Cattle Industry of Texas and Adjacent Territory
Woodward and Tierman Ptg. Co.
St. Louis, Mo.
The parents of our subject, Joseph and Elizabeth Miller, were Indianians
by birth but resided for some years in Washington County, arkansas, where
the former was engaged n farming, and where W. J. Miller was born June
11, 1841. Six years later the family removed to Texas, and was for
several years located on a farm in Bastrop County; but later on, a move
still farther west was made, and Joseph Miller took up stock raising in
addition to agricultural pursuits, thus giving his son an opportunity to
acquire a knowledge of the calling in which a considerable portion of his
life has been passed.
Like a great many of his fellow cattlemen, W. J. Miller passed his youthful days on the paternal farm, walking between plow handles or doing necessary and effective work with a hoe not remarkable for its sharpness, and the habits of application and industry there learned were not without beneficial effect in his after experience. His education was not altogether neglected, but owing to a lack of school facilities, he has been compelled to acquire the greater part of his knowledge through private tuition and his own admirable traits of observation and retention. thoroughly informed on nearly all subjects of general interest, Mr. Miller is a talented conversationalist, and a most interesting narrator of the events which added a spice of romance and adventure to the lives of the early participants in the cattle industry. Before he had reached his majority, the life of a farmer had grown too dull and uneventful to satisfy his youthful aspirations, and , as one might imagine, he adopted that which was almost the universal calling of young men of his time and section. There is an indescribable something about the occupation of cattle growing which appeals with irresistible power to the fancy of most young men, and Mr. Miller proved no exception to the general rule. Cowboys were in demand, and he was offered and accepted a job of riding the range, his employer being a Mr. Francis of Llano County. He was with Mr. Francis a year, and then, going in partnership with his brother, F. M. Miller, he took a stock of cattle belonging to A. W. Morrow to work on shares. The brothers were quite successful in this enterprise, which was the beginning of eight years spent in a similar business, holding their cattle during all this time in McCulloch county. The first long drive in which Mr. Miller took an active part was over the trail leading to the Missouri markets in 1867. The herd driven through by Mr. Miller numbered 570 head, and were disposed of a a profitable figure. Eleven days after his return to McCulloch County from this trip, Mr. Miller was engaged in one of the most dangerous fights with Indians recorded in the annals of the Texas frontier.
In June 1872, Mr. Miller gathered his cattle in McCulloch County and drove them to New Mexico, and thence to Colorado, where he remained until 1875, at which date he moved to Kansas. He was in the latter state seven years, and then purchased more cattle and established his present ranch in the Panhandle of Texas, where he has since remained. His residence is at Mobeetie, in Wheeler County, and he is thoroughly in love with the broad, open plains where his cattle now range. so much of his life has been spent on the frontier that the sight of a distant horizon unmarred by farm house or fence is far more pleasing in his eyes than snowy cotton fields or seas of waiving grain. He can recall the time when the buffalo in McCulloch County were as numerous as domestic cattle are today, and has seen many herds numbering as high as ten thousand head. Even in the period covered by his own active experience in the cattle industry wonderful changes have come about in everything pertaining to the business, and Mr. Miller is brimming over with incidents and narratives illustrative of this fact. To illustrate the scarcity of even the necessities of life at the time the Miller Brothers began business in McCulloch County, we may mention what they, at the time, considered a remarkably fortunate transaction, which was nothing more or less than the exchange of a red steer valued at $10 for 10 pounds of coffee. At a dollar a pound, coffee was rather an expensive beverage; but it was the first that had been seen in that section for a long time, coffee being brought on pack horses from Mexico and traded for beef steers at different times after the above purchase. In 1859, Mr. Miller entered the matrimonial state by joining his life with that of Miss Dollie Vaneveer, a young Kentucky lady. They have three children, one boy and two girls, all of whom are married. Zack T., the eldest, lives in Canadian, Texas; Mrs. Lucy Fry, at Canadian, Texas; and Mrs. Emma Spiller is the wife of a leading ranchman of McCulloch County. They were all bred and educated amid the free and exhilarating surroundings of the frontier, and have developed into representative men and women possessed of all the sterling qualities which enter into the composition of good and valuable citizens.