By Edward F. Treadwell-
In the last article I introduced this fascinating book about “The Cattle King,” Henry Miller. He was born in Brackenheim, Germany, on July 21, 1827. He had little education, but …had been trained in the art of raising, slaughtering, and marketing livestock. Henry finally left his village, went to Holland and England and finally to America. He was a teenager.
But, let me get back to my last article about Miller’s discovery of the vast San Joaquin Valley and Thomas Hildreth, the owner of the HH brand of which Miller had dreamed as a child and used in his endeavors in Germany. Miller saw the wide open ranges of the valley and the foothills. The San Joaquin River made it even more desirable for this cattle man. He knew that the rich valley land was fertile beyond words, and he knew that there was room enough for the herds that must supply the wants of man in the fast growing metropolis.
While wandering through the vast valley…There was no water, but there was ever before him the illusive mirage which made it appear that he was at all times approaching a lake. He headed for a clump of willows in the far distance and finally came to a creek, which he later learned was called Los Banos. At the headwaters of this creek, years before, a band of Padres from San Juan Bautista venturing into this country had bathed and named this creek Los Banos, or “The Baths.”
Miller continued on his journey and discovered cattle with the “HH” brand. When he reached the Rancho Sanjon de Santa Rita (that was to become the headquarters of the greatest livestock business in the world) he met one of the Hildreth brothers. At that time the Hildreths owned a quarter of a Spanish grant of some forty-eight thousand acres of land along the west side of the San Joaquin River. This Rancho Sanjon de Santa Rita was traversed by several channels of the river, and where the water had overflowed the grass was luxurious and the soil obviously rich.
Miller told Hildreth he wished to get cattle to the San Francisco market; Hildreth said it was not possible as the drive was too long. He also told Miller that he wanted to sell the acreage; when Miller left, he had an option to buy 8835 acres of the ranch at one dollar and fifteen cents an acre, and seventy-five hundred head of cattle at five dollars a head, together with the “Double H” brand.
As he rode back to San Francisco, he did some deep thinking. From the San Joaquin River to the mountains he passed through property for twenty-five miles which he was destined to own, and when he again looked down into the Santa Clara Valley and on to the Coast Range he viewed land which in time would all fall under his dominion.
The Cattle King by Treadwell is available from Amazon. The book is 375 pages that will definitely hold your interest!