When we last left Henry…
He had started his wholesale (meat) business on Jackson Street between Dupont and Kearny.
A break came for Henry when he met John Center and was asked to kill some hogs. Center had purchased some hogs and some steers from the Sandwich Islands. Henry Lux was hired to kill them, but Lux could only kill 6 or 7 per day. Center wanted the hogs killed as soon as possible because he was out of feed. Center was involved in many aspects of San Francisco; he had many men working for him and had a restaurant. He hired Henry to kill the hogs and provided him with a mule to ride to the Mission area where the hogs were. In three days, Henry had killed and dressed over 100 hogs. Center was so impressed that he offered to set Henry up in a bigger shop. Henry declined because he did not know the man well and wanted to be his own boss.
For two years, Henry built up his business step by step. By 1853, he had a small slaughterhouse on the corner of Fifth and Howard streets. At that time, he decided to take on a partner Zimmerman. Henry was no longer able to do all of the work himself, so Zimmerman worked the shop and ran the business. Zimmerman lasted about a year; then Henry took on a younger man named Westir. Again, Westir lasted about a year. This seemed to be the length of time that the men needed to get their start. The next person to work with Henry was Joseph Lawler. That summer, they purchased a large lot of Spanish cattle. The cattle were pastured at Guadalupe Valley, and the cattle would be driven to San Francisco in small batches.
By carefully building his wholesale business, Henry Miller had turned the initial $150 investment into an enterprise worth several thousand dollars in two short years. During this time, he had established himself as a wholesaler and master butcher. Later in 1853, he and Lawler purchased a herd of 300 prime cattle from Livingston & Kincaid. The price was $33,000, more than any other butcher could pay. This was the first herd of prime American cattle driven into San Francisco and the beginning of crowding out the tougher meat of the Mexican cattle.
In 1857, Henry Miller purchased another herd of cattle with Charles Lux. Charles knew Miller through the unsuccessful hog butcher, his own brother Henry Lux. The herd was purchased from a man named Erskin, who had driven them from Texas. Erskin was in a hurry to return to Texas, so he turned the approximately 2,000 head loose in the Pacheco Pass area while he negotiated the sale. When Miller & Lux arrived to inspect the herd, there were only 1,500 – 1,600 head left. Miller and Lux decided to buy the herd for $67.50 per head. Each man put in half of the money and received half of the profits when the cattle were sold.
Many people think that this was the start of the famous partnership, but that is incorrect. Lux’s wife was from Rhode Island and she wanted to move back. Late in 1858, the Lux’s decided to go east. One year later in late September, Lux was back in San Francisco and got in touch with Henry. By October 5, they had agreed to purchase 2,000 head of cattle from Thomas Dias and pasture them on rented land in Milpitas. This was the business deal that founded the co-partnership of Miller & Lux.