Hollywood Met the American Old West
By Bill Platt
How The Old West Has Been
People refer to the 'Old
as the 'Wild
simply the 'West'.
No matter how what they
might call it, many look upon the
Old West as a wild and dangerous place that existed in the last half
of the 1800's in the American Frontier, west of the
Mississippi River in the United States.
Even Europeans who
dislike or fear George W. Bush are quick to call him a "cowboy",
in a derogatory manner, as if his being from
automatically brands him as being like the
that died at the O.K. Corral on October 26 1881, in
Many other people from around the world romanticize the
American Old West.
They conjure images of
guns, cattle, buffalo, trains and the simple life when they imagine
the world of the
radio shows, and movies have all contributed to the romanticism of
Television brought us Gunsmoke and Bonanza. Movies have
come through time to further emphasize people's romantic ideas of the
Movies that come to mind include Far and Away in 1992, True
Grit in 1969, Two Mules for Sister Sara in 1970, Dances
With Wolves in 1990, and
1993. And then there were my two favorite westerns of all-time,
Support Your Local Sheriff and Butch Cassidy and the Sundance
Kid which both came out in 1969.
(People love their westerns, and the Internet Movie Database gave them
the chance to rate their favorite western movies here:
People Still Think The West Is About The Cowboys And Indians
Even in today's communication age, some people still believe that
exist as it did in the 1890's. Back in the late 1980's, I had traveled
to Florida. While there, someone asked me where I was from. When I
they had this puzzled look come across their face.
After a moment or two, this individual seemed to have made the
connection they were looking for. She asked me, "So, how did you get
I was confused. I said, "Well, I drove."
She responded, "Oh, so you stopped along the way and bought a car?"
I said, "No. I had the car before I left."
could see a "deer in the headlights" moment, and then I heard her
soon-to-be-famous words, "I thought everyone in
rode on horses and in wagons. What about the
Do you all still have problems with the Indians?"
story. No kidding. It is hard to believe, I know. I would not have
believed it myself if I had not been there to hear it.
Yes, some people believe
that we still live as we did 100 years ago.
Prior to 1848, the people who lived in the
Old West were
primarily the military men and lawmen, mountain men who often worked as
trappers and/or traders, the
population, cattle ranchers and their hands, and farmers.
on January 24, 1848, the news of James Marshall's "Gold!" erupted from
Suddenly, everyone wanted to go west.
West Young Man!" was the cry that reverberated around the globe. "Thus
began one of the largest human migrations in history as a half-million
people from around the world descended upon
in search of instant wealth."
The Historical Story Of
also known as
I.T., was established in 1830. The intent of the establishment of the
was to have a place in which to relocate the Eastern
Tribes. In its early days, Indian Territory actually covered most of modern-day
was not a territory by the legal established definition of a territory for
several more decades. In the beginning, there was no government or laws
It was simply the place that was set aside to be occupied by the
1854, the American government decided that they needed to increase the
lands that could be used by their growing population. So, at this
juncture, they reduced the overall size of
Territory to cover most of what is now
During the Civil War, the Five Civilized Tribes who owned most of the land
gambled their lot on the southern Confederate States. When the South lost,
the Five Civilized Tribes lost more of their lands under the new treaties
that had to be negotiated with the victors in Washington, D.C.
Beginning with the Osage Reservation Act of 1872, the federal government
began to treat
more as a legally defined "territory".
In 1889, the federal
government finally established a federal court for the management of the
And then on April 22nd 1889, the "Unassigned Lands" of central
were opened to white settlement. 50,000 people, who were called "Boomers",
settled the "Unassigned Lands" that day.
in May of 1990,
was divided into
Over the next several years, various "land runs" permitted the various
Territory to be settled.
more information about the multitude of "land runs", check out this
The Cherokee Outlet
Land Run Of
famous opening of the
Outlet that was the backset for the movie "Far and Away", took place on
September 16, 1893.
Outlet was opened, there were 7 original counties: O, L, K, P, Q, M and N.
It was mandated by law that the settlers of each county would select the
new county name after the run. The names selected were Garfield, Grant,
Kay, Noble, Pawnee, Woods and Woodward.
The Establishment Of The 101 Ranch In Northern Oklahoma
Originally bound for
Colonel George W. Miller found himself often sidetracked into various
business ventures on his trek west.
1893, Colonel Miller founded his 101 Ranch in north central
near present day Marland,
south and west of Ponca City,
Colonel Miller became good friends with Chief White Eagle, the chief of
the Ponca Nation. The Ponca Nation is situated to the south of Ponca City,
and just east of the 101 Ranch site.
1903, Colonel George Miller died and the ranch was taken over by his three
At its height, the 101
Ranch which was located in Kay and Noble counties in the
Territory was comprised of a full 110,000 acres. It became the real nexus
Old West and
the world-famous 101
Show, which featured
in the flesh and show dates around the world from 1905 to 1931. Even the
shows at the ranch were noted to have attracted more than 65,000
spectators at various times.
Hollywood Meets The Wild West
Among the many notable accomplishments attributed to the Miller's and
their 101 Ranch Wild West
Show, was their role in the revitalization of the western genre in
first movie ever made of the western genre was The Great Train Robbery
in 1903. By the end of the decade, most believed that the western was
In 1911, the Miller's
signed a contract with the New York Motion Picture Company and its'
subsidiary studio, the Bison Company.
101 Ranch served as the backdrop for several
films, and the stars of the 101 Wild West
Show staffed hundreds of early westerns. More than 100
from the 101 Ranch Wild West
Show participated in various Bison Company westerns.
the great Will Rogers did a short stint with the 101 Wild West
Show, before moving to Hollywood
to become world-famous. Will Rogers is just one of the many famous names
that came through the 101 show on their rise to stardom. Many of the names
of 101 performers became so famous in their day that you may even
recognize them today: Bill Pickett, Tom Mix and many others.
If you want to know more
about history, pick your favorite search engine and go hunting. You would
be surprised how much wonderful history exists on the World Wide Web.
Bill Platt -
All Rights Reserved.
Updated May, 2015
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