Prominent African American newspaperman
Nick Chiles was born in South Carolina and in 1886 moved to Topeka, Kansas. There he founded and edited the 'Plaindealer', a newspaper that ran from January 1899 to November 1958.
Ax-wielding prohibitionist Carrie(Carry) Amelia Nation formed a unique partnership with Nick Chiles, a black publisher, to issue a temperance newspaper, the 'Smasher's Mail'. Chiles once bailed Carry Nation, the infamous temperance advocate, out of jail and helped her start a newspaper called The Smasher’s Mail. However, after just three issues, Nation and Chiles disagreed and the partnership ended. Chiles rose to prominence among Kansas black population in the early twentieth century because of his talent for making money. His alliance with Carrie Nation was ironic - his hotel at 116 East Seventh Street in Topeka was known as "the leading negro joint of the city," according to the 'Topeka Daily Capital. The state's black and white populations had segregated themselves vocally . Using money from his hotel and its hidden saloon, Chiles started his own newspaper, the 'Plaindealer', which became one of the leading black papers in Kansas. In 1926 he ran for a U.S. Senate seat, the first black to do so from Kansas, but was defeated. He continued publishing the 'Plaindealer' until his death in 1929, and a Kansas City firm continued it until 1958.
Topeka Plaindealer (Topeka, Kansas)
Nov. 1, 1929 Friday Page 1
A MARTYR FOR HIS CAUSE
Topeka State Journal (Topeka, Kansas)
Oct. 26, 1929 Sat. Evening
Negro Publisher Is Dead
Nick Chiles, 62, of 914 Buchanan street, died this morning at 6:10 o'clock in Stormont Hospital. He had been ill for several months.
Nick Chiles was born at Cross Roads in South Carolina, the son of Moses and Winnie Chiles. He moved from Abbeville, South Carolina to Greenville, South Carolina, where he sold papers as a youth. He was educated in the public schools of South Carolina, and studied law under a prominent southern judge. His earliest ambition was to become a newspaperman. After living in Chicago a short while, Mr Chiles moved to Topeka in 1886, engaged in grocery, restaurants and hotel business,and finally found the Topeka Plaindealer in 1899 which he edited and published to his death. In his early years, he was married to Minnie Elizabeth Smith, to this union two children were born, the late Mrs Arnicholas Chiles Williams, and Mrs Thelma Chiles Taylor, Assistant Librarian in Virginia State College, Petersberg, Virginia.
Besides his constant fight for the Negro, the most outstanding achievement of his life were the fight with Carrie Anne Nation, the Tillman-Vardaman arguments, his recognition by the Pope in Rome and his candidacy for United States Senator for Kansas.
Three years ago he was united in marriage to Mrs Henriette Harper of Los Angeles of California who is the present business manager of the Topeka Plaindealer.
Surviving Mr Chiles are his widow Mrs Henrietta Chiles, daughter Mrs
Thelma Chiles Taylor, father Moses Chiles of Anderson, South Carolina, grandson Nicholas Chiles Taylor, Leavenworth, Kansas; sister-in-law Mrs Lucille Dier, Colorado Springs, Colorado; nephew Nick Wright of Topeka and a large number of relatives in Topeka, Chicago, South Carolina and other parts of the country.
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