The Miles, One of San Antonio’s Influential Black Couples during the mid-20th Century
SAN ANTONIO – (April 13, 2020) From the 1920s thru 1960s, one Black couple made their presence known in the city. That couple was John J. and Irene H. Miles, Sr. They were widely known in hotel and club circles, fraternities, and for their civic work.
Mr. Miles was born in Milwaukee, Wis., on Dec. 26, 1881, to John J. Miles and Annie L. Smith.
He was a long-time resident of San Antonio where he was employed by some of the leading hotels as head waiter to include the Gunter and St. Anthony Hotels, and at the Kit Kat Club where he served as assistant manager. Later, he was employed by the Bexar County Tax Collector’s Officer and in January 1951, was deputized to write poll taxes and became the first Black to serve in that capacity since the mid-1920s.
Two months later, he became the first Black to work in the Automobile License Division of the Bexar County Tax Office where he was assigned to issue automobile licenses. Mr. Miles served as president of the Imperial Social Club and was a member of the Gunter Waiters Relief Club and Camp 93 of American Woodmen.
He was a past master of Star Tom Lodge No. 100 (Prince Hall Affiliated) and a 33rd degree mason/past commander-in-chief of Lone Star Consistory No. 113 (Ancient Accepted Scottish Rite of Freemasonry). Additionally, he was the first elected illustrious potentate of Moussa Temple No. 106 (Prince Hall Shriners) serving from December 1921-22 and again from December 1926-30. He served as the first appointed imperial deputy of the Oasis of San Antonio for a total of 32 years.
Mr. Miles died at the age of 82 on Jan. 6, 1964. His services were held at St. Paul United Methodist Church with Rev. J. H. Carruthers officiating. He is buried in the Old Fellows Cemetery with final arrangements provided by Collins Funeral Home.
Mrs. Miles was born in San Antonio on Aug. 14, 1890 to Frank W. Howard and Maggie Daniels. She was prominently identified in fraternal circles for many years and had taken an active role in many civic affairs and had long been active in political activities. A charter member of the Bowden Chapter of Business and Professional Women’s Club, Inc., Mrs. Miles was a member of the Pals Social Club, YWCA Health Education Committee, American Legion Post Unit 800 Auxiliary, and Camp 93 of American Woodmen. She was a past matron of John J. Miles, Sr. Chapter No. 462 (Order of the Eastern Star), a member of Amaranth Court No. 58 (Heroines of Jericho), and Lone Star Assembly No. 19 (Order of the Golden Circle). Additionally, she served as the illustrious commandress of Moussa Court No. 119 (Daughters of the Imperial Court) from 1951 – 1958.
Mrs. Miles died at the age of 82 on April 30, 1973. Her services were held at St. Paul United Methodist Church. She is buried in the Odd Fellows Cemetery with final arrangements by Sutton and Sutton Funeral Home.
Information and photo derived from obituaries and news clippings from the San Antonio Register.