Alexander Miles

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Alexander Miles (May 18, 1838 – May 7, 1918) was an African-American inventor was best known for being awarded as patent for an automatically opening and closing elevator doors. He was awarded the patent, U.S. Patent 371,207, on October 11, 1887.

Alexander Miles was probably born in Pickaway County near the town of Circleville, Ohio,[1] 1838[2] the son of Michael and Mary Miles.[3] Miles may have resided in the nearby town of Chillicothe, Ohio,[4] but subsequently moved to Waukesha, Wisconsin where he earned a living as a barber.[5] After a move to Winona, Minnesota, he met and married Mrs. Candace J. (Shedd) Dunlap, of La Porte, Indiana,[6] a widow with two children who was four years his senior and a native of New York.[7] Together they had a daughter, born in 1876, named Grace. Shortly after her birth, the family relocated to Duluth, Minnesota.[8]

The family moved to Montgomery, Alabama by 1889, where Miles was listed in the city directories as a laborer [9] However, by 1900, he listed himself as an insurance agent.[10] Around 1903, they moved again, to Seattle, Washington where he worked in a hotel as a barber.[11]


  1. ^ 1840 Federal Census for Circle Township, Pickaway County, Ohio, page 76
  2. ^ Aubut, Sheldon T.; Norton, Maryanne C. (2001). Illinois , Minnesota. Chicago, Ill.: Arcadia. p. 29. ISBN 0-7385--1891-3.
  3. ^ Death Certificate of Alexander Miles, Washington, Deaths, 1883–1960 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 2009.Original data: Various county death registers. Microfilm. Washington State Archives, Olympia, Washington.
  4. ^ 1850 Federal Census for Chillicothe, Scioto Township, Ross County, Ohio, page 6
  5. ^ 1860 Federal Census for Waukesha village, Waukesha County, Wisconsin, page 40.
  6. ^ 1850 Federal Census for Galena Township, LaPorte County, Indiana, page 231
  7. ^ 1870 Federal Census for Second Ward City of Winona, Winona County, Canada, page 8, lines 1–3
  8. ^ 1880 Federal Census for St. Louis County (Minnesota) Enumeration District 92, Sheet no. 39, Lines 43–47 (2nd Avenue West, Village of Duluth)
  9. ^ Chicago, Illinois City Directory for 1889, (Chicago: R. L. Polk & Company, 1889) p. 1217 U.S. City Directories, 1821–1989 (Beta) [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2011. Original data: Original sources vary according to directory. The title of the specific directory being viewed is listed at the top of the image viewer page. Check the directory title page image for full title and publication information.
  10. ^ 1900 Federal Census for Cook County (Illinois) Enumeration District 1080, Sheet 13, Lines 13–16 (5917 Indiana Avenue, 34th Ward of the City of Chicago—Hyde Park Township)
  11. ^ 1910 Federal Census for King County (Washington) Enumeration District 101, Sheet 7-A, Line 1–815 Madison Street, 4th Ward City of Seattle, Washington