B O O T H I L L M U S E U M
Kansas Cowboy Hall of Fame
Jim Gilliland was born to Claude and Josephine Gilliland, August 3, 1925 at Casper, Wyoming. The family moved to Butler County, Kansas when Jim was six months old, where the family founded the Gilliland Ranch. He attended school in Leon until his sophomore year, finishing high school in 1943 at the New Mexico Military Institute in Roswell. In September of that year he joined the U.S. Army Air Corps. He flew 26 missions over Germany and Austria as a tail gunner in a B-24 bomber. After the War, he attended both Kansas University and Kansas State University. In 1948 Jim began his ranching career starting the Meldrum Ranch in Cowley County with his uncles, Mike and Brady Meldrum. Jim and Brady had a profit sharing plan with the Hash Knife Ranch shipping cattle from New Mexico to Kansas for the grazing season. These two uncles gave Jim a working knowledge of the ranching business. At the age of 35 Jim started managing both the Meldrum Ranch and the Gilliland Ranch. On November 17, 1984 Jim married his wife Paula. Jim has received awards for grassland conservation in Cowley County in 1992 and Butler County in 2003. He is a long time member of the Kansas Livestock Association and served as chairman of the Cow-Calf Stocker Council in 1989. Jim was on the Kansas Beef Council Executive Committee from 1988 to 1995. He was a member of the Board of Directors of the National Livestock and Meat Board from 1992 to 1995. He lives with his wife near Leon. He has four sons, Joe Gilliland (deceased); Mark Gilliland, Houston, Texas; Scott Tracy, Dexter; and Shane Tracy, Leon. Scott and Shane both carry on the family ranching tradition.
“You never saw Jim work cattle in a suit!”
Harry E. Chrisman
Harry E. Chrisman 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.
Carvel "Kurly" Hebb
Carvel “Kurly” Hebb was born on January 16, 1934 to Manley and Letha Hebb in Howard, Kansas and raised on the family ranch in nearby Fall River. He learned to ride horses at the age of four and rode his Shetland pony “Tody” two miles each way to a one-room schoolhouse. Kurly recalls, “Tody and I went a lot of miles together; and we got there by and by.” In 1956 Kurly joined the RCA rodeo circuit in Strong City, Kansas. There he won the bronco riding, bull riding and all around. In 1972 he again won the saddle bronc riding at Strong City, a place Kurly has special feelings about. “Strong City has always been my favorite rodeo…it was always like coming back home.” Qualifying five times for the National Finals Rodeo in the 1960’s, he won saddle bronc riding titles at many venues including Phillipsburg, Kansas; Sikeston, Missouri; Montgomery, Alabama; and Toronto, Canada. About the time he qualified for his last Nationals he married his wife Nita Ann and started his family. Kurly is not only a rodeo cowboy, but a cattleman. He purchased his own ranch near Fall River in 1961 and one in Texas in 1968. He was an innovative force in the cattle industry, importing the first Chianina heifer from Italy into the United States in 1974. This heifer went on to produce the first full-blooded Chianina calf in the United States. Kurly is currently a Gold Card member of the PRCA. He divides his time between his two ranches with his wife, daughter Kanzi and son Wade. He runs several thoroughbred race horses and enjoys deer hunting in the Flint Hills.
“I never wanted to be anything but a Cowboy and live the Cowboy way of life.”
Thomas Clinton Finney was born December 20, 1913 at Paxico, the second child of Thomas and Bertha Finney. Shortly after he graduated from Paxico High School in 1931, his father passed away. While his mother and the rest of the family moved to Topeka, he went to work for his uncle, Karl Miller of Miller Herefords, in Belleville where he looked after the registered herd. In 1934 Tom went to work for the Brian Mitchell family on their sprawling ranch near Marfa, Texas. After about a year he returned to Wabaunsee County and went to work for R.E. Adams, Sr. of Maple Hill. In 1938 Mr. Adams sent him to his ranch in Meade County, Kansas and Beaver County, Oklahoma. After Mr. Adams death he continued to work for R.E. Adams, Jr. This was the beginning of a wonderful relationship that lasted until Tom’s death. In 1940 he married a girl from a neighboring ranch, Mary Ancshutz, granddaughter of “Doc” Anschutz. Though their children are deceased, he has two granddaughters, Sarah Befort of Hays and Amy Marrs of Pittsburg, who were his pride and joy. In 1968, the couple moved to the XIT Ranch headquartered south of Plains, where they lived in the house built by X.I. Robert in 1892. Tom was always a fair and understanding boss. Over the years, so many of his employees have returned for events and stay in contact with his widow. Riding a good horse on an early morning round-up on the XIT Ranch was always a thrill for him. Both Oklahoma State University and Kansas State University sent people from other countries to the XIT to experience first-hand a working ranch. Tom Finney passed away January 2, 1996.
“All in all it was a wonderful life.”
Milburn Stone was born on July 5, 1904 in Burrton, Kansas, where he spent most of his childhood. After graduating high school, he received an appointment to the U.S. Naval Academy. Choosing a career in acting, he declined the appointment. Stone started out in vaudeville. He traveled with his first wife, Nellie Morrison, whom he married in Delphos, Kansas in 1925. They had a daughter Shirley, who resides in California. Milburn was related to well known Broadway comedian, Fred Stone. Though the family called him “Uncle Fred,” Fred was actually a cousin. He helped Milburn get his start on Broadway in the play “The Jayhawkers.” In 1935 Milburn began a career in movies. Soon after, in 1938, Nellie died. In 1942 he married another Kansan, Jane Garrison in Hollywood. Milly, as he was nicknamed, appeared in over 150 films, but is best known for his 20 year role as “Doc Adams” in the TV show “Gunsmoke.” He was one of only two actors who stayed during the entire run of the series. In 1968 he was awarded an Emmy for his role as Doc. When the show ended in 1975, Stone retired. On June 12, 1980 Milburn Stone died of a heart attack in La Jolla, California. He posthumously received an honorary doctorate from St. Mary of the Plains College in Dodge City. He was inducted into the Hall of Great Western Performers of the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City in 1981. Stone also has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. His wife, Jane, passed away on October 20, 2002 in Rancho Santa Fe, California.
“I was bred to play the part of Doctor G. Adams”
Kansas Cowboy Hall of Fame
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