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Sep 13

The Miller Brothers in the Oklahoma Oil Fields, c1910-13

Today, as I continue the saga of the Miller brothers in the western oil fields, I am posting the last of the picture postcards the two young men sent home to their parents in rural Mercer County, Ohio.

Half-brothers Chris Miller and Jacob Miller Jr were my great-uncles. Chris (1880-1911) was the son of Jacob Miller and his second wife Margaretha Strabel. Jacob Jr (1885-1913) was the son of Jacob Miller and his third wife Christena Rueck. My grandfather Carl Miller (1896-1973) was a full brother to Jacob Jr.

Jacob Miller (1880-1911) by oil drums

The past couple weeks I have posted images of the picture postcards the Miller brothers sent from the oil boom towns in Kern County and Fresno County, California, between 1910-1911. I am assuming they sent postcards from the places where they worked or stayed at. That’s what people usually do.

Unfortunately, most of these postcards have no postmark and have nothing written on the back. I have two theories about this. I believe they could have put several picture postcards in an envelope and sent them home. Or, another possibility is that Chris and Jacob Jr collected these postcards and had them among their personal effects and the family acquired them after their deaths. That would explain why there are so many postcards with no postmarks or writing.  

I do not know when the brothers went out west, but they were in Kern, California by 1910. Chris died in Texas in 1911 and Jacob Jr died in Oklahoma in 1913.

The last picture postcards I have to show are from Oklahoma. Both brothers worked in the Oklahoma oil fields at one time or another.

Below is the only postcard that has something written on the back. It is from Preston, Oklahoma, has no postmark, and is addressed to their father Jacob Miller, RR#1, Willshire, Ohio.

The message on the back is short: Dear Folks, We landed all right.

“A drilling well in Operation, Preston, OK,” c1910-13

Preston, Oklahoma, postcard, from Chris or Jacob Jr Miller.

We–Does that mean the two brothers or one/both of the brothers and someone else? Landed—That sounds like they were traveling by boat or air, but neither of those I am pretty sure. They likely traveled by rail. There was a depot right in Willshire and trains went through most western oil towns.

Travel by train was popular and two of the postcards shown below show train depots.

Chris Miller died in Texas in October of 1911. Jacob Jr died in Drumright, Oklahoma, in 1913. This Oklahoma postcard could have been sent shortly before Jacob Jr died. According to his obituary he had only been in Oklahoma about six days before he was killed. He had been living in California before that.    

Preston, Oklahoma, c1910-13

Tulsa Special, Kiefer, Oklahoma, c1910-13

Note the oil well behind the train depot in the above photo.

Near Sapulpa, Oklahoma, c1910-13

I am not quite sure what the above postcard shows. Possibly a mine?

The Oklahoma towns mentioned on these postcards are relatively close together. Sapulpa is 5 miles north of Kiefer and Keifer is 20 miles north of Preston. Jacob was killed in Drumright, which is 28 miles west of Sapulpa. They were all oil towns. 

Next week, my timeline of the Miller brothers’ journey while they were out west.

2 comments

  1. Deborah Jones

    Thank you for sharing these postcards and info on our family.

    1. Karen

      Thanks, Deb! I wish I had even more details about their travels.

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