B O O T H I L L M U S E U M
Kansas Cowboy Hall of Fame
William F. Ebbutt
William F. "Bill" Ebbutt was born Feb. 25, 1892 in Geary County, to John and Maria Ebbutt. He went to school at the Ebbutt School on land which his father donated. Though he did not graduate from the eighth grade, Bill could read, write and do math. Bill began riding as a young boy even if he had to sneak off to do so. Later he would ride 30 mile round trips to Dry Creek to court his future bride Margaret Black whom he married on April 10, 1913. The couple's main income was from Bill being a pasture man in Chase, Geary, Wabaunsee and Morris Counties running between 3000 and 5000 head of cattle from April to October. His income was good enough that in 1928 they could rent 910 acres of farm land north of Skiddy, purchase 640 acres in 1932, and buy 320 more acres in 1938. Bill excelled at vaccinating, castrating and dehorning calves. This was before the invention of cattle chutes, so calves had to roped at both the head and heels. His love and knowledge of horses helped him much in this and other endeavors. Because he was a good judge of stock, he was often asked to pick replacement calves in the fall. Bill had the patience to show people how to do things and tried to make work a pleasurable experience. Bill assisted in many rodeo events including working as a pick-up man, furnishing stock and was sometimes featured in events. Had he been born later when rodeos were more prevalent, he probably would have been a professional rider and roper. He promoted the ranching industry in the Flint Hills by working to improve cattle quality and breeding stock, and he exemplified the cowboy way of life. He has three daughters, Helen Ebbutt Olson, Edith Ebbutt Underwood and Bessie Ebbutt Wildman who gave him eight grandchildren. He died at the age of 51 on August 30, 1943 at the Ebbutt Ranch near Skiddy ironically from a riding accident.
“My girls can do anything boys can do."
John F. Valentine
On August 1, 1931, John Franklin "Frank" Vallentine was born in the Lexington Community of Clark County to John Fillmore and Venna Eletha Irene Vallentine. He was raised on a stock farm at this locality. While attending Ashland High School, he met future wife, Bonnie Blanche Clawson. They were married on August 10, 1950. They both attended Kansas State University. He served in the U.S. Air Force. Continuing his education, he received an M.S. degree from Utah State University and a Ph.D. degree at Texas A & M. He held faculty positions at Utah State University and the University of Nebraska before settling at Brigham Young University in 1968, where he was a professor of range management until his retirement. John is a professional genealogist and local historian, and has authored several books on ranch management and family history. He considers Lexington history a specialty. Notably, in 1998, he penned Cattle Ranching South of Dodge City - The Early Years 1870-1920. It is a thoroughly researched and well-written account of the early ranches and cowboys in the area. Bonnie Blanche passed away in 2004. John lives in Springville, Utah near his three children, John, Dixie Lee Davis and Cindy Richins, and his six grandchildren.
“It was the cattleman rather than the cowboy that was the central character on the ranching frontier."
Ernie Love was born June 3, 1934, in Hutchinson to Raleigh and Mary Love and was raised at El Dorado. Love always wanted to be a cowboy and milked cows by hand at nine-years-old to pay for his first horse. He quit school in his teens and got started in rodeo when he worked for rancher Wilbur Countryman of Cassoday. He learned to ride broncs one summer at the Emmett Robert’s Rodeo Ranch near Strong City. After joining the Rodeo Cowboys Association, Love competed nationwide consistently winning bareback bronc, saddle bronc, bull riding, calf roping, steer wrestling, steer roping and team roping competition. He competed in the first National Finals Rodeo in 1958 at Dallas. Love was busy in 1973 when he placed in 64 out of the 69 rodeos in which he competed. He also participated in registered quarter horse shows showing rope horses. Ernie Love has won numerous titles in a variety of events spanning more than 60 years. During maturity, he took part in Old Timers Rodeos riding bulls, placing second in the nation one year. He won his last bull riding at age 61 and placed in a roping competition well into his 70's. Ernie was an honorary lifetime member of the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association and judged rodeos throughout the Midwest. On Dec. 10, 1996 Ernie married Kathy at Westmoreland, Kansas. Late in his life, they lived on a 20-acre tract near Manhattan. Ernie had three sons, Dale, Ernie and Neil, two step-daughters Wendy Murphy and Marilyn Ortega, two grandsons, four step-granddaughters and three great grandchildren. Ernie Love died at the age of 78 on July 22, 2012 at his ranch near Manhattan just one day after being informed of his induction into the Kansas Cowboy Hall of Fame
“I lived, breathed, ate and slept to be a cowboy and to rodeo."
Willis Ray Negus
On Feb. 26, 1946, Willis "Ray" Negus was born to Willis R. and Annie Ola Negus in Fort Pierce, FL. From childhood, Ray always wanted to be a cowboy. In 1968, after graduating from the University of Florida, he worked for a year on his father's ranch, then took his first full-time job as a cowboy for Arizona Land & Cattle Co., Plant City, FL. In 1973, he worked for Latt Maxcey Corp., Frostproof, FL where he became herdsman for a registered Hereford division. He began working for Gulf & Western Ranch, Fellsmere, FL in 1976 where he was in charge of 2,000 commercial cows, 200 Santa Gertrudis cows and 50,000 acres. In 1978, he came to Kansas to work at the internationally known CK Ranch, near Brookville. He worked there until 1984 when he accepted a position as a research associate at Kansas State Experimental Station, Hays. In 1986, he returned to Fellsmere, FL to work the same land, but this time for Sun Ag, Inc. instead of the Gulf & Western Ranch. In 1995, he returned to the CK as ranch manager where he is still employed. He met his wife, Mary, at the Brookville Post Office where she worked. Ray has three sons, Slade, Ryan and Wesley, two step-children, Becky Heimer and Kyle Neywick; and seven grandchildren. Ray belonged to many organizations including Fellsmere Riding Club (President), Brookville Rodeo Club, Indian River Co. Cattlemen's Assn. (President), Florida Cattlemen's Assn. (Secretary/Treasurer and Chair, Marketing and Food Policy), Kansas Red Angus Assn. (Board of Directors), and American Red Angus Assn. where he helped plan a national Convention. He has twice been nominated for the Commercial Producer of the Year by the Beef Cattle Improvement Federation.
“I give all the credit for my career to my parents, friends, horses, dogs, my wife Mary and the Good Lord."
Geffrey Bert "Geff" Dawson was born Feb. 8, 1961 in Abilene, Kansas to Glen and Joan Dawson. He was raised on the rural outskirts of that famous cattle town of Abilene. In 1979, he graduated from Abilene High School. His high school activities included playing in a stage band and drumming in the school chorus. He also competed in wrestling and in the Kansas High School Rodeo Association. He continued rodeo competition at the college level while attending Kansas State University where he studied Animal Science and Agricultural Education. Shortly after college, he married Dawn Heideman at Abilene in 1985. They have two children, Justin Lee Dawson and Carmen Nicole Matzke; and a granddaughter, Haddie Elizabeth Matzke. Geff holds memberships in the Western Music Association, the Kansas Chapter of the Western Music Association and Academy of Western Artists Association, and is a founding member of Cowboypoetry.com. In 2005, he was chosen as the performer from Kansas to appear on "Best of America by Horseback." In 2006, he won both the People's Choice Award and the Champion Cowboy Poet at the Colorado State Fair, and was the National Champion Poet in Utah. He was the featured performer for the "Salute to the Great American Cowboy" at Branson, MO in 2008, 2009 and 2012. He has performed for the returning troops at Fort Riley, was the featured cowboy on the belt buckle at the Wild Bill Hickok Rodeo, Abilene, and won the Best of the West National Champion Cowboy Poet. In 2010, Geff's CD, A Tougher Horse, hit #1 on the playlist for cowboy poetry CD's. In 2010, 2011 and 2012, Geff performed at the Symphony in Flint Hills. In 2012, for the fifth year in a row, he was chosen by both Purina Mills and Olathe Boot Co. to represent their cowboy image. Geff currently owns and manages the historic 2 bar D ranch near Alma, Kansas and manages the historic Illinois Creek Ranch in Wabaunsee County.
"No matter what brand you ride for, give 'em 110 percent."
Kansas Cowboy Hall of Fame
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