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Tue, 09.17.1850

Amanda Lyles, Businesswoman, and Socialite born

Amanda Lyles

*The birth of Amanda Lyles is celebrated on this date in 1850.  She was a Black socialite and businesswoman.  

From Illinois, Amanda Lyles was one of the first women entrepreneurs in the state of Minnesota.  She established her first business, the Hair Bazaar in 1880, later re-naming it Mrs. T.H. Lyles Hair Emporium. Lyles operated her hairstyling business from 1880 until around 1902, as one of St. Paul's first Black hairdressing salons.  Lyles met and married her husband Thomas H. Lyles around 1890.  They were involved in real estate, a construction company, a loan agency, and a funeral parlor. 

A woman of many interests, she taught piano lessons. She was the president of the State Federation of Afro-American Women’s Clubs and active in politics and in temperance movements.  Lyles was an important member of many women's clubs, including the National Association of Colored Women, the African American branch of the state Women's Christian Temperance Union, and the John Brown Monument Association and an industrial school in Chicago.  She and her husband, Thomas, were founding members of St. James A.M.E. Church, where Amanda was organist and choir director. 

Her husband was an undertaker and civic leader and together they co-founded the Western Appeal newspaper in 1885 with James Hilyard.  In the 1890s, she traveled around the United States trying to raise funds for a monument at John Brown’s gravesite and for money to build an orphanage and industrial school in Chicago.  After the death of her husband in 1920, Lyles continued to operate the mortuary.   William Weirs was located at 575 West Central Avenue in St. Paul, MN.  Amanda Lyles died on February 6, 1937, In 2014, Lyles became the first African American inducted into the Minnesota Women Business Owners Hall of Fame. 


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