J. R. MILES - The great-grandfather of Col. Miles was an Englishman named Abraham Miles, who emigrated to America and settled in Maryland while it was yet a British colony. His grandfather, Jacob Miles, was born in Maryland, and subsequently removed to Caswell County, North Carolina, where he was living at the time of the Revolutionary War. He served for a time in the Continental army. He married Nancy Rice, who belonged to a family residing in Halifax county, Virginia, members of which were afterward among the pioneer settlers of Logan county, Kentucky; the birthplace of the subject of this sketch. Col. Miles' father, Alexander Miles, was born in Caswell county, North Carolina, February 8, 1788; and about the year 1808 removed from North Carolina to Tennessee; he was married in Robertson county, Tennessee, to Mary Irvin, who was born and raised in Greene county, Georgia, and was a daughter of William Irvin. William Irvin was a North Carolinian by birth, but had removed to the State of Georgia; he was seventeen years of age at the breaking out of the Revolutionary War, and at once entered the American army, and served during the whole of the long and arduous struggle of the Colonies for their independence. He was in the army commanded by General Gates, during the Campaigns in the South, and also served in the Northern States; and fought as a soldier until the surrender of Cornwallis at Yorktown brought an end to the war. He removed from Georgia to Robertson county, Tennessee, soon after the Revolution, and settled on a tract of six hundred and forty acres of land adjoining the State of Kentucky. Alexander Miles, on his marriage to Miss Irvin, settled on land which he purchased in Logan county, Kentucky, adjoining the Tennessee line. Toward the close of the war of 1812 he enlisted in the forces raised by General Coffee for the assistance of General Jackson, and was in the battle of New Orleans. He was farming in Logan county, Kentucky, till his removal to Illinois in 1832. On coming to this state he settled on the north-east quarter of section six, Brighton township, next to the Jersey county line. He lived there engaged in farming, till his death in 1856. During almost his entire life he had been a member of the Methodist church, in which he was deacon. He was a good citizen, and was held in respect for his many excellent qualities as a man and a neighbor. Col. Miles' mother was born about the year 1793, and died November 20, 1874.
Jonathan Rice Miles was the next to the oldest of a family of eight children. He was born in Logan county, Kentucky, five miles from Russellville, November 17, 1817. He was fourteen or fifteen when his father removed with the family from Kentucky to Illinois. When he first came to Brighton township the nearest school was at Alton, but a year or two after their arrival a log schoolhouse was erected, in which the children of the neighborhood were taught the elementary branches of an education. He had previously attended school some little time in Kentucky, and when about nineteen, had the benefit of instruction for a short period at Alton; but for his acquirements in the way of an English education, he is mostly indebted to his own efforts. In 1837, when about twenty years old, he began improving the farm on which he now resides, in section eight of Brighton township his home, however, was with his father until his marriage, which took place on the 10th of August, 1844, to Eliza A. Stratton, daughter of Robertson Stratton. (Mrs. Miles was born March 28, 1826, in Robertson County, Tennessee, where her father died; her ancestors were from Virginia, and were early settlers of that part of Tennessee.) He was occupied wholly in farming, till 1853, and then embarked in the mercantile business. Soon after the building of the Chicago and Alton railroad, the line of which runs through his farm, a station was established opposite his residence, and called Providence; the name has since been changed to Miles' Station. At this point he opened a store, and carried on a large business in selling goods and buying grain; in a few years his operations were extended still further, and in 1857 the commission firm of Gilbert, Miles & Stanard, was founded, carrying business first in St. Louis, and after the breaking out of the war, also in Chicago; his partners were Charles E. Gilbert, (at present a resident of Chicago), and Ex-Gov. E. O. Stanard, now of S. Louis. Stanard & Gilbert at that time possessed but little capital, and the principal part of the means with which the business was first started was furnished by Col. Miles; his partnership with these gentlemen continued till 1862, and then, feeling unwilling to risk the hazards incident to carrying on business while he was absent in the army and unable to give his personal attention to its operation, he withdrew from the firm. Both his partners have since become business men of wide reputation and ample means.
The breaking out of the war of the Rebellion in 1861, found Col. Miles ready to respond to his country's call for assistance. On the 10th of August, 1861, he enlisted in the 27th Illinois regiment as Captain of Co. F. He was mustered in at Camp Butler, and after two or three days' stay at Jacksonville, his regiment was moved to Cairo. The first battle in which he took part was that of Belmont, Missouri. The 27th Illinois was the first regiment to enter Columbus, Kentucky, after its evacuation by the rebels, and the first to take possession of Island No. 10 after its capture. On the organization of the army into Corps the regiment was placed in the lst Brigade, lst Division of the 20th Corps. His first promotion was to the rank of Major, on the 18th of December, 1861; his commission was dated January 31, 1862. The 27th was at Fort Pillow, and was turned back from that point after the battle of Shiloh, and took part in the siege of Corinth. While before Corinth he received his commission as Lieutenant-Colonel, dated April 24, 1862; his promotion running back to the 16th of the same month. From Corinth the regiment moved along the line of the Memphis & Charleston railroad, and in September, 1862, arrived at Nashville. It participated in the battle of Stone River while he was home on a short furlough, but he afterward assisted in driving the Confederate General Bragg out of Tennessee, and was in the battles of Chickamauga and Mission Ridge; and subsequently went with his regiment to Knoxville, to which point it was dispatched with the object of relieving Burnside. The 27th Illinois was transferred in 1863 to the 2d Division of the 4th Corps, of which it formed a part till the close of its service. He had been commissioned Colonel, January 1, 1863. While stationed at Cleveland, Tennessee, less than ninety days before the expiration of his three years' term of service, he resigned his commission; reasons connected with his business and his family requiring his immediate presence in Illinois. The regiment which he had the honor to command, was considered one of the finest and best disciplined in the service. It did its full share of fighting and bore a reputation for bravery and endurance unsurpassed by that of any other body of troops in the army. From the nine hundred men and upwards with which the regiment went into the war, it was reduced by hard fighting and exposure to one-third that number.
Since the war, he has been living at Miles' Station, principally engaged n farming. In 1868, he built at that place at a cost of twenty-three thousand dollars, a large steam mill, in which he still has an interest. He has three children: Charlotte, wife of James Moffat; Samuel, who is engaged in the mercantile business at Brighton; and Frank, who is still living at home. Col. Miles is a man so well known in Macoupin county, that no mention need be made of his personal traits of character. Nature gave him a energetic disposition, and he has been prompt to lay hold of the opportunities which have come to him through life. His business relations have never been tainted by suspicion of dishonesty, and his character as a man and a citizen stands above reproach. He is a member of the Methodist church. He was connected with the whig party till its dissolution and the formation of the republican party, when he became a republican. He has carried to the support of the political principles in which he is a believer, the same earnestness and decision that have marked his opinions on all other subjects.