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San Francisco Gold Rush 1849.

 

Henry Miller

Born: July 21, 1827, Brackenheim, Wurtemberg, GermanyHenry Miller.Henry Miller California land baron. 
Died: October 14, 1916, San Francisco, California

Henry Miller was born into a farming family. When fourteen years old, he had among other duties the job watching over a flock of geese; one day he walked home, leaving the geese to look after themselves, and informed his sister that he was through with that sort of slow routine and was going out into the world to do something for himself.

After spending a year or two in Holland and England, he sailed to New York, where he was employed as a butcher.

The discovery of gold in California in 1848 attracted Henry Miller with such a grip that in the 1849, he joined the early voyagers.

Upon arriving in Panama, Henry Miller, then only twenty-two years of age, discovered an exceptionally good opportunity for engaging in business, and there formed a partnership with an American; but the enterprise had been launched only a few weeks, when Miller was stricken with Panama fever — a most serious malady at that time of inadequate medical skill and attendance. When he had sufficiently recovered to return to his business house, he discovered that his partner had swamped the business beyond all possibility of salvation, so that when all the bills had been paid, Miller had sufficient cash to obtain passage to San Francisco, where he landed in 1850, with just five dollars in his pocket, and a walking stick in his hand. He was still weak, from the effects of the fever, but he called at every business house along Montgomery Street. Before the day was over, he had engaged himself to a butcher.

After the San Francisco fire in 1851, Miller leased a lot on Jackson Street, erected a one-story building, and there opened a retail butcher shop with a small stock, but its early openings and late closings turned this into the cornerstone of the Miller fortunes.

He visited the valleys below San Francisco, purchased beef cattle and drove them into the city for butchering. During these journeys he became well acquainted with the cattle-raisers of the state and their conditions. There were several large competitors in the butcher business in San Francisco at that time, and among them was one in particular, Charles W. Lux, who was soon to appreciate Miller's capabilities.

In 1857, Henry Miller visited the cattle raising regions and quietly secured options on all the available beef cattle north of the Tehachapi range, and when the astonished buyers of his competitors appeared there were no beeves to be had by them. This splendid stroke of enterprise enabled Miller to make his own terms with Lux and others, and partnership with Lux was the immediate outgrowth of the puzzling situation.

A strict and inflexible disciplinarian, perhaps reflecting his Prussian stock, he worked prodigious hours, at times 24 hours a day. He held equally strict and inflexible opinions, opposing universal suffrage, railing against the Chinese as necessary evils, regarding American youth as indolent and undependable and calling college-educated men pitiful specimens of humanity.

Miller boasted that he could walk from Mexico to Oregon and spend each night on his own land. After all, at the height of his empire he owned 1.2 million acres of land and leased another 14 million acres to accommodate one million head of cattle and 100,000 sheep.

In 1860, Henry Miller was married to Miss Sarah Wilmarth Sheldon, a lady of culture and refinement, and two daughters and a son were born to them. Henry Miller, Jr., died in his fortieth year, survived by a widow, an honored resident of Gilroy. The youngest daughter, Miss Sarah Alice, was killed by a runaway horse. Another daughter, Mrs. J. Leroy Nickel, has resided at 2101 Laguna Street, San Francisco.

In 1862, he formed a partnership with Charles Lux, a partnership which was destined to continue auspiciously through many long years until Charles Lux died in 1887. Under the firm name of Miller & Lux, as cattle dealers and wholesale butchers, shortly after the firm was established, it commenced the far-sighted policy of investing in public lands, or buying out early locators. It maintained this policy through the 1800s; its landed possessions covered an area of 700,000 acres. These lie in the counties of San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Monterey, San Beuito, Merced, Stanislaus, Fresno, Tulare, Kern aad San Luis Obispo, in California, and in the counties of Washoe and Humboldt, in Nevada, and also in Oregon, The cattle herds of the firm, scattered in many parts of this vast territory, number between 70,000 and 80,000 head. The firm had an aggregate annual tax of $50, 000, and the total value of its land, improvements and cattle is estimated to be (not a close estimate) $10,000,000. Over 700 miles of private telegraph lines connect their ranches.

Henry Miller became the undisputed cattle king of California, if not the nation and the world.

However, his partnership with Charles Lux came with a set of issues:

May 30, 1893, San Francisco Call, San Francisco, California

A FALSE RUMOR. 
Miller & Lux Will Not Withdraw From the Baden Plant.

It has been rumored that the firm of Miller & Lux, wholesale butchers, was about to withdraw from the Baden slaughter-houses. Yesterday the rumor took the form of a positive assertion that this firm had withdrawn. The rumors were absolutely false, and Mr. Miller says originated and were circulated for the purpose of depressing stocks. Said Mr. Miller to a Call reporter yesterday: "You may say auihoritatively that the firm of Miller & Lux has not withdrawn from Baden. Not only that, you may also say that our firm will not withdraw from Baden. We went into that scheme to stay. We are going to remain."

August 23, 1893, Los Angeles Herald, Los Angeles, California

PACIFIC COAST NEWS CLEANINGS. 
Sensational Sait Filed Against Millionaire Miller. 
Charged With Attempting; to Defraud His Partner's Widow.

By the Associated Press. San Francisco, Aug. 28. A suit in equity has been filed in tbe United States circuit court against Henry Miller, the millionaire partner of the late Charles Lux, by John A. Barclay of London and Gothold Frankel of New York, to compel Miller to deed them for $300,000 the Buena Vista ranch of 150,000 acres in Kern, Tulare and San Luis Obispo counties. There are several other defendants, including the widow of Charles Lux. Plaintiffs charge that Miller planned an attempt to cheat his late partner's widow. They claim that Miller agreed, through James Morton, to sell the lands to plaintiffs at $20 an acre, but that he never intended to sell them, and has used the plaintiffs and others as catspaws to defraud the heirs of Lux.

April 14, 1894, San Francisco Call, San Francisco, California

MILLER & LUX. 
The Great Partnership Suit Is Set for Trial.

Hearing of the suit brought by Jesse Potter, executor of the Charles Lux estate, and Miranda Lux to compel Henry Miller to wind up the affairs of the great Miller & Lux firm has been set for May 25. It was ordered that an accounting be taken of all the property, the referee to be appointed by Judge Sanderson, before whom the case will be heard.

A motion made by Mrs. Lux to compel Miller to lodge enough money in court to pay pressing demands, and also for the payment of the sum of $25,000 per month from the assets of the firm, was taken under advisement. It is claimed that since Miller took charge of the properly the profits have averaged $1,200,000 a year. The other side says it is only half that. The property itself is worth somewhere about $20, 000,000

October 6, 1894, San Francisco Call

Miller & Lux Fees.

In the suit pending between tbe executors and heirs of the estate of the late Charles Lux and Henry Miller, for an accounting and se tiement of the affairs of the firm of Miller & Lux, Judge Sanderson yesterday ordered Henry Miller to pay $1000 on account of referees and stenographer's fees.

October 16, 1897, Los Angeles Herald, Los Angeles, California

The Lux Estate
All the Litigation Disposed of by Compromise

SAN FRANCISCO, Oct. 15 Judge Coffey today signed a decree of final distribution in the estate of the late Miranda W. Lux, thus disposing of all the litigation commenced after her death. At the time the will of Mrs. Lux was admitted to probate the estate was worth $3,654,423. The executors now hold $3,000,000 worth of real and personal property, after settling all outstanding claims. The decree ratifies the compromise made with Henry Miller, the surviving partner of the firm of Miller & Lux, who brought suit for an accounting, and also ratifies the compromise of the contest of the will of Mrs. Lux, commenced by Jesse S. Potter. The claim of Henry Miller for $217,388 was allowed, and the interests of Azro N. Lewis and Thomas B. Bishop, the executors, and Jesse S. Potter, were consolidated. It was ascertained that the legatees of Charles Lux had withdrawn in the copartnership funds of Miller & Lux $103,608 in excess of the amount drawn by Mrs. Lux, and secured notes were given to the executors of her will for that amount. The acts of the executors in compromising the litigation commenced against the estate were ratified. The executors are allowed $40,486 for fees; Judige Spencer, $5000 for services rendered in the litigation, and Robert Y. Hayne $1500 for like services.

March 5, 1898, Los Angeles Herald

Land for Beet Growing

SAN FRANCISCO. March 4. Claus Spreckels has purchased the rancho Tesquisqulto, near Gilroy, from the Miller & Lux estate. The property consists of 10,000 acres, and the deal is one of the largest kind made ln Central California in several years past. Both parties decline to state the purchase price. It is stated that Spreckels will devote the land to the culture of beets.

March 27, 1900, Los Angeles Herald, Los Angeles, California

Fresno River Water

Henry Miller.Ships, Shipping, Migration, World Seaports.

San Francisco, March 26. The California Pastoral and Agricultural company sued Miller & Lux today to prevent them from maintaining a dam in the Fresno river and diverting water by a canal, and for $5,000 damages. The complaint states that on Aug. 12, 1899, Miller & Lux posted a notice, stating that they claimed 50,000 inches of rhe water flowing in the Fresno river, measured under a four-inch pressure. Immediately afterwards Miller & Lux began building a canal to divert the water to their land. A dam was also built in the river. The plaintiff says that the quantity claimed by Miller & Lux is greater than the entire flow of the Fresno river. Judge Bahrs granted an injunction prohibiting the diversion of all the water in the river by the dam and canal.

Miller died at the residence of his daughter, Mrs. J. Leroy Nickel, on October 14, 1916.

October 21, 1916, Pacific Rural Press

California's Great Cattle King Dead. 
Written for Pacific Rural Press

Henry Miller, senior member of the widely-known firm of Miller & Lux, intimately associated with the beef cattle industry from the very beginnings of California's history (dating from the "gringo" invasion), died at his home in San Francisco Saturday, Oct. 14. He was born July 21, 1828, in Brackenheim, Germany, came to the United States in 1847, and to California in 1849. He arrived here with $6 in his pocket.

The career of this remarkable character, whose executive genius and tireless industry amassed a principality in land rated at between 3,000,000 and 10,000,000 acres, lying in California, Oregon, and Nevada, on which graze bands of sheep and cattle beyond computation, has been variously estimated. And as if these outstanding achievements were not enough to absorb all the activities of his dynamic nature, he embarked in large projects of irrigation, grain and fruit raising, and numerous commercial enterprises, such as abattoirs, merchandise stores, banks, etc.

It has been urged that the concentration of such large land holdings in the hands of a single individual is inimical to the public weal, as not securing the best use of the land to the largest number of people depending on that land for subsistence. But it may be well doubted, considering the early period in the Coast's development covered by Mr. Miller's activities, whether the land which he controlled would have been better used, or used at all, had he not appeared on the scene.

However, Death has ended the sway of the great land baron, and his colossal holdings will now in the fullness of time doubtless be broken up and devoted to intensive cultural purposes. After all is said, pro and con, of the usefulness of such a life, no one can withhold a meed of praise from the penniless little German butcher boy whose foresight, pluck, and indomitable industry carved out a career of accomplishment impossible to any not possessed of great virility and farseeing vision. Another great pioneer has passed from the scene of earthly action, and his departure marks an epoch in California's agricultural development.


The Annals of San FranciscoThe Annals of San Francico 1855. Early San Francisco.
Frank Soule, John H. Gihon, Jim Nisbet. 1855
Written by three journalists who were witnesses to and participants in the extraordinary events they describe. The Annals of San Francisco is both an essential record for historians and a fascinating narrative for general readers. Over 100 historical engravings are included. Partial Contents: Expeditions of Viscaino; Conduct of the Fathers towards the natives; Pious Fund of California; Colonel John C. Fremont; Insurrection of the Californians; Description of the Golden Gate; The Presidio of San Francisco; Removal of the Hudson's Bay Company; Resolutions concerning gambling; General Effects of the Gold Discoveries; Third Great Fire; Immigration diminished; The Chinese in California; Clipper Ships; Increase of population; and Commercial depression.

San Francisco, You're History!
Politicians, Proselytizers, Paramours, and Performers Who Helped Create California's Wildest City
Politicians, Proselytizers, Paramours, Performers.
Early San Francisco.California Performers.
J. Kingston Pierce
Seattle-based freelance writer Pierce presents a fascinating view of a variety of colorful people and events that have molded the unique environment of San Francisco. He chronicles historical highlights along with a focus on current issues. Pierce touches on the gold rush, earthquakes, and fires and introduces the lives of politicians, millionaires, criminals, and eccentrics. Pierce sparks the imagination in relating the stories of yesterday to today.

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Sources: As noted on entries and through research centers including National Archives, San Bruno, California; San Francisco Main Library History Collection; Maritime Library, San Francisco, California, various Maritime Museums around the world.

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