The record of Mr. Giles is that of a man who by his own unaided efforts worked his way from a modest beginning to a position of affluence and influence in the business world. His life has been one of unceasing industry and perseverance and the systematic and honorable methods which he has followed have won him the unbounded confidence of his fellow citizens of Antrim county. John Giles was born in Toronto, Canada, in 1842, and is the son of Enos and Margaret (McLaughlin) Giles. The subject’s father has the distinction of being born on the Atlantic ocean in 1795 and his parents upon landing in this country settled in Toronto. Enos Giles upon gaining his maturity followed the carpenter’s and joiner’s trade and remained in Canada until his death, in 1861. He was the father of eight children, namely : Mary, Joseph, Samuel, Robert, Eliza, John, Thomas and Sarah.
The subject of this sketch was given the advantages of a common school education in his youth and, being ambitious of acquiring knowledge, he readily mastered the common branches and upon attaining his majority was well equipped to take upon himself the responsibilities of life. Becoming convinced that in the United States lay better opportunities for advancement, Mr. Giles came to Montcalm county, Michigan, and was there engaged in the operation of a sawmill, in which he was fairly successful. In 1892 he came to Antrim county and in 1896 located upon his present farm in Central Lake township, three and one-half miles from the town of Central Lake. This tract consists of fifty-seven acres, of which about thirty-five are under cultivation. The farm is not a large one, but will compare favorably in appearance and proportionate products with any in the township.
Mr. Giles gives his attention to all lines of agricultural interest, believing that a diversified system is better than specializing. In connection with his farming operations he also built a sawmill, the first one at Snow Flake, Antrim county, which has been a very successful enterprise and which at the time of its erection was much needed in that locality. It might be here noted that during six years of his residence in this state Mr. Giles was in the employ of Archie Cameron in the capacity of blacksmith in the lumber camps. On his place Mr. Giles has created a summer resort, one of the pleasant little vacation spots of this community and which is taken advantage of by several families who come here to spend the summer months.
In politics Mr. Giles is a Republican and for a number of years was connected with the sheriff’s office. In addition to his other interests Mr. Giles is a stockholder in the Farmers’ Telephone Company and is also a member of its board of directors. Fraternally, he is affiliated with Tent No. 160, Knights of the Maccabees, at Central Lake, and with the Grange No. 85 at Greenwood, and is a member of the Methodist Episcopal church. That his life has been one of active and consistent endeavor may be noted from the fact that for twelve years he followed the local ministry in Montcalm and Antrim counties.
In 1863 Mr. Giles was united in marriage to Mrs. Sarah C. Wilson, daughter of Philip and J. (Marathoe) Wilson, natives of Pennsylvania and of German descent. To Mr. and Mrs. Giles have been born the following children : Eliza J., Catherine J., Emma, Retta, Margaret A., Ella, Josephine, Hattie, Bertha, Leffa A., Louis, Lewellyn W. and Ella, the last two named being deceased, and they also adopted two children, Frank and Claud.
Mr. Giles has always been an enterprising man and it is his honest conviction that labor, directed by intelligent foresight, is the primary requisite to success. As a citizen he is loyal to his adopted country and entertains intelligent views relative to the current questions before the American people. He has done his full share in developing and improving his native township and is esteemed wherever known.
Source: Biographical history of northern Michigan containing biographies of prominent citizens; Indianapolis: B. F. Bowen & Company, 1905.