101 Ranch

OT only was the 101 Ranch concerned with the production of raw materials but in the manufacture and marketing of them. Especially was this true of agricultural, livestock, dairy, poultry, and fruit products, as well as in great measure in the oil operations of the ranch. Everything grown or produced was utilized in some practical way. Cattle and hogs from the farm were slaughtered in the packing plant and the hides tanned and converted into all kinds of leather goods. Fruit from the orchards was sent to the preserving plant. Grain and other farm crops were stored or sold to the people of the neighborhood, to the employees of the ranch, and to the markets of Marland and of Ponca City.
The ranch produced virtually every kind of raw product—wheat and corn, cattle and horses, hogs and chickens, alfalfa and kafir, fruit and vegetables, buffalo and elephants, camels and longhorns, ostriches and peacocks, work mules and cow ponies; the bizarre and the common. Almost in the shadow of the White House loomed the many derricks denoting production of oil.
The meat packing industry was perhaps the major one on the ranch. Here, in the packing plant, were employed all the modern processes of slaughtering, packing and distributing meat products. It had a capacity daily of a hundred hogs and fifty cattle.1 It provided huge cold storage and cooling rooms for the proper handling of the meats. The surplus hogs and cattle were slaughtered in the plant and the sugar-cured hams and home cured meats were sold in large quantities. During 1926 twelve thousand hogs and five thousand cattle were handled through the plant.2 The meat products were sold and delivered by refrigerated trucks within a radius of one hundred miles of the ranch. The plant made a superior grade of ham, cured the old-fashioned way—dry cured—that had a wide reputation over the entire Southwest.

1 101 Ranch Records, 1925.
2 Rock Island Magazine, November, 1926.

Perhaps the annual sales best indicate the volume of the packing plant production. From 1925 to 1930 the gross income from sales amounted to $877,263.74, distributed annually as follows: 1925, $111,696.60; 1926, $167,967.19; 1927, $158,945.93; 1928, $228,685.25; and 1929, $209,970.77.3 These figures reveal the magnitude of this industry. The average annual income from this industry exceeded $175,000. While the production varied from year to year, the income from the sales amounted to large sums each year for the entire period.4 This constancy of income indicates that the packing plant was an important part of the cattle and hog business on the 101 Ranch, since it utilized only cattle and hogs raised on the ranch.
Soon after establishing the packing plant, a large quantity of raw hides accumulated. Since the price offered for them by the tanners seemed to be ridiculously low when compared with the price of finished hides, the Miller brothers built a large tannery close to the packing house. Soon after it was established, however, a cyclone swept it away—leaving only the foundation. A second tannery was immediately built at a cost of $60,000,5 and operated for only a short time when it, too, was destroyed—this time by fire. But with indomitable persistence the Miller brothers began construction of a third tannery the next morning. In a few weeks the vats and boilers were installed, and raw hides by the hundreds began moving through the tanning process that converted them into leather.
Then the Miller brothers experienced another difficulty. Tanned hides, which had been selling regularly at fifty cents a pound, dropped to three cents a pound, a price much less than the cost of tanning. How this situation was met is described in these lines :
“Beaten? Not these brothers. Away down in Austin, Texas, a wholesale harness house went bankrupt. The news was carried to Zack Miller as a passing bit of gossip. He took the next train to Austin and bought the bankrupt business, lock, stock, and barrel. To friends, the act seemed little short of insanity.

3 101 Ranch Records, 1925-1930.
4 The five year period, 1925-1930, was selected because it represents a normal period of the packing plant business and for that reason reveals the extent of this phase of the 101 Ranch.
5 Literary Digest, August 4, 1928.

“ ‘You’ve got a tannery on hand that’s losing money,’ they argued. ‘Now you up and buy a harness house that experienced harness men couldn’t make go. You’ve gone loco.’
“ ‘Looks that way, sure enough,’ agreed Zack, and began to move the harness-making equipment of the bankrupt business up from Austin to the tannery, which was jammed with unsold hides. There, on the second floor, he set up a harness shop.
“Next, he brought from Austin employees of the smashed concern who were skilled in the art of harness-making. He showed them the stacks of finished hides. ‘Go ahead,’ he directed, ‘and turn this stuff into saddles and sets of harness.’
“A cowboy is particular about his saddle. He likes it to be the best that he can buy. Zack Miller had his Austin workmen turn out saddles to order; he had them turn out work harness. Men came in from more than a hundred miles distance to get saddles made, and they went home with harness, hams, bacon, flour, all their conveyances would carry.”6
The harness and saddle shop manufactured every article of every description made and sold in a modern leather shop. Besides plain and fancy saddles, the shop made light and heavy harness of many kinds, bridles, halters, rawhide ropes, whips, buffalo and cattle robes, rugs, fur and leather coats, fancy pocket books, suit cases, traveling grips. From 1928 to 1930, the gross income from this source amounted to $22,303.40, distributed annually as follows: 1925, $14,869.94; 1926, $3,532.46; 1927, $1,990.82; 1928, $1,150; and 1929, $760.18. These figures indicate the average annual income from this industry was around $5,000.
The 101 Ranch dairy was considered the last word in the dairy industry. A modern dairy barn and creamery were built at a cost of $30,000 to house the five hundred registered Holstein cows and to take care of the dairy products. In connection with the dairy there was a modern ice cream plant, cold storage and cooling rooms for the proper handling of the dairy products. The dairy was capable of taking care of the milk from five hundred cows, the cows being milked by electricity. The milk was made into huge quantities of butter, ice cream, and cottage cheese. The dairy products were sold and delivered by refrigerated trucks for miles around the ranch, including the merchants at Marland and Ponca City. The dairy had, in addition, a large shipping trade in butter, ice cream, and cheese.

6 American Magazine, July, 1928.

The gross income from the dairy sales for the five year period, 1925-1930, totaled $116,554.42, distributed annually as follows: 1925, $18,488.01; 1926, $52,360.41; 1927, $13,820.63; 1928, $26,359.60; and 1929, $2,436.52.7 These figures reveal the average annual income exceeded $23,000. While the income varied from year to year, the sales never failed to yield an appreciable sum each year.
The first oil brought in on the 101 Ranch was on the north edge of the ranch about two miles northeast of the “White House.” These wells, several in number, produced sufficient oil for the Millers to have an oil refinery of their own at the ranch headquarters. This refinery made one hundred barrels of gasoline daily. The gasoline was sold at the ranch filling station. Large quantities of kerosene and fuel oil sufficient to supply ranch needs were made from the crude oil produced on the ranch.
The sales of oil products manufactured and sold on the 101 Ranch amounted to a considerable sum annually. From 1925 to 1930, the sales of the refinery totaled $96,566.17, distributed annually as follows: 1925, $15,589.18; 1926, $29,090.73; 1927, $20,439.62; 1928, $17,662.18; and 1929, $13,784.46. For the same period, the sales of the filling station totaled $86,349.95, distributed annually as follows: 1925, $5,120.31; 1926, $25,660.83; 1927, $20,991.83; 1928, $18,837.12; and 1929, $15,739.86. The average annual income from these sources combined was approximately $35,000.
The Miller brothers were among the first to produce moving pictures. Wild West, a Pathe serial, was produced on the 101 Ranch. It was directed by Robert F. Hill from the scenario of J. F. Nattiford. The story combined all the elements of the wild west and circus life. It necessitated the use of an extensive ranch where there was plenty of room for a stranded tent show to take refuge. It also required the use of trained animals, keepers, trainers, wagons, and all other circus paraphernalia. The 101 Ranch had all these, since it was the winter quarters for the 101 Ranch show. The Wild West troupe spent three months on the ranch producing the picture.

7 101 Ranch Records, 1925-1930.

Supporting Jack Mulhall and Helen Ferguson were such celebrities of the show world as Nowata Slim Richardson, world’s champion bucking horse rider, and Buck Lucas, world’s champion bulldogger. There were nine hundred people on the 101 Ranch during the filming of the picture.
The performances in roping, trick riding, bronc riding, and bulldogging for the picture were staged in the 101 Ranch rodeo grounds. Ten trick ropers performed all at once; fifteen trick riders swooped back and forth in acts of skill and daring; dozens of fighting broncos were ridden at the same time. Cowboys leaped from racing horses upon the horns of maddened steers and wrestled them to the ground. Wild, rangy steers were run down, roped, and hog-tied in from twenty to thirty seconds.
The misfortunes, delays, and obstacles in making moving pictures were numerous. “In filming Trail Dust on the 101Ranch,” says Gordon Hines, “a star actress was seriously injured two days before the camera work began, thus delaying the company until a substitute could be found and properly costumed. The western village, built on the bare prairie, was blown down three times by fierce Oklahoma winds, and cloudy weather delayed shooting day after day, with each day running up another twelve hundred dollar item against the production cost. Multitudes of small, disagreeable things happened to harass the producers and to add to their heavy expense, but perseverance won and Trail Dust was finally in the box and ready for the most tedious work of all—cutting and final titling.
“Imagine a director’s disappointment when he has worked for two days to get a satisfactory scene of the very temperamental buffaloes in a wild stampede, only to find, after the film had gone through the laboratory, that a slight detail completely spoils the scene and that it must be retaken.
“When the buffalo stampede was shot for Trail Dust the hero and heroine, carefully timing their action, scampered into the branches of a fallen tree barely in time to avoid the onrushing horde of buffalo. The hero, a trifle slow, was seen by a giant bull and charged before he could reach a point of safety. The bull barely missed him, knocking him to the ground and breaking his wrist.
“It would have been a great scene, with a wonderful punch and thrill, but a cowboy, noticing the plight of the leading man and fearing for his safety, rode into the background toward the fallen man. Noticing that the bull had gone on with the herd, he beat a hasty retreat out of the picture and his riding in had not been noticed in the excitement.
“The scene depicts the plight of a man and girl who, alone in the wilderness and unarmed, are charged by the buffalo herd. The cowboy in the background destroyed the entire effect and another tedious ‘retake’ was necessary—and it took three days this time.
“Old timers, residents of Oklahoma since the ‘run,’ have been especially interested in the naturalness, the trueness of life, of the wagon train, or ‘boomer’ scenes, in Trail Dust. Such a sequence produced in Hollywood would be made with professional extra people, who try to act all over the place. The director of the picture has no other word but luck to explain his being able to go out on the main highway, near the ranch, and find thirty wagons of modern ‘boomer’—folks from the good old state of Arkansas, who had bundled up their kids and their dogs and their cows and started out to make the harvest fields. These people spend their winters at permanent homes, but the first call of the robin finds them hitting the open road for another summer in the great outdoors.
“In one scene an aged woman, who said she was past eighty, drove a spirited mule team down a steep embankment, a pipe drawing with a gurgling noise hung from a corner of her mouth. She insisted that she was ‘as good a camp-hand as any man.’
“Another family, in three generations, occupied two wagons, the younger couple being the proud parents of a bright baby girl who had been born in the wagon early in the spring. Their genuine happiness and contentment with their mode of living stamped them as true descendants of pioneer stock. True, they may not be ‘successful’ as the world regards the matter, but, if you’d ask them, they’d tell you that they were certainly successful, because they had found happiness and freedom in the great outdoors.
“Such real, human ‘boomer’ folks, living their lives naturally, are transferred to the screen in Trail Dust and old timers’ hearts ‘warm’ to them because they are real folks—not actors.
“The old time Cheyenne and Arapahoe bucks lived over their raiding, pillaging days of years ago and the younger braves felt the strange, strong call of heredity when they rode, shrieking madly, down the street of the burning village during the filming of Trail Dust.
“Night shadows had fallen and the blazing furnace sent hungry tongues of flame skyward, lighting the prairies for miles around. It is not strange that the Indians’ war whoops were a bit more blood curdling than their forced attempts for the rodeo audiences. The excitement of the scene awakened all their savage instincts and, for a few moments, they were back in the days of their strongest resistance to the white man’s on-coming—when it seemed that the Indian might yet succeed in holding his hunting grounds and his wild game for his own use and pleasure.
“Ready! Action! Camera!
“The music struck up a lively dance air, shouts and laughter rang through the large dance-hall set and the villain strode down to the center foreground, a leering grin on his face as he thought of his victory over the hero.
“Then came a flash—a crash of thunder and a long roar as the heavens opened and water poured through an unfinished roof upon the actors in the Trail Dust production. The wind increased its fury, the camera stopped grinding and, without a word from anyone, all scampered toward the company’s hotel, where there was shelter and warmth.
“The actors and extra people had barely reached a point of safety when the Oklahoma twister struck and crashed the unfinished concrete wall of the new studio building in upon the set which but a moment before had held dozens of people.
“Four thousand dollars worth of high-powered electric lighting equipment was buried by the concrete blocks, which by a strange trick of fate, piled up around and over the lights in such a manner as to leave every big arc and dome un-scathed.”8

8 101 Ranch Magazine, March, 1925.

The Miller brothers of the 101 Ranch produced the first pictures at Hollywood and had the first set-up on that now famous ground.9 They had made some pictures on the ranch, using their wild west show people and equipment, and then decided to winter in Los Angeles, where the weather was better suited for picture making. As a result, they wintered there for a number of years and their outfit was used continuously.
W. A. Brooks of the 101 Ranch, a cousin of the Miller brothers, was their first director, and among the people who helped him and participated with him were many of those who became prominent in the industry. Tom Mix, Helen Gibson, Mabel Normand, Neal Hart, Hoot Gibson, and many others began their careers with the 101 Ranch group.
In her picture Suzanne, Mabel Normand did a number of good horseback stunts, showing that she was an equestrienne of experience, yet so far as her horsemanship was concerned, she was a product of the 101 Ranch pictures. The first lesson she ever received in horseback riding was from Will Brooks, who helped her mount the first horse she ever rode.
It was difficult to feed the hundreds of actors at luncheon time, while out on location. Brooks solved the problem and introduced a stunt that is still used frequently. He fed them by placing in paper sacks the noonday lunches, consisting of sandwiches, cakes and fruit. Each sack would contain the same kind and amount of food. These were placed conveniently, and when time for lunch came the people lined up and marched by, each taking a sack. Water, coffee and milk were available for those who might want different drinks.
“The plan worked fine,” says W. A. Brooks. “In the line would be cowboys and Indians, and also all the other people, together with Tom Ince and various producers, and in this way we fed them all quickly and satisfactorily. It put everybody on an equal basis and the thing went over big. This method was later adopted by many of the big producing companies.”10
The 101 Ranch operated a large general store. It was the mercantile center in northern Oklahoma for a number of years. Originally started as a supply place for their large number of employees, the Millers eventually expanded until the store became a supply center for fifty miles around.

9 W. A. Brooks to Ellsworth Collings, April 10, 1936.
10 Daily Oklahoman, September 26, 1926.

It was a combined department store, which handled also ranch products of all kinds, and Indian store, operating somewhat as an old time trading post. The sales exceeded an average of $84,000 annually. From 1925 to 1930, the gross income totaled $420,994.53, distributed as follows: 1925, $114,363.70; 1926, $98,289.19; 1927, $83,106.66; 1928, $67,553.97; and 1929, $57,681.01.11
101 Ranch café developed from the old “ranch chuck house” where the cowboys answered the call, “come ’nd get it,” to a restaurant modern in every respect. The café was well furnished, pleasingly designed and tastefully decorated. The café chefs prepared delicious meals, and every article of food, with the exception of olives, sugar, and coffee, was produced right on the ranch.
Taking care of this modern café, which supplanted the old time chuck table on the ranch, was a big job and there was a well trained staff in charge. They drew their supplies from the big storage plants of the ranch which were filled with potatoes, fresh meats, vegetables, apples, and other articles of food. In addition to providing meals for ranch employees, the café served meals daily to hundreds of visitors. Ordinarily, when there were no guests to remain for more than a day or two, the White House kitchen was not used but all would go to the café for their meals. The income from this source amounted in 1927 to $12,632.47.
A modern laundry was operated by the Miller brothers. It was equipped with modern machinery and did all the laundry work of the ranch, including that for its employees. In addition, it served the needs of the surrounding country, the income amounting to an appreciable sum annually. From 1925 to 1930, the receipts totaled $6,078.54, distributed annually as follows: 1925, $1,070.56; 1926, $1,620.78; 1927, $1,973.06; 1928, $1,114.12; and 1929, $300.12
A special building was erected and equipped for the cider and canning industry. Approximately two hundred barrels of cider were manufactured each fall. All of the cider was pasteurized, thus keeping it sweet and making it possible to market at any time. Several thousand pounds of apple butter and jelly were manufactured annually.13 After the cider was made the pomace was placed in barrels and held in water overnight, then run through the press again—from this the jelly was made. On each original package of apple butter was the following guarantee: “This apple butter is guaranteed to keep all winter, if you can keep the children away from it.”
The ranch had its own machine, blacksmith, woodwork, and repair shop. The shop was equipped with all the power machinery and tools needed in these lines of work. Two blacksmiths were kept busy shoeing horses and repairing farm machinery. In addition to the ranch work, the shop served the needs of the farmers of the surrounding country.
There was a complete ice plant with a capacity of ten tons daily maintained on the ranch. The plant provided ice for the ranch and its employees as well as the farmers of the community. Three large cold storage plants were provided for the proper handling of the meats and perishable products of the ranch. The ranch had its own electric light plant, system of waterworks, and general power plant.
Perhaps one of the most interesting industries was the novelty factory. All kinds of Indian rugs, beaded belts and clothing, drums, bows and arrows, silver jewelry, etc., were manufactured in this factory by Indians employed by the Miller brothers. In addition, a large assortment of souvenir leather goods, such as cowboy belts, boys’ chaps and vests were manufactured and sold along with the Indian articles at the ranch store, which also conducted a large wholesale trade in these articles.
While a great variety of products were manufactured and sold on the 101 Ranch, ranging from petroleum to Indian drums, the principal income-producing industries were the packing plant, harness and saddle shop, dairy, refinery, filling station, laundry, and store. Many moving pictures were produced but no records showing the income from this source are available. The following table indicates the gross incomes from these industries for the five year period, 1925-1930.14

11 101 Ranch Records, 1925-1930.
12 101 Ranch Records, 1925-1930.
13 Daily Oklahoman, February 6, 1927.
14 101 Ranch Records, 1925-1930.


Dairy Refinery Filling
Laundry Store
1925 $111,696.60 $14,869.94 $18,488.01 $15,589.18 $5,120.31 $1,070.56 $114,363.70 $281,194.30
1926 167,967.19 3,532.46 52,360.41 29,090.73 21,660.83 1,620.78 98,289.19 378,521.59
1927 158,945.93 1,990.82 13,820.63 20,439.62 20,991.83 1,973.06 83,106.66 301,268.55
1928 228,685.25 1,150.00 26,359.60 17,662.18 18,837.12 1,114.12 67,553.97 361,362.24
1929 209,970.77 760.18 2,436.52 13,784.46 15,739.86 300.00 57,681.01 300,672.80
Total for
877,263.74 22,303.40 116,554.42 96,566.17 86,349.95 6,078.54 420,994.53 1,623,019.48

These figures reveal some interesting facts with reference to products manufactured and sold on the ranch. In the first place, they indicate that the gross income from the industries alone amounted to $1,623,019.48 for the five year period, 19251930. The annual income from this source exceeded $324,000. In the second place, the figures reveal the constancy of income from this source. While the production for each industry varied from year to year, the income remained constant for the entire period. For example, the total income from the packing plant for the five year period amounted to $877,263.74, each year contributing large sums to this total. The same is likewise true of the other industries. These facts indicate that the manufacture and sale of products was an important phase of the 101 Ranch.
In the management of their diversified enterprises the Miller brothers achieved financial success, but they did it by applying business methods to the ranch operation as a whole. They applied efficient methods toward co-ordinating the processes of production, manufacture, and distribution, to the end that the ranch would produce maximum financial returns as a complete unit.
A special building housed the business offices of the ranch. All documents pertaining to the various ranch enterprises were filed in systematic order: Indian leases, accounts, records. Any paper could be found in a moment. The telephone on the desk connected with every foreman on the ranch—over thirty-five miles of private wire, and conversations were frequent with the towns and cities throughout Oklahoma and the nation by long distance service. Nor was the business system less orderly than the appointments. Colonel Joe attended to the farming operations and, in addition, carried on transactions with his Indian landlords and wards. Colonel Zack attended to the cattle, the mules, the hogs, and the horses. Colonel George attended to the office routine and the books. But there was no formality. Every brother took interest in all parts of the business. Tasks were interchangeable and were distributed with fraternal good feeling.
Twenty-five newspapers came daily to the ranch and several magazines were taken. These, with the constant use of the telephone, kept the ranch office closely in touch with market conditions and opportunities. If the price of beef, hogs, or mules went up in Kansas City, St. Louis, or Chicago, a foreman was called up fifteen miles away, and ordered to round up a herd and drive them over to the railroad. The next moment the railroad was being asked for cattle cars. The following morning the stock pulled into the stockyards. One week Zack Miller would be out in southern California buying up mules, and another week George Miller would be at the New York Horse Show selling polo ponies. One day, just before an important polo match in the east, Joe Miller received a telegram which read: “Send five trained polo ponies by express.” In an hour or two they were on the train. In relating this incident he remarked: “If they had been ordered to be sent by first-class mail, special delivery, they would have gone just the same—but the express charges amounted to nearly as much as the price of the ponies.”15
To give some idea of the business transactions of the 101 Ranch, it might be stated that from 1925 to 1930 there was an annual turnover of nearly a million dollars in livestock, farm crops, industries, oil rents and royalties, exclusive of the 101 Ranch show. The following table indicates the volume of business transacted through the offices of the ranch.16

Livestock Farm Crops Industries Oil Royalties
and Rents
1925 $149,997.64 $100,570.39 $281,194.30 $538,749.68 $1,070,512.01
1926 147,837.00 104,158.42 378,521.59 300,853.88 931,370.89
1927 177,057.47 102,883.21 301,268.55 135,751.85 716,960.08
1928 164,216.43 100,079.05 361,362.24 45,960.67 669,478.51
1929 198,416.77 129,061.45 300,672.80 41,327.49 669,478.51

With all these enterprises the operating expenses of the ranch amounted to a huge sum annually as the following table indicates.17

15 World’s Work, February, 1906.
16 101 Ranch Records, 1925-1930.
17 101 Ranch Records, 1925-1930.


1925 1926 1927 1928 1929
Packing Plant $16,410.51 17,194.29 $20,194.49 $38,407.45 $34,954.85
Farm Crops 71,755.20 64,068.10 61,216.02 54,534.51 37,399.01
Livestock 21,303.04 19,169.40 15,887.80 34,362.75 32,039.16
Hogs 10,856.99 19,761.58 15,802.75 44,805.94 94,003.14
Store 13,110.15 8,906.93 7,537.67 7,546.17 5,918.25
Filling Station 622.87 1,911.26 1,803.73 2,371.85 2,491.52
Refinery 814.97 1,080.00 ........*......... 2,601.33 2,594.33
Dairy 7,253.01 8,197.79 6,326.17 9,727.59 2,635.93
Orchards 10,031.78 9,720.30 14,057.39 10,094.31 7,940.40
Market ........*......... 1,037.11 706.49 400.94 440.46
Poultry 4,662.50 3,850.70 3,934.81 478.01 508.73
Harness Shop 2,833.26 93.00 324.53 30.00 ........*.........
General Expenses 2,316.81 713.54 15,251.53 1,461.12 657.05
General Salaries 14,966.45 14,763.45 11,457.05 12,604.28 10,113.90
Gross Production Tax 15,732.98 11,214.68 2,976.39 1,308.35 1,001.55
Insurance 4,691.38 12,167.86 11,113.39 5,010.91 ........*.........
Interest and Discount 38,896.40 36,961.87 42,891.94 47,263.98 42,664.49
Leases (Grazing) 14,058.45 7,482.89 13,831.65 5,141.69 3,844.02
Legal 3,391.08 10,715.47 3,327.27 5,496.99 8,779.81
Office Expenses 2,324.95 1,172.04 1,460.15 1,596.79 1,539.35
Oil and Gas 1,808.75 1,951.50 1,821.40 1,650.00 ........*.........
Repairs 36,835.18 28,453.40 29,818.98 16,730.99 13,481.48
Taxes, County and State 15,360.99 15,380.64 12,646.97 12,245.01 2,024.43
Telephone, Telegraph and Postage 3,415.86 2,485.65 2,016.16 946.85 1,191.42
Hotels 2,833.26 2,847.67 6,522.57 4,574.14 1,369.08
Advertising 5,210.65 2,081.36 3,063.36 1,391.71 491.59
Autos, Tractors, and Trucks 5,388.65 6,681.85 5,908.73 1,271.81 657.32
White House Expenses 3,700.40 5,003.67 ........*......... ........*......... 3,776.11

Donations 1,016.95 575.64 507.55 569.00 497.07
Total for Year 320,728.94 323,310.12 325.141.03 326,446.45 313,166.56
* No expenses reported.

In order further to systematize the enterprises of the ranch and bring all the departments into a closer working organization, the Miller brothers organized the Wheel Club. The club was composed of the heads of the departments as active members and the Miller brothers as honorary members. The idea of such a club came from Rotary training and association, as the Millers were members of the Ponca City Rotary club.
The wagon wheel was the emblem of the club. Around the rim of the wheel were printed the names of the various departments and the hub represented the 101 Ranch itself. Each member’s name was on a spoke, connecting the rim with the hub, and the significance was that these members kept the wheels of the 101 Ranch in motion and connected the individual departments to the main 101 Ranch organization. The purpose of the club, as set out in its constitution, was to encourage and foster between the department heads of the ranch: (a) the most worthy of ideals, that of service; (b) the development of acquaintance as an opportunity for service; (c) the application of the ideals of service by each member toward his department and the business of his employer; (d) co-operation between all departments for the common good; (e) the advancement of understanding, good will, and friendship among the members of the club.
In 1927 the club had representatives from eighteen ranch departments as follows: J. 0. Weldon, agriculture; W. A. Brooks, oil and gas; F. H. Hendon, hogs; W. K. Rogers, horses; Thomas R. Brown, cattle; Thomas Crook, dairy; J. J. Vassar, packing plant; J. B. Overton, light and power; Louis McDonald, Indians; J. M. Hogan, poultry; T. 0. Manning, accounting; W. E. Seamans, horticulture; Sam Stigall, construction; D. H. Greary, sales and store; F. D. Olmstead, land; George W. Miller, legal; Art Eldridge, show, and J. B. Kent, moving pictures.


HEN the huge tract of prairie acres, known as the Cherokee Strip, was opened to white settlers in 1893, the lands of the Ponca Indians were not included in the area to which the home-seekers were admitted. The Strip, sandblown and almost treeless, lay along the southern border of Kansas and served as the outlet for the Cherokee Nation. It was a passage through which the tribesmen might pass from their homes in the Indian Territory to their hunting grounds in the Rocky Mountains. With its ten thousand square miles, it was almost as large as the state of Vermont—approximately fifty miles in width, and more than 180 miles in length.
Along the irregular eastern border of the Strip were the lands of the Tonkawas, Otoes, Pawnees, and Poncas. The Tonkawas and Pawnees sold their surplus lands in the reservation, but the Poncas kept theirs. And thus the Poncas owned much of the land of the 101 Ranch.
The ancestral home of the Poncas was along the Niobrara River, near Omaha, Nebraska, and in 1871 the tribe numbered 871. Although their reservation had been guaranteed to them by treaty, they were compelled to surrender it to the Sioux after making it their home for a number of years. It was found the Ponca lands were included in a reservation granted to the Sioux, and for that reason, the government forcibly removed them in 1877 to the Indian Territory, much against their wishes. The resistance of the Indians to the removal is related by Francis LaFlesche of the Bureau of Indian Affairs:
“Standing Bear was a Ponca chief of whom little was known until the removal of his people from northern Nebraska to Indian Territory because the reservation confirmed to them by treaty had been included in land granted to the Sioux. When the order for removal was given, January 15, 1877, Standing Bear strongly opposed it, but in February he and nine other chiefs were taken to choose a reservation. They followed the official but would not select a site. Their wearisome journey brought them to Arkansas City, Kansas, whence they asked to be taken home; being refused, they started back afoot, with a few dollars among them and a blanket each. In forty days they had walked five hundred miles, reaching home April 2, to find the official there unwilling to listen to protest and determined to remove the people. He called the military, and the tribe, losing hope, abandoned their homes in May. Standing Bear could get no response to his demand to know why his people were arrested and treated like criminals when they had done no wrong.”
The removal brought much suffering to the Poncas. Within a year approximately one-third of the Indians died and most of the survivors were stricken with sickness as a result of the change in climate. The attendant hardships are described in these lines:
“A son of Standing Bear died. Craving to bury the lad at his old home, the chief determined to defy restraint. He took the bones of his son and with his immediate following turned northward in January, 1879, and in March arrived destitute at the Omaha reservation. Asking to borrow land and seed, his request was granted, and the Poncas were about to put in a crop when soldiers appeared with orders to arrest Standing Bear and his party and return them to Indian Territory. On their way they camped near Omaha, where Standing Bear was interviewed by T. H. Tibbles, a newspaper correspondent, and the accounts of their grievances appeared in the Omaha news-papers, the citizens became actively interested and opened a church where to a crowded house, the chief repeated his story. Messrs. Poppleton and Webster proffered legal service to the prisoners and in their behalf sued out a writ of habeas corpus. The United States denied the prisoners’ right to the writ on the ground that they were not persons within the meaning of the law. On April 18, Judge Dundy decided that an Indian is a person within the meaning of the law of the United States, and therefore had a right to the writ when restrained in violation of law; that no rightful authority exists for removing by force any of the prisoners to the Indian Territory, and there-fore the prisoners must be discharged from custody.”
Many people sympathized with Standing Bear and his followers and wrote to the President and members of Congress protesting against the removal of the Indians from their reservation in Nebraska. In the spring of 1880, the Senate appointed a commission to investigate the removal, the report of which confirmed the contentions of Standing Bear. A satisfactory adjustment of the differences was effected as a result. Poncas wanting to remain in the Indian Territory were given better lands while Standing Bear found a home on the old reservation in Nebraska.
The association of the Millers with the Poncas had begun while the Indians were suffering from the climate and the incursions of whiskey peddlers from Missouri, in their temporary reservation on Quapaw lands near Baxter Springs. An act of Congress of May 27, 1878, removed the Poncas to land purchased from the Cherokees in the Strip. And it was on this land on the Salt Fork River that Colonel George W. Miller established his ranch in 1892, as we learned in an earlier chapter.
Over the vast confines of the 101 Ranch lived the Poncas. A tepee was their earliest home, the Millers were their friends, and the plains were their life. They retained their old time customs and ceremonies. The men remained strangers to work and refused to be introduced. They insisted upon the wife performing all labor—whether there was one wife or three. The squaws carried the baggage, built the fires, erected the tepees, saddled the horses, and were experts at making beadwork. The men made drums, bows and arrows: they would sit for hours carving out some weird design without looking up or saying a word.
The Indians still clung to the old custom of naming persons in connection with some peculiar incident of their lives. Thus, on the ranch there were Mary Buffalo Head, Horse Chief Eagle, Mary Iron Thunder, Alford No Ear, Weak Bone, Sits-on-Hill, White Deer, Eugene Big Goose, Mean Bear, Wolf Robe, Short Tail, Hiding Woman, Red Elk, Girl Bear Head, Big Turkey, Long Pumpkin, White Buffalo, Running-After-Arrow, Willie-Cries-For-War, Little Dance, White Eagle, Peter-Knows-the-Country, Little-Man-Stands-Up, and Thomas-on-Two-Lean-Bear’s-Ear.
No Indian wore a beard, for as soon as a hirsute growth appeared, he pulled out the hairs with tweezers. Some of the older men deprived themselves of their eyebrows in this way. They wore long braids of hair which descended from the crown and were plaited with bright ribbons. In war paint and feather head-dresses, they were picturesque and gave the 101 Ranch a western color that was ever a delight to the guests.
The dance was the dominant feature of the Ponca’s life. He was born, baptized, married, and died amid the jumble of shuffling feet, gyrating bodies, and the beating of tom-toms. The dance expressed joy, and it was the symbol of grief and bereavement. It was the expression of momentous exploits, and the concomitant of routine duties.
The Indians’ wail in honor of the death or burial of one they loved was incomparable with anything of the kind in white man’s civilization. The wailing song with its tremulous, wistful, appealing intonations climbed to heights of tremendous emotion. No shrill notes were heard in the wailing song. The songs had their sources deep in the throats of the mourners, and the sound gradually swelled until it passed the half-opened lips and fairly tumbled forth in a trembling, desperate resonance. The thread of the wail, its continuity, was kept intact with a pulsating throb of the tom-tom.
The Indians placed food, clothing, and articles prized by the deceased either into the grave or close beside it, and the custom was to kill the Indian’s horse and place its body across the grave. The practice was stopped by the government because of cruelty to animals. The high esteem with which the Indians held this custom is evidenced in the following lines:
“A Ponca chief, a life long friend of Colonel Joe Miller, died and before his death made a special request to Colonel Miller, that his horse be allowed to go with him to the “Happy Hunting Ground.” Miller gave his promise though believing that the horse could be led only as far as the grave. As the funeral procession was on the way to the Indian burying ground, near the ranch, the horse dropped dead, and was placed upon the grave of its master.
” ‘It was strange that the horse should happen to drop dead at that particular moment,’ commented Mr. Miller. But no other explanation was ever forthcoming from the Indians and none was ever known.”1

1 Bristow Record, October 27, 1927.

All of Colonel Joe Miller’s life was spent in intimate association with the tribe, first as a boy at Baxter Springs and then as a man on the reservation. He spoke the Ponca language with the fluency of the fullblood. Thoroughly familiar with the sign language of the Indians, he was never in need of the services of an interpreter when dealing with them. Conversant with all their customs and ceremonies, Mr. Miller was punctilious in his observance of Indian etiquette in all his dealings with them. His great popularity and influence with the Indians was largely due to that fact.
The heaviest of Colonel Joe’s duties was in looking after the thousand Indians who owned much of the land of the 101 Ranch and who looked upon him as a father. They called him at all hours on the telephone, camped in his door yard, brought their troubles to him, borrowed money from him, made presents to him. They even had a pow-wow and named his baby for him, giving the name Bright Star to his little son.
According to the regulations of the Office of Indian Affairs, the rent which the Millers paid for the farming and grazing leases was turned over to the Indians. Formally, this ended the relations between the Millers and their landlords. But Indian customs heeded not of pay days and the white man’s order of life. When a Ponca wanted money he borrowed it from Joe Miller. Whenever an Indian died, the head of the family held a funeral service, at which, in sign of his grief, he gave away his personal property, his ponies, his blankets, and his household goods. The next day he was hungry and the next night he was cold. Of course he must have food, and blankets, and a pony. He went to Mr. Miller for them, promising to pay when his lease money came.
The Indians were honest, but their lease money was not always enough to pay their debts, so the debts continued. They owed the Millers as much as $22,000 at one time. One Indian owed them $200 on a certain settling day; he also owed another man $200. He was receiving $300 from the agent and he had immediate need for $100 of it. He kept out his own $100, and then paid the other man.
“Look here,” said Joe Miller, “where is my $200?”
The Indian drew him aside, confidentially, and said: “Me no like other fellow, bad man. Pay him. He go away. You stay here, me stay here. You good man. Me pay you some other time.”2
Many of the Indians regarded their debts in that way. Since both they and the Millers would remain where they were, the money could be paid at any time. The Millers, they reasoned, had possession of their land as security. They felt gratitude, however, for the favors at the hands of the Millers. One time a Ponca chief returned from a visit to a Sioux relative in North Dakota. He brought Joe Miller a beautiful hunting shirt embroidered with stained porcupine quills. It had been given him as a present, but he had no scruples about giving it away again as a token of friendship.
The former war chief of the Poncas was Little Standing Buffalo, second in rank to White Eagle, the head chief and the statesman of the tribe. When Little Standing Buffalo realized that his earthly career was nearing its finish, he called the chiefs and head men of the Poncas into his tepee.
Stating that he realized he was soon to die, the old warrior expressed the wish that “Joe Coga” (Friend Joe) should succeed him as chief. He reminded them of the long ride their friend had made for them as a boy. He called to their attention some of Joe’s acts of kindness, and reminded them of the winters when his generosity had saved the tribe from want when the government rations were scarce. Finally he spoke of the increasing perplexities in the business transactions of the tribe. As they always consulted Mr. Miller in these affairs, the old man said that he thought they should give to Mr. Miller’s advice the weight of that of a chief.
The old chief spoke to willing hearts, and having secured their promises, Little Standing Buffalo passed to the land beyond. He died content that his place in the council circle was to be filled by a worthy successor. The intention of the Poncas to adopt him and to make him chief was not known to Mr. Miller.
The annual Sun Dance, the big Medicine Dance of the Poncas occurred shortly after the death of Little Standing Buffalo. A delegation of the Indians visited Mr. Miller and requested that he attend the Sun Dance, “just like Indian” as they phrased it.

2 101 Ranch Records, 1906.

Left, White Eagle, chief of the Ponca Indian tribe; upper right, Indian marriage ceremony of Colonel Joe C. Miller and bride; scene of the last Sun Dance on the 101 Ranch

Accordingly Mr. Miller, knowing that his Indian friends would be offended by a refusal of their invitation, arrayed himself in an Indian costume of much splendor. This costume was the gift of a squaw, whose patient hands had wrought each design in beads and colored quills of the porcupine. To complete the effect the cattleman sacrificed his mustache and painted his face. By a fortunate choice he painted his face after the design used by the late Chief Little Standing Buffalo. Mr. Miller learned later that his appearance, decorated with the colors and design of the late chief, was regarded by the Indians as a favorable omen.
Taking with him a number of spotted ponies to be presented to Indians of prominence, and leaving word for several beeves to be driven to the Indian camp, Mr. Miller left the ranch.
His arrival at the Sun Dance camp was the signal for an outburst of savage yells and beating of tom-toms. He made his arrival after the manner of a visiting warrior of note and bestowed his presents and received presents in exchange. The Sun Dance was started and the dancing line of Indian devotees was being ministered to by the medicine man. Everywhere throughout the camp were evidences of the religious frenzy of the Indians. In the center of the camp the tall Sun Dance pole held aloft the offerings of the Indians to the Great Spirit.
The Sun Dance Lodge, sacred to the chiefs and medicine men, occupied a prominent place in the camp. After the exchange of presents the visitor was conducted to the Sun Dance Lodge and was there informed by White Eagle that the tribe had decided to adopt him if he were willing to become a member. This came as a complete surprise to Mr. Miller, but he accepted without hesitation and was placed in the hands of two medicine men, the oldest of the tribe. From the Sun Dance Lodge he was conducted to another tepee and from that time until the completion of the ceremony of adoption he was constantly under the instruction and surveillance of one or the other of the two old medicine men.
He was instructed in the history of the Ponca tribe from the earliest times and was required to memorize and repeat certain songs which told of events famous in tribal annals.
One day and one night he was required to fast, being given no food and water during that time. After the night of fasting he was questioned as to the dreams or visions which had come to him in his sleep. On the third night after his arrival in camp Mr. Miller was again conducted to the Sun Dance Lodge, where the ceremony of Blood Brotherhood was performed. After this ceremony he was escorted through the camp and it was announced to the assembled Indians that he had attained warrior rank and had been given the name of Mutha-monta. This name is translated as “going up,” indicating that he was progressing or advancing to higher things.
After the ceremonial presentation to the tribe as a warrior Mr. Miller supposed that his experience was at an end, but he was immediately returned to the Sun Dance Lodge, and there for the first time he was informed that he was to become the successor of Little Standing Buffalo and the second chief of the Poncas.
This ceremony required two more days of instruction and ceremonies, and finally he was presented to the Indians as “Waka-huda-nuga-ski,” or Big White Chief. Highly appreciating the honor conferred, Mr. Miller sent to the ranch for more beeves, and two days of feasting and dancing terminated the seven days of Sun Dance, which has passed into the history of the Poncas as the Sun Dance of Big White Chief.
Only on ceremonial occasions did the Indians use Mr. Miller’s chief name, for to them he was still Friend Joe. The chieftainship was not an empty honor nor without responsibilities. Mr. Miller was summoned to the council whenever matters of moment were to be considered. On several occasions he traveled considerable distances to attend particularly important councils.
The Poncas expressed again their reverence for Colonel Joe Miller by arranging an Indian nuptial ceremony for Colonel and Mrs. Miller. They insisted that he, as an Indian, should have the white man’s wedding more completely confirmed by the Indian ceremony. Both Colonel and Mrs. Miller appeared in Indian costume. She wore a very attractive buckskin garment, with appropriate head-dress and moccasins.
Several tepees were pitched between the “White House” and the office building two blocks away. The Indians believed that the tepee itself cut a considerable figure in the program, for when the bride-to-be entered the tepee of her intended husband she automatically and immediately became a wife, and according to Indian custom the couple were firmly married.
An Indian barbecue feast served at noon in the ranch rodeo arena, inaugurated the marriage ceremony, a sort of pre-wedding banquet. The ceremony started at two o’clock in the afternoon, when the bride was officially escorted to the scene of the ceremonies by a tribal committee, including Crazy Bear, Good Chief, Big Crow, Good Boy, and Mrs. Crazy Bear.
The prospective bridegroom met his fiancée some distance away and she followed him to his tepee, where his people were waiting to receive her. If she followed him the entire distance, she thereby showed a willingness for the ceremony to proceed, but if she broke line and ran away, this indicated a refusal of the intended husband.
The bridegroom entered the tepee and announced to his people that he had brought with him a maiden, whom he would marry. If his mother was living, she went outside and escorted the waiting fiancée into the tepee, and once the young woman entered, it was too late to repent. The mother greeted her with the term of “daughter-in-law,” thus recognizing and consenting to the marriage. A fire was burning in the tepee as a welcome to the bride.
The bridegroom took his place in the center of the tepee with the bride at his left, and the ceremony was completed by the mother-in-law showering the bride with wedding finery. Relatives of the groom were then notified that the wedding was finished, all requirements observed, and that she was now one of the family. All relatives of the groom were supposed to bring wedding gifts.
Among gifts that the Indians always bestowed on the newly married couple was the pipe, with tobacco pouch. This generally was a gift from the chiefs or more prominent men of the tribe. It was to be hung in a convenient place in the new tepee, and each visitor who smoked this pipe indicated his desire for peace and friendship. Good Chief, now blind, presented the pipe and pouch to Colonel and Mrs. Miller. After the bride and groom had been officially received within the tepee by his people, they stepped out in front to receive the gifts from the Indians, which included a beautiful horse given to the bride by Mary Gives Water, while the other women gave calico and blankets.
White Deer was officially in charge of the ceremonies which united “Walking Above,” Colonel Miller’s Indian name, and his bride, to whom an Indian name, “Sh-shin-ga-ha” or “White Fawn” was given on this occasion. It was White Deer’s duty to commend the couple to the Great Spirit above and express the hope that success would come to them and that good health and good fortune would accompany them “in whatever direction of the earth they may walk” or “with whatever wind they may travel.”
Following the wedding ceremony, the Poncas assembled in the arena for a celebration, which consisted chiefly of sports. A feature was the attendance of the all-Indian American Legion post, of which Tony Knight was the commander. They presented the soldier or victory dance. While a number of invitations to persons of prominence in the vicinity were sent out by the Indian committee in charge, all citizens were invited to the ranch to witness the ceremony and attend the celebration.
In the autumn of 1883, White Eagle was in Birmingham in company with fifty to a hundred of his people, who were an exhibit at the Alabama State Fair. The Indians had been taken there by Colonel Joe Miller at the solicitation of officers of the fair who believed the Indians would be a great attraction. Colonel Miller and the Indians were given a concession on the fair grounds with permission to charge twenty-five cents admission to the Indian village, where they had their tepees and held their dances.
“It was while we were giving our exhibitions on the fair grounds,” says Colonel Joe Miller, “that the invitation came to White Eagle to speak at the First Baptist church, as I now remember it after such a period of years. It was our custom to introduce several of the chiefs outside the village, tell who they were, what they did at home and invite the crowds to come inside the village to see them.
“White Eagle was the tribal chief and, as such, was the one who preached to his own people in regard to their centuries, old religious beliefs. It was in this way that I was accustomed to introduce White Eagle to the crowds on the Alabama State Fair grounds. One afternoon, after I had introduced the chief, I was approached by a gentleman who introduced himself as pastor of the First Baptist church.
“ ‘Am I right in asking if White Eagle does preach to his own people at home?’ the minister questioned.
“ ‘That is true,’ I replied. &lrsquo;The Indians meet frequently in their church as do the whites and the chief addresses them in regard to their life and their eventually reaching the happy hunting grounds.’
“ ’Do you suppose that White Eagle would preach for me at my church Sunday morning?’ was the minister’s next query.
“ ‘I believe he will,’ I answered, and then I saw White Eagle, received his consent and carried it to the minister.
“I have seen lots of crowds, but I have never seen anything to equal that which assembled to hear White Eagle preach. It was necessary for the police of Birmingham to attend in squads to handle the crowd, thousands of which could not even get inside the church. The daily papers on Saturday and again on Sunday morning had told of the fact that the Indian would preach and it looked like everyone wanted to hear him.
“White Eagle was equal to the occasion in every respect. He attired himself in the full regalia of his office, with flowing blanket and long head feathers, and wearing his beaded moccasins. He had selected Peter Mitchell (another Poncan) to interpret for him, but at the last minute Mitchell got cold feet when he saw the immense crowd, and the interpreting fell to me. We drove from the fairgrounds to the church in one of those old-fashioned cabs with the top turned back, and when we arrived the police had to separate the crowd to get us through.
“The minister was awaiting us at the door and White Eagle and I went to the pulpit with him. The size and attention of that crowd was enough to make any man quail, but White Eagle never flinched. After the opening service, the minister announced his pleasure at having White Eagle present and that he would now speak. Drawing his blanket around him and holding it in place with his left hand, the chief spoke slowly and deliberately, using his right arm frequently for gestures. He would talk a while, then I would interpret.
“White Eagle explained the religious belief of the red men to some extent. He told them that the Indians have but one church, whereas the white people, even down in Oklahoma, have many churches, one on every corner and each declaring his own way the only true way, whereas the others face eternal hell fire.
“White Eagle said the Indians do not believe in hell; that people have their hell on earth; that when an Indian does wrong it makes his heart hurt and he is sorely troubled, sometimes for a long time, and in this way he experiences his hell. That God is good and that all people, the Indians believe, eventually reach Heaven—the happy hunting ground of the red men.
“When I had finished interpreting White Eagle’s final words, and the old chief had taken his seat in one of the pulpit chairs again, the white minister took up the thought of White Eagle’s talk and went ahead with a brief sermon of his own, considerably along the same line. Altogether I still remember it as one of the momentous occasions in an entire lifetime. The next morning’s daily papers carried pictures of White Chief and many quotations from his sermon.”3
No cabinet of advisors at the head of any nation exercised more authority or was more attentive to the welfare of its people than were the councilors with which every Indian chief surrounded himself during the days of Indian self-government. The councilors were chosen, as a rule, from among the most noted warriors of the tribe, frequently representing warrior clans—good politics that held together the bands into which almost every tribe was divided.
But with the allotment of lands and with the Federal government supervising the Indians throughout the country, tribal forms of government ceased to function. At present there are living but a very few of the warriors who made up the cabinet of the ruling chieftains. Although these warriors are extremely old, they still possess much of the charm and glamor of their race, and they still command the respect and attention that was accorded them during the days of their authority.

3 Daily Oklahoman, February 6, 1927.

Of such a type was the aged and blind Little Dance, sub-chief of the Poncas. He had been totally blind for a number of years and relied upon his wife and the young men of the tribe for advice and assistance in looking after the interest of his people. He was one of the warriors chosen by White Eagle, the last chief of the Poncas under the old tribal form of government. Little Dance describes the great chief, White Eagle, in this manner:
“White Eagle, as chief, was third in line of the blood clan or band of the Ponca Indians. He was the grandson of Little Bear, and the son of Iron Whip, both chiefs ahead of him. There were seven clans among the Ponca Indians, but the blood clan had not been in power before. It seems that when Little Bear was a young man, he went to war with the then reigning Ponca chief among the Sioux, and the son of the Ponca chief was killed. Little Bear had distinguished himself in battle, and was about the same age as the son of the chief, and it was for that reason that Little Bear was chosen chief, and afterward it was hereditary to his oldest son. The present tribal chief, in name only, is Horse Chief Eagle, the oldest son of White Eagle.
“During the chieftainship of Iron Whip, and when White Eagle was a young man, the treaty of 1865 was entered into with the Federal government, under which the claim of the Ponca Indians for $11,000,000 is now pending before the court of claims at Washington, which amount is the alleged value of land which the Poncas formerly owned in Nebraska, and for which they maintain they never got value from the government.
“White Eagle was chief when the Poncas were moved from Nebraska to northeastern Oklahoma, in the vicinity where Miami now stands. The Poncas did not like that location, and were then moved to their present reservation just south of Ponca City, where the remnants of the tribe now live. White Eagle served as chief for approximately fifty years, and just prior to his death, resigned in favor of Horse Chief Eagle, his son.
“Prior to the Poncas being moved under orders from their reservation in Nebraska to the northeastern corner of Indian Territory, a committee of the tribe including Chief White Eagle and Little Dance, visited the territory for the purpose of selecting a reservation. The chiefs preferred the very location just south of Ponca City, which they are now occupying, but the government agent had arbitrarily chosen the northeastern corner of the territory instead of this one. He was so provoked because the Poncas wanted to locate here instead, that according to Little Dance, he deserted them and penniless they had to walk all the way back to Niobrara, Nebraska, their then tribal headquarters. Little Dance says that White Eagle paid the Cherokee Indians $50,000 for the 50,000 acres which still comprise their lands south of Ponca.
“During the lifetime of White Eagle, he led the Poncas in their last war with the Sioux and was the last war chieftain of the Ponca tribe. This was just prior to the tribe being moved from Nebraska to northeastern Oklahoma in 1877. The head chief of the tribe was also considered to be the chief medicine man, in which capacity he acted also as religious advisor. White Eagle was very progressive, and advocated many of the advancements of the tribe, including the allotment of lands here. White Eagle died on February 3, 1914, at the age of 78 years.
“White Eagle understood that the policies dictated by the Washington government were the better in the long run for his tribe and he insisted always they should accept and respect them. A big majority of the Poncas did not want to accept land allotments, each taking a farm for himself instead of holding the land in common, but White Eagle insisted and allotments were brought about as directed by the government officials.
“There were many sessions of White Eagle’s council at that time, and even some of the councilors were unfavorable to allotments.”4
“The Indians,” says Corb Sarchet, “were the Millers’ friends. No Indian ever went hungry, none was ever in want of anything, if the Millers knew it. They participated in the Indian powwows, taught them how to plant and harvest, preached their funerals, saw that they had school houses, worked out their business difficulties for them, were indeed brothers in every sense.”5 A few years ago, the Miller brothers rededicated to Chief White Eagle a “signal mound” similar to the ones used by the Indians in the old days. The mounds consisted of pillars of stone placed on hills about fifteen miles apart, by which the Indians were guided. About ten miles south of the White House on Highway 77 one of the pillars was erected and a white eagle, carved in stone, was placed atop the shaft in tribute to the chief. A day of feasting by the Indians marked the dedication. And in turn the Indians not only leased thousands of acres to the Millers, but in full regalia joined heartily in dances and ceremonies at all the wild west functions, giving the 101 Ranch an atmosphere of the West of the old days.
Despite the advantages of civilization, the protection of the government, and the benefits of peace, the Indians of the 101 Ranch will soon be a memory. Swiftly the grim ferryman is beckoning these red men across the dark river to the councils of their forefathers. The handful of Poncas remaining on the ranch today includes nearly all the survivors of this once powerful and populous tribe. “They always have been, and still are,” in the words of Hubert Collins, “human beings who act, talk, and think as well as any other human race on the earth.”

4 101 Magazine, May, 1927.
5 Daily Oklahoman, December 16, 1934.

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