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RG5618.AM:  Stella Wilcken Miles, 1886-1988

Papers:  1905-2008; mostly 1905-1909 and 1976-1983

Lincoln, Lancaster County, Neb.:  

Size:  0.2 cu.ft.; 1 box


Stella Belle Wilcken was born on November 29, 1886 in Kansas City, Kansas. She lived in Clear Lake, Iowa with her parents, Christian and Caroline Wilcken, and her three siblings, Frank (1880-1973), Clarence (1883-1976) and Vivian (1897-1962), until 1898 when the Wilcken family moved to Lincoln, Nebraska. On November 29, 1909 (her 23rd birthday), Stella Wilcken married Alton Miles. Alton Miles was born on February 28, 1883 in London, Nebraska.

Due to the poor health of Caroline Wilcken, Christian, Caroline and Vivian Wilcken moved to California for a more “favorable” climate in 1913. By 1924, the older three siblings and their families joined them in California. Alton Miles died on February 25, 1942 in Long Beach, California. Stella B. (Wilcken) Miles died at the home of her grand daughter in Santa Fe, New Mexico on March 23, 1988.


This collection consists of papers relating to Stella Wilcken Miles of Lincoln, Nebraska. The first folder of the collection contains Wilcken family background information compiled by Stella’s grand daughter, Melinda Miles Phister. It also includes a partial index to the two journals of Stella Miles and scans of images of various family members mentioned in the journals. Note:  See the photo component [RG5618.PH] for an original image of Alton Miles and Charles Frost in the Lincoln Post Office, ca. 1910.

The journal in folder 2 dates from 1905-1909 with additional reminiscences added by Stella Wilcken Miles in 1976. The journal includes entries relating to Stella’s trip from Nebraska to California in the fall of 1905 and the return trip in the spring of 1906. The entries describe various sites and excursions including Pikes Peak, the Grand Canyon, Salt Lake City, Sacramento, San Francisco, Coronado, Albuquerque, Colorado Springs, and Denver. A second trip through South Dakota in 1906 is documented including a long, detailed description of Wind Cave.

The remainder of the journal describes family news and various happenings around Nebraska. Entries include descriptions of the State Fair, William Jennings Bryan visiting Lincoln, and her brother Clarence leaving for New York and then on to Panama to serve in the “fire department.” She describes family gatherings at Thanksgiving and Christmas as well as flooding in 1906 and a blizzard in 1908. The reminiscences at the end of the first journal and continuing on in the second journal include descriptions of Frank Wilcken’s store in Lincoln, Alton’s work at the Lincoln Post Office, early school years in Lincoln, the 1908 Salt Creek Flood, and their move to California in 1919. Additional entries include descriptions of the Long Beach, California earthquake of 1933 and the internment of their Japanese neighbors during World War II.

A record book kept by Alton Miles contains information about expenses relating to a camping trip they took throughout the western United States in 1939. It includes the names of places they traveled and the costs for gas and other expenses. The last folder in the collection contains two letters relating to a painting by H. H. Bagg that Alton Miles donated to the Nebraska State Historical Society’s Museum of Nebraska History.


Box 1


  1. “Regarding the Journals of Stella Wilcken Miles (1886-1988),” compiled by Melinda Miles Phister, August 2008.

  2. Journal of Stella B. Wilcken, 1905-1909, 1976

  3. Journal of Stella Wilcken Miles, 1977-1983

  4. 1939 record book of camping trip expenses compiled by Alton Miles

  5. Letters (2) concerning the H.H. Bagg painting donated by Alton Miles, 1942, n.d.



California — Description and travel

Colorado — Description and travel

Lancaster County (Neb.) — History

Lincoln (Neb.) — History

Miles Family

Miles, Alton, 1883-1942

Miles, Stella Wilcken, 1886-1988

Nebraska — Description and travel

South Dakota — Description and travel

West (U.S.) — Description and travel

Wilcken Family


09-12-2008   Revised TMM