Homesteading in the Shadow of the Famous Miller Brothers

Oklahoma homesteaders in 1899 settled right next to the famous Miller brothers.

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The 160 acres my father leased in 1899 in the vicinity of Ponca City, Oklahoma, were surrounded by the large pasture of the Miller brothers' 101 Ranch. We had to fence all sides of that quarter section to keep the Millers’ cattle out.

I attended the Miller brothers' first rodeo in 1905. It was called a buffalo chase and buffalo meat was served. Thirty-three trains brought people to the pasture near the railroad track where the chase was given for the National Editors Association. Water was hauled in a thrashing machine waterwagon from a nearby creek and sold at five cents a tin cup.

The Miller brothers became famous and their 101 Wild West Show was seen at home and abroad.

I remember when the Miller brothers lived in a dugout. A group of neighbors, seining for fish nearby, needed salt, so I and another girl were sent to the Millers to get it. They had us go to the cow lot and take it from the salt barrel.

Sometime later Jack Miller came to our house, wanting a drink. I drew a bucket of water and handed him a tin cupful. He gave me my first dime. I was so proud. I bought my sister two yards of calico at three cents a yard. I don't remember how I spent the other four cents.

Mrs. Elsie McAllister
Ponca City, Oklahoma


Back in 1955 a call went out from the editors of the then Capper’s Weekly asking for readers to send in articles on true pioneers. Hundreds of letters came pouring in from early settlers and their children, many now in their 80s and 90s, and from grandchildren of settlers, all with tales to tell. So many articles were received that a decision was made to create a book, and in 1956, the first My Folks title – My Folks Came in a Covered Wagon – hit the shelves. Nine other books have since been published in the My Folks series, all filled to the brim with true tales from Capper’s readers, and we are proud to make those stories available to our growing online community.