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Noble County - Marland - 101 Ranch

Homes of the Miller BrothersCol. George W. Miller was one of the cattleman who leased the Cherokee Outlet under the Cherokee Strip Cattleman Association. His brand was the 101 on the left hip of all livestock he owned. He built a half dugout on the Salt Fork of the Arkansas River in 1881. When the government ordered all the cattlemen to tear down their fences and move off the Cherokee Strip, Miller and his sons, Joe, Zack and George L., rented the hunting grounds of the Ponca Indian tribe.

Homes of the Miller BrothersIn the spring of 1895, 2000 acres of pasture land were plowed and put into feed crops for winter feed although their lease was for grazing purposes only. The original sod house served as their headquarters until 1893 when a three-story frame building was constructed. It burned to the ground 6 years later and was replaced by an even grander 17-room reinforced concrete house.

Col. George W. Miller died in 1903, but his sons carried on and by 1905, the Millers had 15,000 acres under cultivation in corn, wheat, Kaffir corn, alfalfa, millet and various other feed crops. With their large herd of buffalo, cattle by the thousands and stallions of all breeds, the prominence of the 101 Ranch as a diversified livestock breeding enterprise was well known.

Miller Bros.

On June 11, 1905, the Miller brothers presented an outdoor show. It is belived to have been the biggest show of its kind ever presented at the time in the United States, drawing an estimated 75,000 persons. Down through the following years, the Miller brothers continued holding the annual round-up at the ranch. A rodeo arena was constructed at the headquarters with a seating capacity of ten thousand.

Real Wild West Show 1914

View video of the 101 Ranch
Written and produced by the Mustang Media Department,
Frontier High School, Red Rock, Oklahoma

In addition to the rodeos, they had many industries due to their diversified farming operation. Several oil wells produced sufficient oil for the Millers to have an oil refinery of their own at the ranch headquarters. The 101 Ranch operated a large general store, which was the mercantile center for northern Oklahoma for a number of years. The 101 Ranch cafe developed from the old "ranch chuckhouse" into a restaurant modern in every respect. Every article of food with the exception of olives, sugar and coffee were producted right on the ranch. In the same way the "bunk house" became a modern hotel. The ranch had its own machine, blacksmith, woodwork, and repair shops. There was a complete ice plant with a capacity of ten tons daily maintained on the ranch that provided ice for the ranch and its employees as well as the farmers of the community.

Perhaps one of the most interesting industries was the novelty factory. All kinds of Indian rugs, beaded belts and silver jewelry, etc. were manufactured in the factory by Indians employed by the Miller brothers. In addition, a large assortment of souvenir leather goods such as cowboy belts, boy's chaps and vests were made and sold along with the Indian articles.

The 101 Ranch lands contained approximately 172 sections. They embraced an approximate total of 110,000 acres that sprawled like patchwork over the Oklahoma plains in Kay, Noble, Osage and Pawnee counties. On this vast domain there were located three towns: Marland, Red Rock and White Eagle. For twenty-two miles US Hishway 77 crossed these lands and was paralleled most of the way with the Santa Fe railroad which had a station at Marland located three and one-half miles south of the 17 room ranch house known as the "White House."

White HouseSpectacular sights greeted presidents and celebrities at the gate of the ranch's majestic white house: flocks of ostriches, zebras, camels, wild boars, tigers and anteaters. Sometimes they saw performers rehearsing, mounted cossacks, dancing mules, clowns, charioteers and stagecoach "hold-ups" and Indian "attacks."

The 101 Ranch continued the spirit of the west through its Wild West shows and Miller Bros. Circus that toured the United State and Europe, as well as through entertainment on the ranch, round-ups and rodeos.

The Millers were among the first to produce moving pictures and some movies were filmed on the ranch. The "thundering herds" of buffalo, which no longer existed at the time of movie cameras, were recreated by the herd of buffalo on the ranch which was driven in a circle around the camers. The same was done with the herd of long-horns to depict the herds that had made the cattle drives. Tom Mix spent several years on the ranch and made his first movie there. Other cowboy stars were Ken Maynard, Buck Jones and Hoot Gibson. One of the best known cowboy performers was Bill Picket, Choctaw-Negro, who invented bulldogging.

The empire which had flourished in all its ventures started fading after the stock market crash of 1929. Three major causes of its downfall were death, debt and depression according to Ellsworth Collings and Alma Miller English, only daughter of George W. Miller, in their book "The 101 Ranch."

The information on the 101 Ranch was taken from: The Noble County Genealogy Society History of Noble County Oklahoma Perry, OK: McNaughton & Gunn, Inc., 1987. Permission was granted by the Noble County Genealogy Society to Cheryl DeJager and the Cherokee Strip Museum to use this information for research purposes. The information should not be used for publication or for other purposes without the express permission of the Noble County Genealogy Society.

Note: Not all of the photographs contained in this exhibit are available at the Cherokee Strip Museum. Photographs may have been edited for presentation on the web site.

This exhibit features postcards and photographs of the 101 Ranch categorized by photographer or publisher.