Bringing the West to Life
By Laci Jones
In the early 20th century, the 1905 National Editorial Association was scheduled to be held in Guthrie, Oklahoma Territory. A “side trip” to the 101 Ranch was planned, and the Miller brothers became busy preparing for the extravagant roundup.
The oldest brother, Joe Miller, wanted to have featured performers at the roundup and set his sights on several including Lucille Mulhall, Tom Mix and Geronimo. Stories of Mulhall and Geronimo interested the nation, and the Millers knew the publicity would be beneficial not only to Indian Territory but for the 101 Ranch.
Several thousand editors and publishers made their way to Guthrie, Indian Territory, for the National Editorial Association on June 7, 1905.
After a few days of the convention, they left by train for a tour of the territory, through Lawton, Anadarko, Chickasha, El Reno and Oklahoma City, according to Michael Wallis’ “Real Wild West.”
More than 30 trains arrived at the 101 Ranch on June 11, 1905, drawing a crowd of editors, publishers, and many other visitors from across the nation. According to the Wallis, visitors were piled in the trains and some traveled atop the coaches. Some of the crowds even arrived by wagons and on horseback.
“By best estimates, at least 65,000 men, women and children showed up at the 101 Ranch, making it the largest gathering of its kind in the history of the Twin Territories,” according to Wallis.
The roundup was known by many names including “Oklahoma Gala Day,” “Buffalo Chase” and “Historical Exhibition.” Programs that featured the brothers as well as other performers and advertisements were sold to the many visitors for only a dime.
The travelers watched as the Miller brothers led a grand parade in the mid-afternoon. Following the Millers atop their horses with exquisite saddles and tack was a cavalry band and soldiers guarding the Apache Chief, Geronimo. Many cowboys, cowgirls and Indians from various tribes entered the arena.
The performances began after the grand parade including Geronimo killing his supposed last bison. In reality, the Apache Indian never hunted a bison because there were none in his homeland. This hunt would be his first and last.
Rather than using a bow and arrow, Geronimo opted for a Winchester rifle.
One would imagine he would be horseback, but instead he was in the front seat of a car when he shot the bison. He later posed in the vehicle wearing a top hat for photographs.
Visitors were entertained by other performances of Indian war dances and games, target shooting, bronc riding and mock battles, among many others, according to Wallis.
As predicted by the Miller brothers, the roundup was a success and the editors wrote many articles detailing the events of the “Oklahoma Gala Day.” The success of that June day inspired the Millers to take their show on the road.
“The events the Millers staged were intended as showcases for their many skilled riders, ropers and bulldoggers,” Wallis wrote. “But the Millers also wanted to do more than host roundups. They were interested in presenting the public with what they termed ‘A Real Wild West.’” The Millers were inspired by other wild west shows including Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show introduced by none other than William Frederick “Buffalo Bill” Cody.
Pick up the March issue to learn more!