Old Timers Gazette
Buck Hoover

The Stories

Tony the Bear

Visitors at the 101 Ranch enjoyed Tony, the Millers captive black bear. He held court in front of the ranch store, the most famous animal on the ranch. William "Bill" McFadden presented Tony to the Millers after a Mississippi hunting trip.

Tony was kept on a chain, or confined to a cage. He was put on a chain when the cage when needed for drunken cowboys. He dug a cave under the sidewalk near his cage, in which he spent hot or cold days. Tony could easily be coaxed out when offered a bottle of soda pop or sweetened water. Grabbing the bottles with his paws he gulped them down instantly. Unfortunately, even bears can become addicted, and Tony was to the sweet drinks, consuming them by the case. Customers paid five cents for a bottle of soda at the ranch store, just to give to Tony.

In his adult life, Tony weighed 300 pounds. In 1931, he became ill, suffering from a kidney infection and passed away. It was a sad ending for a 101 Ranch icon, but unknowingly, it was also the beginning of the end for the famed 101 Ranch.
Nearly News

More than 50 years ago the Miller Brothers on their 101 Ranch cross bred buffalo and cattle to produce beef animals they called cattalo and occasionally, buffcows. The hybridization still appeals to some as related in a story on the front page of The News, August 7.(1974) Two North Dakota ranchers call the product of their crossing Beefalo, and the animals are three-eights buffalo, three-eights Charolias and one-fourth Hereford. But don't forget, the Millers did it first near Ponca City. (Ponca City News August 12, 1974)
Honor Prison Farm To Be Considered By State

George W. Miller, in charge of the 101 Ranch, located near Ponca City, and part owner of the famous ranch, has offered the use of the farm to the State of Oklahoma for the purpose of establishing an honor prison farm. Miller proposes to furnish the ranch with all improvements, equipment and livestock to the State on a five-year contract basis. He proposes that the State furnish the man-power for operating the extensive properties from the State penal institutions, selecting such prisoners to work on the farm as the State sees fit and making the large tract an elaborate scheme for rehabilitation of prisoners. The proposal would mean that the State take one-half the production and the ranch the other, raising in particular broomcorn, corn, wheat, oats and cotton. The State of Mississippi has conducted a similar project, according to Miller, and from it has netted $2,000,000 during the last three years. (Press-Fredrick, OK Dec. 6, 1929)

The cost of the new seventeen room, fireproof Whitehouse cost $35,000 to build. (Journal of the Cherokee Strip, September, 1971)

Three towns were located within the boundaries of the 101 Ranch: Marland (aka Bliss), Red Rock and White Eagle. (Journal of the Cherokee Strip, September, 1971)

The cattle pens of the 101 Ranch stood at the site of the present Continental Oil Refinery. (Journal of the Cherokee Strip, September, 1971)
Al Capone Once Seriously Considered Purchasing 2,000 Acres of 101 Ranch

Wednesday September 14, 1949 Ponca City News Page 22B

Al Capone, notorious Chicago gangster, in 1932 seriously considered buying 2,000 acres of the 101 Ranch after the once-great institution had been placed in receivership. But for reasons unknown the deal was not consummated.

Capone, who at the time was serving a sentence in the federal prison at Atlanta, Ga., and his brothers, John and Ralph Capone were to be jointly interested in the property.

Speculation as to the future aims of the Capone brothers, should they acquire the land for the asking price of $125,000 was rife in Ponca City. Many and varied were the stories coming from the two principal sources, Chicago and Atlanta.

The Capone's maintained that they would use the land as a colonization project for approximately 400 Italian families who would engage in the fruit and truck farming, growing favorite Italian foods for nation wide consumption to escape the high tariff on the imported items.

Other stories stated that the trio planned to establish a brewery here should the 18th amendment be repealed. Still others stand that Capone would engage in the cattle business, that he would enter the oil business, that he would retire from all activity and that the ranch would be used as a hangout for his gang members and friends.

A statement was issued by the Exchange National Bank in Tulsa to the effect that no transfer of ranch property could be made since it was involved in a receivership suit with the bank without first clearing a part of the ranch's $600,000 indebtedness. That apparently resulted in Caponeís loss of interest in the deal.

The Chicago Herald-Tribune and Examiner wired Dan Kygar, who then was mayor of Ponca City, warning Kygar that the Colorado ranch owned by one of the gang served as a hideout for the gang. The paper inquired as to Ponca City's feeling in the matter of Capone planning to establish himself here.

Kygar's reply follows:

"I have no information in regard to the purchase of the famous 101 Ranch by Capone brothers. But we have outlived the Dalton's, Al Jennings, Ben Cravens, Henry and Belle Starr, Al Spencer and four gubernatorial impeachmentís. If the Capone's can give us new thrills, send them along but advise them to bring their bodyguards with them. All Oklahomans excel in steer juggling, bronc busting and bulldogging. They take theirs straight. Advise them to spike their weak beer with some of our hill corn and make their advance. The old ranch has already been tamed by the encroachments of civilization. A little Chicago culture will do no harm. Inform the Capone brothers they should see me first. I'll extend them an Oklahoma welcome where children cut their teeth on 45s and 30-30s and the keys to the city and assure them protection until they become acclimated. After that they must look out for themselves. Mayor Dan W. Kygar"

Newspapers throughout the nation made much of the story and many were the quips that followed the publication of Kygar's reply.
Distance of the "Riverside Camp" on the 101 Ranch from Major Rail Lines

Bliss is our railway station and is

750 miles from Chicago, Illinois
750 miles from Denver, Colorado
500 miles from St. Louis, Missouri
700 miles from Galveston, Texas
300 miles from Kansas City, Missouri
85 miles from Wichita, Kansas
85 miles from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
60 miles from Guthrie, Oklahoma
30 miles from Arkansas City, Kansas
10 miles from Ponca City, Oklahoma

We are situated on the main line of the Santa Fe RR. midway between Kansas City, Missouri and Ft. Worth, Texas. "Riverside Camp" (on the 101 Ranch) is three miles from Bliss station. Bliss is only a few miles from the geographical center of the United States.
Fire Destroys Ranch Tannery Fourth Time Disaster Has Hit Building

January 3, 1925 --- Buffalo meat was served the Ponca City firemen at the 101 Ranch about 1 o'clock this morning after they fought the fire. The buffalo was one born on the ranch in 1906. It was with considerable difficult that the animal gave up his earthly existence, according to the men at the ranch, when telling the firemen how the buffalo had refused to lay down and die with only one bullet in him. He ran two miles from the place where he was first shot before two more bullets finally ended his life.

Fire, which started from a gas explosion in the drying room, caused damage of $40,000 to 50,000 in the tannery of the 101 Ranch Wednesday night. The explosion occurred about 10 o'clock and the fire, which followed, got quickly beyond the control of the ranch fire fighting facilities. The Ponca City fire department responded to a call from the ranch and aided in protecting nearby buildings and helping keep the fire under control. This is the second fire within a week at the ranch, the other resulting in extensive damage to the powerhouse of the packing plant and in the death of one man from burns. It is also the fourth disaster that the tannery has suffered, having been the victim of a cyclone, fire, flood previous to the fire Wednesday.

Submitted by Mollie Stehno
Navy Blimp Group May Visit Ponca Will Look at Ranch as a Possible Station for Dirigible Craft

An Associated Press story today from Washington says that the naval committee of the lower house of congress will visit the Ponca City community, at the request of the Miller brothers of the 101 Ranch in order to look over the ranch and perhaps additional sites in this community for the location of a mid-country site for a blimp station. The congressmen who will come here will be a sub-committee of the house naval body, of which Congressman Jim McClintic of Oklahoma is a member.

After it became known through the newspapers that such a committee would make a stop in this portion of the southwest to locate a possible blimp station site, the local Chamber of Commerce at the request of George W. Miller of the ranch took the matter up by wire with members of congress, asking that the ranch be given the once-over as a site. Wires were sent immediately to Senators Pine and Thomas and Congressman Garber.

It was not understood here at the time that Congressman McClintic is on the house naval committee. Immediately Senator Thomas wired that he would get the matter before the committee through McClintic, a member. This was dine and almost immediately again a wire was received by the Chamber of Commerce from McClintic that he was pressing the invitation of the Miller brothers and that in his opinion the committee will put Ponca City on its itinerary. It is his opinion that the committee will motor here from Oklahoma City, which it is understood is offering a site also. It is understood that the committee's trip may occur in the near future, as it is going also to the Pacific coast to locate a naval blimp base. (Paper and date unknown)
Six Men Rob Train on Santa Fe in Oklahoma Express
Messenger Killed as He Shows Fight; Bandits Escape in Autos

BLISS, Okla. Oct. 19- Ranchmen from several counties, reinforced by numerous deputy sheriffs, waited at daybreak today for some sign from the ravine where it was believed the men who last night robbed Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Express No. 405 had taken refuge.

Perry Norman, express messenger, was killed by the robbers when he showed signs of fight. Rumors said six men participated in the robbery, the bandits obtained $10,000 flagging the train at a desolate spot north of Bliss on the 101 ranch. The robbers worked briskly, two guarding the train crew who had been forced to uncouple the engine, express and mail cars and run them a short distance down the track, two others standing sentinel at the rear car. The outlaws fled in automobiles.

(Reno Evening Gazette, Reno Nevada, Oct 19, 1916)
"101 Station" Planned on Rock Island Railroad

Ponca City, Okla. Nov. 15- "We don't intend to start another town but just want a convenient place to handle our products," George L. Miller of the Miller Bros. 101 ranch said when asked about the "101 Station" planned on the Rock Island railroad line.

Application by the railroad to extend the line past the ranch is pending before the Interstate Commerce Commission, Miller said.

The brothers propose to expend $50,000 in erecting a cotton gin, grain elevator, alfalfa mill and warehouse near the station, he said. Power for the mills and gin will be supplied from the powerplant on the ranch.

(Fayettville Nov 15, 1924)