Thursday, December 31, 2015

Maud Maple Miles, Renaissance Woman


Maud Miles (1871-1944) was a very active and dynamic personality, and a hero to us Fuller genealogists.  It's thanks to her painstaking work that we have many documents, diaries, and family trees passed down to us, so I felt it prudent to do a biography on her.

Maud D. Maple was born on February 11, 1871, the eldest child to attorney (and Civil War vet) William Henry Maple III and my 2nd great grand aunt Julietta "Etta" Fuller, in the town of Chariton, Iowa.


During the time of Maud's birth, Etta and William were moving around Iowa a bit, and lived for a time in Iowa City and also Ottumwa (where Etta and her parents and siblings had moved to from Maine in 1863).

Around 1881, when Maud was ten, the Maple family moved to Chicago (perhaps this was a better fit for William's law practice).  Her brother William Jr. was already seven, and her sister Nina Grace Maple would be born in Chicago in 1883.

Maud's talent for art was obvious to her parents, and she was enrolled in Chicago Art Institute, where she was taught by Arthur Wesley Dow.

In 1893, she participated in the World's Columbian Exposition.

In 1895, Maud married David Anderson Miles, a civil engineer from Indiana and Kansas.  Perhaps they met at the Institute.


Immediately after the wedding David and Maud moved to Kansas City, Missouri.


Their first child, William Maple Miles, died in childbirth in November of the year they moved.

Their second child, Mildred Irene Miles, was born in Kansas City in 1898.

In 1904, Maud's work was featured at the Louisiana Purchase Expo of the St. Louis World's Fair.  Later that year, her husband David died on Christmas Eve at age 36, leaving his 33 year old wife and 7 year old daughter behind.

Maud soldiered on, continuing in her job as a Kansas City public school art teacher at Manual Training High School.  On that salary, she managed to support young Mildred.  She got lucky and was hired to engrave bronze trail markers along the Santa Fe Trail in Missouri, including the one below:

In 1907, Maud's work was featured at the Art Institute of Chicago's "Annual Exhibition of Water Colors, Pastels and Miniatures by American Artists".

At some point just before 1920, Maud and Mildred moved north to Lombard, Illinois, where Maud's parents were living at the time.  Maud's father William died in 1920, and her mother Etta died in 1922, both in Lombard.  Maud's daughter Mildred got married in 1921, moved to Chicago, and ultimately traveled the world and later remarried.

Maud continued her work as an artist and art teacher in the Chicago area at this time.  She also painted many large pictures of California missions for the Santa Fe stations across the country.  On one visit to her cousins' home in Elmhurst, the family went to Addison, where she painted a picture of the old windmill standing in solitude in the midst of acres and acres of farmland. The mill later became the focal point around which Mt. Emblem cemetery was planned.


According to a few websites, Maud was also known for being a writer, color theorist, painter of Western scenes, and bas relief sculptor.  Her work was also featured at one point in the Smithsonian Collection in Washington DC.

One of her lecture series was published in the form of "Short Talks to Art Students on color from an Artist's Standpoint:  Also Dealing with the Relation of Color to the Musical Scale" c. 1914, Kansas City.

The University of Chicago's weekly Music Magazine in 1920 featured a writeup on her color music theory:

From that, she is frequently credited as the inventor of the term "color music" as a new art form.  In the book Brian Eno: Visual Music, Maud is mentioned:

Here again in the 2005 publication Color Music:  Synaesthesia and Nineteenth-Century Sources for Abstract Art, by Judity Zilczer.

Now, as shown in the first writeup, Maud always gave credit to elder researchers in color theory, and to be fair, the concept originated with Pythagoras and was carried forward by French theorists in the late 16th Century.  Maud merely advanced the theory for the 20th century in America.

Maud died in Wilmette, Illinois in 1944 at age 73, in the care of her daughter Mildred (and Mildred's children Winifred and David).

Maud and her husband David are buried at Forest Hill Cemetery in Kansas City.  This blogpage is a tribute to her as an artist, a family member, and a diligent genealogist, as passed down by her granddaughter Winifred Marks, who also worked in the education system and was a published author of her own right.


Diary of Charlotte Huntington Wood (cousin to Maud Maple Miles)

U.S. Census Records

Color Music:  Synaesthesia and Nineteenth-Century Sources for Abstract Art, by Judity Zilczer, c 2005

Brian Eno:  Visual Music, c 2013 Christopher Scoates

Musical Courier, August 26, 1920, University of Chicago

Illinois Women Artists Project

Find a Grave

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