Otto Arthur Herman Miller was born December 16, 1908, near Lawton, Iowa, the son of Fredrich William Miller and Caroline Wilheimine Miller. Otto had three brothers and three sisters. Otto attended country schools near Keeline, Wyoming. He was baptized and confirmed in the Lutheran Church. He never married.
He served during World War II from 1942 to 1945, as an airplane mechanic in the Army Air Corp. Following his discharge, he worked as a ranch hand on ranches in the Pinedale area until his retirement in 1984. Most of the time he cowboyed for the Upper Green River Cattle Association and just helped the individual ranchers in the spring and winter.
For many a year, if you went to the head of the Green River, a cowboy named Ott could be seen riding through the cows on his beloved horses, Jake and Rapid. He never missed a day, and he knew exactly what was going on at all times. He treated everyone’s cattle as if they were his own.
Ott could move more cows by himself with his trusted horses than several men could move together. If you arrived at Ott’s camp, and he wasn’t home, which was most of the time, you could check to see if he was all right by looking at his calendar. He kept a diary of everything he did along with the weather and anything else of importance. Ott knew where his cows were always, and he had an accurate death count of all the cattle in his pastures each year when he moved out in the fall.
Ott had his own philosophy about a great many things, but his philosophy pertaining to his horses had better be heeded, or you were on Ott’s black list. One thing Ott believed was you should never hit a horse when you were on the ground, and you should never pet a horse when you were riding it, but you should pet a horse when you were on the ground, and you could spank a horse when you were riding it if it needed to learn. You should never drive a horse when you were a foot. You should always lead it or drive it with another horse.
Not only did Ott love his horses, but he loved his mountains. He was always glad to leave the “flatland” and head for the mountains. If spring came late, and Bud could not move Ott to the mountains as usual, Ott was not happy until he reached his summer cow camp. Ott was the mountain cowboy, and the ranchers, who owned the cattle, were the “flatlanders.”
He fed his horses with the utmost care. Ott could be heard singing as he was tending to his horses. He did not like Verla’s chickens to get in his horses’ feed. It was not unusual to see Ott shooing the chickens off the hay pile with the pitchfork or hearing him tell Verla about her God-dom chickens!! Once, Ott bloodied his horse’s mouth with his silver spade bit when he was on the Gros Ventre. He threw the bit in the manure pile, and there it still lies today.
Ott was very capable and could make anything he needed. He could do beautiful leather work, and he made his own chaps and other gear. He was a certified welder, along with being a good mechanic. He was an excellent pilot. Ott learned how to fly when he was in WWII, and he was an airplane mechanic, too. He ran the Jackson airport when it started, and he delivered mail to the people living on the Gros Ventre by plane. He would snare the mail sacks off a long pole while flying the plane. For a couple of winters, Ott trapped coyotes on the Gros Venture with Dutch Olson. He snowshoed all over the countryside checking his traps.
Ott was a very smart man. He went out on his own when he was thirteen years old and put himself through school in Casper. Ott’s first job was riding the quicksand bogs on the Platte River.
For many years, with the coming of springtime was the coming of Ott to the Sommers Ranch. Just like clockwork, he would show up every spring to calve the cows. It was always a sight to see him and Rapid down in the field. When Ott would get off to doctor a calf, Rapid would fight the cow away from Ott and the calf. He could whip every cow but the ol’ Brangus cow. Rapid thoroughly enjoyed each little fight and so did Ott.
Enjoy your time in cowboy heaven with Jake and Rapid. Sit down and visit with Shorty, Percy, Dutch and Rex at your cow camp in the mountains. Hats off to one of the grand ol’ cowboys: Otto Miller.
Otto moved to a small acreage south of Node, Wyoming when he retired in 1984, so he would be closer to his family. Otto Miller passed away on June 2, 1990 at his home just south of Node, Wyoming.