close at hand.
About 1850 the second era was inaugurated. The districts were now laid off two miles square, and the school house was built in the center of the district, of hewed logs, the size being usually 20x24 feet, or twenty-two feet square, with shingle roof and warmed by a box stove. In fifteen or twenty years these buildings became old and dilapidated, and they were succeeded by frame buildings, and these in their turn have generally been supplanted by cozy, comfortable brick houses with seats and desks of the latest and most convenient styles.
The financial and statistical report for the year 1900 of the county superintendent shows that there are now in the county forty-seven brick and six frame school houses. The days of frame school structures are about ended, and it will be only the question of a few years till all school houses will be of brick.
We must find room to mention a few of the school teachers of this county. Eli Rigdon, one of the first commissioners of the
county, was one of the first teachers in Licking township and is said to have been an efficient one. Aaron McVicker was another. At a very early day James Havens and Otho Selby taught in Hartford City, and shortly after schools were taught in the same village by Marthesia Cook, wife of John J. Cook, and Elizabeth Rousseau, then or soon after the wife of Robert Rousseau, and later by Rev. Thomas Spencer, Rev. Asa Martin, Rev. William Chaffee, Hortense R. Baldwin, Henry C. Baldwin and Moses S. Stahl, and in the township Elizabeth Hart taught a few terms and also Christopher Clapper, who died while a soldier in the Fifty-first Indiana Regiment, at Huntsville, Alabama, January 22, 1865, and William W. Cline taught several terms also in the county. At the present Lewis Willman, John A. Slater, Aaron Slater, William Reed, Jennie Hoover, Ella Troute, Emma Sudwarth and C. E. Edwards are among the veterans in the profession. If those who were active in the business twenty to forty years ago
mention should be made of M. Frash, W. M. Stahl, J. W. Thornburg, W. C. Owings and T. A. Howell.
Elder Franklin G. Baldwin was one of the first justices of the peace in Blackford county, one of the first ministers of the gospel and was one of the pioneer school teachers in Harrison township. He taught the last two district schools attended by the writer and he can testify to his efficiency as an instructor. He was especially skilled in English grammar.
Gideon W. Shannon taught regularly for a great many years in the central part of the township. He was a cripple and unable to perform much labor in the way of farming. O. B. Boon, who was a well educated New Englander, taught a few terms of school between 1845 and 1850. H. C. Baldwin taught a number of terms in this township and Isaac F. Baldwin, a son of the elder, James M. Gardner, Thomas Slater, Charles Weaver, B. G. Shinn and Philena McGeath were among the teachers of forty years ago or more. In later years Dennis H.
Shannon and his wife, Amanda Shannon, Milton H. McGeath, James A. Dodds, William H. Thornburg, Anna Hess and Charles H. Vanatta have done excellent educational work in the schools of Blackford county.
In Washington township Edward Hughes was one of the pioneer teachers and a very successful one. William McKee was an early teacher. For many years past he has been a prominent and influential minister in the United Brethren church. Edmund Lockett, William A. Bonham and Thomas Lillibridge were successful pedagogues in this township, and Reuben Storms and L. B. Pierce taught at least a few terms. In later years David Cole, John M. Bonham, Enos Cole, Ira P. Nelson and Charles O. Fleming have served their day and generation with credit in this profession.
William Sutton, Edward M. Crumley and Robert H. Lanning were among the earliest teachers in Jackson township, as was Cornelius Beal, a son of Associate Judge John Beal. For many years also Thomas Dean made himself quite useful
in this calling. James Ransom, John A. Ransom, William N. Buckles and John K. Armstrong served the public in the capacity of school teacher for several years. At the present time J. W. Lanning, A. E. Buckles and C. W. Barr are veterans in the work.
>From forty to fifty years ago the public revenues were barely sufficient to provide schools for about two and one-half months in the year, and a three-month s term could only be had by the patrons supplementing the public money with private contributions. For several years also the schools were taught in advance of the distribution of the public funds and teachers had to wait three or four months for their wages, and as the amount of the fund was unknown, the township trustees had to guess at the number of days to be taught for the term. To remedy this inconvenience the public schools were omitted. in Harrison township at least, for one year, probably the school year 1857-8, and thereafter the money was on hand to pay the teachers
when the work was done, and the length of the school year could be determined as soon as all the teachers were employed.
In the first two or three years of the county's existence there were probably less than ten schools and school teachers and perhaps not a single school building in the county and the aggregate amount paid to teachers could not have exceeded three hundred dollars per annum. Fifty years ago the wages paid in the country districts were ten to twelve dollars per month, and if the teacher resided out of the district he boarded around among the scholars, spending one week with one family and the next with another until the circuit was completed. It was also considered the teacher's duty to make the fires and sweep the house, and not infrequently he cut a considerable amount of the wood for the fires. The big boys, however, cut most of the wood, and were incited to put in their best licks as they were under the observation of the big girls, and they were desirous of
displaying their strength and skill to the best advantage.
As giving some idea of the remarkable progress made in educational facilities we close by noting a few of the statistical facts set out in the annual report of the county superintendent for the year 1899 and 1900. The length of the school year in the several corporations was as follows: Harrison township, 157 days; Jackson, 145; Licking, 137, Washington, 125; Hartford City, 170; Montpelier, 180. The number of teachers employed in the entire county was 96, 55 males and 41 females. In the city schools of Hartford City and Montpelier there were 12 male teachers and 35 female teachers employed, and in the country schools 43 male teachers and 6 females were employed. The aggregate amount paid all the teachers per day was $218.39. The aggregate amount paid all teachers for the year was $34,452.02. The average amount of wages of each teacher per day was $2.27.
The enumeration of May 1, 1900 shows that there are 2,665
male and 2,435 female school children in the county, making a total of 5,100.
BIOGRAPHICAL MEMIORS OF BLACKFORD COUNTY, INDIANA CHICAGO: THE BOWEN PUBLISHING COMPANY, 1900 Page 258 - 261
Submitted by Peggy Karol