The Miles Family
Cornelia Marguerite Daugherty probably turned a few heads when she showed up to study at Princess Anne Academy in the early 1900s. She arrived in a chauffeured car from St. Michaels, Md., where she lived with her mother, Agnes Daugherty Coulbourne, and step-father, William Henry Travis Coulbourne, a prominent Talbot County businessman.
Daugherty, was the fourth of six children of Agnes and Charles Daugherty, Sr., who divorced when she was young. Her mother then married Coulbourne, a co-founder of the Coulbourne & Jewett Seafood Packing Co., on Navy Point in St. Michaels.
During the early 20th century, the African-American owned seafood packing company flourished, providing countless opportunities for both families. Consequently, Coulbourne was able to ensure Cornelia and her siblings received the best education available at the time.
Meanwhile, Washington and Annie Miles of Crisfield, Md., sent five of their six children, including Howard Samuel King Miles, to be educated at the Academy in Princess Anne.
Howard Miles “maintained an honorable scholastic and deportment (conduct) record,” according to a family history, while "Marguerite," as Cornelia Daugherty was known on campus, was a “superior student, a singer and interpreter of Paul Lawrence Dunbar poetry.”
Marguerite and Howard met a lot of people at the Academy, many of whom became life-long friends. Their dearest friends, it turns out, were each other. In 1916, they married and made his father’s farm north of Crisfield their home.
They worked as educators in the community and committed much of their time to the work of Shiloh Methodist Episcopal Church. “Teaching was their first choice of vocation, but the needs of rearing a family demanded more and so both … engaged in several other endeavors … to meet the needs of a family with four daughters,” a family history says. In 1938, Marguerite became licensed to practice midwifery, while Howard managed and worked on the farm.
The Miles’ goal was that their four daughters - Marizita, Portia, Sarah and Edith - receive a college education, and the sisters worked alongside their parents to make that goal reality.
“Dr. Thomas Kiah, who was principal of the Academy when Howard and Marguerite attended, [was still] principal when Marizita and Portia entered Princess Anne Academy in September 1934. It was his help which made it possible for the two sisters to go to college together,” the family history reads.
Like their parents before them, Marizita and Portia also excelled academically. Both served on editorial boards of the school newspapers, “The P.A.A. News” and “The College Mirror.” On March 17, 1937, Portia became the founding president, and Marizita the secretary, of the Kappa Upsilon Sigma (Scholastic) Honorary Society, which was organized on the campus ... “marking a step upward on the educational ladder for Princess Anne Academy.”
The sisters graduated in 1938 as members of one of the first four-year classes to earn a Princess Anne College degree; Portia was valedictorian and Marizita was salutatorian.
Portia taught two years in western Maryland, then moved on to earn a master’s degree in social work from Atlanta University. She became well-known for her success in children’s services in Cleveland, Ohio. She married Charles Anderson of Akron, Ohio.
Marizita was the Princess Anne College librarian from 1942 to 1946, but stopped working to become a homemaker after marrying Richard S. Grimes of Ocean City, N.J. The couple had two daughters, Clarissa and Rita, and after 13 years Marizita accepted a job offer to be a home economics teacher at Ocean City (N.J.) High School. She retired in 1976 and holds the distinction on the 125th anniversary of her alma mater of being its oldest living graduate.
Marizita’s daughter, Clarissa Grimes, enrolled at Maryland State College and became the Miles family's third generation to attend and graduate from the institution. Maryland State is where Clarissa also met future husband, Robert W. Price, and the couple married three months after their graduation in 1969.
Edith and Sarah Miles did follow in their two older sisters' footsteps and fulfilled their parents' dream.
Sarah graduated magna cum laude from North Carolina A&T College, received a Master’s of Science degree in chemistry from the University of Pennsylvania and earned her doctorate from Illinois Institute of Technology. After teaching secondary school, she joined the faculty of Roosevelt University in Chicago and taught chemistry for 27 year until her retirement as a full professor.
Edith, the youngest, studied at Virginia State University in Petersburg as well as Temple University in Philadelphia. Her daughter, Portia, and sons Charles and Howard Wilmore graduated from Cheyney University of Pennsylvania. Charles earned a master’s degree from Long Island University.
Several members of the extended Miles family also have UMES degrees, making them the fourth and fifth generations to graduate from the university.
Marguerite and Howard Miles, who were married 67 years, graduated from Princess Anne Academy in 1915 around the time Germany sank the passenger ship, the Lusitania, as Europe fought World War I. For the rest of their lives, they remained devoted to the institution that helped provide their family a stable life.
Their grateful daughter, Sarah Miles Woods, who moved back home to Crisfield from Chicago, made a major gift to the University of Maryland Eastern Shore in 2010 to keep her parents' memory and family legacy alive.
With a contribution of $50,000, Woods established “The Mrs. Marguerite Daugherty Miles and Mr. Howard S. K. Miles Scholarship” to fund financial aid for students majoring in science, technology, engineering, agricultural and mathematics or human ecology. Her generosity underscored a family tradition of support for UMES with monetary gifts.
-- KIMBERLY CONWAY DUMPSON