George Edmund Miles

The Salt Lake Tribune, Tuesday December 10, 1968

Utahn, 102, Recalls 81 St. George Years

By Vi Judge
Tribune Correspondent

Photo of George Edmund Miles

ST. GEORGE--George Edmund Miles, who celebrated his 102nd birthday here Monday, is a man who doesn't like to move around much. You can substantiate this by the fact that he has lived in the same house for 69 of his 102 years and in the same town, St. George, for the past 81 years.

When Mr. Miles first came to Utah in 1878, It took 14 days to travel from Salt Lake city to St. George by mule-drawn wagon. Today, you can make the same 318-mile trip by car In five or six hours--If you want to.

Mr. Miles doesn't want to. He's never owned, or wished to own, an automobile and has never ridden In an airplane. "They go too fast," he says. "You miss too much when you go too fast."

Little Enthusiasm

He's not enthusiastic about the , efforts to reach the moon, either. "Rubbish. No one can live on the moon. It is foolish to try," he believes.

Mr. Miles was born on Dec. 9, 1866, in London. That's just a year after the Civil War in the United States ended. When he was 12, his fatherless family came to Utah. The entire trip took 29 days--eight days on the "Wyoming," a sail-steamship; seven days on a train and the 14-day wagon trip from Salt Lake City to St. George.

When they arrived, St. George was a thriving settlement of 1,300 people--thriving in population, but not in prosperity. There was no money. People traded necessities. Work of any kind was scarce.

Everyone Worked

George's family (his mother, an older half-brother, John Horn Miles, an older brother, Henry, an older sister, Edith, and his twin brother, Arthur F.) rented a house and set themselves to the task of earning a livelihood. Everyone had to work. Not until the opening of the Silver Reef Mine brought a cash payroll into Washington County did the Miles family begin to prosper. There, George worked for seven years for Wooley, Lund, and Judd, a general merchandise store.

"I got most of my education because some of the educated men connected with the mine came into the store almost every evening and spent long hours in serious discussion. I listened and learned."

He managed to supplement this informal education at Silver Reef with a winter of schooling at the old University on the west side of Salt Lake City, where an entering student was not graded, but merely asked "What reader are you in?" and from his answer appointed his place.

"I learned much there," he said, "but the best schooling I had was in the basement of the old tabernacle in St. George under a teacher named Whitelock, who came from the East. I spent one winter studying there and then went back to work at Silver Reef."

When he was 27, George married Victoria Josephine Jarvis, whose father, George, was the first man to settle in St. George. Soon after his marriage he purchased, from its original owner, the house where he still lives (Second South and Second East). There he and his wife raised seven children, all living except a boy, who died at the age of two. It is a fine old home, boasting such features as ornate ceilings, fashioned by a master plasterer from Scotland, William Burt, who did most of the ornamental work on the famous Mormon Temple at St. George.

Full City Block

The grounds of the Miles home occupied a full city block, on which the family raised grapes, fruit, vegetables, chickens, and cows. George Miles' family was protected from outside influence by a tall green hedge, which surrounded the block. His daughter, Mary (Mrs. Howard Kleinman), named her first novel after the hedge.

About current affairs he says, "The generals in the Army should be given a free hand to do what is necessary to win the war in the East and not be instructed from 3,000 miles away." "Young people are getting out of hand," he continued. "They will have to be stopped. There is going to be a civil war between the blacks and the whites. This, too, will have to be stopped."

Mr. Miles has accomplished much in his 102 years of life. He served as a missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the Southern States (1896-99), taught school in Washington County for four years, was St. George City Clerk for 18 years, juvenile judge for eight years, and justice of the peace for three terms.

His church activities Include stake clerk, 24 years; stake Sunday School superintendent, 17 years; many years of teaching in Sunday School and priesthood classes; temple worker, 25 years; and stake patriarch 29 years, a position he still holds.

Family's the Greatest

Of all his accomplishments, he considers his family his greatest. It includes six living children, George J. Miles, Centerville, Utah ; Dr. Henry J. Miles, Urbana, Ill.; Walter J. Miles, Mrs. Clinton (Ann) Fuller, and Mrs. Howard (Mary) Kleinman, all of St. George; and Maurice J. Miles, Henderson, Nev.; 28 grandchildren, 37 great-grandchildren and one great-great grandchild.

Photo of George Edmund Miles

Accomplishments of his progeny include, 6 doctors degrees, 3 masters degrees, 10 B.S. degrees, 9 LDS missionaries, 1 registered nurse, 4 biological and chemical research scientists, and 16 school teachers.

Because his hearing has failed, Mr. Miles uses neither a radio or television, but rather spends most of his time reading. He waits on himself, although his son and daughter-in-law, who live next door, take care of his daily needs and sleep at the old famiiy home, where he hopes to remain the rest of his life.