hill country observerThe independent newspaper of eastern New York, southwestern Vermont and the Berkshires


News December 2018-January 2019


Father and son reunited at war’s end

Maury Thompson


It could almost be a New Testament parable, but for the specific reference to “Bronco Charlie” Miller, a colorful historical figure who was buried in Bay Street Cemetery in Glens Falls.
A parable would identify the main character as “a certain father.” And Charles Miller, better known as “Bronco Charlie,” definitely was a character.

Harold “Bud” Taylor, a longtime local government official from Glens Falls who also was better known by his nickname, recalls speaking with Bronco Charlie on various occasions as a child.
Miller, who lived to be 105, died in 1955.

Like a parable, Miller’s World War I tale of searching for, and finally finding, his lost soldier son in Europe conveys a message of hope and the significance of family bonds.

The story, as reported in The Post-Star of Glens Falls on Nov. 30, 1918, even features the number seven, which signifies perfection in Judeo-Christian numerology.

Before I get to the story, here’s a little background on Miller. He was a dogcatcher for the cities of Glens Falls and Saratoga Springs. He also was a preacher.

Miller told people he was born in a covered wagon en route to California, was a Pony Express rider in his youth, drove a stagecoach in Montana, and performed with Buffalo Bill’s Wild West, the legendary traveling western show of the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Contemporary skeptics, some of whom are better at math than I am, say they doubt Miller, who was born in 1850, actually was a Pony Express rider. (The Pony Express ceased operation in 1861, when Miller was 11.) But there is documentation of his Wild West performances.

In World War I, Miller attempted to enlist in the U.S. Army, but was rejected because of his age. So he enlisted instead in the Canadian Army and was deployed to Europe with a cavalry unit. He was 68 by the time the war ended in 1918.

Miller’s son, H. Dewey Miller, fought in Europe with the U.S. Army National Guard.
The father, in a letter to his wife and daughter that was published in The Post-Star, relates an exhaustive search for his son in London in early November, just before the Armistice of Compiegne that halted the fighting on Nov. 11, a century ago.

The father received seven days’ leave on Nov. 1 and went to the headquarters of the son’s infantry unit to inquire about his welfare, “having heard of the great battle that the 105th Infantry was in.”

The headquarters had no records of Dewey, and members of the son’s infantry unit that Bronco Charlie spoke with did not know him.

“They told me he must be alright, but I could not rest there,” the father wrote.
He took a bus ride for an hour to the American Red Cross Hospital at 29 St. Ann’s Road in Tottenham.

“At the office they told me they did not know of our son but said they had a man named B. Miller,” the father wrote. “I felt discouraged and was about to leave when I thought I would like to go through the place.”

The persistent father searched the hospital ward by ward.
“In the seventh ward I visited, I asked the nurse about the list of patients, and she said there was a Sgt. Harold Dewey Miller in bed seven,” Miller wrote. “I looked and there, sure enough, was our son.”

The son had been badly burned by mustard gas.
“How he ever came out of it alive only God knows, for he is black all over and you would hardly know him,” Miller wrote.

The father celebrated the reunion by buying the son a small bunch of grapes and a quarter pound of candies -- at great expense in the wartime economy.

“Do not worry, for he has the best of care,” Miller wrote.


Maury Thompson retired in 2017 after 21 years as a reporter for The Post-Star of Glens Falls. He now is a freelance writer focusing on the history of politics, labor and media in the region.