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Clip #: TFA-78G-4
Library: TFA Network
Region: North America
Country: United States
Subject: Amateur film
parade, horses, wild west show, small town, stagecoach, wagon, covered wagon, elephants,
The Miller Brothers 101 Ranch is a National Historic Landmark near Ponca City, Oklahoma and former working ranch in Indian Territory. The site is the birthplace of the 101 Ranch Wild West Show and early focal point of the oil rush in northeastern Oklahoma. It was founded in 1879 by Colonel George Washington Miller, a former confederate soldier. In 1903, when Colonel George Miller died, his three sons, Joseph, George Junior, and Zack took over operation of the 110,000-acre ranch. By 1932, much of the land was owned by the Miller family, they leased other land from the Ponca, Pawnee, and Otoe Indians in Kay, Noble, Osage and Pawnee Counties. The ranch remained in the family for almost 60 years. The Millers' neighbor Major Gordon W. Lillie, who performed as Pawnee Bill, motivated the Millers to produce a Wild West Show of their own. The Millers made their transition from putting on local shows to the national scene in 1907, when they performed at the Jamestown Exposition in Virginia. In 1908, the Miller Brothers 101 Ranch Wild West Show began the tour circuit in Brighton Beach, New York. Joe Miller, the eldest, was an exceptional equestrian and star performer. Over the course of the show, it boasted famous performers such as Bill Picket, Bessie Herberg, Bee Ho Gray, Tom Mix, Jack Hoxie, Mexican Joe, and eventually Buffalo Bill. The Miller brothers came late into Wild West Show business and suffered financially along with the other shows after the invention of motion pictures. However, the Miller Brothersí show had more problems than most, in a business that was harsh at the best of times. Their first year on the circuit they had a serious railroad accident. Later, several members of their cast contracted typhoid. In 1908, when Buffalo Bill and Pawnee Bill combined their shows into an extravaganza that broke records at Madison Square Gardens, the Miller Brothers also took their show abroad. In England, the British military confiscated most of the 101ís horses, stagecoaches, and automobiles for use in World War I. When they toured in Germany, authorities there arrested some of their Oglala Sioux cast members for being Serbian spies. A frantic Zack Miller managed to get the rest of his American Indian cast out of Germany via Norway, and then to England. Once in London, however, he had difficulty finding a steamship that would sell passage to Indians. Finally, he obtained passage for his cast on an American ship. Once the cast returned to Oklahoma, eldest brother Joe Miller refused to pay the Indian cast overtime. As a result the entire Indian cast quit the show. By 1916, the two younger Miller brothers abandoned trying to work with their volatile oldest brother. George Jr. and Zack worked at the ranch, while Joe schemed to make the Wild West Show a financial success. Joe Miller hired an out-of-work, aging, and ill Buffalo Bill to star in a World War I recruitment show called the Pageant of Preparedness. Soon Cody quit the show; he died within a year. Still unwilling to let the show close, Joe continued to operate on a smaller scale. In 1927, Joe was unsuccessful in his attempts to sell his show to American Circus Corporation.
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