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As It Was: Bandit Loans Back Money to His Victim

Known as the “last of the Cattle Kings,” German immigrant Henry Miller owned more than 1.25 million acres of land.  He once said he owned half of California and someday would own all of it.

One of his companies, the Pacific Live Stock Co., owned ranches in Southern Oregon’s Harney County.

Historian Jeff LaLande has written the company’s initials, P.L.S.C, “soon became a detested symbol of ‘ruthless monopoly’ to many of the region’s smaller ranchers …”  LaLande also referred to studies indicating massive cattle herds converted much of the Southern Oregon high desert’s “bunchgrass-studded hillsides to far less desirable sagebrush.”

A colorful profile of Miller written in 1908 by author French Strother said that at age 83 Miller was still personally supervising his ranches.  Strother wrote that Miller was robbed several times on his lonesome travels between ranches.  One time a bandit took $200, and Miller pleaded for a loan to get home on.  The bandit handed back a $20 gold piece. 

Strother said that several years later Miller surprised the bandit by recognizing him on a city street and paying back the “loan.”

Sources: LaLande, Jeff, and Cain Allen. "Henry Miller, Cattleman." The Oregon History Project, Oregon Historical Society, 17 Mar. 2018, https://oregonhistoryproject.org/articles/historical-records/henry-miller-cattleman/#.XWhMcOhKiUk Accessed 29 Aug. 2019; Strother, French. “The Last of the Cattle Kings: Mr. Henry Miller, Pastoral Dictator at Eighty-Three.” [Published by Page, Walter F., and Arthur W. Page. The World’s Work, A History of Our Time, Vol. 16, May to October 1908. Pp. 10,680-10,683, Doubleday Page and Company, 1908, New York.  https://books.google.com/books?id=naaZD2r_coMC&pg=PA10680#v=onepage&q&f=false] Accessed 29 Aug 2019.

Kernan Turner is the Southern Oregon Historical Society’s volunteer editor and coordinator of the As It Was series broadcast daily by Jefferson Public Radio. A University of Oregon journalism graduate, Turner was a reporter for the Coos Bay World and managing editor of the Democrat-Herald in Albany before joining the Associated Press in Portland in 1967. Turner spent 35 years with the AP before retiring in Ashland.