Paul "Blinky" Hamilton Miller
July 14 1897 - August 15, 1967
Paul Hamilton Miller (Blinky) was born in Sageeyah, Indian Territory, (now Claremore, OK) on July 14, 1897. He was the tenth of eleven children born to Massie and Mary Jane Orr Miller. Paul lost his mother in childbirth at the tender age of four. Paul's father, Massie, worked for a large cattle corporation on a profit sharing basis. As foreman of the corporation, Massie made nine trips from the Mexico border up the Chisholm Trail (a common route to move livestock north). After his mother's death, Paul, between the ages of six and eight, took turns with his older brother, Hinton, accompanying his father on these drives working as " horse wranglers". At the age of eight his father passed on and Paul lived with his sister, Mary and her husband, Sam Smith, who moved back to the family home to care for the orphaned children. During this time, Paul spent his days as a wrangler for various ranches in Oklahoma, Texas and New Mexico and attending school in the Cherokee Nation Indian Territory. While at home, his sister's husband strongly believed in "spare the rod and spoil the child", therefore, Paul received his share of beatings.
These beatings continued at school where the schoolmaster would give the boys a few switches every morning in preparation for whatever they might deserve for the day. At thirteen and in the fifth grade a quiet, strong-willed Paul decided he was not going to tolerate the beatings anymore. He stole his uncle's six shooter and took it to school. He waited until the schoolmaster went into the outhouse and fired all six shots into the structure. Thinking he had killed him Paul left the area and found a trail drive where he joined on as a wrangler.
The wranglers traveled in the back of the cattle drive with the herders. Following the trail herds, Paul earned the name "Blinky Miller." The dust was so bad behind the livestock that Paul would blink his eyes constantly to clear his vision. As a result, the cowboys gave him the name "Blinky." He also had the habit of blinking his eyes whenever he had to make a decision or take action on something that had happened. After a years' time at age fourteen, he left the trail drive at Raton Pass and caught a train to Denver, Colorado where he worked on a poultry farm for three years before moving to Wyoming.
Paul came to Lost Springs, Wyoming in 1914 at the age of seventeen on a coal train. He worked in the coal mine at Lost Springs for a short period of time. Not liking the underground work he quit and went back to working in the open air on ranches as a hired hand. Some of the ranches he worked for were Harry Pollard, Bert Emery, Vic Lamont (the FiddleBack Ranch), and Bill Doer. While working for Vic Lamont in 1917 he broke horses for the Army at Fort Robinson, Nebraska. He worked for Bill Doer for the longest period of time and Doer's sons, Percy and Dutch, were like brothers to Paul.
Blinky loved working with horses and was one of the best bronc riders in his day. He never missed a good rodeo. He rode saddle and bareback. If the rodeo was really boring he would come out of the chute bareback and backwards. He was a contestant in the American Fourth of July rodeo in Gillette, Wy in 1921. Never in the history of Gillette had the rodeo had so many good riders and horses.
Paul distinguished himself when he was chosen as the winner receiving as first prize a beautiful Furstnow saddle and one hundred dollars. Paul said " all horses have a rhythm, you just have to find it."
Paul filed for his homestead in Converse County in the Cow Creek Buttes in 1917. He then married Bessie L. Russ, who taught school at the Rounds School. Bessie had also filed on a homestead and that is where they built their ranch house.
All of the buildings and corrals were built from logs, cut, peeled and hauled by team and wagon from the Cow Creek Buttes. Paul continued to purchase more land as homesteaders left the area and leased government land as well in order to run more livestock. Paul raised cattle until the thirties when he made the decision to raise sheep. Sheep produced wool and lambs each fall, which was more lucrative at the time. Sheep were more manageable than cattle, but required closer attention.
The ranch was located 65 miles northeast of Douglas. To sustain their family Paul and Bessie raised cows, hogs, chickens and of course, horses. They planted a large garden every year and Bessie would can meat and vegetables for the winter. They stored potatoes, carrots and parsnips in bins of sand in the cellar. Bessie also made crocks of sauerkraut which were also stored in the cellar. They would make a trip to Douglas in the fall to purchase staples such as flour, sugar, salt, etc. These would last until the next fall. It was not an easy life but with hard work and perseverance they
were able to support and educate eight children. A great accomplishment during that period of time!
In addition to managing the ranch operation, Paul continued to break horses, run livestock and rode for a few ranches. Neighbors would bring horses to the ranch to be broken. One neighbor brought a horse named " Shorty" back three times claiming the horse was still bucking. Paul took a picture of the horse standing on a barrel to show the neighbor that Shorty was a gentle horse. When the neighbor was not convinced he told Paul, " You can just keep the horse as you are the only one who can ride him!"
At the age of sixty three Paul sold the ranch and moved to Newcastle, WY. in 1960. He leased the Earl Marquis place north of town and continued ranching on a small scale. He enjoyed having his grandchildren visit on holidays and weekends. He resided in Newcastle until his death on August 15, 1967.
Note: His brother Hinton came to Wyoming in 1916. Paul learned from Hinton that not one of the bullets he fired at he outhouse had struck the schoolmaster.