Milo Burlingame

Another of the colorful characters who comprised the early town of Cheyenne was Milo Burlingame.  Milo was born about 1872 in Illinois.  His father was E. S. Burlingame who was born in 1828 in New York.  Little is known about his mother.  We do know that his mother had died or his mother and father had divorced prior to 1893 because in that year E. S. married Mrs. M. B. Adams at Canadian, Texas.  E. S. died on Nov. 13, 1907 and was buried in the Canadian, Texas Cemetery.  E. S. was survived by Milo, and a daughter, Mrs. Travis of Montana. Apparently their  mother was also living there because according to an April 1907 report in the Cheyenne Star that Milo had gone to Miles City, Montana due to the serious illness of his mother.

It is possible that E. S. Burlingame, his wife and any family they might have had, were living in South Haven, Michigan in 1866 as there are IRS records showing a Mrs. E. S. Burlingame holding a liquor license at that place that year.  Upon reflection of this fact and from the results of other facts learned from sources on the internet, I believe there is no close relation of these Burlingames and Milo, the subject of this article.  I leave this information in place for future researchers to decide.  If his parents were in the retail liquor business, Milo probably grew up learning this business and followed his parents in vocations.  His parents would have moved to Illinois before Milo was born there in 1872.  This is all purely conjecture, but it fits.

The 1900 census states that the father of Milo was born in Pennsylvania and his mother was born in New York.  Milo’s wife, Minnie, was born in Texas.

Milo married Minnie Milligan and they had a daughter who died in 1899 at Canadian, Texas at the age of 2 ½ years.  Her body was returned to Cheyenne and she was buried at the Cheyenne Cemetery.  They had a son, Paul who was born in Cheyenne in 1899 and lived in California for a period of time before dying and being buried at Santa Fe National Cemetery in 1969.  They also had a daughter Lily Belle who attended the 1957 Old Settlers Reunion with her family.  Little more is known about her.

The E. S. Burlingame family moved to the Clarendon area of the Texas panhandle in 1877.  It is recorded that E. S. was a well digger.

It is not certain when Milo first moved to Cheyenne from Mobeetie, Texas, but it was prior to March of 1895, as that is the first time Milo is mentioned in the Cheyenne Sunbeam newspaper.  He and Minnie Milligan married about one year later, in February of 1896.   Minnie had two sisters who married well known men of Cheyenne.  Lydia married W. S. “Stoney” Duke in 1896 and Callie married Hugh Colburn in 1899.

According to the 1920 census reports, Milo and Minnie were living at Magdalena, New Mexico.  Minnie’s mother, Eudora [Nora?], age 79 years was living with them then.  Ten years later, in the 1930 census report, the Burlingames were living at Albuquerque and  Eudora was still with them. Milo and Minnie would return to their old home of Cheyenne for every Old Settlers Reunion from  the time they moved away until 1957, and had plans to attend the reunion in 1962 but he died in Albuquerque at age 90 on April 14, 1962, just before the reunion was held.

From an oral interview with author Laura V. Hamner, we have this story concerning Milo as a young boy and the telegraph office at Fort Elliot, which was located just northwest of Old Mobeetie, Texas.  This story was recorded in the 1959 edition of the Panhandle-Plains Historical Review, the annual journal of the Panhandle-Plains Historical Society.

“Telegrams were primarily of a military nature but because of the isolation of Ft. Elliott and the fact that there was not a line for public use, telegrams with civilian messages were sometimes transmitted.  As a service to the surrounding territory, civilian as well as military, messages were delivered by military personnel at considerable costs to the government.”

“A boy named Milo Burlingame who lived near the post, where his father was employed as a clerk in the sutler’s  store, frequently delivered civilian messages.  Milo admired the telegraph operator and spent most of his spare time around the telegraph office.  When President Grover Cleveland issued an ultimatum in 1885 ordering Texas cattlemen to vacate Indian Territory lands in the future State of Oklahoma, Milo Burlingame delivered telegrams to Indian Territory authorities. [Milo would have been 13 years old at the time.  The points where he delivered the telegrams might have been 70 miles away.  Milo would need to have been a good rider and a good horseman to carry out this task.] The operator also allowed Milo to deliver telegrams addressed to Mobeetie residents.  Later he delivered telegrams to the distant ranches in the Texas panhandle.  Judge Frank Willis once gave a boy, most likely Milo Burlingame, fifty dollars for bringing a telegram to him when he was far from Fort Elliott.  Searching from ranch to ranch the boy finally found Judge Willis and was rewarded handsomely for his diligence.”  The book,  ”The Frontier Army in the Settlement of the West” states that it was indeed Milo who received the $50 for delivery of the message.

For a period of time around 1884-1885, Milo attended the private school of Miss Lucy Beach at Mobeetie.

In her book titled “Put Up or Shut Up” Millie Jones Porter prints a letter she received from Milo Burlingame dated Oct. 15, 1946.  This was several years following the printing of her first book “Memory Cups” when she thought she did not have enough historical material to fill a second book.  In the letter Milo states that it is a pity she did not consult him before she wrote her books.  He said there was but one party that she mentioned that was in the Texas Panhandle ahead of his folks.  Milo mentioned an Indian uprising near Wellington that started on the Rocking Chair Ranch where he was located at the time.  He sent Mrs. Porter a photo that was taken following a riding tournament at Mobeetie in 1884.  The picture is reprinted for this journal.  Milo was 12 years old at the time the picture was made.

Milo says in his letter that “his father hauled the first foot of lumber from Mobeetie to Canadian and it was used to build a saloon for old Henry Hamburg”.  He states that he wishes that he “had someone to do the writing for him as he had a lot of information.”

Milo writes, “As you know, I used to ride races for years and met lots of people and as I, by chance in 1893, went east with Uncle Bill Miller’s famous Nellie Miller mare.  When I reached St. Louis, the horsemen soon seen that I had all those Eastern riders beat when it came to getting away from the post and the trainer of that famous old horse, Peter McCue, came to me and engaged me to ride him, and I was proud to get the chance to ride him.  If he would have known it, I would have rode him for nothing.  I rode him every race he run until I turned that fall for good old Texas.”

“They asked me how I learned to get away from the post so well.  I told them that if they had run as many matched cowpony races as I had at Old Mobeetie they would learn to leave in the lead or no go.”

“I said when I was riding Peter McCue that some time, if I ever got enough money I would own him.  After a few years, when he was sixteen years old and had a broken leg, I gave $10,000 [at the turn of the century $10,000 was a lot of money] for him and when he was 21years old, I sold him to that famous old horseman, Coke Robards, of Hoden, Colorado.”  Some reports state that Milo only paid $5,000 for Peter McCue.  Was Milo one to embellish his story?

Milo then tells of his days of working for the Rocking Chair Ranch in Collingsworth County, hired more to ride races for them than to work.  Milo was small of stature and a splendid rider.  Both of Milo’s parents were small people, having been described that it would take the two of them to make one normal person.  Milo tells of his early days in the panhandle, dating back to 1879 or 1880, first at old Clarendon, then to Fort Elliott and Mobeetie, race riding and experiences with quarter horses.

His letter informs the reader of Milo’s activities during his later years.  “As I have said, I rode old Peter McCue, the greatest quarter horse that ever lived.  After owning him and scattering some famous colts from him, I got invitations from all over the western states to attend the quarter horse shows.  All I am doing now [1946] is buying cattle on a commission for other people and selling cattle and sheep ranches.”

In her book “Put up or Shut Up”, Mrs. Porter includes writings by many other individuals who pioneered in the Texas panhandle.  W. S. [Billie] Carter relates this story about Milo Burlingame.  It seems that Milo had been working on the Turkey Track Ranch for Cape Willingham, the foreman.  Cape had a string of race horses on the ranch and took them to Mobeetie for the Fourth of July celebration.  Willingham had one he called Grover that he wanted to win the sweepstakes and one he called Clan.  Clan had never been run in a sweepstakes but had been trained some on the ranch.  No one thought Clan could outrun Grover, so the race was fixed for Grover to win the race.  When Milo saw some of the other horses in the race he decided to ride Clan and try to win the race.  He lit into old Clan pretty hard and won the race.  Willingham lost money on the race and it broke some of the Turkey Track cowboys.  Milo was in bad with the Turkey Track outfit and had to quit them.

In an early edition of the Cheyenne Star, the editor wrote short biographies of the local business leaders and county office holders.  Following is the piece written about Milo.

“Milo Burlingame is the proprietor of the ‘Palace Bar’, and is one of the old timers of this part of the country.  Milo is an old cowman and was raised in the saddle and knows more about horses than anyone in this part of Roger Mills County.  He is a good businessman, and is always ready to devote his time and money to the upbuilding of Cheyenne.  He has a nice, clean place, and his liquors are the best to be had.  He tries to please his customers, and with the help of his able assistant, Charley McClain, he conducts one of the most quiet and pleasant resorts in Western Oklahoma”.  The saloon that Milo owned and operated was located on property now occupied by the Security State Bank.

Probably the most noted accomplishment for Milo around Cheyenne was that in 1910 he purchased and brought to Cheyenne one of the most famous Quarter-horses of all time.  Price was $5,000.  This was the stallion Peter McQue, which Milo had earlier ridden to a World Record for the quarter mile while they were in St. Louis.  Peter McQue was timed by five separate stopwatches at 21 seconds flat in the quarter mile.  The May 19, 1910 issue of the Cheyenne Star records that Milo Burlingame and Sam Bowman have just shipped in a thoroughbred race stallion—Peter McCue.  He could be seen at the Tom Caudle barns in Cheyenne.   Milo stood the horse for breeding during the period of 1910-1915 seasons.  One report states that Milo sold Peter McCue from Cheyenne in 1915.

From this foundation, many notable racehorses have been sired in western Oklahoma and millions of dollars were later won in races throughout the United States featuring the progeny of Peter McQue. This later led one writer to name Roger Mills County “The Cradle of the American Quarter Horse”.  Several references to Milo Burlingame can be found on the inter-net but they all refer to him as an owner of Peter McCue.

Milo was a supporter of the community of Cheyenne.  From the old issues of the Cheyenne Star we find that Milo would contribute prizes to the winners of various contests at the county fair.  These prizes were most often a box of cigars and a ½ gallon of whiskey. He also served on a committee to explore the feasibility of attracting a railroad to build to Cheyenne.

Other issues of the Cheyenne newspapers contain stories that indicate that Milo led somewhat of a charmed life.  There are two incidents that almost took Milo’s life.  The first, published on June 14, 1907 reads as follows.  “Milo Burlingame investigated his acetylene tank on Sunday afternoon last and while making the investigation, struck a match, resulting in quite an explosion, burning him quite seriously.  The burns, while severe and painful, are not quite dangerous, but you can bet the last cent you have that in the future Milo will not investigate his gas tanks with a lighted match in his hand.”  It was quite common for the more up to date people at that time to have an acetylene generating system in or near their home or business building for the purpose of supplying fuel for gas lamps in those structures.

The other, perhaps more interesting event, took place about one and a half years earlier, at the end of February 1906.  The Cheyenne Sunbeam recorded the following.  “The storm last week will long be remembered by three citizens of our county.  On Thursday, while the snow was pelting down in sheets, Louis Bowman, Milo Burlingame and Frank Trammell left Canadian, Texas in a buggy to return to their homes here.  There was a heavy snow on the ground when they started and when they reached about half-way, the snow was between 2 and 3 feet deep and still falling in such abundance as to make travel almost impossible.  About a mile and one-half from the line dividing Texas and Oklahoma, it became impossible to distinguish the road from the surrounding country and the travelers had to go “by guess”.  They had not gone far in this way, when a strange thing happened.  Each of the three was intent on looking around for landmarks that would indicate their whereabouts, when suddenly the buggy stopped.  All eyes were immediately directed to where the team had been an instant before, but the horses had disappeared.  On the spur of the moment, Mr. Bowman jumped over the dashboard and he disappeared also.  Jumping out as soon as they could gather their wits, Burlingame and Trammell saw Mr. Bowman’s head above a log on which his overcoat had caught, and they proceeded to help him from his perilous position.  For surely he was in the greatest danger, hanging by his overcoat over a well, said to be 140 feet deep.  After Mr. Bowman had been rescued, the party investigated and found that they had driven into a well on the Bee Hopkins Ranch. Owing to the fact that a few logs and trash had been put over the top, the snow had accumulated and completely hidden this death trap.  Peering into the well and listening for some indication as to what had become of the team, nothing could be heard.  All was as still as death which was not to be wondered at, when it is known that the well was 10 feet across and 140 feet deep.  The escape of the buggy and its occupants is truly wonderful, the well being large enough to swallow them all, burying them where no one would have thought to look for their remains.  Mr. Trammell knew the well and from it was able to locate their whereabouts.  He knew that the Hopkins ranch house was a mile and one-half distant, but the snow would be beating full in their faces if they attempted to go that way, so it was concluded to strike out for Mr. Trammell’s ranch, some six miles in another direction.  They walked for hours in the heavy snow and were many times compelled to sit down, but finally arrived safely at the ranch.  The next day it was decided to send a team to investigate the fate of the horses, but the snow was so deep that this had to be given up.  The team, which belonged to Mr. Bowman, was a fine one, $300 having been refused for them recently.

Below are some tid-bits of information taken from Cheyenne’ newspapers.

March 22, 1895

First mention of Milo in Cheyenne newspapers.  He attended a masquerade ball as well as his future wife, Minnie Milligan.

July 5, 1895

Milo took part in a Fourth of July riding tournament along with future brother-in-law Stoney Duke.  Milo won one of the horse races held that day with a bay mare.

Feb. 14, 1896

Report that Milo and Minnie Milligan were married at the home of the bride’s parents on Wed. last.  Milo was 24 years old and Minnie was 20.  Milo would have been born in 1872 and Minnie born in 1876.

Sept. 4, 1896

Milo and Minnie were living at Canadian, Texas.  They lived there until the first of June of 1899.

May 12, 1899

Notice that on Sunday morning last, the body of Ona, the two year old child of Milo and Minnie, was brought from Canadian and was interred in the Cheyenne Cemetery.

June 2, 1899

Milo and Minnie moved to Cheyenne where he opened a saloon with Hoefle.

November 1899

Birth of son, Paul at Cheyenne

Aug. 15, 1902

Milo was one of several men in town who formed a stock company to put in a cotton gin.

Sep. 1902

Milo and Minnie buy the residence of A. L. Thurmond

Jan. 1903

Milo purchases the adjoining lot to the west of his place of business.  That lot previously had been occupied by John the Blacksmith.  [These lots were where today’s Security State Bank is located.]

March 1903

Milo was instrumental in trying to get a railroad to locate in Cheyenne.

May 1903

Prof Johnson has quit teaching and has gone to farming for Mrs. Burlingame.  [Could this have been Milo’s mother since she perhaps was a divorcee at that time?]

June 1903

Stockholders of the Cheyenne Townsite Co. meet.  Milo was a stockholder.

Jan. 1905

Milo, along with John Hendricks and James Richards buy the City Drug Store from H. D. Cox for $2100.

Jan 1905

Milo Burlingame has his icehouse full of ice for use at the saloon next summer.

June 1905

Milo is to be in charge of the horse races when Cheyenne celebrates July 4th.


Milo is involved in a law suit in Roger Mills County.

Jan 1907

Milo is among four men to attend the Constitutional Convention at Guthrie for the new State of Oklahoma.

Jan 1907

Milo is elected Worthy Treasurer of the Washita Aerie of Eagles in Cheyenne.

Dec.1906-Feb. 1907

Milo spends two weeks in December and several days in Feb. in Shattuck where he has a profitable business.

April 1907

Milo and Minnie travel to Miles City, Montana to attend the serious illness of Milo’s mother.  Mrs. Burlingame and the kids return home later in the month.

Sept. 1907

Milo has begun selling out his stock of goods at the Palace Royal Saloon. His liquor license is expiring and he does not intend to renew it.  [Evidently it was at this time that Milo determined to make his livelihood from breeding and raising racehorses.]  In actuality, Oklahoma was about to become a state and the new State Constitution was written to provide that Oklahoma be a “dry” state.  This fact precluded Milo operating his establishment as a saloon.  Milo didn’t think the pool tables and selling “sasporilla” would make a living for him and his family.

In later years, when the old saloon building was being replaced, it was sold to the Shotwell family and moved to their farm one mile north of town.  It was used to store hay until it was accidentally burned to the ground.

May 12, 1910

Milo purchases Peter McCue and brings him to Cheyenne.

April 14, 1962

Death of Milo Burlingame

In 1933, many years after the Burlingames had left Cheyenne, a landmark from the streets of the town was removed to make room for the hands of progress.  This landmark was a Black Locust tree that had stood in front of the Breckenridge Drug Store and had offered shade to many an old timer.  The citizens of the town had cared for the tree by building a small fence around it to prevent horses and other stock from damaging its tender growth.  When concrete sidewalks were built in town in 1909, much care was taken to build around the massive tree.  Following the removal of the tree it was determined that it was more than thirty years old and the old timers stated that it had been planted by Milo Burlingame in front of his saloon in 1900.  He had hauled it from Canadian, Texas and it was the first Black Locust tree planted in Cheyenne.

The exact date the Burlingames left Cheyenne is difficult to determine but it is known they moved to New Mexico sometime between 1911 and 1920, probably before or during 1914.  They first settled in Magdalena and later moved to Albuquerque before 1930.  A review of IRS tax records shows the there was a Burlingame and King partnership running a pool room, tobacco and liquor establishment in Magdelena during the years 1914 to 1916.  I feel that this was Milo in that he had experience in that business while he lived in Cheyenne and we know he was living in Magdelena in 1920.

The 1920 census shows Milo living at Magdalena, in Socorro County, New Mexico, along with his wife Minnie and her mother, Nora Milligan.  Milo was listed as 50 years old and Minnie as 46.  Nora was listed as 79 years old.  Milo states that he was a stock dealer in 1920.

By 1930, the census shows that Milo and Minnie, along with her mother, listed as Eudora, were all living in Albuquerque.  Milo listed his occupation as a cattle buyer and working in the livestock and ranch industry.  The California census for the same year lists  Paul James Burlingame and wife to be living in Los Angeles.   An earlier draft registration card list the birth date of Paul as 18 Oct 1899.

The Corona Maverick newspaper in May 12, 1922 had a short one liner that Milo Burlingame, Colorado cattle buyer, shipped eight carloads of cattle.  Had the Burlingames moved to Colorado after the 1920 census and then back to Albuquerque prior to the 1930 census or was the newspaper mistaken in their report?  Perhaps he was just buying cattle in Colorado.

To add to the confusion about Milo Burlingame, there were at least two other Milo Burlingames found through inter-net searches, one of them with a wife named Minnie, however there was a 10 year difference in the ages of the two couples.

The October 5, 1962 issue of the Albuquerque Journal contains an article stating that Lily-Belle Burlingame Crawford attended a meeting of the United Daughters of the Confederacy.  Another article in December of 1969 states that Mrs. Paul Burlingame is expecting two sons to be with her for Christmas, Mr. and Mrs. Richard Burlingame and Pfc. Paul J Burlingame Jr.  Also joining them would be Mr. and Mrs. Leslie Duke [ a relative of Paul Burlingame] of Truth or Consequences NM.  Paul had died on 6 April 1969 and was buried in the Santa Fe National Cemetery in Santa Fe.  He had obtained the rank of 2nd Lieutenant during WWI.

A Texas birth index gives the date of birth of a son of Paul James Burlingame, Richard Ronald, to be 3 Jan 1928.  Richard married Vera Yvonne Arrant.

A story is told by Philip Bisson, an internet researcher, that in 1889, when Milo was 17 years old and living in Collingsworth County, Texas, he was working for the Rocking Chair Ranch. The ranch contracted for 1000 longhorn steers to be delivered to the Indians in Montana and Milo was hired as a trail driver for the trip.  Supposedly, Milo kept a set of horns off one of these steers and passed them down to his niece, Mrs. Bill Harris [Lavene] of Camas, Washington, who in turn gave the horns to the father of Philip Bisson before she died.  Philip’s dad, before he died, then gave the horns and the story to Philip.  One of the questions about this story that comes to mind is “were cattle still being driven in herds to Montana in 1889?”  Could it be that the horns were used as adornment for one of the saloons that Milo operated?