Miles York
Clothes Cleaning, Tailoring and Shoe-Shining

An Early African-American Business in Helena

Many thanks to Ellen Baumler and Patty Dean for their help with this feature


COURTESY OF TOM MULVANEYCLICK ON IMAGE FOR A BIG VERSION IN A NEW WINDOW

This dry-cleaning and tailoring shop is thought to be that of Miles York. The photo was taken in 1910 at an as yet undetermined Helena address. His shop was at various locations over the years. From 1913 to 1915, it was located at 11 Edwards Street, at the rear of the Montana National Bank building (Edwards St. was eliminated by the 1970s Urban Renewal program). The 11 Edwards address is seen painted on the delivery wagon in the photograph below. In 1917, his shop was located at 127 North Main.

Before and after York had his own business, he was a porter at various shoe shine/barber shops, and lastly at the Placer Hotel.



COURTESY OF WENDI KOTTAS PETERSON CLICK ON IMAGE FOR A BIG VERSION IN A NEW WINDOW

The location shown in this photograph is as yet undetermined. The child is thought to be Jeanette York, one of Miles' eight children.

Note that there are two telephone numbers painted on the wagon; from 1910 to 1914, there were two competing phone companies in Helena, the Rocky Mountain Telephone Company and the Helena Automatic Telephone Company. The exchanges were not integrated, so some people (and probably most businesses) had to have two telephones.

Miles York was evidently in Montana by 1894. His wife's name was Alice. They were members of the St. James A. M. E. Church, located at Fifth and Hoback. They lived at 515 North Idaho, which is where Milles died in 1925; the house is now gone.


Helena Independent, November 24 and 25, 1925

The family moved to Seattle after Miles' death. Two of the sons worked as waiters on a steamboat, the widow Alice was a domestic in a private home, and one of the daughters worked as maid in a department store.