Charlie Miller, (1850-1955), nicknamed “Broncho Charlie” (this nickname came about as a result of his job of busting broncs for ranchers), was the youngest Pony Express rider at age 11. Later, he worked for Buffalo Bill’s Wild West show. He also fought in WWI at the age of 67; at age 81, delivered letters on horseback from New York City to San Fransisco to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the Pony Express; and at age 92, he applied to join the Army for WWII but was turned down.

In this letter from 1931, Charlie (sometimes spelled “Charley”) recounts his conversion to Christianity. [The transcript has added punctuation and paragraphs for easier reading, though the original spelling has been retained.]



Oak Dale L N.Y.
Feb 16th 1931

Mr H Parsons

Dear Friend,

Your late letter I read with much joy. For in relating your friend Mead’s experience brought me in line of my early life with his struggles. I was a careless and unbelieving man and was indifferent to any thing – re the church. My wife was brought up in a Quaker surrounding and my mother was a meathodous {sic} but I would never attend any place of worship.

And one night I walked into a Salvation Army hall half drunk and sit way back in the last bench – Charley was well known by everybody that had seen my actions around the town. I had three little children than, and loved them. But when asked by two workers, one a lady that was a capt and an ensign, weather {sic} I was a Christian, I was very angry and left the hall and dammed them all. They were both splendid singers and I liked there {sic} singing. I went home but something told me that night I was wrong, and when I got home I was all put out, could not sleep. My wife thought I had had a row with someone and I never told her about going to the hall.

Some few days after that my children was taken sick and my little boy, that night, fell asleep and woke up screaming. And when he got quite, told me that he had dreamed the Devil had his papa and burned him up. I and my wife could see the fever coming. And so I called a doctor and he told us that Black Diphtheria had got a hold of them. And called another doctor in and they both told us that they could not save them but done all they could.

The next morning my house was quarantined and my wife was taken down. No help, only the visits of the doctors. And I drank all the wiskey {sic} I could git {sic} ahold of. My three children died the next night – and my wife layed {sic} in a comatose condition. And I raved and swor {sic} at God Allmighty {sic} for he had left my home bare. They put them in one grave, and my wife got better, and I was wickeder than ever.

One day when the band was lifted from the door and we were let out, my wife was weak, and I went down to see a doctor. Passing into a drug store, in front stood this same crowd of Salvationist singing, throwe {sic} out the life line. I stood and listened, tiers {sic} coming to my eyes and trembling all over. Then as the crowd stood, was asked if any one needed Christ. I broke down and then and there I kneeled down in the street and asked God to forgive me and show me the way, the life. And when the lode {sic} lifted, I was a new man and felt it too.

The crowd stood mute and silant {sic} for God cleaned me up. And men that kept saloons stood and listened when I was asked to say a few words. And when these words came to me, what I had heard my mother say, that God gave his only begotten son that whosoever believed on him should not perish but have ever lasting life. The crowd walked away like they did when the woman was to be stoned in the street. Bless his name.

I know that it is a safe way and I have seen menny {sic} people converted after that. They took me to New York and I preached, never knowing what I should say. And could have been a light, for surely God had called me. But I am sorry to say a preacher whom I knew told me that I was unlearned. And I went home and never preached again and lost a great deal of the Spirit that he gave me. And he tells us that he that knoweth the way and doeth it not, shall be beaten with many stripes. I often feel the call but since I left off I have lost in everything. I know it is so he can shut every door against us if he wants us for himself but I love him. Bless his name.

Now don’t’ feel hurt toward me and I shall do all I can for his kingdom.

My regards to all.

To my early friend,

H Parsons & Family

Broncho Charley

P.S. Don’t give up writing to me for I get comfort from you.

P.S. These last children God gave me, a boy & girl, he has kept to be [blessing] of in my old age & wife he gave back.