Cowboy Drovers

Captain E. B. Millett

In the Fall of 1861,the firm of Newel & Carson hired Millett to fulfill a contract with the Confederacy for 1,500 Texas Beeves. Linsay Carson was the half-brother of Kit Carson. The semi-wild steers averaged 1200 pounds and were rounded up from the open range west of San Antonio. 
On a clear moonlit night the herd stampeded. Many years later the aging Capt. Millett recalled, "I shall never forget the impression this, the first stampede I had ever seen, made on me... Nothing can exceed the awe and grandeur of a stampeded herd in its sudden fright until completely worn out."
Capt. Millett became one of the first to drive cattle north following the Civil War. He hired men who could take care of themselves and the herd. Along with Major Seth Mabry the firm of Millett & Mabry was known as a "tough outfit" because of the men that were hired. Capt. Millett continued driving on the Chisholm Trail and the Western Cattle Trail through 1875. That year he and partners Major Seth Mabry, Col. James Ellison and John O. Dewees drove a total of 102,000 head of cattle over the trails to markets in the north.

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Major Seth Mabry

Seth's father ran a hotel in Bastrop, Texas but he also operated a cattle ranch. Being rasied around cattle from his youth allowed Seth to develop a seemingly natural talent for working with cattle and horses. 
He served in the 17th Texas Volunteer Infantry durning the Civil War and quickly returned to ranching when the war was over. 
Mabry first drove to Abilene, Kanas in 1869 on the Chisholm Trail. His reputation attracted the attention of Capt. Eugene Millett in 1871 leading the two to form a partnership that would last for many years. 
On the streets of Ellsworth in 1873 the partners were suprised by a shotgun blast from Billy Thompson. The gun accidently discharged just at their feet narrowly missing the drovers. Before the day was over another accidental discharge of that same shotgun killed Sheriff Chauncey Whitney.
Mabry operated all over the plains, selling cattle in Kansas, Nebraska and the Dakotas. He partnered with such men as George Littlefield, Ike Pryor, and Bud Driscoll. 
His Cowboys were often men of dangerous temperment. Several disputes between Cowboys and townspeople originated with Mabry Cowboys. Kearney, Nebraska, was the scene of a dispute that came to be known as the Kearney War. 
At his peak, Major Mabry had cattle interests from the Llano River of Texas to the Niobrara River of Nebraska. He was the epitome of the term "Cattle King".


John Nathan Hittson

Hittson was born in Tennessee in 1831. His first cousin, Nathan Bedford Forrest went on to become a three-star general in the Confederate Army. 
John Hittson found himself embroiled in a vigilante war on the frontier of Texas during the Civil War. He drove cattle to Mexico and preferred dealing with the Comanches and other plains tribes to fighting Yankees. 
John Hittson was one of the first to drive cattle over the Pecos Trail, sometimes referred to as the Goodnight/Loving Trail. He continued to be a major drover on the Pecos into the early 1870's. 
Hittson was involved in many classic Indian fights. His son Jesse and several Hittson Cowboys found themselves in a fight for life when Indians attacked their supply wagon. Arrows were flying while men lying on the ground fired wildly at the braves. The chaotic scene left several men wounded by no one killed. 
In 1872, Hittson gathered an army of gunmen making a foray into New Mexico to recover stolen cattle. The incident gave John Hittson a legendary reputation. Driving cattle through the streets of Denver with six-guns at his side and a Winchester "Yellow Boy" strapped to his saddle created the image of "Cattle Jack", a man fully in charge of his destiny.


Sol West -

Sol West was not yet 20 years old when he was hired on to trail boss a herd of Texas Longhorns to Ellsworth in 1874. As the herd crossed the Red River into Indian Territory they experienced clear, open Spring weather.
A week later, the morning began with a light mist mixed with an occasional snowflake. Conditions held throughout the day, but as the herd drove within 100 yards of the bedgrounds a blizzard suddenly blew in upon them. Every man and horse worked to hold the herd, but the relentless cold drove the herd south as horses faltered and died from exhaustion. Before the storm was over every horse in the remuda had succumbed to the Late Spring Norther.


Tom Waggoner

Dan Waggoner risked life and limb to establish ranching operations in north Texas. His early roundups were on the very ground that now supports the town of Wichita Falls, Texas. From the beginning, it was a family operation, D. Waggoner & Son. Dan's son, Tom trailed cattle to Joseph McCoy’s cattle depot in Abilene, Kansas beginning in 1870. That first drive netted $55,000. Wow! $55,000 in 1870 was a fortune! 
But father and son were only beginning. They became the biggest ranching concern in all of Texas. But, creating such an empire is not without its difficulties. That’s what makes the story. My favorite trail-driver is Captain Eugene B. Millett. My own family worked for him here in Kansas. Millett ran a tough outfit filled with all kinds of hombres. They were headed up by a fella by the name of Tom Peeler. If they did a movie with Tom Peeler in it, Tom Seleck would have to be Peeler. He was the real life character that Seleck always seems to play in his movies. 
Cattle were being rustled and brands were being changed. Dan Waggoner’s foreman was Jimmie Roberts and he was known as Waggoneer’s “top peeler”. There was a bout to be a confrontation on the range. The dealing that was about to take place was “classic old west”. 
The Three D brand became one of the most widely recognized brands in Texas. But, even greater fortune came to the outfit when they drilled deep wells in search of water.


George W. Miller

Mention the 101 Ranch and visions of the Wild West fill our minds with colorful characters ridin’, ropin’ an’ shootin’. The 101 reputation recalls a time of Buffalo Bill’s Wild West, Pawnee Bill, Annie Oakley and the great spectacle of Cowboys and Indians on the untamed prairies of the Wild West! 
The seeds that germinated to become the famous 101 Ranch began as most pioneer stories begin with the need for land and opportunity. George Washington Miller was born into a prosperous family on February 22, 1841 on the family plantation near Crab Orchard, Kentucky. The loss of slave labor coupled with the post war economics of the South forced the Millers to abandon the plantation.
In 1870 they headed west for California, but a winter stop-over in southwest Missouri introduced George to the trailing industry. Soon he was trailing Texas Longhorns from south Texas to markets at Baxter Springs, Kansas. In Baxter Springs he also met the Ponca Indians who would be lifelong friends. All the ingredients came together in one place on the ranch George named the 101. His sons, Joe, Zack and George II would create out of the rich resources of the 101 Ranch the world’s greatest Wild West Show.


Source of information : Drovers Mercantile | Kansas Cowboy

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