Monday, January 11, 2010

J.C. Miller - 101 Ranch

In 1879, J.C.'s father George founded the 101 Ranch in the Indian Territory near Ponca City, Oklahoma. George Miller died of pneumonia in 1903, leaving the ranch to his three sons, Joseph, George Jr., and Zack.

The eldest son Joseph, also known as J.C., is described in various accounts as being either kind and well-loved by the Indians or as being volatile and greedy. Whatever the case, there is little doubt  that he was an accomplished equestrian and performer.

The Millers put on local western shows, and then took their 101 Ranch Wild West Show on the national circuit in 1907. In later years they also took their show to Europe, but not without encountering some serious problems. In England, the British military confiscated their horses, cars, and carriages for use in World War I. German authorities arrested some of the Oglala Indian cast members on suspicion of being Serbian spies. They group also had trouble finding steamships that would allow passage for Indians for the return trip.

In 1916, the 101 Ranch Wild West Show toured with Buffalo Bill Cody. During the 1920s, wild west shows were declining in popularity, in part due to competition from motion pictures. The ranch started suffering from financial problems. In October, 1927, J.C. Miller was found dead in the 101 garage with his car still running. George Jr. died in a car accident within a year of J.C.'s death, leaving Zack to manage the ranch on his own. Zack eventually filed for bankruptcy in 1932. The land was then divided and sold in parcels. None of the ranch buildings remain.


  1. What a wonderfully informative post. I am so glad I discovered your blog.

  2. Though it's only an aside to the main story here, there's something darkly funny about the Oglala being arrested by the Germans as Serbian spies. More theater of the absurd than wild west show there.

  3. Hi Alan, I'm glad too!

    Robert, it's true, most of the drama seems to have taken place offstage.

  4. What a fine looking fellow! And an interesting life--thank you for sharing this. I was glued to the last word.

  5. What a wonderful story and postcard. Thanks for sharing.

  6. Christine, if you're trying to cheer me up, it's not working:) What a tragedy ...and such a handsome fella. Isn't it interesting the roads that postcards lead one down?

  7. Trishia, you're right, it's not very cheerful. I sometimes wonder if I seek out these sad stories, but really I just pick up the postcard and try to find the story behind it. Why is it that so often they are sad stories rather than happy ones.



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