The Night 101 Ranch Died

The 101 Ranch had been losing money, so in the final days of January 1929, George Lee Miller drove four hundred thirty miles and inspected a wellsite south of Lubbock. After a seven-hour return trip, George stopped in Ponca City. His cronies were already at the Arcade Hotel for an evening of booze, pitch and shooting the breeze.

Jackie McFarlin Laird, who had divided her youth between cooking at the Arcade and trick riding for the 101 Ranch Wild West Show, walked home from a movie that evening, stopped at the hotel, and chatted with George, Lew Wentz and Will Rogers.

One of Oklahoma’s most treacherous winter storms arrived in the wee hours of February 2 and coated the roads with rain, sleet and snow. “George turned to Mr. Wentz and told him he better go home, but Mr. Wentz said he guessed (George) better stay in town,” Jackie remembered. Always the gambler, George unwisely bet his pals he could drive 16 miles to the ranch in record time. He would call when he got there.

About 2 a.m., George folded into the driver’s seat and lost his final wager. His two-ton Lincoln Model L Towncar was built for speed and comfort: aluminum body, 385 V-8, all-wheel brakes, dual-folding windshields, two spare tires mounted ahead of the front doors. However, no car was equipped for ice. 

After two miles, the roadster skidded on the frozen curve at Odd Fellows Cemetery and overturned southwest of Ponca City. George was ejected. The front wheel pinned his head. He was found two hours later, and died on the way to the hospital. 

George had been there in 1911, at Willie Cries for War No. 1, when E.W. Marland brought in the oil well that had started the Black Gold rush to north central Oklahoma. Chief White Eagle had predicted – some called it a curse – “Bad medicine, for you, me, and my people. Trouble.”

Joe and George Miller were dead. Marland Oil was gone, the 101 Ranch would soon see its final day. 

The author, Gary Robert Pinnell, will give an autographed copy of the forthcoming book, The Madness of E.W. and Lydie Marland. Register at Visit for more Marland news. Follow these posts on Facebook and convince New York publishers to print this book.