Remembering George Miller | TheFencePost.com

Remembering George Miller

Candy Moulton
Encampment, Wyo.

Candy MoultonGeorge Miller, 2001.

In 2001 I had an opportunity to be on the trail with one of the truly gracious teamsters in the West: George Miller. At the time he was 90 years young and happy to be traveling along the Bozeman Trail in the Conestoga wagon he had built himself. George did some of the driving on that 650 mile trip, but was perfectly content to have somebody else do the “work” of a wagon train like harnessing and unharnessing the team, and making sure the draft animals had plenty of water and feed.

Instead of tending those chores, George would enjoy his time in camp talking about the events of the day, or previous years on previous trails. He had business cards that said “George Miller, too old to work, too mean to die … just driving my horses.”

George had been born in Mississippi in 1911 and came to Montana in the 1920s after finding jobs in Illinois and Indiana in foundries, factories and steel mills. Once in Montana he began working in sugar beet fields in the Park City area. He married Dorothy Kober on March 18, 1933, and they purchased a ranch on the Stillwater River in 1942 that he operated until 1947 when he sold it. He also worked in the sawmill business, and after selling the ranch, George bought a Caterpillar that he used to build roads for ranchers. He still did some sawmill work, and then began building power lines, constructing substations and rural electric lines in Montana and other western states. Eventually he and Dorothy and their children made their home in Absarokee, Mont.

All the while, George loved horses. He’d worked with them from the time he was a young man, and after retirement in 1977 he and friend Charlie Landfried built a Conestoga wagon, taking it 400 miles across Montana for the Culbertson Centennial Celebration. He also participated in the Montana Centennial Wagon Train, Wyoming Centennial Wagon Train, Great Montana Cattle Drive of 1989, the Reed Point Sheep Drive and in the Bozeman Trail Wagon Train from Fort Laramie to Virginia City, Mont., in 2001.

George organized or took part in other wagon events, and built a surrey complete with fringe on top (that was also a part of the Bozeman Trail Wagon Train driven by son Chuck Miller of Guernsey, Wyo.) He also constructed a horse-drawn trolley that was used in Washington, D.C., during the inauguration of President Bill Clinton, later used at Disneyland and eventually in the Flathead Lake area of Montana.

Like anyone who lives to be just shy of 100, George Miller contributed much to his community. He was on the Absarokee School Board, in the Lions Club and Independent Order of Odd Fellows and was instrumental in getting the water and sewer system for the town. He also was instrumental in raising funds for the Museum of the Beartooths in Columbus, Mont., and was on the committee and volunteered many hours in saving and preserving the Cobblestone School in Absarokee.

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He belonged to the Montana Draft Horse and Mule Association, which named him “Teamster of the Year” three times. He was also the first inductee into the Montana Draft Horse and Mule Association Hall of Fame in Deer Lodge.

George Miller was a fine gentleman, a good teamster and although he was born in Mississippi, became a man of the West. He died on Jan. 15. Funeral services were held in Absarokee on Jan. 20 with his family, many friends and his “wagon train” family in attendance.

We’ll miss you, George, but think of you the next time we see a wagon train crossing the land.

In 2001 I had an opportunity to be on the trail with one of the truly gracious teamsters in the West: George Miller. At the time he was 90 years young and happy to be traveling along the Bozeman Trail in the Conestoga wagon he had built himself. George did some of the driving on that 650 mile trip, but was perfectly content to have somebody else do the “work” of a wagon train like harnessing and unharnessing the team, and making sure the draft animals had plenty of water and feed.

Instead of tending those chores, George would enjoy his time in camp talking about the events of the day, or previous years on previous trails. He had business cards that said “George Miller, too old to work, too mean to die … just driving my horses.”

George had been born in Mississippi in 1911 and came to Montana in the 1920s after finding jobs in Illinois and Indiana in foundries, factories and steel mills. Once in Montana he began working in sugar beet fields in the Park City area. He married Dorothy Kober on March 18, 1933, and they purchased a ranch on the Stillwater River in 1942 that he operated until 1947 when he sold it. He also worked in the sawmill business, and after selling the ranch, George bought a Caterpillar that he used to build roads for ranchers. He still did some sawmill work, and then began building power lines, constructing substations and rural electric lines in Montana and other western states. Eventually he and Dorothy and their children made their home in Absarokee, Mont.

All the while, George loved horses. He’d worked with them from the time he was a young man, and after retirement in 1977 he and friend Charlie Landfried built a Conestoga wagon, taking it 400 miles across Montana for the Culbertson Centennial Celebration. He also participated in the Montana Centennial Wagon Train, Wyoming Centennial Wagon Train, Great Montana Cattle Drive of 1989, the Reed Point Sheep Drive and in the Bozeman Trail Wagon Train from Fort Laramie to Virginia City, Mont., in 2001.

George organized or took part in other wagon events, and built a surrey complete with fringe on top (that was also a part of the Bozeman Trail Wagon Train driven by son Chuck Miller of Guernsey, Wyo.) He also constructed a horse-drawn trolley that was used in Washington, D.C., during the inauguration of President Bill Clinton, later used at Disneyland and eventually in the Flathead Lake area of Montana.

Like anyone who lives to be just shy of 100, George Miller contributed much to his community. He was on the Absarokee School Board, in the Lions Club and Independent Order of Odd Fellows and was instrumental in getting the water and sewer system for the town. He also was instrumental in raising funds for the Museum of the Beartooths in Columbus, Mont., and was on the committee and volunteered many hours in saving and preserving the Cobblestone School in Absarokee.

He belonged to the Montana Draft Horse and Mule Association, which named him “Teamster of the Year” three times. He was also the first inductee into the Montana Draft Horse and Mule Association Hall of Fame in Deer Lodge.

George Miller was a fine gentleman, a good teamster and although he was born in Mississippi, became a man of the West. He died on Jan. 15. Funeral services were held in Absarokee on Jan. 20 with his family, many friends and his “wagon train” family in attendance.

We’ll miss you, George, but think of you the next time we see a wagon train crossing the land.