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The historical 101 Ranch

1 0/1 7/2010

General Information

Investigators:     Christy, Ashley, Cyrena, Gary

and Curtis


Equipment used:  DVR, (5) IR video cameras, personal audio recorders, digital cameras, geophone, and various EMF meters

Historical/Factual/Relevant Info:

Located in Noble County, near Ponca City, Oklahoma and now a national historic landmark, the Miller Brothers 101 Ranch was a 110,000 acre ranch that was the headquarters of one of the most famous Wild West shows of the early 1900s. In 1903, Colonel George W. Miller left this massive ranch to his three sons Joe, George, and Zack. During its prosperous early development, the ranch was expanded via land run and securing leases with the Ponca

Indian Tribe as it stretched across Noble, Pawnee, Osage, and Kay counties. The Miller brothers raised herds of Holstein, Shorthorn, and Hereford dairy cattle in addition to Duroc-Jersey hogs. Their numerous facilities surrounding their famed White House headquarters included a packing plant, ice plant, tannery, dairy, cannery, general store, cafe, and hotel, as well as other buildings and innovations of the era like their own telephone system. 

The 101 Ranch is credited with a number of successful agricultural developments such as producing a beef animal they called “cattalo” or “buffcows,” the animals are three-eights buffalo, three-eights Charolias and one-fourth Hereford.  This was started more than 50 years ago when the Miller Brothers cross bred buffalo and cattle on their 101 Ranch.  Other interesting things credited to the 101 Ranch were the coining the term "cowgirl," and the term “buck” for the American dollar bill.  They even formed the 101 Ranch Bison Film Company which shot some of the earliest western movies. But it was their Wild West show, which featured the famous Mulhall's and Bill Pickett that netted them fame.

The 101 Ranch is also famous for some of its most legendary and memorable stories.  One such story is that of Tony the Bear.  The following information on Tony the Bear is taken from the 101 Old Timers Association.  The Historical 101 Ranch Website 

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.”

The 101 Ranch suffered many tragedies as well including devastating fires which destroyed many of the original buildings first built on the ranch and then even some of those buildings built after its beginning for replacements and expansion.  Below is an original article taken from the 101 Ranch Old Timers Association.

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, and flood previous to the fire Wednesday.”

Cowboys & Indians

The 101 Ranch was also famous for its cowboys and Indians, especially those who starred in motion pictures, both of silent and sound and for those actors who participated in the Wild West Shows that toured the country side.  Long before Oklahoma became a state of the United States, the Oklahoma Territory was designated Indian territory. The history this area is inexorably influenced by the Indian.  Many of the tribes brought to Indian Territory became part of the 101 Ranch community.  Frank “Sugar” Brown was an Otoe Native American who participated in the Otoe Indian Circus and in motion pictures.  Throughout his career, he became very well known and is said to be in connection with the 101 Ranch.

Of the thousands of people who came through the 101 Ranch some made names for themselves. They progressed from ranch hand to show performer to movie star. The new fangled moving

pictures needed cowboys. It did not matter that they were all duded up, never got dirty and never ever lost their hats as they could always appear as the “strong silent type,” since at first there was no sound then later because some of them had high squeaky voices or unintelligible drawls. They became famous non-the-less.  Of course there were those famous cowboys of those days whose names became well known.  These cowboys’ names are:  Bill Pickett, Ed “Hoot” Gibson, Woodward Maurice “Tex” Ritter, Tex McLeod, Tom Mix and Art Accord.

Bill Pickett's perfection of his version of the technique was the source of his fame. This along with his good nature and humility made him a favorite of the ranch hands and performers. However it did get him and the show in some trouble in Mexico where such an act was considered an insult to the bull. With some effort all escaped without serious injury.

was featured in a film produced by the Norman Film Manufacturing Company of Florida titled, “The Bull-dogger”. In advertising for the silent movie, Pickett was described as, “(The) World’s Colored Champion” and the “Colored Hero of the Mexican Bull Ring in Death Defying Feats of Courage and Skill”. In 1932, he was kicked in the head by a horse and died eleven days later on April 4, 1932. Prior to his death he had requested to be buried on Monument Hill. In 1936, the Cherokee Strip Cow Punchers Association erected a simple red sandstone marker at his gravesite.

I'm a shortly thereafter but, unfortunately, a fire burst out from the basement of the house in the middle of the night on January 14, 1909, and the family barely escaped with their lives. Tragically, the family dog, Little Sol perished in the blaze, but only after heroically waking his master, George L., who was sound asleep. The cause of the fire is still a mystery to this day. Following the blaze, the family decided to build an even more lavish 16,000 square foot house atop the site of their former home, and this is what has come to be known as the "White House". . Click here to add your own text and edit me. It's easy.

Within a few years of both brothers Joe and George tragically dying in the late 1920s, the Great Depression hit and the 101 Ranch was sent reeling. The oil business plummeted, wheat, corn, and hogs were almost worthless, and cattle sold at their lowest figure. Operations at the 101 Ranch came to a halt and the Wild West Show was left stranded in Washington D.C. in August 1931. While Zack fought hard to keep the land together, he needed to start auctioning it



Sadly, all that remains of the great White House is a foundation and the floor of the first level. After the government possessed the estate following the Miller bankruptcy, they stripped down the interior of the house and sold off the contents at salvage value. Following that, the Farm Security Administration ordered the building’s demolition, which was partly a health hazard from the asbestos roof that had been added to prevent another fire. Presently, visitors are not permitted to walk on the remnants of the first floor due to instability of the structure.

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.

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

Bill Pickett 

One of the most well known cowboys associated with the 101 Ranch was a man named Bill Pickett.  The following information was taken from the 101 Old Timers Association. 

“The 101 Ranch and Wild West Show were made more famous because of Bill Pickett and his“cowboying” and "bulldogging."  As a youngster Bill would watch the cowboys on the ranch around his birth place in Texas. Good as the cowboys were at capturing cattle for branding, his attention was drawn to the dogs that helped them. He noticed that the forty pound dog could bring down a thousand pound bull with relative ease. The dog would jump at the bull's face and bite its lip. This total incapacitated the bull and he would go down with no further resistance.


Bill Pickett was born in Texas around 1870 and was of African American and Indian descent. He went to work on the 101 Ranch in 1905 and remained there for thirty years. He founded the art of "bulldogging", now known as steer wrestling in the rodeo circuit. He was the first person to slide off a horse onto the back of a running steer, twist its neck forcing the animal to the ground while biting the lip of the steer to hold them down, then theatrically throw his hands into the air.


Pickett traveled through North and South America and England with the 101 Ranch Wild West Show. He was headlined as the "Dusty Demon". Colonel Zack Miller of the 101 Ranch described Pickett as, “…the greatest sweat-and-dirt cowhand that ever lived-bar none.” In 1923, this working black cowboy

Pickett was inducted into the National Rodeo Hall of Fame, a division of the National Cowboy Hall of Fame and Western Heritage Center in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma in 1972. He was the first African American, first "bulldogger", first 101 Ranch Showman, and the first Ponca City, OK resident to be inducted. August 20, 1994 was designated as Bill Pickett Day in Ponca City, Oklahoma to pay tribute to Bill Pickett and his legend. In 1994 the United States Postal Service honored the world-class black athlete by placing his image on a postage stamp honoring legends of America’s Old West.”

The White House

Specific buildings erected on the 101 Ranch also made the ranch famous.  One such building is the classic landmark White House of the 101 ranch, also known as the Palace on the Oklahoma Prairie, was actually the third structure used as a home and headquarters for the Miller family. When Colonel George W. Miller and his son, Joe, negotiated a land deal with the Ponca Indians in 1892, they built a dugout house of lumber and a sod roof as well as an adjacent corral that remained in operation until after the Colonel’s death in 1903. The original plantation home was completed

off just to pay the mortgage. He kept hold of the White House, but the 110,000 acres that surrounded it quickly dwindled down to one. Foreclosure proceedings had claimed the land around the family house, but Zach refused to leave until an injunction was finally filed against him on June 3, 1936. In a last gasp effort, he filed an appeal bond, using the proceeds of an auction of the house furnishings as proceeds. It was denied.

Investigation Report

Client Interview


We were graciously invited by our friends from SPIES to join them for this investigation at the historical 101 Ranch.  Both our teams stayed the weekend in the 101 lodge and we owe a big thank you to Al Ritter and the Old Timers Association for their hospitality.  Visit them on the web at:

Both OKPRI and SPIES were able to spend an extensive amount of time investigating the old historical 101 Ranch and both teams walked away from the Ranch investigation with stories of interesting experiences they each had encountered.

The current caretakers had heard that the old 101 Ranch might be haunted but they didn’t have any factual proof or understanding as to why it might be.  Due to their own personal reasons, they contacted SPIES and OKPRI to come in and conduct an investigation hoping to get some answers to the questions they had been pondering.

It has been the experience of OKPRI and something that is often said by others who have conducted long term paranormal research that places touched by impressionable events or harsh tragedy from its past can often times leave energy behind as a reminder as to what had once happened or as to what was once there.  This energy in turn can be the result of a residual or intelligent haunting.  After investigating the old historical 101 Ranch, our group felt like this location housed a mix of both residual and intelligent energy.

Even though the old Ranch consisted of a huge land mass, only a few of its old buildings and foundations still remain.  Tainted by age and human deconstruction, the old Ranch no longer holds the vast beauty it once did, but its remnants from a time long ago can still be seen in some of the structures left remaining on the property.

The Old Silos

Some of the tallest remaining structures left on the property are the old silos.  Built to be strong, they remain standing but now serve only as a reminder of their past when active grains were housed in them.  Our group was told that when the Ranch was in operation that one of the old silos was used as a temporary drunk tank for ranch workers who allowed their liquor to get the better of them and although no actual written documentation was  found on this, we did learn that the tallest silo used to have a Gatlin gun attached to the top of it.  Around the old silos, shadow figures are said to be seen darting back and forth.  This same phenomenon was also witnessed by a few of our group members.  A couple of our group members even reported feeling watched as we investigated the area around the silos.  The silos are surrounded by a couple of buildings whose walls still stood erect but their rooftops and insides were no longer present. 

The Old White House

By far the old White House structure appeared to be the most interesting of all locations on the ranch property.  Whether viewing it from a distance or close up, the old massive foundation and partial gates surrounding the old foundation barely gave validity to the once thriving and huge plantation type home.  Due to the poor unstable condition of the old foundation, visitors to the old home must view it from ground level where only the foundation can be seen.  OKPRI and SPIES however obtained permission to view the basement level of the old home  since we had heard that this old white house area held the most promise for the majority of paranormal activity that took place on the entire acreage. 

One of the more interesting things that took place near the old white house was when our group was walking over to meet the SPIES team.  It was during this time when Christy was filming by camcorder that she heard what sounded like footsteps walking up behind her in the dry grass but when she turned to look, nothing was there.  This incident was also noted on video.

While down in the basement area of the white house, the group noted several EMF fluctuations which appeared to follow us throughout certain areas of the basement.  When we would go back and check for a  reading of the  EMF again, there would not be a repeated reading of EMF in that particular area.

One OKPRI member reported feeling like she was being followed and touched during a time when a couple of EMF meters were spiking and giving various readings up to .10mg.

Another interesting incident that occurred to the SPIES team while they were investigating the basement area was a rock that was thrown at two of their team members.  Both investigators reported the rock was thrown at them from open space and recreations of the event were attempted but not duplicated.  When OKPRI joined them down in the basement area and a video interview of the account was being told by one of the SPIES team members who had witnessed the account, OKPRI was able to capture a strange light anomaly on

video from the corner of the same room.  

One particular time Christy stated she saw a large white light anomaly in an adjoining room of the basement which at first resembled that of a digital camera screen lit up from a distance.  As she followed it, it quickly disappeared.  Noted there were no other team members from OKPRI or SPIES present in the room where the light anomaly was seen and followed.

While walking outside around the old white house foundation toward the front gates, several members of the OKPRI team heard footsteps coming up toward them from the dry grass and a quick moving shadow was thought to have been seen from this same area where the footsteps were heard.

Other Areas of the 101 Ranch

The old offices and general store areas were interesting in a historical nature but appeared to show no signs of paranormal activity surrounding them, nor did the old monkey cage/drunk cage area.

OKPRI had been told that the old highway that ran through the 101 Ranch which is now the active and a modern day highway  is said to hold phantom ghostly images which are occasionally seen by those visiting the 101 Ranch area or those who travel the old highway later in the evening.


OKPRI feels like the 101 Ranch does have an intelligent haunting taking place but we also feel like there are areas of residual energy.  This location is a great place and so unique in it's history!  We are also very grateful for the chance to investigate the old historical ranch and feel like we were given a chance to experience a part of one of Oklahoma’s most interesting historical locations. 

Psychic Investigator’s Comments


This location was like taking a step back in time when remembered as it once was to the structures that still remains today.  One of the things that came to me first and foremost from walking the acreage of the old ranch was Native American beginnings.  The land felt very protected and off in the distance in one of the field I saw a couple of traditionally dressed Native American standing a far off as if

watching what was taking place with those visiting the grounds.  I also heard what sounded like Native American drumming as if used in a ceremony.

I also got a few quick glimpses of men on horseback riding around in the fields.  A couple of these men were chasing a stray bull and the other men were chasing after a man who appeared to be in a drunken state.  I felt that perhaps these images were residual images from many, many years ago.
 The silos seemed to have silent eyes watching those who dared to come near them but there were no spirits that came out directly to introduce themselves.

 The white house was the most interesting place of all to me and immediately in the basement area my team and I felt the sensation of being watched and followed.  The basement area wasn’t spooky or threatening but it did appear to hold a certain curiosity by an unseen presence.  I did encounter a man around one of the corners but he quickly ducked in and out and didn’t engage in conversation.  I also encountered a woman who was very hospital.  She stated that her husband worked there on the ranch and he had authority as one of the supervisors.  She seemed unaware of the current condition of the ranch land and the house.  She asked us if we would be staying overnight there at the white house and offered us warm blankets, bedding and a meal for supper and breakfast.  I thanked her for her hospitality and told her we were just passing through and would not be staying for any extended length of time. 

Overall I enjoyed my time investigating at the infamous Miller Brother’s 101 Ranch and I was very happy to have been able to visit a location that was once a huge part of Oklahoma’s history.


evidence collected

There were 2 EVPs that was recorded during this investigation and 0 sound clips.  

There were no positive photos and 1 video clip.



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