A NEW ERA
With Aubrey and Ethel’s departures, TL and Jo Ann had to
find a couple who could both cowboy and cook. Cow Creek
had always been known to provide almost every meal to its
cowboys, both those who lived on the ranch and the others
who worked as day cowboys commuting in.
George Harrison “Junior” Mills had worked as a day cowboy
at Cow Creek going back to the 1950s and at the time was
working as a day cowboy at a neighboring ranch.
Raised a Pentecostalist, Mills might have been a preacher if
not for his love of cowboying and the backwoods. His wife, the
effervescent Betty, whom everyone referred to as Miss Betty,
was known for her country cooking, especially her biscuits.
Betty, who came by her cooking skills genetically, was the
daughter of Lula Nichols, creator of the famous Granny Nichols
Bar-B-Q Sauce still produced today by her granddaughter.
To TL and Jo Ann, Junior and Betty are the perfect replacements
for Aubrey and Ethel. When TL and Jo Ann locate
the couple, they offer them a place to live free at the ranch
in one of the three ranch hand houses, a grocery account
and free gas, in addition to their salaries. Living in town in
Okeechobee at the time, Junior and Betty quickly accept the
opportunity to raise their three younger children — Buddy,
Kent and Marty — in the country. Their three older daughters
were already grown and out of the house.
The arrival of the Mills family to Cow Creek ushers in a
new era and way of doing things. Buddy Mills, Junior and
Betty’s older son, recalls his parents’ first day on the job, with
TL driving in from town to have breakfast with the cowboys.
“Tommy made it a point to go out there that morning,”
Junior and Betty Mills arrived at Cow Creek Ranch in 1970, and Miss Betty
became >> the ranch cook. This photo was taken of them in the 1990s.
An aerial photo shows the Cow Creek Ranch headquarters. The main ranch road comes in from the right, with the Raulerson house above the road on the right
and the ranch’s horse barn across the road next to the cow pens. The big structure to the left is the tractor barn, and the ranch runway extends behind it.