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Miller Brothers, Inc. NWDA

 
 

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Biographical History

In 1890, Peter Miller (b. 1848) traveled from Crawford County, Iowa to Montana and purchased 160 acres of land in the Bear Paw Mountains area, creating the nucleus of what was to become one of the largest ranches in the state. Miller, a German immigrant, was joined in partnership by his two sons, Henry George (b. 1875) and Christopher D. (b. 1877), the name Miller Brothers being chosen for their ranching business. Both sons were born in Iowa, near Dennison, and a close tie was maintained to the Miller (or Moeller) family which remained there. When Peter Miller retired and left the ranch operation in the hands of his sons, he returned to Iowa to live out his life. At the same time the Millers moved west, another family from Dennison, the Jurgen Kuhrs, came to settle in the Bear Paw area as their neighbors. Chris Miller was eventually to marry Carolyn Kuhr, thereby joining the land holdings of the two families. In later years, the Miller Brothers were assisted in the operation of the ranch by G. Ted Westin, who was married to Chris Miller's daughter, Lillian. Originally, Miller Brothers, Inc. was solely concerned with the production of sheep and wool, at one time maintaining five lambing camps. At its peak in the 1930s, the ranch operated nearly 345,000 acres (127,000 acres deeded land and 218,000 acres leased property) stretching from the Canadian border south for 75 miles. Due primarily to the poor market and labor difficulties involved in sheep raising, the Millers turned to the production of cattle. Finally in 1957, all sheep were sold and the business became exclusively a cattle ranch, all stock wearing the E Bar Y brand. Throughout the years, the company used the towns of Lloyd, Chinook and Cleveland on its letterhead for a mailing address. George and Chris Miller were active in the agricultural and economic development of Blaine and Chouteau Counties. They were involved in the formation of grazing districts, were members of state, national and local groups promoting livestock markets and production, and helped to organize the First National Bank of Chinook. This banking house served the area from 1909 until 193o when the assets were sold to the town's Farmers National Bank. Retirement came for the Miller Brothers in 1958 after 65 years of operation. At that time, the ranch, including 9,000 head of cattle, was sold to Wellington Rankin, who in turn sold the business for $3,000,000 to a syndicate. Henry and Chris remained in the Chinook area until their deaths in 1961 and 1968 respectively.

From the finding aid for Miller Brothers, Inc. Records 1894-1966 (Montana Historical Society Archives)

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