Miles Masters was born December 4, 1846, in Berlin township, Bureau county, Illinois, the son of John and Maria (Belknapp) Masters. He grew up on his father’s farm with his four brothers. On January 31, 1865, he enlisted in company A of the 148th Illinois Infantry at Princeton, Ill. He received his discharge at Tullahoma, Tennessee on June 19, 1865 and returned home to Bureau county, Illinois, where he worked as a miller.
In 1891 he came to Dayton and joined with Mary S. Green, John Green, and A. E. Butters to incorporate as The Dayton Milling and Power Company. In 1894 he purchased and refit the Dayton Mills, advertising “Having purchased and refit the Dayton Mills to a full Roller Process on Wheat, we take this method as one of the means of informing farmers, and the public in general, of our now Superior Facilities for Doing FIRST-CLASS WORK in all BRANCHES of CUSTOM GRINDING.”
Around 1890, he began to show symptoms of mental distress. Association with persons afflicted with spiritualist mania caused him to change from Methodism to spiritualism. His mental condition deteriorated until, in 1901, he was committed to the asylum in Kankakee.
“Mr. Masters has become convinced that reincarnation has taken place – that the spirit of one of the greatest philosophers the world has ever known is now in his body taking the place of his own spirit. He also imagines that he can converse with the dead and living at will – even those in the flesh at a great distance. He also imagines that he has constructed a wonderful invention.”1
He recovered enough to return to his home in Chicago, but in 1906, he was admitted to the Danville Soldiers’ Home. From there, he was transferred in 1907 to the Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Soldiers’ Home. His mania had not abated and an article in the Milwaukee Journal reported that, according to Miles Masters, who called himself “The Creative”, the end of the world was at hand.
“Democracy, Catholicism, Protestantism, Socialism and commercialism and all manner of the first Christian era dispensations are now to be assigned to oblivion.” After relieving himself of this prophecy the Creative volunteered a little information concerning himself and his mission. “I come to you as a man proclaiming the rights of man in fulfilling the creative laws of his being and have spoken as man never spoke before of the oneness and wholeness of God and man. This power has been given me from the higher spiritual spheres and is to last nine years. “2
Miles Masters died January 2, 1910, at the Soldiers’ Home in Milwaukee. He was buried in the Dayton Cemetery on January 5th.
- Ottawa Free Trader, 2 Aug 1901, p. 7, cols. 1-2
- Milwaukee Journal, 9 Jan 1909, p. 3, cols. 1-2