ARTICLE ABOUT EUGENE BARTLETT MILLETT
AS A CATTLEMAN
Northern men usually obtain the contracts [with the United States Government] to furnish the Indians with beef, and they contract with Southern drovers to furnish the cattle delivered at, or near the various agencies, at which the Government turns over other supplies, such as flour, meal, bacon, blankets, &c. It requires no small amount of determined will, and stamina, as well as practical knowledge of handling cattle on the plains, to be a successful Northern drover. Their hardships and privations are fourfold greater than are endured by the average driver from Texas to Kansas. The trail is through an unsettled country. The weather stormy and soon bitter cold winter sets in, and there are few comfortable days before the opening of the following spring, which occurs much later than in more Southern latitudes. For several years in succession Capt. E. B. Millett, of Texas, has furnished cattle to Indian contractors for the Upper Missouri River agencies.
He began driving north in 1866, and was one of the drovers who turned their herds east from Baxter Springs along the Arkansas line around or past the blockaded districts of Missouri. On reaching the Mississippi river his cattle were too poor in flesh to put upon the market, and not meeting a Northern feeder to whom he could dispose of his herd, he wended his way into eastern central Illinois, and there went into winter quarters. Buying feed for his cattle until after the lapse of a few months, he was able to sell them, but not at such figures as sufficiently paid him for his labor, risk, and hardship endured. When he returned to Texas in the latter part of the winter of 1866, and 1867, it was with the fixed opinion that driving Texan cattle north was unprofitable, and in fact next thing to impracticable. So the following summer of 1867, he was not among the few drovers who ventured to start herds northward, for of that he felt he had had enough. But when the drovers of 1867 returned to Texas and told of Abilene, the Captain was among the first to gather a very choice herd of eight hundred beeves and put them upon the trail to Western Kansas. After carefully driving his herd for about sixty days, after crossing Red river, he found himself and herd in the immediate vicinity of Abilene. Selecting excellent herding grounds convenient to the village, the Captain took up his quarters at the Drovers' Cottage and awaited farther [sic] developments, hoping for the appearance of a buyer. He did not wait long, for he had one of the most carefully selected and driven herds that could be found on the market, and it was of this herd that a certain Illinoisan selected two hundred and twenty-four choice beeves, mentioned elsewhere, upon which he essayed [sic] to get back some of his losses of the previous year, but with what results suffice it to say that, the Illinoisan's returns from that drove of cattle, good and fat though they were, were fully six thousand dollars less than his investment. The balance of the Captain's herd was sold at remunerative figures to a packer, later in the fall. So the first year's operation was highly satisfactory, and the determination was formed to continue the business. He could fully appreciate the benefits of a shipping depot to which he could bring his herds unmolested by mobs and thieves; where he would stand a good chance of meeting a buyer; or, if he choose [sic], could go unmolested direct to any desired market in the north. The Captain obtained his military title in the confederate army, where he won honorable distinction, and made innumerable friends. Indeed it would be difficult to find a superior example of a high-minded, dignified Southern gentleman than he. Quiet in turn of mind and manner, [he] is never heard talking loud and coarsely, not even to his inferiors or subordinates. Perhaps the entire droving fraternity could not furnish a better student, or one who loves to pass so many of his leisure hours in reading, and there is not in the western cattle trade a better informed or better read man than Capt. Millett. In his various business undertakings he has been at least moderately successful. He has driven from one thousand to eight thousand cattle annually, but seldom, if ever, ships or packs on his own account; always preferring to sell on the plains, and if need be, drive to any desired point in the Territories, to accomplish the desired object. He has spent several winters in the upper Missouri river country, and furnished thousands of cattle to Government contractors for Indian supplies. To Nevada and Idaho he has sent one or more herds and, after wintering and fattening, sold them to the mining villages of those regions. He is a man of great energy and integrity of character, with clear and solid business ideas.
Joseph G. McCoy, Historic Sketches of the Cattle Trade of the West and Southwest (Kansas City, Mo.: n. pub., 1874), pp. 70-73.