August 1, 2011

Pauls Valley Indian Territory and a Man Named Frank Miller

Pauls Valley
I was going to post a new blog much earlier then this, but because of the state of our Nation's budget crisis, I'd keep the publication up. Sometimes prayers can be far reaching. Besides I have been on a long journey of discovery taking me back through time in researching historical records of place and elements of life for a book that I have not yet determined to be a history book or a historical fiction book.

Frank Miller taken about 1870
St Louis 
My quest involves Cowboys, Indians, Pauls Valley, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Texas, and a man named Frank Miller who arrived in Pauls Valley, then Indian Territory  from Winston, somewhere around 1870, though he most likely was in the West earlier. The story is an intriguing one because Harmon Miller, Frank's father was one of the first to settle Winston, in the new county of Forsyth, NC in 1849. Before Harmon's death in 1861, the family had amassed considerable property, had a hotel, brick buildings, a mercantile store, and land throughout several counties.

Jesse James
Frank's two brothers, both ranking officers, were killed in the Civil War. Frank was in the war too, and served at least, some of the war in New Bern and Wilmington - the home of Smith Paul, originally from New Bern NC and who Pauls Valley is named after. We have Frank's brothers (war0 records available, but we do not have Franks. Family history though suggests that he may have been a blockade runner.

Because of numerous historical facts an some very interesting records and letters, also allude that Frank Miller may have served on the side of the North. This material is intricate, but documented because there were many men of southern origins who did not believe in what the American Civil War was about. That there were Southern deserters who lost there faith in the war and the cause is known - the war took its toll on human frailties.

The aftermath of the war and reconstruction era, was a nightmare at best,; but southern men who had defected were perhaps more ostracized then even African Americans, and Northern deserter. Although Frank Miller's family roots were deeply embedded in his birthplace, along with the family's land investments that were able to be sustained through many careful and cautious manipulations, even the disintegration of confederate currency,  did not create financial difficulty.

Forgiveness from within the local deeply southern community which Frank Miller lived, would take many years. This was not uncommon and many Civil War veterans removed their selves, as well as their families away from the community in which they had known.

"Go West, Young Man, Go West" an unknown source quote, published in a newspaper published by Horace Greeley, became the inner most thought of many men - young and old alike. The idyllic image of growing with your country, of greener pastures, of untamed wilderness, of roots- hog - or die, and of adventure - opened up a chance for a new life, and for possibly forgetting and for forgiveness. 

By the early 1870s, Pauls Valley became known as a way station for the cream of the crop, wild, wild west bad buys and gangs; such as Billy the Kid, the James Brothers, the Younger Brothers, so the well known Bounty hunters, along with sheriffs, and the Calvery made frequent pit stops there including Custer. It was not an uncommon sight to find dead men along the dirt roads, hanging in trees, or lying half submerged in water. Some would still have their hair and other's would not. The same way with their boots, which became a must for cowboys - hoping to die with their boots on.

Gen George Custer
Frank Miller had to have "True Grit" because he operated a trading post, was licensed by the Government to,  pay the freighters who drove cattle through the rich valley and supplies to Ft Sill and other Forts within a wide range. He was also the postmaster for many years, raised several thousand heads of cattle on his spread, had a telegraph, financed the first bank in Sherman Texas, Sacremento, Ca, Oklahoma City and in Pauls Valley. (Not to mention back in Winston, RJ Reynolds and his tobacco endeavors, and then his brother in-law - George Hinshaw's bank and the bank that would become Wachovia).

But back to Frank Miller and the Wild West. By 1872, he had a partner named Thomas Green and in 1877, he returned to Winston, took care of some business, and married Ida Wharton, a prominent Clemmons Doctor's daughter and brought her to his home in the West. She too must of had grit because she bore Frank five children, two boys died in infancy.

Pauls Valley
Frank spent about 15 years, that I can document, In Pauls Valley; but the date that seems to point to the family's retrurn to Winston and North Carolina is about 1886, when the railroad came to Pauls Valley. This is also when his partner Tom Greene was killed while herding cattle and preparing for the trip near the Washita River. This is also about the time the Wild West became even wilder. Ida too, was expecting, so I think Green's death was the last straw for her.

I still have some research to do, but the story has been bubbling inside me for too long a time now and is hankering to come out. In the mean time . . . . .


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