Monument Hill

Monument Hill History

101ranch

"This information was gathered from various sites throughout the Internet. The numbers behind the sentences correspond to the web page I got the information off of during my research. It is a conglomeration of information that has it's resources on the corresponding webpages. Please visit those web pages as the people there have done hard work in making history more available to all of us.

Paul Reeves

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Scattered across the country side on the high places the people erected a pile of stones to commemorate the passing of those who they loved and cared about in the life they led.

On and around these markers a feather, a stick, or a drawing in the dirt would carry a message recognizible only to the travelers. The Oklahoma Historical Society took notice of the markers and in 1926 asked the Miller brothers to rebuild the one on their ranch because of its historical significance. The Millers had been great friends of the Ponca Indians and especially Chief White Eagle the ancestral leader of the Ponca.[1]

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In typical 101 Ranch Wild West Show fashion, the Millers with much fanfair and ceremony erected a 15 foot tall stone pillar (called a karin). Several of the Chief's children and close friends attended. A Ponca holy man officated while the press looked on and took pictures. A local family donated and helped place a white painted concrete eagle on the top of the pillar.[1]

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Some years later in 1932 the body of the great rodeo star and originator of "bulldoggin" was layed to rest at the foot of the White Eagle Monunment. Bill Pickett was reported to have said long before his death "bury me in the hard ground amoung friends.". He refered to this place as Signal Hill.[1]

Today most people simply call it Monument Hill. Monument Hill is just a mile north of Marland, Oklahoma and nine miles south of Ponca City. It has been inaccessable for years yet vandalizm has occurred. The commemorative plaque on the pillar was long ago removed. Souvenir hunters have chipped away at Bill Pickets grave stone.[1]

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The 101 Ranch Old Timers are now making an efforts to protect Monument Hill and Bill Pickett's grave from further destruction. At the same time they wish to make the site more accessible to the public. Plans call for a rest stop on HWY 156 some 400 feet west of the monument with a walkway leading up near the grave and pillar.[1]

Several others are buried on the noll. The Kaw tribe has offered the use of a side scan ground radar to locate the others and mark them.[1]

101 Ranch Old Timers Monument Hill Project[2]

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For some time the 101 Ranch Old Timers Association has been working on the Monument Hill Project. The project is to help preserve and make accessible the White Eagle Monument and gravesite of Bill Pickett, 101 Ranch African American rodeo star.

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Today this historic site is owned by the 101 Ranch Old Timers Association, which was formed as a non-profit organization on August 26, 1976 with around 200 members. At the time of its formation, the membership consisted of persons who worked on the ranch, Wild West show, their descendants and members interested in preserving the rich western heritage of the 101 Ranch. The organization's by-laws are directed towards the preservation and renovation of the 101 Ranch and recognition of employees of both the ranch and Wild West shows. The 101 Ranch and its employees contributed significantly to the early history of Oklahoma while helping create the worldwide mythology of America's Old West. 

On January 24, 1996, the association received the deed to 75 acres of the Ranch headquarters property. This property had been placed on the Register of National Historic Places in 1973 and designated a National Historical Landmark in 1975 through the work of the now defunct 101 Ranch Restoration Foundation. Our association has cleared the overgrown headquarters property site and converted it into a roadside picnic area.

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Within five miles of the roadside park is Monument Hill. It is located on Oklahoma Highway 156 one mile north of Marland, Oklahoma. In 1927, the Oklahoma State Historical Society asked the 101 Ranch Miller brothers to restore an Indian Trail Marker on top of a knoll there.

It is five feet in diameter and fifteen feet high, made of mud and stone. These markers served as a primitive Indian post office and information transfer point for members of the same or friendly tribes that traveled along the route. A small pile of twigs or sticks left at the site would reveal the number and identity of the previous group, their destination and the date they were there. These markers were located on hills every few miles, but most have been destroyed with the passage of time.

After the renovation of this particular marker, the Miller brothers put a large white eagle on top and dedicated the marker to Chief White Eagle of the Ponca Indian Tribe. Later the area was used as the gravesite for nine people, primarily African-Americans from the 101 Ranch including Bill Pickett, nationally known bulldogger for the 101 Ranch Wild West Show.

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November 19, 1998, the 101 Ranch Old Timers received the deed to the 1.84 acre area of Monument Hill. Their goal is to construct an off road parking area for visitors and walkway to the monument and gravesites. At this time, any visitor must park on the side of the highway, scale a barbed wire fence and walk 128 yards through a grassy area to reach the top of the knoll. A fence will be installed around the monument and gravesite to help prevent possible vandalism and to keep cattle from damaging the site. Other donations and/or grants are being sought to help with this project and all funds would be applied to help pay for the estimated construction cost of $145,000.

The 101 Ranch Historical District is located seven miles southwest of Ponca City, Oklahoma, one mile north of Marland, Oklahoma and is within ten miles of Interstate 35. The 101 Ranch Old Timers have a museum located at the Marland's Grand Home in Ponca City and it draws visitors daily. There is much interest in the 101 Ranch and this project would preserve this area and honor both Chief White Eagle and Bill Pickett.

I visited this site on August 19, 2010 and many of the photos included are of my trip to the site.

© Lord Gazmuth 2012