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The Cattle King Pt.1

The Cattle King: The Biography of Henry Miller, Founder of the Miller & Lux Cattle Empire was written by Edward F. Treadwell and printed in 1981. In his foreword Treadwell says that as he …lacked sufficient imagination to write something of permanent value from his own creativity, he …selected the subject of this work, for it is a living demonstration of the saying that truth is stranger than fiction. No imagination could conjure up a story more replete with color, character, courage, perseverance, power, wealth and romance than the story of the real life sketched herein.

The West has produced many men who have reached the top of the ladder in many walks of life, but, when measured by actual achievement in connection with the development of the material resources of the West, Henry Miller holds a preeminent place. To own over one million acres of land situated in five states, fully stocked, two banks and their branches, reservoirs and other properties, all operated as a unit, appraised at fifty million dollars, and acquired, developed, protected, reclaimed and irrigated by the sole efforts of one man starting in life with nothing but his natural endowments, is an achievement which cannot but attract attention and wonder.

It is the purpose of this book to show the character of the man who accomplished this task, and the manner in which it was brought about. It is unnecessary to add any word in his praise, for the story itself is the best evidence of the just appraisement of him as a unique and outstanding character of western life.

It is my intention here to present to you, the reader, just a “slice” of this wonderful book that brings Miller to the San Joaquin Valley. The mining and ranching town of Hildreth is now ranches without a delineated town. The Coarsegold Historical Society has led historical walking tours of Hildreth in the past; perhaps a tour of the area will be developed in the future.

Chapter VII: The San Joaquin Valley and the “Double H” Brand

During the first few years of the new city [San Francisco], the meat consumed came from cattle raised either within the city itself, or from the neighboring counties. At that time San Francisco extended as far south as San Francisquito Creek, which is now the boundary between the counties of San Mateo and Santa Clara. As the demand for meat grew, the distance from which cattle were brought to the city gradually increased, and from time to time Henry Miller received fragmentary information about a great cattle country known as the San Joaquin Valley. Men from the mines told him of cattle being driven from that country to the mines. The richness of the valley, with its vast acreage of grass produced by the overflow of the great rivers, was described by these travelers and sent a thrill through his veins, but it was far distant and he had never been there, and the call from that region were mostly sent directly to the mines.

One day he was sorting some hides which had been dried and were ready for tanning. His eye was quick to see one particularly large and with a fine reddish color. He picked it up and turned it over to examine the fleshy side of it, because in that way any chance cut by the careless handling of the knife during the process of skinning is revealed. It was a fine specimen, and as the left hip came into view he saw through the skin the clear outline of the brand. It gave him quite a shock, for there was clearly pictured the same brand that he had seen in his dreams on that day when he was but eight years old and was herding calves near Brackenheim, Germany,–the “HH” brand. He had some difficulty in finding where it came from, but finally remembered that he had received a bunch of cattle from the San Joaquin Valley belonging to a man named Hildreth, so he prepared for a trip and a long one to the land of his dreams [Miller had dreamed of the HH brand as a youth].

Miller was introduced to the San Joaquin Valley and Los Banos, where he eventually bought Henry Hildreth’s holdings on the Rancho Sanjon de Santa Rita. If you have ever stopped to dine at the Canal Farm Inn, now a Mexican restaurant, you have been to the home/office of Hildreth and later Miller and Lux.

The Cattle King is available from Amazon.

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