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PENNER RANCH

Possibly the oldest family-operated ranch in Oklahoma, the Penner Angus Ranch can trace its roots to 1855, when Cyrus Harris, a five-term governor of the Chickasaw Nation, founded the town of Mill Creek in present Johnston County and began raising stock, among many other pursuits. In 1891, according to Chickasaw Nation marriage records, Harris's daughter Amanda married Felix Penner, a Texas native born to German immigrants. Penner expanded the livestock operations and early in 1912 introduced Angus cattle to the area. The ranch eventually contained eleven thousand acres, with portions in Murray County.

In 1907 at Mill Creek Penner established a bank, which his son Charles Penner managed until 1943. Charles and his brother Cyrus also continued the ranching operation. Felix Penner died in 1939. The ranch survived drought, economic downturns, and in 1948 a devastating tornado that killed nearly one hundred head of cattle and destroyed most of the farming equipment. The ranch encompasses the old town of Mill Creek, which had moved three miles east in 1901, after the St. Louis, Oklahoma and Southern Railway (later the St. Louis and San Francisco Railway) bypassed the original town. In 1995 the ranch received an Oklahoma Centennial Farm and Ranch award. At the time, the Penner Trust owned the Penner Angus Ranch and reported that the property contained nearly five thousand acres, developed around the families' original Chickasaw allotments.

SEE ALSO: CATTLE INDUSTRY, CHICKASAW, RANCHING–AMERICAN INDIAN.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: Daily Oklahoman (Oklahoma City), 5 May 1948 and 25 April 1999. "Mill Creek Cattleman Succumbs," Daily Ardmoreite (Ardmore, Oklahoma), 16 November 1939. History of Johnston County, Oklahoma (Dallas, Tex.: Curtis Media Corp., 1988). "Penner Angus Ranch," Oklahoma Centennial Farm and Ranch Program File, State Historical Preservation Office, Oklahoma Historical Society, Oklahoma City. "Charlie Penner of Mill Creek Dies Following Stroke," Johnston County Democrat (Tishomingo, Oklahoma), 23 May 1957.

Larry O'Dell

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