Henry Miller (rancher)

Henry Miller (1827 Brackenheim, Württemberg, Germany – 1916, California) was a German-American rancher who at one point in the late 19th century was one of the largest land-owners in the United States. Born in Germany as Heinrich Kreiser, he immigrated to New York City in 1846, where he worked as a butcher. He came out to California in 1850 under the name Henry Miller, a name borrowed from the non-transferable steamer ticket he had purchased from a friend in New York. Miller built up a thriving butcher business in San Francisco, later going into partnership with Charles Lux, also a German immigrant and a former competitor, in 1858. The Miller and Lux company expanded rapidly, shifting emphasis from meat products to cattle raising, and soon became the largest producer of cattle in California and one of the largest landowners in the United States, owning directly and controlling nearly of cattle and farm land in California, Nevada, and Oregon.

The Miller and Lux Corporation was headquartered in Los Banos, California, on the west side of the San Joaquin Valley. Miller played a major role in the development of much of the San Joaquin Valley during the late 19th century. At the time of his death, Miller's estate was appraised at some 40 million dollars, somewhat less than during his prime. The Miller and Lux Corporation did not long survive his death, though his grandson George Nickel reorganized the holdings and became a large farmer and land developer. Some of his descendants continue to farm in the area around Los Banos and to operate as farmers and land developers in Bakersfield and Kern County.

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Further reading

  • Igler, David. (2001) Industrial Cowboys: Miller & Lux and the Transformation of the Far West, 1850-1920. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.
  • Treadwell, Edward F. (2005) The Cattle King: A Dramatized Biography of Henry Miller, Founder of the Miller and Lux Cattle Empire. Great West Books.

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