Tom Mix into a relatively poor logging family in Mix Run, Pennsylvania, about 40 miles (60 km) north of State College, Pennsylvania. When he enlisted in the Army in April 1898, he registered as Thomas E. Mix. He served in a heavy artillery unit during the Spanish-American War. He re-enlisted in 1901, but failed to return to duty after a 1902 extended furlough when he married Grace I. Allin on July 18th. Mix was listed as AWOL on November 4, 1902 yet he was never court martialed or, apparently, even properly discharged. His marriage was annulled a year later. In 1905, Tom Mix married Kitty Jewel Perinne but this too ended within a year and in 1907 he married Olive Stokes with whom he had a daughter.
After working a variety of odd jobs in the Oklahoma Territory, Mix went on to work at the 101 Ranch, the largest ranching outfit in the US, with 101,000 acres (409 km┬▓), hence the name 101. He distinguished himself as a horseman and expert shot, winning the 1909 national Riding and Rodeo Championship. Mix is rumored to have served a brief and undistinguished term with the Texas Rangers.