Giles Franklin Filley was born on 15 February 1815 in Wintonbury, Hartford County, Connecticut. He was the son of Oliver Filley (1784–1846) and Annis Humphrey (1785–1868). Giles’s brother, Oliver Dwight Filley (1806–1881), was the mayor of St. Louis from 1856 to 1861.

Giles left Connecticut in 1834, coming to St. Louis to work in his brother’s tinware shop. In 1849, Giles established the Excelsior Stove Works in St. Louis. During the Civil War, the company switched from making stoves to producing cannons and iron armor for James B. Eads to use in gunboats. Filley helped establish the Republican party in Missouri and began a newspaper called the Union to support Abraham Lincoln. That short-lived newspaper was an early forerunner of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

Giles incorporated his firm as the Excelsior Manufacturing Company in 1865 and retired from his business in 1895. “Starting with a comparatively small plant, which employed about twenty-five moulders and twenty men in other departments, these works were expanded from time to time until several hundred men were employed regularly and two whole blocks of ground were occupied by the foundry and machine shops.” He also operated a stone quarry in St. Louis and contributed all of the stone for the construction of the Eads Bridge.

Giles married Maria M. Farrington on 16 September 1844 in Hartford, Connecticut. Maria was born on 21 September 1822 in Bloomfield, Hartford County. She died on 9 May 1899 in St. Louis.

Giles died of a bronchial infection on 27 February 1900 at the age of eighty-five in St. Louis, and he and Maria are buried at Bellefontaine Cemetery.

Giles F. Filley
Giles F. Filley
Photo in the Public Domain

Giles Franklin Filley and Maria M. Farrington had the following children, all born in St. Louis:

    • Giles Franklin Filley Jr. was born on 24 July 1845 and died on 22 August 1846.
    • John Eldridge Filley was born on 8 December 1846 and died on 19 October 1847.
    • Franklin Blair “Frank” Filley was born 31 July 1848 and died in St. Louis on 27 March 1929. Frank married Martha Georgine Frederick on 14 September 1870 in St. Louis.
    • Charles Henry Filley was born on 24 November 1850 and died in St. Louis on 19 June 1928. Charles and Mary Elise Radcliffe were married on 4 September 1873.
    • Herbert Filley was born on 17 March 1852 and died on 9 July 1854 in St. Louis.
    • Robert Eldridge Filley was born on 5 March 1855 and died on 27 November 1923 in St. Louis. Robert married Cornelia “Nealy” Hopkins on 11 December 1878 in St. Louis.
    • Christopher Giles “Chris” Filley was born on 15 March 1857 and died on 5 February 1918 in St. Louis.
    • William Joseph Filley was born on 14 January 1859 and died in St. Louis on 29 October 1894. William married Millie Zeible on 22 May 1888 in San Bernardino, San Bernardino County, California. After Joseph’s death, Millie became the companion of William F. Reed, a wealthy St. Louisan. At his death in 1915, Millie (who had been known for years as “Mrs. Reed”) filed a claim for half of his $90,000 estate.
    • Dr. Victor Grant Filley was born on 4 January 1865 and died on 10 July 1917 in St. Louis. Victor married Fannie Breedon on 20 November 1884 in St. Louis.

Written by Ted Steele
January 2020

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Last Modified: 25-Feb-2020 20:25