Biography of Samuel C. Miller

Samuel C. Miller as we have heretofore seen was one of the Walker Party, the first to discover gold in northern Arizona. He was the youngest member of this exploring band, and was, in many respects, a very remarkable man. He was born in Peoria, Illinois, November 4th, 1840. At the age of fifteen, he crossed the plains to the Pacific coast with his father and mother, making the entire journey on foot. He was naturally a frontiersman, which may account for the fact of his joining the Walker party at the age of twenty-one years to explore the wilderness of Arizona. During the days of Indian dominancy, he had many thrilling experiences with the savage tribes, the most notable of which was the killing of Wauba Yuba, at which time he was one of the largest freighters in the Territory, owning a large number of mule teams, and engaged in hauling from the Colorado River to the different army posts, mostly under Government contracts. During this time, he had many adventures with the Indians, the principal one, as has been noted, being the killing of Wauba Yuba, the Hualapai chief, the following account of which is taken from the Journal Miner of October 13th, 1909, and may be considered the personal statement of Mr. Miller himself:

“In the early days, Mr. Miller took passengers along with merchandise, Pullman accommodations barred. He left Hardyville on the Colorado River on one trip loaded to the brim on the main deck and in the ‘trail’ wagon there were three families, and that means several women and more children. George Banghart was among the passengers, and with his wife, and four young ladies, the preciousness of the occasion will be appreciated, as these ladies were gifted with more than ordinary beauty and personal accomplishments. Mr. Miller, on the other hand, says he was ‘skeered’ up somewhat as the route of his journey lay through the Wallapai country. The trip was uneventful until Beale Springs was reached and the many wagons were parked for the night. As the sun was setting, the horizon seemed to be alive with the red devils, and it seemed to Mr. Miller that the entire tribe was in action. Suddenly, the head man of the tribe, Wauba Yuba, rode up and demanded a ‘treaty,’ saying that the horses and mules and the flour was all that was needed. The argument was brief. Mr. Miller reached for his Hawkins’ rifle and sent a bullet crashing through the lungs of the Indian, tearing a hole in his body as big as his hand. Immediately, there were preparations made to resist an attack. This was unnecessary. Being trained to know the characteristics of the Indians, Mr. Miller knew that when once a chief falls, the ‘jig is up.’ He allayed all fears and felt ‘very comfortable.’ The entire band disappeared, and from that time there was no sign of Indians on the road to Prescott. Had the demand of Wauba been complied with, there is no question in Mr. Miller’s mind that a massacre would have followed pell-mell, and the women would have been taken into captivity. The rifle that did the ‘business’ is still in possession of Mr. Miller and may be seen at his home in Prescott. There is one woman residing in Prescott today who was present on that critical evening; she is Mrs. E. W. Wells, a daughter of the late Mr. and Mrs. Banghart. She is the wife of Judge E. W. Wells, and in the 60’s, shortly after the memorable event at Beale Springs, she was married. She still talks of the narrow escape that signalized her coming to Prescott.”

Another account of this same incident is contained in the Miner of April 25th, 1866, which is as follows:

“On the night of the 30th of March, a cabin at the Willows on the Mohave road, in which Edward Clower, formerly of Prescott, was sleeping, was totally destroyed by fire, and Clower lost his life, his body being burnt to a crisp. The story goes that Clower had lost his horses and been engaged for a day or two in hunting for them, assisted by a Hualapai Indian. On the night in question, the night of the eclipse of the moon, when Clower returned to sleep in the cabin, the Indian was permitted to sleep there also, and it is suspected that he first murdered Clower and then started the fire. This suspicion is strengthened by the evidence that all the arms and provisions had been removed from the cabin and no traces of the Indian being found. Two men encamped near the cabin thinking Indians had gathered in numbers, were afraid to venture there until daylight, and they started next day, for Hardyville. After a day or two, they met with Mr. Milton Hadley of Prescott, whom they met at the Cottonwoods, and who had been living with Mr. Clower and was returning from a hunting excursion, and met the trains of Messrs. Miller and Bowers, and returned with them. Hualapais hovered around their camp at night, but none came near until Tuesday following the fire, when Wauba Yuba, the chief of the Hualapais, presented himself, bearing a paper certifying to the treaty sometime since made with him by Mr. Hardy. After consultation, it being the judgment of the party that the Hualapais meant to make war, and that the killing of Clower and the burning of his cabin was the commencement of the hostilities, they determined to kill Wauba Yuba, and he was at once shot.

“While it is doubtless a fact that the actions of the Hualapais, or some of them, have of late been strange, and the fate of Clower is greatly to be deplored and must be revenged, we think the conclusion that the tribe wished to wage war with the whites is premature, and that the killing of Wauba Yuba will prove an unprofitable step. If, after an appeal to him for the delivery of the supposed murderer and incendiary he had not been given up, it might have been well to make an example and to have taken Wauba Yuba as a hostage, and perhaps to have executed him, but to kill him in cold blood before he had time to make an explanation or to prove his innocence and readiness to aid in bringing the culprit to justice, was a harsh and, we fear, a most unfortunate measure. It will exasperate the Hualapais and probably lead to an interruption to travel upon our only practicable road (in the absence of water on the La Paz road) to the Colorado.”

Whether the killing of the Indian chief was justified or not, the result was very disastrous as far as the Americans were concerned, for the Hualapais and all of the tribes of the Colorado River immediately went upon the warpath and that portion of Arizona was the scene of much bloodshed for many years thereafter, until these tribes were finally subdued by General Crook.

Just before the advent of the railroads into the territory, Mr. Miller disposed of his freighting interests and engaged in mining and ranching. He located a ranch in the early days about a mile and a half from Prescott, in what is now known as Miller Valley, where he lived for many years, and until his death on October 12th, 1909. He was survived by four sons and a daughter. Miller was a man of great firmness and force of character. He was honorable in all his dealings and universally respected; a valuable citizen in any community. He refused political preferment, preferring always a quiet home life.



Farish, Thomas Edwin. History Of Arizona, Volume 2. Printed and Published by Direction of the Second Legislature of the State of Arizona, A. D. 1915.

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