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Jackson County, Iowa

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1878 Jackson County, Iowa Gazetteer
1879 Jackson County, Iowa History

From 1878 Jackson County, Iowa Gazetteer


Originally called Shoo-Fly, is located on the Sabula, Ackley & Dakota Railway, ten miles west of the Mississippi River, on a beautiful rolling prairie. It is somewhat remarkable for its rapid growth, the first dwelling house having been erected in the fall of 1872 by Mr. Allen, the present efficient and esteemed postmaster. At that time a small store and a saloon comprised the commercial advantages of the place.

The town was laid out by Mr. F. M. Miles in 1871, to whose exertions the town mainly owes its prosperity and prominence and after whom it has been named. The town has varied attractions-a beautiful park, a fine school building, with an elegant church edifice erected at a cost of $4,500. It is a very handsome structure, the frescoing in the interior having alone cost over $225. Its bell weighs 800 pounds, and cost $325. The congregation is of the Methodist Episcopal persuasion, with the Rev. W. N. Chaffee as pastor.

There are two societies-the Centennial Lodge No. 349, I. O. O. F., and the Miles Lodge No. 45, A. O. U. W.

The Miles Public Library, incorporated Feb. 1st, 1877, has 320 volumes, and is conducted under the management of a president and board of directors.

Miles has a population of about 400, is in a prosperous condition, with ample facilities for building, having timber in abundance adjacent, as well as endless quarries of valuable stone.

In addition to a general store and drug store:

The banking interests are well represented by the Exchange Bank of Miles, with J. W. Miles, Esq., a leading grain and stock merchant, as President. There is one good hotel conducted by Mr. Laing, several blacksmith shops, a meat market, an agricultural warehouse, etc.
[Owen's Gazetteer and Directory of Jackson County, Iowa, Owen Publishing Company, Davenport, Iowa, 1878. Submitted by Mary Kay Krogman.]

From 1879 History of Jackson County Iowa



The country about Miles was not settled up for some years after other parts of the county had been occupied. The first settler in the vicinity of the present town was E. S. Hathaway, who, in 1850, covered with a land warrant a quarter-section, of which a part is included in the present plat of the village. 0. H. Legg and Eli Denton came to the vicinity in 1851, at which time Mr. Hathaway moved his family to his present home. Mr. James Miles came a year or two later. In 1852, the nearest neighbors of the settlers were at Mount Algor.

Though there was no town or prospect of one until the railroad was surveyed in 1870, yet this district received various names by the settlers and their Pickwickian friends, among which were "Wolves' Hollow," "South Prairie," and "Buttermilk Hollow." Then a guide-board at the cross-roads bore the name of " Miles' Corner," by which name the schoolhouse at that point was known. The first child born in the settlement was Edward B. Legg.


When the Sabula, Ackley & Dakota Railroad was built in 1870, F. M. Miles proposed to deed to the Company the undivided half of forty acres, being the northwest quarter of the northwest quarter of Section 31, Iowa Township, on condition the Company would there make a depot. This was agreed upon, and of this, twenty acres were laid out in town lots, as well as a portion of the adjoining forty acres in Van Buren Township. Main street was thus upon the township line, though most of the lots were in Iowa Township. The railroad company agreed to advertise the lots and use their influence in assisting the sale of them. This they failed to do, and for two years not a lot was permitted to be sold upon the plat. Mr. Miles, finding that he was "tied up" by the Company, entered suit against them in the courts of Linn County, for $10,000 damages. The suit was compromised by Miles paying the Company $750 and thereby becoming sole proprietor of the town plat. In five years, he sold $10,000 worth of lots, and, in 1879, there are but 7 lots on the plat unsold.

At the time of the building of the railroad, the construction company had their headquarters for a time at Miles' Corners, and called the place "Shoo Fly." This name was also given to the school district at first, and, though it was never the name of the station nor post office, the town still receives the name at times. It was first proposed to call the station "Merrill" in honor of the manager of the road, and he was consulted for his permission. The manager assumed that there was another town of that name in the State, but that he, Merrill, would take the privilege of naming the depot. When the blanks came on to the station agent they were dated Miles.

The first dwelling-house on the plat was built by T. J. Allen, in 1872. The first hotel was erected by Henry Braase, at the same time.

Miles is a place of considerable wealth, and is the residence of a number of retired farmers. It is located on a gentle eminence and is surrounded by some of the finest prairie land in the county--land valued at from $60 to $75 per acre. Lots on Main street have been selling at from $6 to $8 per foot front. Several fine new brick buildings are in process of erection. The dwellings and their surroundings are of surprising finish and neatness. The people, as may be judged from their institutions, are enterprising and intelligent to a marked degree. The population is mostly American. The citizens have great confidence in the future of Miles, and manifest a determination and public spirit which will win every time, under favorable circumstances. We predict for the city in embryo a rapid growth. The present population is not far from three hundred and fifty. The town has not been incorporated.


Miles is a good trading-point. Surrounded as it is by a fine country, and peopled by enterprising merchants, its steady mercantile growth is insured. The extent of country tributary to Miles is limited but of most excellent qualities.

The chief industries comprise: General stores, H. J. Davis and 0. W. Heynen; drug stores, E. B. Legg and George Gotshall; hardware, A. C. Heynen & Co.; bank, Miles & Emerson, called Exchange Bank of Miles; hotels, Hanover House, Laing House; furniture, Henry Littlejohn; machine-shop, A. J. Neal; harness-shop, James VV. Wait; job printing, Lusk & Allen; grain-dealers, H. Braase and J. W. Miles, and livery stables, P. T. Coleman and Hanover House. Miles has one physician, William M. Amos, and one attorney, T. W. Darling.

A public hall has been opened over Heynen's hardware store, and has been fitted up with stage and scenery. It is frescoed, seated with chairs and will accommodate the entire population of the town.

Mrs. A. R. Darling is reporting editor for the Miles Reporter, which we have already mentioned as printed on the same sheet with the Sabula Gazette. The Reporter was established by Jacob Bain, in the fall of 1877. It is well sustained and contains a full page in the interest of Miles each week.

The principal shipments at Miles from July 1, 1878, to July 1, 1879, were 80 cars of hogs, 15 cars of cattle, 52,950 pounds of butter, 40,465 bushels of oats and 1,170 bushels of wheat.

[The History of Jackson County Iowa, Published November 1879. Transcribed by Mary Kay Krogman]

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