July Miles' Tomb
S. “July” Miles was born in approximately 1848 near Montgomery, Alabama. He was a slave and ran away to join the Union during the Civil War. Once across Union lines he enlisted in the 96th Colored Infantry. Miles joined at the age of 16. During most of his service, Miles was on a gun boat in the Gulf of Mexico doing engineering duties and field work. After the war, he made his home in Mobile, Alabama. Miles got a job working on various steamboats working their way up and down the Mississippi River. His brother then located him a job with the Union Pacific Railroad, working on private cars and traveling around the country. Miles was then transferred to the Pullman Division and stationed in Omaha. For five years he worked on the private car of fellow Civil War veteran, General Grenville M. Dodge. He taught himself to read and write and reading became one of his pastimes. Miles was one of the oldest congregants of the Mount Moriah Baptist Church, currently located on North 24th St. and Ohio St. He had five wives during his life. At the time of his death Miles had one daughter living with him, from his fourth wife. Miles lived in Omaha from 1892 until his death in 1941. He was the last African-American Civil War veteran in Omaha at the time of his death.
Private Edward Jones was born a slave in March of 1844 in Clark County, Kentucky. Slave ledgers reveal he was owned by a man named James Steward. Private Jones enlisted on May 30th, 1865, in Maysville, Kentucky. On Jones' Muster Rolls, he was described as 5' 8" and 18 years old. He listed his occupation at the time of his enlistment as a "laborer". He was assigned to the United States 13th Colored Heavy Artillery (USCHA). Private Jones was mustered out on November 18, 1865 in Louisville Kentucky. Before moving to Omaha, Jones resided in The 1880 Census Records show Jones living in Columbus, Nebraska. By the 1890 Census, Jones was living in South Omaha. In 1894 he married his second, wife Sarah Jones. He owned a home, with a mortgage, at what was then 827 North 27th Street (now 4409 South 27th St.) Jones was considered to be a pillar of the community. He was active with the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR) in Omaha. He was even elected to an officer position with the GAR. He attended the First Christian Church. Jones and his family owned several homes along 27th Street in South Omaha. By 1905, Jones was living at 819 North 27th Street (now 4425 South 27th Street) in Omaha. Edward Jones died his home at the age 57 after an illness that lasted seven months. According to his obituary in the newspaper the "Omaha Daily Bee", Jones was one of the best known African Americans in South Omaha City, NE. The Bee also reported that he left behind "considerable property" and that he was survived by his wife and six children.
Edward Jones was buried in Laurel Hill Cemetary. It was the discovery of Jones’s grave by volunteer caretaker Creola Woodall that started the process of recognizing all of the Civil War veterans and African-Americans buried at Laurel Hill. Ms. Woodall spent years researching the forgotten story of Edward Jones. This photo of Edward Jones's grave was taken shortly after being rediscovered. (Research Courtesy of Creola Woodall)