BLUE BLOOD ON THE 101
the chief factor contributing to the change in the 101 Ranch from a
cattle range to a diversified farm was the coming of a new type of
settler to the prairies of northern Oklahoma. “The lean,
brown, hard bitten men,” says Edward Everett Dale, “who
had laid the foundations of the vast cattle empire in northern
Oklahoma still remained, but except for the common cow hands who
still retained many of the traits of the early cattlemen, they were
comparatively few in number. They were giving place to a new group
composed of individuals perhaps quite as hardy and vigorous as were
the early cattlemen, but who were men of education, broad
vision, and intimate contacts with the world outside. Big
business was coming to the plains and the new figures in the industry
were business farmers in the highest sense of the term.
was inevitable that men of this type should see at once the
advantages to be derived by improving the breed of their herds and
marketing animals at an earlier age. Wild, long-horned Texas steers
five or six years old might be sold to the Federal government under
beef contracts to feed the Indians, but they did not furnish a
quality of beef desired by the markets of the nineties. Much of
the American public, particularly in the east, insisted upon better
beef than the coarse, stringy product derived from the longhorns. As
a result the ranchmen of northern Oklahoma soon began to bring in
large numbers of registered or high grade bulls from the corn belt
states and even to import a great many breeding animals from
only was better beef demanded by the markets in the early nineties,
but changing conditions in the country of northern Oklahoma
itself demanded better bred animals on the 101 Ranch. The broad and
rolling plains surrounding the ranch, bare of animals for the first
few years after the destruction of the
buffalo, were now fenced and cultivated by the settlers. Vacant
pasture land could no longer be found for the 101 herds outside the
boundaries of the ranch. If the cattle business, therefore, was to
expand and the value of beef to increase, it had to be accomplished
by marketing cattle of higher quality at an earlier age, for it was
no longer profitable to keep steers on the ranch until they were four
or five years old. This was especially true of the lank, rangy
longhorn steers which even at that age were light and yielded a very
inferior quality of beef.
1 Edward Everett Dale, American Hereford Journal, December 15, 1936, P. 6.
a result of these conditions, Colonel Miller's cattle business
changed from grazing longhorns on the ranges to feeding shorthorns on
the agricultural products grown on the 101 Ranch. The old range
methods of handling cattle, existing on the 101 Ranch prior to this
time, underwent considerable modification. The growing of farm
products on the fertile lands necessarily required that cattle be
held in fenced pastures. This soon brought an end to the old round-up
and chuck wagon, since the cattle no longer roved at will on the open
range. Instead the cattle grazed in fenced pastures within a few
miles of the 101 headquarters or the Bar L camp, where the branding,
dehorning, and dipping took place in specially built corrals and
chutes. The chuck wagon was no longer the home of the cowboys from
which they herded and branded the cattle on the 101 ranges. They
lived in bunk houses at the ranch headquarters or the Bar L
camp, from which they rode out to repair fences, inspect the water
and grass, and look after the cattle, especially the young calves.
to be branded were driven from the fenced pastures into a large
corral at the 101 headquarters or the Bar L camp and then into a
small one adjoining the chute. The cowboys, yelling and plying
quirts, drove the cattle into the chute until they jammed it full.
Branding began when the chute was filled and the bars put up behind
the cattle. The branders walked alongside the chute and did nothing
but handle the “101” branding irons. Following each brander
was a cowboy with a pole, who thrust one end of it under a bar of the
chute on the opposite side, and, with a lever thus formed, drew down
across the cow's neck to keep her from jumping about when the hot
iron was applied to her hip. When all the cattle in the chute were
branded, the bars in front were let down, and the cattle passed
out. The chute daily poured forth its cattle with the 101 stamped on
their left hip, while the corrals behind it received more
animals from the pastures.
the crisis of 1893, Colonel Miller restocked the ranges of the 101
Ranch with improved breeds of cattle. He had handled thousands of the
longhorns during his twenty-two years of ranching and fully
understood their good qualities. As a product of the open range they
did well where purebred cattle would have perished of travel and
In the roundup and on the trail, they were more easily handled
than high grade stock, and because of the length of horn, they spaced
themselves better under herd and thus traveled with greater ease and
less loss of flesh. Their legs were longer, their hoofs tougher, and
their endurance greater than blooded cattle. Thus they were able to
graze a much wider range, go longer without water, endure more
hardships in winter, and take better care of themselves upon the open
range than any other breed. But in the fenced pastures of the new
farm era these qualities served no longer any useful purpose. And,
too, the “yellow backs” did not produce the quality of beef
the market of the nineties was coming to demand. Colonel Miller
recognized this demand for better beef and adopted the method of
“grading up” his herd. When bred to good sires, the
longhorn cows produced stock of better beef qualities than the
average longhorn steer. Through the use of high grade bulls, the sale
of undesirable stock, and the retention of heifer calves from year to
year, Colonel Miller had, at the time of his death in 1903,
transformed his herd of gaunt and wiry longhorns into cattle of
higher beef qualities.
Miller brothers, active, progressive, alert, followed all these
changes, launched huge enterprises, and toiled early and late to
bring to fruition diversified farming on the 101 Ranch. They were
awake to the opportunities of purebred stock and in a short time
their herds of purebred, registered cattle were unsurpassed in all
the states, both in number and in blood lines. The first well-bred
cattle to be brought to the 101 Ranch were the shorthorns, but it was
only a short time until the pure blooded stock of the other breeds
were brought in and carefully acclimated to the conditions of
2 J. Evetts Haley, The XIT Ranch, p. 182.
The greater business of the Miller brothers in cattle raising was devoted
to pure blooded Holsteins, Shorthorns, and Herefords. In the
producing of the new breeds, it was necessary to maintain the health
of the animals, and every known precaution of science was used to
prevent disease among the vast herds of different kinds.
systematic breeding of the herds was the special work of Colonel Joe
Miller, in which he succeeded in doing some very advanced work. Those
who are familiar with the change from the old longhorns to the
shorthorns and the other breeds of high grade cattle can better
appreciate the good judgment needed by a ranchman during these
transition periods. This crucial time in cattle raising was weathered
with admirable foresight by Colonel Joe Miller and success was due
greatly to his constant attempts to bring into existence better
cattle than had yet been produced. His scientific accomplishment was
brought to such a high standard that many people visited the ranch
for the purpose of observing the practical application of his
theories of breeding. This work was a benefit, not to the 101 Ranch
alone, but to the entire cattle industry throughout the country. The
importation of cattle from other countries to cross with other stock
was a costly experiment and the pioneer work of Colonel Joe Miller
along this line made it possible for hundreds of others to benefit.
Miller,” says Charles Lane Cullen, “took me onto the
prairie and showed me one of the strangest cattle herds on this
earth. Originally, those great expanses of flat country had belonged
to the buffalo. Unattended by man, the buffalo herds had flourished
and grown to number millions. The buffalo was hardy, a meat animal,
the native of the place chosen by nature herself. The Millers
conceived the idea of perpetuating the virtues of the buffalo in a
new breed of cattle. So after careful selection, they crossed the
buffalo bull with the common range cow. Today they have two hundred
of the new cattle, thriving and increasing, the beginning of a herd.
success of this ‘cross’ led to an even odder one. One of the banes of
the cattleman is drought. ‘Could such a thing as a drought-resisting
cattle breed be produced?’ asked the Millers. In some parts of the
world such breeds existed, but it was im-practicable to import them
in numbers. It was decided to import
a few of a chosen breed and introduce their blood into the herds. The
sacred Brahma cattle of distant India were picked for the experiment.
Small Brahmas were crossed with the Jersey cow, and big Brahmas
with the common cow. The product was not only a drought-resisting
animal but a wonderful beef animal. Zack Miller pointed out to me
yearlings in the mixed Brahma herd that would bring one hundred
dollars on a weight basis as against sixty dollars for a yearling of
the common cow.”3
purebred stock included three herds: the Holstein, the Shorthorn
(Durham), and the Hereford. The Holstein, or dairy herd, numbered
five hundred registered and high grade cattle.4
This herd was headed by the greatest sire of the world, Champion Echo
Pontiac No. 359702, Grand Champion of Oklahoma, 1924, who at
four years old weighed 2,500 pounds.5
This great bull was sold as a yearling to the 101 Ranch for $7,200
and one of his brothers sold at auction for $100,000. King Yankee
Lefa Segis, No. 286288, was another famous Holstein bull. His
sire, King Aggie Segis, sired fifty-four daughters, including
the World's Champion under-aged cow, Francher Farm Maxie, with a
record of 46 to 86 pounds of butter in seven days. The dam of King
Yankee Lefa Segis had seven
day butter record of 32.09 pounds and a milk record of 14,928 pounds.
Every cross in this pedigree showed the name of a sire of nation-wide
fame, mated with a great producing cow. It was from such blood lines
as these that the 101 Ranch Holstein dairy herd was built.
Shorthorn (Durham) herd of purebred cattle was headed by Maxhall
Silver, No. 1056690, one of the world's greatest sires.6
This herd numbered 350 registered cattle, including Scotch
females sired by such noted bulls as Cumberland Gift, Marshal
Joffre, Flashing Villager, Imported Baptom Elixir, and Imported Lord
The surplus cattle of the herd not sold for breeding
animals were slaughtered at the 101 Ranch packing plant which had a
daily capacity of fifty cattle and one hundred hogs.
3 American Magazine, July, 1928.
4 Rock Island Magazine, November, 1926, p. 14.
5 101 Ranch Records, July, 1928.
6 101 Ranch Records, July, 1925.
7 Rock Island Magazine, November, 1926.
Hereford (white face) herd was made up of carefully selected cows
from the best cattle in the country and the herd bull was purchased
after many of the best herds in the country had been visited. The
herd included 350 registered cattle, and thousands of high grade beef
cattle. Since the Herefords were excellent beef cattle, they
supplanted the longhorn stock on the ranges of the 101 Ranch, and for
that reason, the herds numbered from five to ten thousand head
It is an interesting fact that since that first trip in 1871
when Colonel George W. Miller, the father, drove Texas cattle
northward to Oklahoma pastures, there had never been a year that the
Miller brothers did not bring cattle north from Texas for their
pastures. They had large herds of purebred, registered cattle,
but brought up some cattle from Texas annually for grading and
grazing purposes. The practice for many years was to raise feed and
winter around 2,500 to 4,000 of these cattle, and to buy each spring
enough additional cattle to eat up the surplus grass on the ranges of
the ranch. The policy was to buy steers in the spring of the year,
keep them two summers and one winter, and sell them in the fall
when they were coming three years old. In that way all of the surplus
feed that grew on the ranch was utilized while producing grain crops.
normal conditions the profits from marketing beef cattle fattened on
the 101 Ranch amounted to thousands of dollars annually. As might be
expected, there were times when the conditions for profits were not
always favorable as a result of changing market prices. This was
particularly true in the fall of 1918.9
In 1916 the Miller brothers purchased one thousand head of Hereford
calves and pastured them on the Bar L part of the ranch. The cattle
were two years old in the spring of 1917 and it was in the fall of
that year that Mr. Fern Sanders
of a commission house in Kansas City came down to look them over and
estimated they would bring $135 a head in Kansas
City at that time. However, he advised that the War would
bring the price of beef even higher and urged that they be kept over
the winter and fed on corn raised on the ranch. Corn was selling at
$1.50 a bushel. There is no way to estimate how much corn the cattle
ate that winter, but it was typical of
Joe Miller that when they were figuring up the losses, he said, “Oh,
we can't count the corn because we raised that!” At any rate,
when the cattle were shipped to Kansas City the fall
of 1918, they brought only $60 a head instead of $135 which could
have been gotten the previous fall. This was a di-rect loss of
$75,000, not counting the corn, which was raised on the ranch.
8 Will Brooks to Ellsworth Collings, March 5, 1936.
9 Will Brooks to Ellsworth Collings, March 6, 1936.
cattle business of the Miller brothers was not limited to the cattle
handled on the 101 Ranch. It included large wholesale
transactions in cattle which never set foot on the home ranch in
Oklahoma. Thousands of cattle were purchased at one time, shipped to
leased lands in Louisiana, Texas, Kansas, Arkansas, and in Old
Mexico, and, after fattening, sold in large numbers to eastern
old-time western cowmen will describe to you as the “greatest
single movement of cattle in forty years,” and as one of the
greatest in the history of the country, took place in Florida during
the spring months of 1927 under the direction of the Miller brothers.
spring, Florida put into effect new and drastic regulations to
govern and clean up its previously unregulated cattle industry. Vast
expanses of land in the state, unfenced and used for years as open
ranges for grazing cattle, were to be subjected to the treatment
known as “dipping.” Other regulations were imposed,
striking panic into the ranks of the state's big cattle raisers, who
faced the necessity of expending tens of thousands of dollars. Cattle
became a drug on the Florida market, as one big landowner after
another quit the business and offered his herds for sale.
the height of this crisis, two men arrived in Florida. One was big
shouldered, browned, and bluff in his manner and speech, and he wore
the broad-brimmed felt hat of the western cowman. The other, tall,
slender, courteous, business-like, might have been a banker or a
corporation president. Yet the two introduced themselves as brothers,
Zack and George Miller.
explained they were just a couple of Oklahoma farmers out to see if
they could purchase a few head of cattle. The Florida landowners
looked bored. They had trouble enough on their hands without being
pestered by a pair of farmers who probably would consider a dozen
heifers a big purchase. Florida,
that spring, had herds to sell; not cows by the dozens but cows by
a buyer was a buyer, so the brothers were shown over the range. They
saw young steers which, if fattened and properly marketed, would
bring double and treble the price asked. They saw calves and heifers
which needed only age to give them value. And they saw these in
far-flung herds that numbered tens of thousands! Whole droves
were as wild as buffalo, untouched as yet by rope or hand of
man. Everywhere cattle were for sale in this state known to the world
mainly because of its pleasure resorts.
these Oklahoma farmers began to buy. One pasturage contained a
thousand cattle; they bought the thousand intact. Another herd was
estimated at thrice that number. George Miller, the business-like one
of the brothers, handled the financial details, while the
big-shouldered Zack picked the cattle. They bought ranges full of
cattle, by the hundreds and by the thousands. In one bold stroke they
purchased a single herd that numbered nine thousand head, at which
even sensation-weary Florida opened its eyes.
amazed landowners were at a loss to know what the Miller brothers
would do with all these cattle and how they would even be able to
round them up. Zack Miller's answer was action. He sent a telegram to
the 101 Ranch ordering a bunch of cowboys. A few days later a company
of lean, tanned men and tough ponies of the Oklahoma prairies
unloaded in Florida. The men were spurred and booted, lariats hung
from their saddle horns, and bed rolls were strapped to their
cantles. It was a hard-riding company, and the round-up began on
Old Town, at Clara, at Cross City, Hines, and Pineland the cattle
were assembled. It was like the mobilization of an army, an event
unparalleled since the great cattle drives of the Chisholm Trail back
in the 1870's. For, when those cattle were counted, it was found that
the Millers had purchased thirty-six thousand head!
the old days of the West such herds were moved overland, feeding
off the country as they went. These thirty-six thousand head had to
be moved by railroad. Pastures had to be leased for them in which
they could fatten, and pastures of such
size were not to be had offhand. The herd included two thousand cows
with spring calves, requiring special handling and pasturage.
army, indeed, but the Millers, it proved, were capable generals. In
the middle of April, as if the whole movement had been carefully
rehearsed for months, the cattle began to move westward out of
Florida. In Alabama, near Montgomery, seven hundred acres of pasture
had been leased for the cows and calves. In Louisiana, Kansas,
Arkansas, Texas, and in other states of the South and of the
Southwest, and even in Old Mexico, were other huge pasture lands
under special lease for the purpose. Toward these scattered points
the thousands from the Florida ranges moved by railroad.
moved eight hundred cattle cars comprising thirty long trains.
Animals already prime for the market were segregated
and sold in the stockyards of cities through which they routed—sold
by the carload, at auction, and invariably at a profit. Ten thousand
head were transported to Oklahoma there to
be pastured on the 101 Ranch and later transformed into beef in
Miller-owned slaughter houses. By the first day of June not one cow,
steer, or calf of the original thirty-six thousand was left in
Florida—a feat unexcelled, if ever equaled, in the history of
to their Kentucky heritage, the Miller brothers were lovers of fine
horses. In horses, as in everything else, they bred nothing but the
best. The horse of Colonel Joe Miller was typical
of the breeds maintained. “Pedro” was a piebald, a
handsome horse, strangely striped black and white, with pink
eye-rims and a leonine flowing mane. Colonel Joe related with great
pride that he had refused an offer of $25,000 for “Pedro.”10
one had looked with some amazement on the beauty of ”Pedro,”
one's eye was caught by the magnificent saddle on the horse's back.
What a saddle! It was made of hand-carved leather, with the fanciest
pommel imaginable, set off with generous trimmings of silver and
gold, which sparkled and glowed with 246 diamonds and rubies. The
saddle was a masterpiece of a Texas saddlemaker and cost Colonel
10 Boston Post, June 2, 1925.
11 The S. D. Myres Saddle Company, El Paso, Texas, to Ellsworth
Collings, October 17, 1936.
pure blooded, desert bred Arabian stallion, “Nedjran” by
name, was brought in 1907 to the 101 Ranch for experiments in
breeding that attracted interest of horsemen throughout the
This stallion was purchased from Homer Davenport, the cartoonist,
whose stock farm at Morris, New Jersey, contained many fine Arabians,
bought by Davenport on visits to the interior of Arabia.
was a chestnut, fourteen and a half hands high and twelve years old.
He was imported from Arabia by Captain Gainsford of the English
army in 1903 and attracted much attention in the international polo
games of the English army in that year. In 1904 the horse was brought
to America by Mr. Davenport. “Nedjran” was exhibited at the
Lewis and Clarke exposition in 1905, and declared a perfect horse. He
was chosen for the three thousand mile ride from Silverton, Oregon,
to Morris Plains, in an endurance test conducted by officers of the
regular army, and was ridden by Second Lieutenant E. R. Warner
McCabe of the Sixth United States cavalry.
stallion was bred to high grade western mares, thus combining the
speed and grace of the thoroughbred with the strength and endurance
of the western horse. The foals were put into training as soon as
they could be saddled and a trainer taught them to follow a polo
ball. Many of the ponies showed great aptitude for the game. The
particularly intelligent players brought from $500 to $1,000
each on the market.
addition to “Nedjran,” Miller brothers contracted to buy
sixteen more of Mr. Davenport's Arabian importations. The Arab sheik
from whom Mr. Davenport bought most of his horses came to America as
the guest of Mr. Davenport, and the two visited the 101 Ranch, where
a display of western horses and western horsemanship was given for
the entertainment of the sheik.
Miller brothers did not engage as extensively in horse breeding as
they did in cattle breeding. The horses, ponies, and mules needed to
carry on the ranch enterprises were kept and raised for the most
part, but many of the finer horses were purchased. The Indians
loved spotted horses, and, for that reason, a herd of about two
hundred spotted ponies were raised on the ranch
to supply that trade. The agricultural crops required four hundred
and fifty mules, three hundred horses, while one hundred ponies were
used in the cattle business, all exclusive of the horses used in the
101 Ranch show.13
One hundred fine brood mares and one or more stallions and jacks were maintained for breeding purposes and
for replenishing the work stock
as a result of physical disability or sales. Huge stables housed the
work horses and mules and two blacksmiths were kept
busy shoeing them and doing other repair work. The sales were not
limited to stock raised on the 101 Ranch, but included many wholesale
transactions in horses, ponies, and mules which never set foot on the
gross income from sales of beef cattle, horses, and mules amounted to
thousands of dollars each year. For the five-year period of 1925 to
1930, the gross receipts from these sources totaled $654,232.38,
distributed annually as follows: 1925, $124,524.74; 1926, $91,002.23;
1927, $152,293.34; 1928, $135,098.10; and 1929, $101,302.91.14
The income from fat beef cattle contributed a large share of this
sum. Fattening and marketing around ten thousand beef cattle was
featured each year.
Duroc-Jersey hog herds, several thousand in number, were all purebred
and registered. There were hundreds of pens, lots,
paddocks, and fields all fenced with woven wire, each containing
from one to six or seven hundred head. It was nothing unusual to have
from ten to fifteen thousand red hogs on the ranch at one time. The
foundation stock of the Durocs was purchased at a cost exceeding
1928, the 101 Ranch centered on hogs, to a greater extent than
ever before. Already there were more than four thousand
young pigs on the ranch, farrowed during the first six weeks
of that year, and new arrivals made their appearance at the rate of
several hundred a day. Ten thousand pigs in 1928 and
twenty thousand in 1929, that was the aim of the Miller brothers.15
They wanted an increased pig production because of the ranch packing
house, where twenty thousand could easily be used annually.
12 Ponca City Courier, September 10, 1907.
13 Time, February 11, 1929.
14 101 Ranch Records, 1925-1930.
15 Daily Oklahoman, May 15, 1928.
thousand sows were bred for farrowing the spring of 1928. That meant
five thousand pigs born that springtime and another five thousand
later in the season, or two crops of pigs annually. The Millers
figured on an average of five pigs to the sow, when figuring on such
a big number of sows. They had in 1929 two thousand sows for breeding
purposes and raised two litters of pigs each, or a total of twenty
thousand for that year.
order to play a safety first program in raising
so many pigs, the Miller brothers arranged five farms, approximately
forty acres in size and each fenced with hog wire. One of the five
was for pigs when they were weaned and another was used for pigs of
the shoat size. Each farm was sown in alfalfa and Johnson grass and
the hogs were fattened on these farms for the packing house.
was claimed to be a record breaker on the 101 Ranch
was a litter of thirteen pigs, born to a Duroc-Jersey mother,
weighing a total of forty pounds at birth. This was a record by a
considerable amount in that the usual weight of a litter was only
half that total. Another record, of which Colonel Joe Miller was
proud, was a litter of twenty-one pigs, born also to a Duroc-Jersey
sow, which he had bought for $1,000. At nursing time, several
times a day, the pigs were divided among other sows with pigs in
order that all might have sufficient nourishment. The plan
worked admirably and the entire litter lived.
of the best individuals and pedigrees known to the breed were in the
Duroc-Jersey herds on the 101 Ranch. “101 Sensation” was
one of the outstanding boars. He was purchased for
use on the ranch at $7,500 and was regarded by expert judges as
the longest, tallest, and most perfectly formed boar of his kind.
Every cross in his pedigree included blood of a famous grand
champion. This boar was assisted by another boar, of nation-wide
fame, known as “Skyscraper.” He was noted as a sire and was
a full brother to the World's Grand Champion sow of 1922.
Duroc-Jersey included a number of famous sows. “Stilts Lucille
5th” was the World's Grand Champion Duroc sow of 1922, Grand Champion
National Swine Show, Grand Champion Missouri State Fair, and Grand
Champion American Royal Livestock Show. “Miss Skyhigh,”
another famous sow,
was First Junior Sow Pig at the Missouri State Fair in a class of
forty-seven. At the 1922 American Royal “Miss Skyhigh” was
First Junior Champion. “Skyscraper Queen,” likewise,
was First Prize Senior Pig of the 1922 American Royal. The herd
included many other famous sows but these are typical of the
blooded lines maintained on the ranch. Many of the brood sows cost
$2,500 for a single animal.
Miller brothers were successful in the hog business. Through breeding
they produced many of the best individuals and pedigrees in the
country, as evidenced by the high records achieved at the state
and national shows. They were not only successful in breeding, but
succeeded in handling an animal market of around twelve thousand
Duroc-Jersey hogs. The income from the sales totaled many thousands
of dollars annually. From 1925 to 1930, the total gross receipts from
this source, exclusive of packing plant sales, amounted to
$220,301.75, distributed as follows: 1925, $21,066.27; 1926,
$52,560.41; 1927, $22,642.52; 1928, $27,345.63; and 1929,
poultry department included ostriches, peafowls, turkeys, geese,
guineas, pigeons, and chickens. Large, modern poultry houses,
incubators, and brooders, were provided on the chicken ranch, and
scientific methods were practiced in hatching, raising the
young, and marketing the products. In poultry, as in everything
else the Miller brothers bred nothing but the best. The White Leghorn
flock was from the finest foundation stock and had been bred and
mated by careful and painstaking work. The size of the flock
varied in number from year to year. In 1927 it included 1,500 laying
hens. Two years before, the number was considerably larger,
including 7,500 laying hens, in addition to hundreds of
ostriches, peafowls, geese, guineas, pigeons, and turkeys.
says Colonel Joe Miller, “are the premier money crop of
Oklahoma, a fact that is proved by all reports coming in at the
Thanksgiving season of the year. In this particular
portion of the state there are more turkeys than usual on the farms,
although no large flocks excepting that which is raised annually at
the 101 Ranch. A thirty-pound turkey is worth anywhere from nine to
ten dollars at present. They are hard
to raise, but tell me any one line on the farm where the profit is so
16 101 Ranch Records, 1925 to 1930 inclusive.
would seem that turkeys can be raised in any and all portions of
Oklahoma, the one main thing required being range. Turkeys must be
unhampered in being able to cover a considerable territory. It
was because of the range offered them that Oklahoma was really the
last stamping ground of the wild turkey, and if it were possible for
the average farmer to have a considerable field in which the turkeys
could range and feed, and at the same time they could be prevented
from wandering away, there would not be much difficulty in raising
Oklahoma and Indian territories were long the home of the wild
turkey, following the settling up of the surrounding states, and it
is said by old hunters that the Osage country was the most prolific
turkey section that the Southwest has ever known. They were so
plentiful throughout the entire territory that frequently they
composed all the meat that the army posts had for weeks at a time.
When the first Santa Fe train was run through old Oklahoma, following
its completion to Purcell, it encountered a flock of wild turkeys in
a cut between where Guthrie and Oklahoma City now stand, and a number
of the birds were killed under the wheels.”17
income from the flocks of chickens, geese, and turkeys amounted to a
considerable sum annually. For the five-year period from 1925 to
1930, the total sales amounted to $13,002.04 distributed as
follows: 1925, $4,406.63; 1926, $4,274.36; 1927, $2,121.61;
1928, $1,772.70; and 1929, $426.74.18
Miller brothers took an active interest in the improvement of
livestock in Oklahoma. The service of their purebred sires was at the
disposal, free of any charge, of any owner of purebred females. It
was their policy to furnish young breeding stock to farmers at
popular prices in order to improve the grade of livestock in the
immediate and surrounding vicinity, and many of the farmers took
advantage of the opportunity to improve their stock.
have,” wrote Miller brothers, “a herd of about six hundred
registered and high grade Holstein cattle. We want to sell about
three hundred and fifty of them and thought some of
shipping one or two carloads to a number of different towns and
holding small auction sales, but we have decided that it will be best
for us to hold a large sale and sell 350 here at the 101 Ranch
October 10, 1925, sale commencing at ten o'clock and lasting until
after midnight if necessary to sell the cattle.
17 Daily Oklahoman, February 6, 1927.
18 101 Ranch Records, 1925 to 1930.
order to put the buyers from a distance on an equal basis with the
local buyers we will pay the freight to any station in Oklahoma
or Kansas provided any buyer or group of buyers will buy a carload of
twenty or more.
would like to have you attend the sale and assist the buyers from
your county in selecting the cattle. We know your funds available for
traveling expenses are not sufficient for you to attend many sales,
for that reason we will pay the railroad fare of all Oklahoma and
Kansas county agents who attend the sale provided the farmers from
their county buy twenty or more. Our cattle are all acclimated, about
two hundred are giving milk and all of the others will freshen
soon; approximately one hundred of them are two year old bred
sale includes twenty registered cows, ten registered heifers and
twenty registered bulls, also three hundred grade cows and heifers.
Under the prevailing rules these grade cows cannot be registered,
however they are practically pure bred, all of them being sired by
registered bulls and their dams for several generations were all
sired by registered bulls.
female offered in this sale with the exception of a few that have
recently freshened have been bred to registered bulls. This large
sale will give your friends a better opportunity to select good
Holsteins than they would have in attending a half dozen or more
other sales. We will be pleased to have you talk the matter over with
your farmers and bring all those interested to the sale. We will send
you any number of sale bills that you will post in banks and other
everything from common farm stock to buffalo and ostriches were
raised on the 101 Ranch, the principal income producing livestock
were cattle, horses, mules, hogs, and poultry. Cattle and hogs
were featured every year and the records indicate they never failed
to yield large incomes. Many horses, ponies, and mules were raised
annually to carry on the enter
19 Letter sent by Miller brothers of 101 Ranch to County Agents of Oklahoma, October 1, 1925.
of the ranch. The sales were not limited to stock raised, but
included wholesale transactions in horses, ponies, and mules which
never set foot on the ranch. While the income from the poultry varied
from year to year, the receipts from this source never failed to
yield an appreciable sum. The following table indicates the gross
profits from livestock for the five year period, 1925-1930.20
ANNUAL SALES OF 101 LIVESTOCK FOR THE FIVE YEAR PERIOD, 1925-1930
||ANNUAL SALES OF LIVESTOCK
|Total for Livestock
figures reveal some interesting facts regarding livestock
production on the 101 Ranch. They indicate, in the first place, that
the livestock production for the five year period alone amounted to
$837,525.31, exclusive of packing
plant sales, more than three quarters of a million dollars. The sales
totaled annually more than an average of $160,000 for this period.
When this amount is considered along with the annual sales of around
$175,000 for the meat packing plant, which utilized cattle and hogs
raised on the ranch, the huge proportions of livestock production
becomes an outstanding feature of the 101 Ranch.
the second place, the figures of this table reveal constancy of
livestock production. While the production in each division of
livestock varied slightly from year to year, the income
from sales remained constant for the entire period. For example, the
total sales of cattle, horses, mules for the five year period
amounted to $604,221.32, each year contributing large sums to this
total. The same is equally true in the case of hogs and poultry.
These facts indicate the Miller brothers practiced a planned policy
with reference to the breeding, fattening, and marketing of livestock
on the 101 Ranch.
20 101 Ranch Records, 1925-1930.
TWO BLADES FOR ONE
OT only were the conditions of panic and the financial difficulties
resulting from the failure of the Kansas City commission house
forcing the end of the 101 Ranch as a strictly cattle ranch, but the
changing nature of the Cherokee Strip foreshadowed the change to a
farming region. The fact that the barbed-wire fence made its
appearance was indicative that the days of free, unlimited range were
almost over. And thus, while creditors were arriving at the
ranch and driving away his cattle, Colonel Miller and his sons
conferred over the future.
was twenty-four years old at this time, Zack was sixteen, and
George was only ten. Young as they were the sons were already the
chief lieutenants of their father. They had established a business
reputation and they had lost neither courage nor enterprise. That
winter, in order to get money enough to carry them through until
spring, they had sold their few remaining cows to the Indians, as
related in the preceding chapter. During the long winter evenings
father and sons sat about the fire and planned. They had the old
horses and their acres of leased prairie land as yet untouched by the
plow. Homesteaders had already proved the fertility of that prairie
in the course of those conferences around the fire, the idea of a
great farm was born. It was not to be the usual type of farm of a few
hundred acres; no, it was to be a regal successor to the cattle
ranch. Their herds had numbered thousands of head. Why could not
their crops mount to thousands of bushels? It required no more
knowledge to plow and plant a thousand acres in wheat than it did to
plant a hundred, or ten!
needed implements and seed grain, and money which would supply both.
It was known in those parts that the Miller word was good, they
paid what they owed, if not in this year then in the next, or the
next. When winter broke in 1894, the needed
plows were ready, the seed grain was on hand, and workmen waiting.
Old Colonel Miller himself stuck the nose of the first plow into the
was no time to prepare a variety of crops. In one grand gamble with
soil and season they planted wheat. Yet it was not a blind gamble,
for wheat had already proved itself the king of crops of the West.
The wheat came up, almost five thousand acres of it. By June the
harvest was under way, and never before had there been such a harvest
in that new country. The prairie acres yielded seventy thousand
bushels of wheat—and wheat at Chicago was $1.20 a bushel!1
this start the Millers went on farming, putting in corn, oats,
alfalfa, and other crops, as well as wheat. They bought calves to
fatten, added horses, mules, hogs, geese, ducks and buffalo to their
flocks. Every year they extended their operations, and every
year they put in some new crop. From that wheat harvest the Cattle
Millers became the Farmer Millers. From this time onward the ranch
became a diversified farm and everything that soil would bear was
grown on its land.
Miller brothers not only produced extensive agricultural
products, but they were scientific along these lines, continually
producing new and better types. After turning to the blooded breeds
of livestock, they followed breeding only along the best lines of the
strongest ancestral record. A new type of corn was produced after
long years of experimenting by crossing high grade white corn
with the speckled squaw corn, grown extensively in the past by the
Indians. A mixture of rye and barley seed was obtained after several
seasons of planting barley and rye together, thus producing a
brand that provides the best winter pasturage. The Japanese
persimmon, the paper shell pecans, and the finer types of mulberries,
plums and grapes were grafted on the Oklahoma natives, gradually
building up a finer and better line of products that were
Oklahoma acclimated. Fruit trees were imported, grafted, and
regrafted, and with scientific methods applied every step of the way
orchards were developed equal to any found in the recognized
fruit belts of the country. The production of new types and breeds
was the special work of Colonel Joe Miller, and so great was his
achievement along these lines that the Oklahoma State Agricultural
and Mechanical College planned as a part of its official agricultural
course to have its classes spend at least two weeks annually at the
ranch in order to witness the practical application of theories
in the production of new types and breeds of farm products.
1 Literary Digest, August 4, 1928.
a result of the first wheat crop on the 101 Ranch in 1894, northern
Oklahoma turned out in a short time to be a great wheat-growing
section. Since that year the Millers planted each autumn from two to
nine thousand acres. The regular acreage usually included four
thousand acres. George L. Miller estimated the total at 126,000
acres up to 1927.2
Basing the total acreage at this figure the thirty-two years, and averaging the yield at eight bushels an acre,
which George Miller
believed reasonable, the total number of bushels harvested for that
period amounted to 1,008,000, and at an average of seventy-five cents
a bushel the Millers received from wheat alone $756,000.
L. Miller fixed the average price of wheat during the thirty-two
years at seventy-five cents a bushel. One season the Millers sold
their crop for thirty-five cents a bushel, and one fall they sold for
$2.73. When Joseph Leiter made his famous plunge on the Chicago Board
of Trade and wheat went from fifty cents to a dollar a bushel, the
Millers sold ten carloads produced on the ranch for a dollar a
amount of wheat production on the 101 Ranch
is indicated by the men, horses, and machinery required to
harvest the wheat. Five hundred men, six hundred horses and mules,
fifty binders, and ten threshing machines were used by the Millers
night and day in harvesting the crop.3
The ranch has grown in a single season a record crop of more than
two-hundred thousand bushels of wheat from nine thousand acres.
addition to the regular wheat acreage, harvested annually, the
Miller brothers always planted at least one-thousand acres additional
each autumn for winter and spring pasture. This acreage was, as a
rule, plowed under in the spring and planted to other crops. The
wheat land was always replanted in short crops each year after the
regular wheat crop was taken off, thus making the land bear two crops
in one season.
was another major cereal crop produced on the 101 Ranch. The crop
acreage usually averaged five thousand acres.4
conditions the annual yield was around 150,000 bushels.5
The Millers produced in a single season a record crop of 240,000
bushels of corn from six thousand acres. One cornfield of a thousand
acres of fertile land produced annually an estimated yield of
The season of 1923 was probably the worst ever
experienced. During May and June it rained continually, making it
impossible to cultivate the corn properly. Four thousand acres of
corn planted on the bottom land were washed out. Then the rain
stopped and from early June to the middle of August there was no
rain, and fully 90 per cent of the corn in northern Oklahoma was a
complete failure on account of dry weather and hot winds. As a result
of producing and using seed corn, especially adapted to drouth
conditions, the Miller brothers succeeded in growing several hundred
acres, averaging from thirty-five to fifty bushels an acre.7
distinctly new varieties of corn were originated by the Miller
brothers. These varieties were especially adapted to the conditions
of the Southwest and they attributed their successful corn
yields to the use of these varieties. One variety was the White
Wonder corn; the other the Improved Indian Squaw corn.
White Wonder was a large white corn, not deep, but set close together
on a large, long cob. Through experimentation the
Miller brothers demonstrated that a short grain on a large cob would
withstand more dry weather than a deep set kernel on a small cob. The
explanation is that a long cob holds more sap upon which the grains
may draw during the growing season than a small cob does. The
foliage of the White Wonder corn was heavy, the stalks were large and
soon shaded the ground, thus conserving the moisture and enabling the
plant to withstand drouth to a greater extent—a vital requirement
in the Southwest. Many varieties of corn were brought from northern
seed houses and planted beside plots of the White Wonder
variety in order to test experimentally the comparative yield. Under
exactly the same conditions and care it was found the imported
varieties made yields of from five to fifteen bushels less an
acre than the White Wonder corn.
2 George L. Miller to the Daily Oklahoman, February 6, 1927.
3 101 Ranch Records, 1925-1930.
4 101 Ranch Records, 1923.
5 George L. Miller to the Daily Oklahoman, February 6, 1927.
6 Colonel Zack T. Miller to Ellsworth Collings, October 24, 1934.
7 George L. Miller to the Daily Oklahoman, May 13, 1928.
Improved Indian Squaw corn was a hybrid, produced by cross-breeding
the White Wonder and a corn which the Indians
grew before the coming of white men. When the Millers first
settled in Oklahoma they observed the Indians raising a small variety
of corn, mottled in color. The Indians merely scratched
the ground and planted the corn with a hoe; they did not cultivate
the crop at all, yet they always raised sufficient corn for
themselves and their ponies. It was remarkable how this corn
withstood dry weather. The Indians always had a supply of feed when
the settlers in the early days were unable to grow corn at all.
crossing this variety of corn with the White Wonder, the Miller
brothers found experimentally that the new variety retained all the
drouth-resisting qualities of the Indian corn and increased its size
to almost that of standard varieties. They found that this new type
of corn would mature seventy-five days after planting, and make a
crop in any season when Kafir corn would grow. They planted the
improved Indian Squaw corn in the summer, after a crop of wheat had
been harvested from the same ground and when not damaged from chinch
bugs it produced seventy-five bushels an acre.
Miller Brothers contended that in growing corn the first essential
was good seed, and then careful and intelligent cultivation.
They experimented with seed corn from almost every section of the
country, and demonstrated that corn brought from the northern states
would not become acclimated the first season, and in some cases would
not become acclimated at all. At first, in conducting these
experiments, they lost thousands of dollars because of short yields
when northern seed was used. Later, they reserved a forty acre plot
for a demonstration farm, while their large acreages were planted
with proven varieties which prevented further failures.
reputation of the corn grown by the Miller brothers spread until
their seed corn was used widely in Oklahoma and Texas. They erected a
large seed-corn elevator at the ranch headquarters and equipped it
with all modern cleaning and grading
machinery. During the fall and winter months an average of one
thousand bushels of finished seed corn passed daily from the elevator
to the store rooms. In 1911 one large seed concern in Texas
contracted for fifty thousand bushels and many milling and elevator
companies in Oklahoma purchased car lots for distribution to the
farmers of their locality in order to increase corn production and
secure a better quality of corn for milling. The Miller brothers in
one season sold 60,000 bushels of selected White Wonder seed corn
that was shipped to practically every corn-producing state. They
received an average of $3.50 a bushel for the seed corn.8
They sold no corn on the regular market since they fed thousands of
cattle and hogs annually on the ranch. Before feeding operations
began each year, they carefully selected every bushel of corn that
was to be used for seed, and the cull corn was fed to the stock.
was a third major cereal crop produced annually by the Millers,
largely for feed purposes. The acreage usually included 2,500
acres and yielded thousands of bushels. Approximately fifteen
hundred acres of grain sorghums were grown, consisting of kafir,
milo, and cane; in addition, from three hundred to one thousand
acres of barley and rye were planted for pasture and feed.
annual income from the grain crops was enormous. Since the feed
crops, including corn, oats, barley, rye, cane, and milo, were used
to feed thousands of hogs and cattle, the income was largely
from wheat and seed corn. The ranch sold nothing to the commercial
market except livestock and wheat.9
The rest of the grain crops were
fed to the stock on the ranch. For the years 1925 to 1930, the total
sales for these crops amounted to $388,364.44, distributed as
follows: 1925, $86,004.73; 1926, $53,526.55; 1927, $61,536.87;
1928, $81,176.16; and 1929, $106,120.09.10
was produced in large quantities during some seasons, while
during others it was not planted or failed to yield an
income. From 1925 to 1930, inclusive, the records indicate income
from this source for only two years: 1925, $89.85, and 1926,
Doubtless large crops were produced prior to this time since reports
indicate that 2,500 acres were annually planted to cotton.12
After years of experimenting, the Miller brothers succeeded in
producing an early maturing variety of short staple cotton which they
named “Early Bird.” This variety produced and matured
when planted as late as the middle of June. In addition to this type,
a new variety of long staple cotton was developed. This variety was
not as early or as quick maturing as the “Early Bird”
variety, but produced as many pounds of seed cotton to an acre and
ginned 40 per cent lint.
hay crops consisted of thousands of acres of native grass, two to
three hundred acres of sudan, two thousand acres of alfalfa, and four
hundred acres of sweet clover. Approximately ten thousand tons of hay
were harvested annually, requiring the use of twenty mowing
The hay crops were grown for feed purposes and the Miller
brothers annually filled eighteen large silos with enough feed to
winter several thousand head of cattle.
garden vegetables were grown on the 101 Ranch in large quantities.
Peas, beans, radishes, onions, tomatoes, cabbage, lettuce,
turnips, and beets were produced in huge quantities for use on
the ranch and for commercial purposes. One hundred thousand Bermuda
onions and twenty-five thousand cabbage plants were seeded one
Large sweet potato hot beds were maintained and as many as
twenty-five thousand bushels of sweet potatoes and approximately as
many bushels of Irish potatoes were grown annually.15
Hot and cold
storage potato warehouses were erected at the ranch headquarters to
store the huge crops of Irish and sweet potatoes. The income from the
garden truck amounted to several thousand dollars annually. For the
years 1925 to 1930, the total receipts from this source were
$27,663.39, distributed as follows: 1925, $3,342.61; 1926, $5,441.51; 1927, $7,396.51; 1928, $5,301.55; and 1929, $6,181.21.
8 101 Ranch Records, 1911.
9 Colonel Joe Miller to St. Louis Post-Dispatch, June 11, 1905.
10 The five year period, 1925-1930, was selected because it represents a normal period of farm crop production, and for that reason reveals the extent of this phase of the 101 Ranch.
11 101 Ranch Records, 1925-1930, inclusive.
12 George L. Miller to the Daily Oklahoman, February 6, 1927.
13 Colonel Joe Miller to St. Louis Post-Dispatch, June 11, 1905.
14 101 Ranch Records, 1925.
15 Colonel Joe Miller to St. Louis Post-Dispatch, June 11, 1905.
cantaloupes, cucumbers, and pumpkins were grown in large quantities.
”The ranch has,” reported Colonel Joe Miller, ”twenty-five
hundred acres in melons this year, which we will ship out by the
trainloads. Our watermelons are famous, and the seed alone is worth
$2.50 an ounce. My father used to have a sign in the melon patch,
'five dollar fine for anyone who goes through this patch without
taking a melon.' That still goes. Anyone can come and eat and carry
home all the melons he pleases—or anything else, for that matter.”16
quantities of the vegetables, melons, cantaloupes, and fruits
produced on the 101 Ranch were sold at the market maintained at the
headquarters. Thousands of tourists stopped to purchase fresh fruits,
melons, cantaloupes, and vegetables, which were put up in the canning
factory located at the headquarters. The income from the market
amounted to a considerable sum annually. For the five year
period from 1925 to 1930 the total sales of the market amounted to
$29,342.30, distributed as follows: 1925, $1,142.11; 1926,
$7,311.01; 1927, $11,107.41; 1928, $3,846.26; and 1929, $5,935.49.
horticultural production was in keeping with the agricultural.
The ranch produced annually an abundance of apples, plums,
peaches, pears, and cherries. The apple orchard originally started
through an accident. Nearly thirty years ago an enthusiast shipped
two carloads of nursery apple trees to Winfield, Kansas, with a view
of placing them with the farmers and orchardists of that locality.
When the shipment arrived, however, the owner could not pay the
freight bill and it looked for a while as though the shipment might
be a total loss. Colonel Joe Miller happened to be in Winfield
on a business mission and learned of the apple tree shipment. He paid
the freight bill and had the trees sent on down to the 101 Ranch.
With fifty men under his direction he set out the entire two
carloads, working as rapidly as possible in order to save the stock.
the general mixup that had occurred, the trees had become mixed
also, and Colonel Miller could do nothing else but set them out just
as he had received them. As a result, various kinds of apples were
scattered over the entire orchard, but they happened
to be of sufficient varieties so that the orchard produced fruit
from June to November every year.
16 Colonel Joe Miller to St. Louis Post-Dispatch, June 11, 1905.
the orchard covered 160 acres. The tract was located on the south
bank of Salt Fork River, about two miles east of the “White
House.” The Salt Fork current happened to strike the high bank
when the apple trees were planted, and in the intervening years a
considerable portion of the quarter section was eaten away. Today,
however, there is a fine orchard of more than one hundred acres
and approximately 6,000 trees. The orchard began to yield from a
commercial point of view a few years after planting, when the first
crop was 3,000 bushels. The yield increased gradually every year
thereafter until the annual crop was around 25,000 bushels. Colonel
Joe Miller estimated the trees, which he had bought for the freight
bill, had brought in money to the ranch a total of $100,000 up to
The trees cost him less than two cents each. The orchard paid him
$205 an acre annually and he estimated the value of the orchard at
$1,000 an acre.
the trees were first set out, Colonel Miller had them placed sixteen
feet apart in rows that were thirty-two feet apart. He soon came to
the conclusion that the trees were too close together and with the
use of an eighty horse power tractor, he pulled out every other
tree, thus leaving the remaining trees thirty-two feet apart each
way. The orchard was sprayed five times during the growing season,
and was pruned every winter. The small limbs were cut out only and
the large limbs were never molested. That kept the trees strong and
101 Ranch orchard picking started about September 1, and continued to
November 1. The entire crop was disposed of at the ranch market. Not
an apple was shipped except by local people who purchased a few boxes
and sent them away to friends. Many people visited the ranch and
bought their winter supplies from the orchard.
Millers won many prizes and premiums on their apple displays at both
county and state fairs, and sometimes in competition with apples
from famed districts. “We have,” said Colonel Joe Miller,
“a hard time of it, sometimes, making people who visit the
fairs believe that we actually produced the apples in Oklahoma. It
seems difficult for them to believe that it
can be done here.'”18
The big orchard was disked to wheat every fall, following the picking season. After the wheat became large
enough to afford good pasture, hogs were turned in to fatten on the
pasture, and any fallen apples that might have been left. In the
spring, the wheat was turned under, thus fertilizing the land.
17 Daily Oklahoman, February 6, 1927.
18 Daily Oklahoman, February 6, 1927.
Miller had his own ideas, gained from experimenting with this big
orchard, in regard to what varieties of apples would do best in his
section of Oklahoma. Some varieties were much more susceptible to
disease than others. Because of having so many varieties
scattered throughout the orchard, he was able to pick up what he
believed to be the best. In this section, he found the apples to
plant were Ben Davis, Grimes Golden, Winesaps, Delicious, and York's
Imperial. Other varieties seemingly yielded just as well, but they
were more subject to blotch and other diseases.
raspberries, gooseberries, and strawberries were annually produced
for ranch and commercial purposes. The vineyard included twelve
thousand large producing grapevines. A large part of the
horticultural products were used in the 101 Ranch canning factory,
which also made peach and apple butter, jellies of all kinds, cider,
income from the horticultural crops, exclusive of fruits sold at the
101 Ranch market, amounted to several thousand dollars annually. For
the years 1925 to 1930, the total receipts from these crops amounted
to $59,617.44, distributed as follows: 1925, $10,091.07; 1926,
$6,104.15; 1927, $22,842.42; 1928, $9,755.04; and 1929, $10,824.76.19
most immediate results from the extensive grafting experiments on the
101 Ranch were from the persimmon trees on which the Japanese
persimmon was grafted. The entire grove of several thousand trees on
the ranch was changed from native to the Japanese variety. The
bearing wood grew over six feet the entire year and in some instances
actually bore fruit the first summer. The almost immediate bearing of
the new wood made this variety very profitable.
experiments proved that the Japanese persimmon withstood the
winters in this section of the country, consequently opening
up a new source of income for Oklahoma. The persimmon was one of
the big native wild crops of the state. George L. Miller estimated
that there were 100,000 acres of these trees in the State, with
thousands of trees down the Arkansas River valley between Ponca
City and Tulsa.20
The native persimmon had no market value,
but the crop from the budded trees sold rapidly and at a price that
was in excess of that generally paid for the best acreages.
addition to success with Japanese persimmons, the Millers had
equal success in grafting English walnuts and the finest
varieties of black walnuts on native walnut trees. “All the
limbs,” said Colonel Joe Miller, “were taken from two dozen
English walnut trees and grafted on native black walnut trees, and
also the same number from the very finest variety of black walnuts
were budded on the native trees. The bearing wood that these trees
produce will be used to transform the big native walnut grove on
have been asked why we are budding the black walnut as well as the
English variety, and the answer is that the kernels of the black
walnut have a greater commercial value than those of the English or
any other nuts. The finest variety of black walnut is the result of
breeding until a very large walnut has been obtained, the shell of
which is not so heavy or thick.”21
hundred native pecan trees on the 101 Ranch were top-worked one
spring, budding them with the soft-shelled variety. It took about
five years before these trees produced to any extent. All the limbs
were cut off the native tree and one scion of the soft-shelled pecan
inserted. “We planted,” Colonel Joe Miller said, “25,000
pecans in 1924 and 10,000 walnuts, and when these trees reach
sufficient size they will be grafted and eventually we expect to have
a big assortment.”22
He was very enthusiastic in regard to the future not only of the
pecan, but of the walnuts and persimmons.
as an experiment the Millers grafted the paw-paw onto the native
persimmon tree, sending back to Indiana to get scions from paw-paw
trees. In accomplishing this grafting, they found the seeds of plants
or trees crossed should be similar.
One of the many particular features achieved in grafting apple trees
was in changing the Missouri pippin into Grimes Golden. The Missouri
pippin was a fine producer in this climate, but was subject here
to blotch and blight, whereas the golden variety was not so affected.
19 101 Ranch Records, 1925-1930, inclusive.
20 Daily Oklahoman, February 6, 1927.
21 Colonel Joe Miller to the Daily Oklahoman, February 6, 1927.
22 Colonel Joe Miller to the Daily Oklahoman, February 6, 1927.
far the most important forestation program in Oklahoma, and
perhaps in the entire Southwest, was undertaken by the
Miller brothers in transplanting 50,000 year-old black walnut
trees. Colonel Joe Miller directed the work. He used a regular
digger machine such as nurserymen use and pulled it with eight
horses. This made it possible to uproot the yearlings very rapidly
whereas by hand it would have required many men a very long time.
walnuts, selected nuts, were planted in the fall, and in a year's
time the trees were eighteen inches high with roots that
extended about three feet from the trunks. The trees were reset along
the banks of the Salt Fork and were placed fifteen feet apart in rows
that were thirty feet apart. The first row of trees paralleled the
river at a point just above the high water mark and another row was
planted thirty feet farther away.
per cent of the trees transplanted lived, since walnuts are not
difficult to transplant at that age, although difficult
later because of the long tap roots. Several years ago Colonel
Miller set out twenty Thomas walnuts, a black variety having
considerably more meat. He used the new growth on the Thomas trees to
graft on several thousand of the common variety transplanted.
few black walnuts are being planted at present,” Colonel Miller
said, “although it sells for more than any other kind;
with newly patented machines to crack the nuts and extract the
kernels, it is not difficult to put the meat on the market.”23
everything from common farm crops to figs and okra were grown on the
101 Ranch, the principal income crops were wheat,
seed corn, garden vegetables, cotton, fruits, and poultry. Huge
quantities of oats, corn, barley, rye, kafir, cane, milo, and hay
were produced annually, but these crops were fed to the livestock
on the ranch. Wheat was the one major crop grown every year by the
Miller brothers and the records indicate it
23 Daily Oklahoman, February 6, 1927.
failed to yield a large part of the income. The policy of the Miller
brothers was to sell only livestock and wheat. Consequently, the
income from these sources exceeded all others.
following table indicates sales of farm products for the five year
ANNUAL SALES OF 101 RANCH FARM CROPS FOR THE FIVE YEAR PERIOD
||ANNUAL SALES OF FARM CROPS
figures of this table reveal some interesting facts with reference to farm crop production on the 101 Ranch. In the first they indicate the farm crop production for the five year period alone amounted to $536,852.62, more than a half-million dollars. The annual income from this source totaled more than one hundred thousand dollars. When this amount is considered, along with the large quantities of corn, oats, barley, rye, kafir, cane, milo, and hay fed annually to the
livestock on the ranch, the huge proportions of the farm crop
production becomes increasingly evident. In the second place,
the figures reveal constancy of farm crop production. While the
production in each crop varied slightly, the sales receipts each year
remained fairly uniform for the entire period. The same is true of
the other farm crops, except cotton. These facts indicate
the Miller brothers practiced a planned policy with reference to
farm crop production on the 101 Ranch.
Miller brothers used modern equipment and machinery in the
production of farm crops on the 101 Ranch. They practiced farm
economics and wise plans of diversified farming. There were no waste
and slip-shod methods. They applied business methods in every way
possible to the farm operations.
drove two miles,” says M. G. Cunniff, “through a single
cornfield, walked through a young peach orchard and saw the 250
bushels of sweet potatoes that had been grown between the rows of
peach trees. I admired the economy of planting a pear orchard in the
barn yard where the ducks and geese were waddling about. Here was a
berry patch of several acres. There a stand of 10,000 ash and
sycamore trees, just planted, were facing the approach of their first
winter. Everywhere one turned were evidences of progress, of
the ranch-house is the central office of the big farm. It is like a
city business office. All documents pertaining to the industry are
filed in systematic order—Indian leases, accounts, records. Any
paper can be found in a moment. The telephone on the desk connects
with every foreman on the ranch over thirty-five miles of private
wire, and conversations are frequent with the towns throughout
Oklahoma and Indian Territory by long-distance service. Joe Miller
has several times telephoned to Chicago. Nor is the business system
less orderly than the appointments. Joe Miller attends to the farming
operations and does the dealing with his Indian landlords and wards.
Zack Miller attends to the cattle, the mules, the hogs, and the
horses. George attends to the office routine and the books. But there
is no formality. Every brother takes interest in all parts of the
business. Tasks are interchangeable and are distributed with
fraternal good feeling.
three men manage as many as 500 hands in the busiest season.
Some little distance to one side of the ranch-house are
the bunk-house and cook-house for the employees. Scattered-over
the ranch are four other similar camps. There are fifty cow-punchers
to attend to the 15,000 cattle and 450 mules. Huge
stables house as many of the 300 work-horses as are now turned out on
the range. Two blacksmiths are kept busy shoeing
horses and repairing farm machinery. One outfit of three men
constantly rides the 150 miles of wire fence. There are barns and
granaries and tool houses. Yet I was amazed to see an acre field
filled with expensive machinery, gang plows, harrows, binders,
threshers, exposed to the weather.
economy,’ said Joe Miller. ‘On a farm of ordinary size, one of
those would last for years. We use up one in a single season, or in
two seasons at most. Then we buy new ones. It would cost more to
house them than we could save. And what is more, that big steam plow
over there is discarded. We used it for a while, but we found that it
was cheaper to plow with mules.’25
A dozen similar remarks showed that
this quiet Oklahoma farmer had studied the science of his business as
thoroughly as a Pittsburgh manufacturer studies the cost of
the steam plow abandoned, spring plowing now goes on with teams of
five mules.' It gives a vision of farming on the hugest scale to see
nine teams move down the long rows of a 9,000 acre field, turning
three furrows apiece of the rich red earth. When the hay is ready to
cut, twenty machines mow the thousands of acres of grass and the 500
acres of alfalfa. In some places they go five miles before they turn
to come back. Ten thousand tons a year is the crop. Forty-two
reapers and binders garner the wheat, and it takes five busy
steam threshers to thresh it. Binding twine is bought by the carload
—$3,000 worth at a time. Last year was a poor one for wheat
throughout Oklahoma. The Millers' 9,000 acres produced only 200,000
bushels. Yet so careful are their methods of planting and cultivating
that they sold all but 20,000 bushels of this for seed wheat at
ninety-five cents a bushel. The average yield of corn in Oklahoma is
twenty-five bushels to the acre. The Millers' 3,000 acres of
corn produce fifty bushels to the acre, ten of which Joe Miller
ascribes to careful seed selection. The wheat and the best of the
corn are sold at a high price for seed. The hay, the alfalfa, the
oats, and the rest of the corn are fed to the stock. Corn is put into
automatic feeding racks, and the hay and the alfalfa are piled in
stacks out in the rolling pastures; and the beeves, the mules,
and the hogs are permitted to eat
as much as they wish. In addition to this, the stock are turned into
the, alfalfa fields between the five cuttings and they are grazed
also on the growing wheat. What they manage to consume merely thins
the growth down to the proper luxuriance. Last year carloads of
melons were shipped from the 1,200 acre melon patch, some to be
marketed and some to be crushed for the seeds. . . . .
all these activities the operating expenses of the ranch amount to
about $100,000 a year. The employees range from college men in search
of health to cowmen from the Texas Panhandle, and Indians graduated
from the Carlisle and Chi-locco schools. The work does not stop for
Sunday, but is managed on the twenty-six-day system—that is,
with a four-days lay-off out of every thirty. In the harvest rush a
bonus is given to the men who do not take their lay-off. Frequently
$3 or $5 is added to the monthly wages of any man who does especially
good work for the month. This keeps them all keyed up. They receive
their outfit and their “chuck” or board. Then they are paid
according to their efficiency. No questions are asked when a man
applies for a job. He is set to work under sharp eyes. He is
discharged in short order if he does not “make good” as a
capable, orderly worker.”
24 101 Ranch Records, 1925-1930.
25 The ranch in later years used large gasoline tractors in the production of farm crops.
26 World's Work, February, 1906.
BLACK GOLD SPOUTS
ON THE 101
N earlier geological periods, when the ocean covered all or most of the
land, the creatures of the sea lived their span of life in the plant
life of the sea, and at their death their remains sank to the
bottom, which were deposited through ages on the floor of the sea. In
time, because of the great pressure of the water, these remains
became a part of the enormous deposits of oleaginous shale, with
layers of porous sand above and below. Later upheavals brought these
beds of shale and sand above the ocean level and folded and bent
them, forming hills and valleys, most of which have since been
eroded. The larger upheavals formed mountains.
the untrained individual, the surface gives no indication of the
former hills and valleys caused by these upheavals, but a study of
the layers of the rock outcropping on the hillsides tells the story
of their origin to trained geologists, who call the former upheavals
of the earth's surface anticlines, and the valleys between the
the upheavals were in progress, the pressure on those oil bearing
shales became greater, until the oil was pressed from the shales into
the porous sands. Since these sands contained salt water from
the sea in the synclines, or depressions, the oil naturally sought
the highest places in the sand above the water, and the gas. which
was generated from the oil, found the top of the anticline, or
highest place in the natural reservoir.
E. W. Marland, who came to Oklahoma from Pennsylvania,
discovered in 1908 one of these anticlines on the 101 Ranch lands. By
practical application of geological knowledge he had previously
discovered an oil field in the east; and he believed he could
find other oil fields in the new country. On his way west he stopped
in Chicago to visit relatives, and while there he chanced to meet
Colonel F. R. Kenney, who had been stationed in Oklahoma in the
recruiting service. Colonel Kenney was a friend of George L.
Miller and arrangements were soon
made for Mr. Marland to visit the 101 Ranch. Together, they came from
Chicago to the 101 Ranch and, while visiting there, Mr. Marland
tramped the ranch property and the surrounding vicinity. He
studied the outcropping of the rocks and walked for miles over the
broad and rolling prairie of the 101 Ranch, carefully inspecting the
formations. And here is how the anticline was discovered, in the
words of Mr. Marland :
L. Miller was showing me around the Ranch one day and we rode up a
hill to see the cemetery of the Ponca Indians. The Indians
placed their dead on wicker platforms above the ground.
noticed by the outcropping of the rock on the hill that the hill was
not only a topographical high but also a geological high. A little
further investigation showed it to be a perfect geological dome.”1
that time the 101 Ranch included about one hundred thousand acres.
Approximately ten thousand acres were owned outright by the Miller
brothers, and the remainder of the lands were held under lease from
the Ponca Indians. Convinced that the Indian cemetery was a distinct
oil formation, Mr. Marland told George L. Miller he would agree to
drill a test well if he would give him a lease on the 101 Ranch lands
and help him obtain the necessary leases from the Ponca Indians.
time was consumed with the tribesmen in the section when the
landowners were known as Running-After-Arrow, Willie-Cries-for-War,
Peter-Knows-the-Country, Thomas-on-Two-Lean-Bears'-Ear, and
Little-Man-Stands-up. “We had a lot of trouble with the
Indians,” related Mr. Marland, “before we got a lease on
their cemetery and on the surrounding land. But after a lot of
palaver, smoking and squatting we got the lands leased up and were
ready to drill.”2
In February, 1909, the first location was staked.
leases obtained included 10,000 acres in the 101 Ranch and 4,800
acres from the Ponca Indians. The Poncas sold a lease on their
cemetery tract to George L. Miller, provided he would not drill
within the area where they were burying their dead. Miller gave a
half interest in the lease to Marland on the
condition that he would do the drilling. It is an interesting fact
that this block of leases embraced the entire Ponca field. No other
company ever drilled a producer in that field except under sublease
from Mr. Marland.
1 Oklahoma City Times, July 20, 1934.
2 Oklahoma City Times, July 21, 1934.
first well was drilled near the headquarters of the 101 Ranch under
the most adverse conditions. There were no heavy draft teams in the
country, nothing but light horses and cow ponies. Lumbering teams of
oxen with their heavy wooden yokes had to be used to haul rig
timbers, tools, boilers, and casings from the railroad at Bliss (the
present town of Marland) to the well location. The nearest supply
house was at Tulsa, 125 miles distant. The well was drilled with old
Manila cable and old-fashioned drills to a depth of 2,700 feet; and
was abandoned after locating five different oil and gas sands, all of
which were non-producers.
this failure, a location was made for a second well about five miles
from the first, and higher up on the anticline. This location was on
land belonging to the 101 Ranch, known as the Iron Thunder tract. The
conditions under which this well was drilled were almost as bad as
those for the first. At a depth of five hundred feet an
extraordinarily large flow of gas was struck in the spring of 1910.3
The well had a flow of between 11,000,000 and 12,000,000 cubic
feet of gas every twenty-four hours. A gas line four miles in
length was laid by the Miller brothers between the well and
headquarters of the 101 Ranch, piping the gas through wheat and
alfalfa fields, leaving pipe connections every one-fourth mile so
that the gas could be used as fuel in handling the crops grown on the
old Ponca Indian, whose name was Running-After-Arrow, witnessed
the bringing in of the first gas well on the 101 Ranch. He had never
seen one before. George L. Miller, who was present, explained to him
in the Indian language what a gas well was, but the Indian could not
understand the roaring gas coming from the interior of the earth. He
looked upon it as an evil omen, as a sign of coming destruction.
“Uh-h, no good, no good,” he grunted.4
country all die now. Cattle die. Ponies die. No good, no good.
Beautiful country soon all gone.”
3 George L. Miller to F. S. Barde, December 26, 1910.
4 E. W. Marland to Oklahoma City Times, July 21, 1934.
one realized it then, but the Indian's prophecy soon came true. The
plains became spotted with oil derricks, and herds of cattle
gradually gave way to huge tank farms. The very site on which the
Continental refinery now stands was then occupied by cattle pens.
about this time, Mr. Marland organized the 101 Ranch Company, in
order to develop on a large scale the oil and gas which geological
indications made him certain were present. Associated with him in
this company were W. H. McFadden, J. C. McCaskey, George L. Miller,
Colonel F. R. Kenney, James J. McGraw, and a number of other friends
of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. This company continued in operation in
the Ponca field until 1917, when it was absorbed by the Marland
Marland interests proceeded to drill other wells in the vicinity of
the second one. The third well was drilled 1800 feet southeast of the
At 500 feet the same flow of gas was struck as found in the second
well. Another large flow of gas was discovered at 930 feet. From the
two producing gas wells, there was a flow of 22,000,000 cubic feet
from the five hundred foot sand and 10,000,000 cubic feet from the
930 foot sand, aggregating about 30,000,000 cubic feet a day. Of the
first eight wells drilled, seven were producing gas wells. The ninth
was a producing oil well. From the bottom of that well came oil, and
complete justification for Marland's belief in the Mid-Continent
101 Ranch Oil Company immediately sought a market for its gas supply.
At cost of $500,000, it built a pipeline to Tonkawa, fifteen miles
west, where it obtained a franchise and installed a domestic gas
distributing system. From the promotion of that company and the
sale of gas, Mr. Marland secured money to continue his search
5 George L. Miller to F. S. Barde, December 26, 1910.
drilling of the ninth well in June, 1911, which was on the allotment
of an Indian named Willie-Cries-for-War, was the beginning of the new
oil field in Kay County, known as the Ponca field. The discovery of
this field opened up a new empire of production. It was in the
heart of this field that the Iron Thunder land of the 101 Ranch—200
acres—lay. The income from royalties from the wells on the 101
Ranch lands exceeded $100 a day. Under date of August 15, 1912, the Ponca City Democrat
latest oil boom in Oklahoma is about Ponca City, once a border mecca
of the cattlemen. The discovery of the field is attributed to E. W.
Marland, who came West from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, a wealthy man,
almost went broke, but now has recouped his finances.
pioneered the field in ‘wild-catting’ against the judgment of
experts. He came to Ponca City in 1908, ostensibly in search of
gas. He found that commodity in plenty, but his lust for wealth led
him to sidetrack that industry in the hunt for petroleum.
first discovery of indications of oil was on the 101 Ranch. He found
gas in plenty, but went after oil at 2,575 feet and spent $18,000 in
the venture. He found no oil but did not lose heart.
when himself and associates were becoming short of funds, they found
petroleum at 1,525 feet, in May, 1911. Since that time he has kept
‘hammering away,’ and has spent $100,000. But the tide has turned and
he has several rich wells. There are nineteen producers in the field
and prospectors are preparing
to sink many more. . . . . .
first prospecting was done against the advice of experienced oil
men in the rich Mid-Continent field further east in Oklahoma, who
held to the old theory that there were no profitable oil fields west
of the ninety-sixth meridian or anywhere in the Red Bed
formation which begins after passing westward across the Arkansas
despite this prophecy, oil has been found in paying quantities at a
depth of about 1,500 feet. Its gravity is about 44, a grade of such
excellence that it is selling at five cents above the market price of
seventy cents a barrel.
more than two weeks two wells have been flowing `natural' between 500
and 600 barrels every twenty-four hours. Of the nineteen producing
wells of the thirty-one drilled, several are pumping 100 barrels
local refinery is building and the Chanute Refinery Company and the
Cudahy interests are now building pipelines from the field to their
loading stations at Ponta City. The Ponca
field now has a daily production of about 2,500 barrels. . . . . .
of the lucky landowners is Mrs. George W. Miller of the 101 Ranch.
Mrs. Miller has lived most of her life in the West,
and has been acquainted with large business transactions,
having dealt heavily in herds of cattle and horses, but she
never before enjoyed an income so easily obtained as that which is
flowing hour by hour from the three wells on her 200-acre farm in the
heart of the Ponca field. Her income from royalties is now $100 a
day, to be greatly increased as new wells are brought in.”6
the early part of 1915, Dr. D. W. Ohern and Mr. Frank Buttram,
geologists, were sent by the Fortuna Oil Company of Oklahoma
City to Pawnee County to make a study of oil possibilities
in that region.7
Dr. Ohern soon returned on business to Oklahoma
City and left Mr. Buttram to scout for oil structures.
In the course of his inspection, Mr. Buttram found a
location which he believed to be an oil structure. He immediately
called Dr. Ohern and the two rechecked the formation
and agreed that indications were favorable. The structure was on
the 101 Ranch lands in the neighborhood of where Morrison, Oklahoma,
is now located.
Fortuna Oil Company continued its geological studies in the
surrounding country and located four structures which were
considered good oil possibilities. They were carefully mapped and
plans were made for four fields, known later as the Yale, Cushing,
Morrison, and Skeedee fields. Three of these were later found to be
richly productive—only the Skeedee proved to be dry.
soon as leases were obtained from the landowners of the four fields,
Mr. A. P. Crockett, President of the Fortuna Oil Company,
sought a company to put down a test well. He made a
proposition to Mr. Robert Watchorn, President of the Watchorn
Oil and Gas Company, at that time located at Ardmore, Oklahoma,
in which he offered one-half the acreage included in the four fields
in exchange for drilling a test well on any one of the fields Mr.
Watchorn might choose. This proposition was accepted,
and in selecting the plat for the test well from the four handed to
him, Mr. Watchorn remarked: “Since I don't know anything about
the structures in any of these fields, this one looks as good to me
as any of the others.” The plat selected by chance represented
the Morrison field, which included the oil structure of the 101 Ranch
6 Ponca City Democrat, August 15, 1912.
7 Frank Harper, President, Watchorn Petroleum Company, to Ellsworth Collings, April 31, 1936.
test well was put down on the 101 Ranch land, and at 2040 feet a rich
flow of gas was discovered Christmas Day, 1915. This well failed to
produce oil, and a second location was made on eighty acres purchased
by the Millers from Bert Diamond, an Otoe Indian. The well was known
as the Diamond-Miller No. 1, and gas was struck in it at the
same depth as in the first.
the meantime, the Fortuna Oil Company sold its half-interest in the
leases to the Magnolia Company. This company staked a location on the
Diamond-Miller tract, known as the Diamond-Miller No. 2, and the well
produced 6,500,000 cubic feet of gas at a depth of 2035 feet.
by the discovery of gas in large quantities, the Watchorn Company
staked its third well, known as the George L. Miller No. 1. In the
spring of 1922, this well proved to be an oil producer at a depth of
2740 feet. It produced small quantities of oil for several months,
then in the fall of 1923 it was drilled to the Wilcox sand where a
rich flow of oil was encountered.
Magnolia Company drilled a well a short distance from the discovery
well, and after going down a considerable depth, abandoned it as a
dry hole. The Watchorn Company drilled the well deeper, which
resulted in a large oil producer. The discovery of oil in these wells
opened up a rich oil and gas field on the lands of the 101 Ranch,
known as the Watchorn field.
1921, four important oil fields were developing on the ranch lands.
Two of these were on the 101 Ranch proper, about five miles northeast
of the headquarters; a third was on ranch holdings in the Otoe
country, known as the Watchorn field; and the fourth was on the Bar L
lands of the ranch, in the Ponca country where the Arkansas River
before turning eastward toward Tulsa makes a big horseshoe bend.
1923, much of the 101 land was producing oil, and the Miller brothers
were regarded as large operators throughout the
state. Oil fields dotted the ranch in several directions, and oil
derricks formed a wide skyline. There was a daily flow of many
thousands of barrels of oil from these wells. The Ponca City News
date of December 13, 1923, wrote of this spread of oil development on
the 101 holdings:
Miller brothers of the 101 Ranch are interested at the present time
in a total of twenty-three producing wells, practically all
within the confines of the old Ponca and Otoe Indian reservations and
located in three counties of Kay, Noble and Pawnee. They lie within a
territory that is approximately twenty-five miles south of Ponca
City, east from the town of Marland and Red Rock, and including the
town of Watchorn in the Otoe country.
only one instance are the Miller brothers alone in a drilling
campaign and that is where George W. Miller is drilling the No.
1 George W. Miller in northeast section 6, township 22, range 2
east, Noble County; the casing is being set in this test at 3600
feet. Otherwise in their oil ventures the Millers are aligned at
different places with the following companies : Watchorn,
Magnolia, Marland, Comar, Texas, Ossie, and Alcorn.
present production of the Miller brothers includes eleven wells. The
Nos. 3 and 10 George L. Miller are in southwest section 4,
township 22, range 3 east at Watchorn. The No. 3 is producing six
hundred barrels daily from a sand at 4117 feet and the No. 10 is
making seventy-five barrels from a sand at 2678 feet. These are the
property of the Watchorn Oil Company. The No. 4 Diamond-Miller of the
Watchorn Company is producing twenty barrels at 2600 feet, in
the northwest section 4, township 22, range 3.
Magnolia Petroleum Company has three producing wells on Miller land
at Watchorn, including the No. 2 Diamond-Miller making twenty barrels
at 2700 feet, the No. 3 making thirty-five barrels at the same depth,
and the No. 4 making forty barrels at 2690 feet. These are in the
west half of northwest section 4, township 22, range 3. In the same
locality the Alcorn Oil
Company's No. 2 Margaret Miller in the northwest section 33, township
23, range 3 is making forty barrels at 2670 feet.
“In the Bar L
ranch district, included within 101 Ranch area, the Comar Oil
Company's Buffalohead well in southwest section
12, township 24, range 3 east is producing sixty barrels.
Marland Refining Company has three producing wells on Miller land in
northeast section 19, township 25, range 2 east, in Kay County,
southwest of Ponca City. These are the Nos. 1 and 2 Calls-him, making
eighty barrels from the 2200 foot sand, and the No. 1 Zack Miller
making sixty barrels from the same sand.
Marland Company and George L. Miller are fishing for tools in
northwest section 20, township 25, 2 east at 3965 feet. There is
three thousand feet of oil in the hole from a sand at 3950 feet and
it is being drilled on down to the second break in the Mississippi
lime. The No. 1 George W. Miller in northeast section 4,
township 25, range 2 east is being drilled by the same parties at
the Bar L district, where the Buffalohead is producing sixty barrels,
the Texas Company is plugging at 4150 feet on the George L. Miller in
southeast section 12, township 24, range 3 east at 800 feet. These
wells are in Noble County.
Sinclair Oil Company is running one thousand barrels daily at the
present time of stored oil from the leases of the Watchorn Oil
Company, section 33, township 23, range 3 east at Watchorn. A 55,000
barrel tank has just been completed by Watchorn to store the high
gravity oil amounting to six hundred barrels daily from the 5117 foot
sand; oil was turned into the tank yesterday. It is the intention of
the company to store and keep all this production henceforward.
Watchorn Company is now deepening its various wells in the same
quarter to the deep sand, including the No. 4 at
2880 feet, the No. 5 at 3100, the No. 6 at 3275, the No. 7 at 2700,
and the No. 8 at the same depth. The same company has the No. 2
Diamond-Miller, in northeast section 4, township 22, range 3 east, at
2030 feet with four million feet of gas in the hole, the No. 3 with
tools in the hole at 2950 feet, and the rig for a new hole on the No.
1 Brown-Miller in northeast section 33, township 23, range 3, with
the present hole at 2100 feet.8
Miller brothers received a large sum annually from the oil and gas
production, and from leases on the 101 Ranch. From 1923 up to and
including 1930, the income from these sources, exclusive
of the ranch refinery and filling station, totaled $1,341,756.45,
distributed annually as follows: 1923, $61,922.58; 1924, $192,219.91;
1925, $538,749.68; 1926, $300,853.88; 1927, $135,751.85; 1928,
$45,960.67; 1929, $41,327.49; and 1930, $25,170.39.9
These figures indicate that the income from the oil wells on the 101
Ranch lands exceeded an average of $190,000 annually during this
reports indicated that the oil possibilities were unlimited, the 101
Ranch having production on all four sides. On the west within a mile
and a half was the Tonkawa field, which produced more than
$880,000,000 worth of oil in ten years. On the southeast corner of
the ranch was the Watchorn field which had produced more than
$10,000,000 in ten years. Directly to the north was the Ponca field,
which extended into the ranch lands. In this field one well, the
George Brett No. 1, produced in 1923 more than $1,000,000 worth of
oil. Within two miles of the southern border oil was discovered in
1930 near the Otoe Switch. The first well was brought in as a six
hundred barrel producer at approximately 3700 feet. On the east side
in the Big Bend on an Indian allotment, within three hundred feet of
lands owned by the ranch, a well was drilled in at 3700 feet. This
well produced about forty barrels of oil a day for several years.
was the belief of many prominent oil men of the country that there
were at least three more oil structures on the 101 Ranch lands that
were equal to the oil formations of the other fields. In 1925, a New
York royalty company offered the Miller brothers $1,500,000 for
their interest in the Watchorn field, and on November 25, 1931, J.
Edward Jones, New York City, offered $1,000,000 for the oil and gas
royalty under the lands of the 101 Ranch. The Millers refused all
these offers since the productivity of the fields already discovered
convinced them that beneath the soil of the 101 Ranch there existed
many million barrels of petroleum.
8 Ponca City News, December 13, 1923.
9 101 Ranch Records, November 1, 1931.
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