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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 Minnesota.  Lyles met and married her husband, Thomas H. Lyles, around 1870.  They were involved in real estate, construction companies, loan agencies, and funeral parlors.  She established her first business, the Hair Bazaar, in 1880, later renaming it Mrs. T.H. Lyles Hair Emporium. Lyles operated her hairstyling business from 1880 until 1902 as one of St. Paul's first black hairdressing salons.  

A woman of many interests, she taught piano lessons. She was the president of the State Federation of Afro-American Women’s Clubs and was active in politics and 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, 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 the 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 to raise funds for a monument at John Brown’s gravesite and 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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