George Whitehead, Sr. and Daisy Miles (Whitehead), 1902-1933
George Whitehead was only thirteen years old when he left his home for good. At the crack of dawn, he wandered the dangerous streets of a segregated neighborhood. He was cautious of where he walked and who he crossed. The teen didn’t have any concrete plans of returning home.
George had abandoned his home with intent—he was going to move away from his family and make his own living. His mother and father weren’t the most pleasant people. The other members of his family didn’t even believe in education.
George’s father was a teacher and minister who felt that his word was law. The community thought of him as an outstanding man; but for some of the Whiteheads, he was very stern and cruel.
As an example, the Whitehead patriarch had once thrown boiling water on his wife’s dress as she wore it. George still remembered the blood-curdling screams released from his mother. And that memory would remain with him for many years to come.
Being a black child with no education and little work experience, George figured he would be like all those other black folks. He prepared himself to work hard for little money and little appreciation.
This was of no consequence to the young teen. He felt being on his own would result in a better outcome in life. He was a fighter and he strived to survive whatever the universe threw at him.
He already missed his oldest sister, though. He had three in total, with two of the girls being twins. His oldest sister named Corean was his favorite. George was the baby of the family and the only boy so Corean was the one person who knew how to take care of him when their parents were gone or busy.
I’ll visit her when I find a place to live, was his determined thought at the time. He would later keep in touch with Corean as an older teen and adult.
As the years passed, the young Whitehead bounced from place to place. The days, weeks, months, and later years seemed to merge together. In the span of sixteen of those years, George moved to different cities and lived with many women.
All these women had something to offer George, and he reveled in it. It felt nice being taken care of as a man as he had been as a young boy. Although he had a darker tone to his skin, George’s charm and wit won the majority of his future girlfriends.
Light-skinned women were the ones he was most attracted. Their caramel shade of coloring represented to him beauty, smarts, and money.
George, as a young man, became infatuated with one of these young women. Her name was Daisy Miles, an educated lady who carried herself as an elitist.
At twenty-seven years of age, Daisy was older than most of her contemporaries. During this time period, most young men and women had families of their own. Her education was a definite priority for her initially.
She loved church and participated in many of their functions. Daisy Miles liked to be punctual. She wanted to prove that she was well received in a culture that often rejected both women and people of color.
Her family, the Miles-Sharp family, were mulatto, a mixture of black and Indian heritage. Based on how they were raised, the family was very close to one another.
The family would stick together through difficult times. Their closeness explained Daisy’s more elitist attitude. And unlike George Whitehead’s family, the Miles-Sharp clan had more use for education.
Daisy had four sisters; Essie, Matilda, Lillian, Patty; and two brothers; Robert and what the family affectionately named “Mon." When Mon was only four years old, he died of heatstroke after playing on one of the hottest days of the year.
The family’s devastation with the young lost prompted the siblings to become even more close knit.
Daisy’s sister, Essie, although younger than Daisy, was often mistaken as her twin. The resemblance between the two was uncanny with their same complexion and features. The folks around town were quick to tell them as such.
“Y’all ain’t twins?” asked a random man. This question was asked often. People’s bafflement both annoyed and pleased the sisters.
“Nah, sir” or “Nah, ma’am” was their repeated responses.
As a teenager, Essie contracted tuberculosis. Between the 1920’s through the 1940’s, isolation from TB patients was common. Their father, Reverend TJ Miles, had refused to build a separate room for the sick young woman. Thus, she relocated to another state to live with other relatives.
Essie’s illness progressed, unfortunately, and was to the point where she had her lung removed. Despite the fact that she tired easily, Essie stayed self-sufficient and lived a relatively healthy life.
Whereas Essie was her “twin," Daisy’s sister, Matilda, was her best friend. The two sisters would do almost everything together. Their bond sometimes threatened other family members, but Daisy and Matilda reassured them. The whole family had love regardless of the girls’ relationship.
Her sister Lillian was a bit of a mystery as Daisy wasn’t as close with her. Lillian was a homemaker and felt she held responsibility for her other siblings. She later would become a dutiful mother and wife.
Robert, the only male among many sisters, was a nice young man with a great sense of humor. He had beautiful, thick hair that some family members enjoyed braiding. He was also a sympathetic person who the family appreciated.
The youngest daughter, Patty, was darker than most of her caramel colored siblings. Yet, she had such a sweet disposition that her skin color became the last trait that defined her. All the Miles relatives were protective of her.
Daisy and her siblings, as they grew older and left home, would often stay in touch with one another even when each of them was hundreds of miles away.
Daisy, with her light chocolate skin, called to attention, a presence that demanded dignity from those around her. George felt that he could admire that about her, as long as he was able to be with her as a future husband.
Daisy Miles wasn’t attracted to George Whitehead. His dark skin, minimal schooling, and a reputation with women left much to be desired for Daisy. She did consider George a friend and sometimes didn’t even mind his company, but he wasn’t the man she wanted.
Daisy was in love with a married man, a state in which it became a hidden scandal. She wanted to be with this man, but her father would hear none of it.
Two years into their romantic affair, she ended up pregnant. TJ was furious that this man had so much as laid with his daughter, let alone that the man was married. TJ was adamant that this man would have nothing to do with his Daisy again.
It was only a matter of time before George proposed marriage to the Miles woman. Daisy begrudgingly accepted. She needed a husband to support her and her son. And her son would have someone to call a father.
Whether she loved George fully or not was incidental.
“Well, I guess I’ll marry that ol’ black George,” Daisy later relented as her pregnancy continued.
Her sisters, as Daisy’s biggest supporters, were in agreement. Being married to a man who didn’t father her child remained one of the many secrets kept by the Whitehead family.
Although George had been involved with a lot of women, Daisy became the first woman he legally married. Daisy Whitehead, as she was christened, didn’t always get along with her husband. She didn’t always have nice things to say about him either. George, as a result, began to feel insecure and inferior to Daisy.
Daisy remained strong throughout, with family referring to her as a “Taurus Bull." She was able to handle herself. Still, their marriage remained strained.