Relive the Old West Legend of Dodge City Through Exhibits, Education and Entertainment.

Don Rowlison – Historian

Don Rowlison Historian 2008Don Rowlison is a Sheridan county resident and native, being born in Hoxie, Kansas on March 18, 1950 to Johnny and Elda (Barr) Rowlison. Don is a fourth generation cowboy in Kansas and he grew up with cowboys while his father operated a feed store. After attending school in Hoxie he went to Colby Community College and later to Western State College of Colorado in Gunnison. He transferred to Kansas State University where in 1972 he obtained a B.S. in Anthropology with an emphasis on Archeology. In 1973 he went to work for the Kansas State Historical Society as an archeologist. After a stint of managing a ranch in the Flint Hills, he returned to doing archeological work for the KSHS. In 1976 he received a Master’s in Education from Kansas State and became a project archeologist for the KSHS until 1980 when he became the first State Public Archeologist for Kansas. In May of 1985 he married Pratt, Kansas native Mellanie Nossaman who also studied archeology at Kansas State. They have a son Ian who was born in October 1993. He has been at the Cottonwood Ranch State Historic Site in Sheridan County since 1985 and is currently Site Curator. Don has spent many hours in the saddle as a working cowboy at the Historic Site and in the Flint Hills. He was first a cowboy and later developed an interest in cowboy history during his University studies. He is a member of the Friends of Cottonwood Ranch and the Morland Community Foundation. He coordinates the Annual Sheep Dog Trials, the Barbeque Contest, Christmas at Cottonwood and the Cottonwood Ranch Trail Ride.

Year inducted: 2008

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Bill Kurtis – Cowboy Historian

Bill Kurtis Cowboy Historian 2007“For God’s sake, take cover!” (warning viewers of the 1966 Topeka tornado)

Bill Kurtis was born on Sept. 21, 1940 to Wilma M. and William A. Kurtis in Pensacola, FL where his father was a Marine Corps general. After his father’s service the family settled in Independence, KS. Bill first broadcast at KIND-AM radio at Independence Junior College. He graduated from the University of Kansas in 1962 with a B.S. in Journalism. He obtained a Juris Doctor in 1966 at Washburn University School of Law. Bill began his TV career anchoring at WIBW-TV in Topeka. In 1966 he gained prominence when a tornado hit the capital city. After warning his viewers, he stayed on the air for 24 hours covering the devastation. He soon headed for Chicago to work at WBBM-TV News where he moved into the anchor position. In 1982 he joined network TV as anchor on the CBS Morning News. Three years later he returned to Chicago to produce documentaries for the Peabody Award winning series The New Explorers and to serve as anchorman for WBBM-TV until 1996. In 1990 he started Kurtis Productions, which produces shows for the A&E network. Bill frequently hosts and narrates on A&E for Cold Case Files and American Justice. During his career Bill has received numerous honors and awards, including over 20 Emmys, the Cable Ace Award, a Wrangler Award from the National Cowboy Hall of Fame, the Thurgood Marshall Award, a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Chicago International TV Awards, the Illinois Broadcasters Association Hall of Fame in 1998 and the Kansas Association of Broadcasters 2003 Hall of Fame Award. Since the early 2000’s Kurtis has been active in the promotion and raising of grass-fed beef. He owns the 10,000 acre Red Buffalo Ranch in southeast Kansas and founded the Tallgrass Beef Company.

Year inducted: 2007

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Harry E. Chrisman – Cowboy Historian

Harold E Chrisman Cowboy Historian 2006Harry E. Chrisman, 2006 Cowboy Historian was born on his father’s ranch near Lillian in Custer County, Nebraska on February 7, 1906. He attended school in Broken Bow and graduated from Scottsbluff, Nebraska High School in 1921. On October 20, 1942 he married Catherine Bell in Scottsbluff. Later that year he joined the U.S. Army and served in the Pacific Theater, being discharged in 1945. After the war, he studied at the Rochester (New York) Institute of Technology, where he later received an Alumni Achievement Award, and he attended the University of Denver. In 1947 he worked briefly as a salesman for the Delta County Independent of Colorado. In 1948 he began selling ads for the Southwest Daily Times in Liberal. Chrisman wrote his first book Lost Trails of the Cimarron in 1961, which topped The Western Writers of America Rating Sheet. He retired in 1965 from the newspaper business and moved to Lakewood, Colorado to write full-time. His specialty was non-fiction westerns; writing, or collaborating on, eleven books. Another book to be rated first by the WWA was The Ladder of Rivers, The Story of I.P. (Print) Olive in 1962. Two other of his notable books were The 1001 Most-Asked Questions About the American West, 1982; and Tales of the Western Heartland, 1984. On December 17, 1993 Harry E. Chrisman died at the age of 87. His life was colorful, as he had many occupations. Among them were horse-wrangling, working as a cowhand, employment as a telephone lineman, working shipping clerk and being salesman.

Year inducted: 2006

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C. Robert Haywood – Cowboy Historian

C Robert Haywood Cowboy Historian 2005C. Robert Haywood is the 2005 Cowboy Historian

“He has lifted his discussion far beyond the level of local history and has made an important contribution not only to our knowledge of Victorian life and culture, but to American social history as well.” – Michael B. Husband describing C. Robert Haywood.

C. Robert Haywood, a third generation Kansas resident was born August 27, 1921. Robert grew up on his parent’s, C.O. and Elsie Haywood’s, farm in Ford County. He attended classes in a one-room school house, located a little over a mile from the family’s farm near Fowler, Kansas. In 1939, he graduated from Fowler High School. After graduation, Haywood moved to Wichita, Kansas and California; but soon returned home. In 1943, Robert married his wife Marie. While living on the farm, Robert attended Dodge City Junior College, where he earned his Associates Degree before entering the United States Navy.  Enlisted as a Navy Medical Corpsman, Haywood served on the U.S.S. Auburn, primarily in the South Pacific and Iwo Jima. After finishing his tour of duty, Robert studied at Kansas University receiving his Bachelor of Arts in 1947 and Masters Degree in 1948. That same year, he began teaching at Southwestern College in Winfield, Kansas, while pursuing his Doctorate Degree from the University of North Carolina. Haywood wrote his thesis on “Colonial Mercantilism”. Robert continued to work at Southwestern College, eventually becoming Dean, until 1956 when he moved with his family to Decatur, Illinois to become Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Millikin University. In 1969, he relocated to Topeka working for Washburn University, as Vice President of Academic Affairs and Dean. A teacher first, Haywood returned to the classroom at Washburn, as a professor of history, for several years before his retirement in 1988. During his academic career, Haywood published nine books and over a hundred articles dealing with: the history of Dodge City, Victorian customs and society, Kansas history, humanities and economy, and a work of western fiction. The Kansas Authors’ Club awarded Haywood’s work of fiction, The Preacher’s Son, their annual Coffin Award in 1987. Three years later, his book The Victorian West won the Western History Association’s Best Non-Fiction Book Award. Dodge City Community College honored Haywood as an Outstanding Alumni recipient. A touring speaker for the Kansas Humanities Council, Robert gave over 125 presentations about Kansas history. On May 23, 2003; Haywood donated his personal history collection, consisting of over 400 volumes, to the Ford County Historical Society. This collection is currently held at the Kansas Heritage Center for public use.

Year inducted: 2005

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Jim Hoy – Cowboy Historian

Jim HoyJim Hoy: “As a folklorist and native plainsman, Jim Hoy is committed to documenting and celebrating the lives of his fellow plains folk, as well as seeking out the extraordinary while encouraging pride of region in those fortunate few who dwell in the plains.” – A biography describing Jim Hoy.


James F. “Jim” Hoy, a professor of English at Emporia State University was raised on a stock ranch near Cassoday. Jim has lived in the Flint Hills most of his life. He obtained a Bachelors of Science Degree from Kansas State University in 1961. After fulfilling various internships, Hoy taught at El Dorado Junior High School from 1963 to 1965. He moved on to teaching at a college level. Jim earned his Masters Degree from Emporia State University and went on to complete his Docurate Degree in 1970. He served as the Chair of the English Department at Emporia State for 10 years. In 1990, returned to teaching and researching full-time. Hoy’s academic interests include Western American Literature, Australian Outback folklore and literature, and Great Plains folklore. He has published over one hundred articles and is the author or co-author of nine books. The University of Oklahoma Press published one of Jim’s works, Cowboys and Kansas: Stories from the Tallgrass Prairie. His chief interest is the folklore of ranching, both historical and contemporary, with a special emphasis on the Great Plains and particularly the Flint Hills. Hoy gives lectures and programs for school, community and professional groups throughout the region. Since 1983, he has written a weekly newspaper column titled “Plains Folk”. In 1996, the Library of Congress appointed Jim to their Board of Trustees of the American Folklife Center. Jim’s research has taken him onto the back roads of the American West and tracks of the Australian brush to discover cattle guards, hay barracks, folk songs and old-timers willing to talk about the way things were.

Year inducted: 2004

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Jim Gray – Cowboy Historian

“Never Sell Yer Saddle”Jim Gray

Jim Gray is a fourth generation rancher. Gray’s Ranch, a cow/calf operation, is located near Geneseo. In 1990, he created the Legacy Trail, a self-guided auto tour for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which includes seventeen scenic and historic sites. Continuing to encourage the preservation of Kansas history, Gray started the Drovers Mercantile in 1995, as well as the C.O.W.B.O.Y. Society in 1996, which publishes the Kansas Cowboy newspaper six times a year. In the fall of 2002, Jim Gray recorded “Around the Campfire with the Cowboy, Kansas Cattle Towns” as a way to promote and preserve the “cowboy way” of Kansas History.

Year inducted: 2003

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Don Goodnight – Cowboy Historian

Don Goodnight Cowboy Historian 2002“I’m kind of a cowboy historian of the cattle trails and all of the Goodnight history.”

Don Goodnight (Cowboy Historian), ancestor of the famed Charles Goodnight of the Goodnight Loving Trail Drive, was the first Cowboy Historian inducted into the Kansas Cowboy Hall of Fame. Born and raised on the plains of Meade and Clark Counties, Don dreamed of life filled with ranching, farming and flying. As a man, Don made those dreams a reality, as well as realizing the importance of collecting and preserving tools utilized by 19th century cowboys. Throughout his life, Don lived the “Cowboy Way” and upheld the “Code of the West”. He served as President of the Meade County Historical Society, Honorary Life President of the Old Trail Drivers Association, and as the “keeper of the flame” in knowledge of the history, heritage and traditions of the west. An avid pilot, he trained more than 200 pilots, including his own children. Don Goodnight’s accomplishments include that of rancher, pilot, author, and historian. He was also a humanitarian, futurist with Christian values that extended to his family. But above all Don Goodnight was a cowboy.

Year inducted: 2002

Be sure to read some of our articles on other Cowboy Historians