William L H Millar

On Dangerous Assignments

WILLIAM L. H. MILLAR was a faithful messenger on the Overland Stage Line. He was born in 1845 at Weston, Missouri. When his father died when he was 15, the family moved to Atchison, Kansas. Will, as the boys called him, was the first and only newsboy in Atchison at the breaking out of the Civil War, handling the two leading St. Louis dailies at that day--the Republican and the Democrat--until April, 1862, when he went on the plains, driving four yoke of oxen.

He made two trips to Denver, then quit, remaining in Colorado for a while. A few months later he was in Fort Riley as clerk in the sutler store, remaining until late in 1865. In July, 1866, he started for Salt Lake as a "mule whacker," driving a six-mule team. This train should have made the trip in fifty-five days, but on account of the Indians it was delayed. The Indians stampeded all the mules (eighty-four head) on Lodge Pole Creek, crossing into Colorado from Wyoming near Julesburg. They were surrounded for five days until Government teams came to their relief and took them to Fort Saunders. There the owners contracted with Abner Loomis to take them to Salt Lake with ox teams, but it was late in November when they reached their destination, after encountering a great number of hardships.

Soon after reaching the Salt Lake he began work as messenger on the Overland Stage Line, running from Salt Lake City to Denver. While on this run he experienced many hardships and a number of dangers. The stage company then quit running messengers on that part of the route. In the spring of 1867 he made one run as messenger from Denver down the Platte. In making this trip the Indians chased old man Godfrey, the owner of Godfrey's Ranche, also called "Fort Wicked" to within gunshot of the coach he was on. On account of delays by Indians, Millar was eleven days in making this run, and the whole trip was one round of excitement.

In February 1871, he went to White Cloud, Kansas, then the northern terminus of the Atchison & Nebraska railroad, where he opened the express office for Wells, Fargo & Co., continuing as agent there until October, 1872. He then went on the Kansas Pacific railway as messenger from Kansas City to Denver, and, on January 1, 1874, was transferred to the same position on the Denver & Rio Grande railroad. He quit the duties of messenger in November 1886, to engage in the real-estate business in Denver. In this he made money fast, but the crash caught him in the early '90's and he lost everything. In November, 1894, he went to the Cripple Creek mining camp, where he retired.

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