Matt Miller’s Treasure

In the early spring of 1897, Matt Miller of Joplin was the recipient of what may have been the first armadillo in Southwest Missouri.  Miller’s friend F.D.  Bancroft of Von Ormy, Texas, sent Miller the armadillo as a gift.


Image of an armadillo via the Library of Congress

The Globe reported that the armadillo was, “eighteen inches long and a foot tall.  It is covered with a shell something like a turtle, has four legs long enough to reach to the ground, at the bottom of which are four feet that look something like a cross between a hoof and a cat’s paw.”

Miller described it as a, “land bird, strictly omnivorous and carnivorous.  It eats mice, snakes, lizards, ants, and other beasts and vermin.” He added, “The ladies are invited to call at my office and see it.  Sleeps by day and runs around hunting something to eat at night.” Miller, already proud of his gift, boasted, “It will dig into the ground faster than a man can with a spade, and when he gets in he spreads his armor out against the sides of the hole s o that a team of mules can’t haul him out.  All are urged to come and see him and it won’t cost anyone a cent.”

Source: Joplin Globe, Library of Congress

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