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Miller Ranch


Cattle ranch in Tulare Meadow, Little Bend, Texas[1] in 1867.[2]


In March of 1863, Burchard Miller and his daughter Laura settled on a piece of land Miller had held in reserve from the Fisher-Miller Land Grant[2] and established the Miller Ranch. Miller hired Jim Hazlit as foreman shortly thereafter.[1]


Sometime late in 1864,[2] Jessie Hayden began buying out other smaller ranchers in the area, and began aggressive attempts to obtain the Miller Ranch. Miller and Hayden became bitter rivals.[1]


On March 26, 1867,[2] Hayden ambushed Miller on the open range and killed him. With no others in sight, Hayden left Miller's body to be found, apparently thrown from his horse. The Miller Ranch fell to Miller's daughter Laura to own and operate.[1]


Seeking vengeance for her father's death, Laura sneaked into Hayden's house[1] on the night of April 2[2] to kill him. While she was waiting for Hayden in his office, she saw his map on which he had platted out the Jessie Hayden Ranch, which included her ranch, the Maverick Ranch and other ranches and properties covering three counties over 5,000 square miles. She hid outside on the patio when Hayden entered his office, but could not bring herself to shoot him in the back and left, but was determined to stop him somehow.[1]


In August of that year,[2] Fort Adobe posted the price of $80,000 for 2,000 head of cattle to the first rancher to bring in a herd. Determined to be that rancher, Laura plotted to have Bret and Bart Maverick bushwhacked and robbed of all their money so they would be forced to work as trail bosses on her drive for ten per cent of the take.[1]


About a week before reaching Fort Adobe, Bret Maverick discovered Laura had been behind the bushwhacking. After a confrontation, Bret agreed to stay on to the end of the drive for 25% of the take. That night, she learned that Hayden was driving his own cattle to Fort Adobe. The next day, Hayden tried to stampede the Miller herd but was killed by Hazlit in a gun battle between men from both drives.[1]


With Hayden dead and his herd abandoned, Laura and Hazlit drove the Hayden herd back towards Little Bend. They were able to sell some of the herd off at Fort Sumner along the way, and returned to the Miller Ranch with the rest. The Mavericks, unable to return to Texas because of murder charges against them there, sold Laura the Maverick Ranch. With the money from the Miller drive, the acquisition of the Hayden herd and the Maverick Ranch, Laura was able to legally acquire the Hayden's land, making the Miller Ranch the largest in the region.[2]


See: Trail West to Fury


01. Maverick, Trail West to Fury (1958), Warner Bros. Pictures, Inc.

02. The Conjectural Maverick, Maverick Trails

The Miller Ranch house, Little Bend, Texas,[1] 1867.[2]

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