Mill Ranch house. Jake Mill in center, unnamed hired man on left
Last updated: October 29, 2018
October 26, 2018
Jacob “Jake” Mill was born in Baden, Germany in 1853. At age 21, he left Germany for America to escape the draft. Mill first settled in Des Moines, Iowa then moved on to Denver where he herded cattle. He also trailed sheep from Oregon to Wyoming and became a freighter between Cheyenne and Deadwood during the Black Hills gold rush. By 1883, Jake decided he wanted to settle down so he married twenty-year old Philaphena Kappleman of Des Moines and they homesteaded in Fairburn, South Dakota for the next eight years until all the free range was taken. By 1891, Jake was on the move again and next purchased land in Wyoming on Sage Creek near Hat Creek. He had spotted this piece of land during his freighting days when he often camped beside the creek, and decided he could build up a profitable ranch there. This first ranch, known as the Mill Ranch, became the center of an operation that eventually included two other ranches, the U-L and Taylorville. Jake ran about forty thousand sheep and two thousand cows. As he reached retirement age, Jake divested himself of all but the original Mill ranch. He and Philaphena had five children. George Mill, one of their sons, moved home to run the ranch when Jake’s health failed. Jake died in 1938.
The Mill Ranch was split into two corporations in 1978: the Mill Ranch, Inc. and the Hansen Ranch, Inc. Jeff and Jake Reed, sons of Carla Mill Reed, own the Mill Ranch and Wanda Mill Hansen and Peter Hansen own the Hansen Ranch. Wanda and Pete use the original Mill Ranch brands – the 38, 55 and a half moon.
The original 1923 barn and a storehouse are still in use on the Mill Ranch. The two-story house, built in 1903, was converted to a one-story ranch house in 1948. The children who live on the ranch today are the 5th generation of the Mill family. In honor of ranch founders Jake and Philaphena Mill, one of the Mill women wrote: “The ranch and its buildings stand as a fitting monument to the two founders who built and worked here, thru good times and bad, for the accomplishment of their purpose. The buildings still stand by the creek, the cattle still graze on the meadow, and may the memories of those who labored here, live forever.”
Used with permission by Wanda Mill Hansen
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