From NKAA, Notable Kentucky African Americans Database (main entry)

Chiles, James Alexander [Chiles v. Chesapeake & O R CO]

(born: 1860  -  died: 1930) 

J. Alexander Chiles was one of eight children, including his twin brother, John R. Chiles, who gave him financial assistance while he was a student at Lincoln University (Pennsylvania) and the University of Michigan Law School. Chiles moved to Lexington, KY, in 1890 to open a law office at 304 W. Short Street. His business was a success; Chiles is sometimes referred to as the first African American lawyer in Lexington. By 1907, he was one of four African American lawyers in the city. Chiles argued in the Supreme Court case against the Chesapeake and Ohio Railroad for desegregation of railroad coaches after he was removed by force to the Colored coach in spite of his first class ticket from Washington D.C. to Lexington. Chiles was also an active member of the Colored Seventh Day Adventist congregation in Lexington; he was a trustee, deacon, and treasurer of the first church built in 1906 at the corner of Fifth and Upper Streets. His wife, Fannie J. Bates Chiles, was the first librarian for the church. Elder Alonzo Barry was pastor. James A. Chiles was born in Virginia, the son of Richard and Martha Chiles. In 1910, James and Fannie Chiles planned to move from Lexington to Richmond, VA. James Alexander Chiles died in Richmond, VA in April of 1930 [source: "Tribute is paid Negro attorney by local bar," Lexington Leader, 04/09/1930, p.1]. For more see Biographical Sketches of Prominent Negro Men and Women of Kentucky, by W. D. Johnson; Chiles v. Chesapeake & O R CO, 218 U.S. 71 (1910) [full-text online by Justia]; and "Lawyer J. Alex Chiles" in the Colored Notes of the Lexington Leader, 01/02/1910, p.2.


*Name sometimes spelled Childes.*


Cited in this Entry

NKAA Source: Biographical sketches of prominent Negro men and women of Kentucky
NKAA Source: Lexington leader (newspaper)

Related Entries Citing this Entry

NKAA Entry:  African American Lawyers/Attorneys, Kentucky, 1880-1940
NKAA Entry:  African American Lawyers/Attorneys, Kentucky, 1880-1940: Court Cases

Cite This NKAA Entry:

“Chiles, James Alexander [Chiles v. Chesapeake & O R CO],” Notable Kentucky African Americans Database, accessed October 29, 2020,

Last modified: 2017-08-03 23:37:52