B O O T H I L L M U S E U M
Kansas Cowboy Hall of Fame
2016 Inductees - "Year of the Cowgirl"
Jane Koger was born into a ranching family in Emporia, Kansas on June 14, 1953, the daughter of Betty (Beedle) and Evan Koger. Raised in Cottonwood Falls, she is a fourth generation rancher on her mother's side in Chase County. Today all five Koger siblings have ranching interests in Kansas. She grew up wanting to be a cowboy and Stoney Burke was her hero. At age six she wanted a black horse with a white blaze named Lightning. She got the horse, but his name was Billy. While in high school, her interest in ranching faded, and in the 1970's she moved to Idaho. Her father urged her to read "Atlas Shrugged." Knowing that running a ranch rather than owning a railroad was within reach, she was inspired to return to her father's ranch in Kiowa County. She worked as a cowhand there before returning to Chase County in the late 1970's. She and her youngest sister, Kay Lauer, bought land in Chase County near Matfield Green that they discovered had been originally homesteaded by their great-grandparents. Since 1983, Jane has operated the Homestead Ranch named in honor of this family history. Jane has been a cow calf producer her working life. Jane also offered a program called Prairie Woman Adventures Retreat that allowed women to participate in hands-on ranching including calving, branding and weaning. This program also gave her the chance to connect with the consumer and educate them about ranching and beef. Some of her management practices changed as she learned more about their issues of animal welfare and food safety. Over the years she has learned the key to successful ranching is good range management, and her focus shifted from cattle to grass. In 2004 she started the Homestead Ranch Renewal Initiative which involved experimenting with patch burn grazing. Several universities conduct research on her ranch in her never-ending quest to try new things and "think outside the cow." Jane has been awarded the Society for Range Management's Excellence in Grazing Management Award, Chase County Conservation District's Grassland Award, and Water and Energy Project’s Model of Innovation Award. She was designated a "Friend of Flint Hills" by the Flint Hills Discovery Center in Manhattan. In 1994, she hosted on her ranch an all-women's orchestra, Symphony on the Prairie. Today she lives off the grid in a hay bale house. She believes the Code of the West is as relevant today as it was when it was written.
"Think outside the cow."
The fifth generation on a diversified Flint Hills family farm, Joyce Thierer grew up on stories of her family coming to Kansas in a covered wagon. Her parents, Lowell and Myrtle Gustafson Thierer, lived near Volland when she was born on September 3, 1949. Her grandparents grew up on adjoining ranches and her mother was a true cowgirl. As Joyce and her grandfather Thierer checked cattle from a buggy, he told her stories about her great-great grandmother Mary Fix, who came to Kansas in 1856. In the 1960's her parents created a museum and started Molasses Days, a living history festival. Joyce entered Kansas State University intending to study animal science, but history’s stories lured her to American History instead. She earned her BS in 1972. Joyce went on to earn her MA in Library Science from Emporia State University in 1980, MA in American History from Emporia State in 1986, and PhD in American History from K-State in 1994. Throughout her years as a librarian and historian Joyce has lived in the country with horses. Her historic tack collection was central to her founding Ride into History, a historic performance touring troupe. In the early years all of the performances were done on horseback. Joyce is best known as Calamity Jane. She used her grandfather’s 1900 stock saddle. Now she also performs as her great-grandmother Mary Fix. All of her seven first person narratives take place before 1920 and involve horses. “Cattle Tales,” the story of composite cattle drover Georgiana Jackson, includes classic cowhand trail experiences. Not only does she do solo oral biographies, but she takes questions in character and as the scholar. Her long list of distinguished awards includes, We Kan! Award, Mary Headrick Award, You Make a Difference Award, Kansas Arts Commission Fellowship in Performance Art, Santa Fe Trail Association Education Award, Ruth Schillinger Faculty Award, and the Liberal Arts and Sciences Teaching Award. She has been on the Kansas, Nebraska and Oklahoma Humanities Councils Speaker's Bureaus and the Kansas Arts Commission and Mid-America Arts Alliance rosters. Joyce and her spouse and partner in Ride into History, Ann Birney, conduct history workshops for people of all ages. Joyce serves in various professional organizations, including recently the President of the Kansas Association of Historians. Joyce is the author of Telling History: A Manual for Performers and Presenters of First Person Narratives. Joyce and Ann received an NRCS/USDA EQIP grant to bring back the Tallgrass prairie on land Joyce inherited and they now own together. After restoring the prairie by removing non-native vegetation, Joyce and Ann received a Grassland Award from the Wabaunsee County Conservation Program. Their son Chris Wisneski lives in Albuquerque, NM and plans to return to Wabaunsee County in the near future, so another generation can live in and appreciate the Flint Hills of Kansas. Joyce’s Emporia State University students in such classes as Kansas History and Women of the West, as well as her audiences across the country, appreciate her authentic cowgirl qualities.
"When I die the best thing people can say is that I was a hard working woman."
Margie Roberts Hart
Harley Dean Gilbert was born on June 7, 1934 in Busby, Kansas to Harley "Ermine" and Kathryn "Iris" Gilbert. He was the younger of two children, his sister Mary being born two years before. His parents ran a Hereford calf-cow operation and farmed hay and grains. Harley attended grade school in Busby. When he was 10 he began breaking horses, starting with one he had raised from its birth. Throughout his youth he broke many more horses and a few Brahma bulls. He graduated from nearby Longton High School in 1952. Though his parents wanted him to stay on the ranch, his dream was to ride bulls. A compromise was reached when he agreed to stay on the ranch during planting and harvest. He became friends with many rodeo greats while commuting to and from rodeos. In 1959, he started riding bulls for the RCA (now PRCA) competing in 13 States. He placed first at Nixa, MO; Ponca City, OK; Strong City, KS; Copan, OK; Burwell, NE; Kankakee, IL; Miami, OK; Huntington, WV; Davenport, IA; Burden, KS and Wichita, KS. He was listed as one of the top 15 bull riders in 1963. For several years, he worked with 2010 Kansas Cowboy Hall of Fame inductee, Sonny Worrell for Harry Knight, owner of the Flying A, as a pickup man. In addition to bull riding, Harley did some steer wrestling and roping. He placed first in steer wrestling in Great Bend, KS and Burden, KS. On November 15, 1966, he married Patty Jo Morris and they raised three children, Gerald "Jerry" Gilbert, Clinton "Clint" Gilbert and Tamberly "Tammy" Baker, in Busby. They have 10 grandchildren. In 1969, when his father died, Harley took over the ranch, but continued to rodeo professionally until 1974. After that, he competed in "old timers" events and reunions, and judged amateur and PRCA events. Harley is a PRCA Gold Card holder and has memberships in the American Quarter Horse Association, Kansas Thoroughbred Association and Kansas Quarter Horse Association. He is a licensed trainer for both Kansas and Oklahoma, and has been in the winners' circle numerous times in horse races in both States. Though not currently licensed in Nebraska, he has won several races in that State. In 2009, the Kansas Thoroughbred Association awarded him Aged Horse of the Year for "Grand On Affair." Harley is currently semi-retired working as an oil and gas consultant and lives near Fredonia, Kansas. Harley continues to ride horses to this day.
Kansas Cowboy Hall of Fame connection: Harley Gilbert worked with Sonny Worrell, 2010 Rodeo Cowboy, as a pickup man.
Vicki Johnson, the oldest of five girls, was born July 15, 1950 to LeRoy and Ruby Lohman in Lakin, Kansas. She was raised on a farm near Kendall, Kansas in Kearny County where she spent her entire childhood and early adult life helping her family farm 5000 acres and raise shorthorn cattle as she assisted her mother with household duties and cared for her younger sisters. Her caretaking extended to when she had to separate calves from their mothers, feed them when the cow was incapable, and keep them warm during the harsh winters. Vicki was heavily involved in the local 4-H Club and was a member of the Peppy Workers 4-H Club until she graduated from Kendall High School. She participated in livestock showing and judging as well as the domestic arts. One of Vicki's first loves was horses. While in high school, she was honored as Rodeo Queen of Kearny County. Vicki attended Garden City Community College with the goal of pursuing a career in journalism. With the birth of her son, Marcus, after a divorce, she became a single mother; the hardships of which helped her develop into the self-sufficient, strong and independent woman she is today. In 1975, Vicki returned to her love of agriculture and livestock when she started working for A.I.D. Feed Yard in Syracuse, Kansas. In 1979, she met and married Steve Johnson who was a teacher, coach and administrator. In 1981, they had a daughter, Marci, and soon moved to their current home in Holcomb. The owner of A.I.D., R.D. Lowrance offered her a job with Lobo Cattle Company in Garden City in 1982. In 1994, Lobo became Irsik and Doll Feedyard where she continues to work today. In the past 41 years, Vicki has been through the highs and lows of the cattle market and seen numerous changes. The industry has gone from no computers to everyone carrying a mini-computer - their cell phones. Vicki has been a mentor for women in the cattle feeding business as well as to students as a sports coach and cheerleading sponsor. She has been awarded Beef Cattle Quality Assurance and Non-Ambulatory Cattle Care Management certificates. Vicki has an excellent working relationship to those she works with and with her employers. She has worked tirelessly putting in extra hours and days in a highly organized and dedicated manner, while exhibiting the utmost in honesty and integrity. Her son, Marcus, is a successful military officer and he and his wife, Sara, have blessed the Johnsons with three grandchildren, Emmalee, Gunnison and Lizzy. Her daughter, Marci, is a nurse practitioner and will be getting married in the summer of 2017.
Kansas Cowboy Hall of Fame connection: His sister the late Faye Louise (Peck) Heath was inducted into the 2020 Kansas Cowboy Hall of Fame as Rodeo Cowboy. Jerry rented ground from 2012 Cattleman/Rancher Bill Ebbutt. And he was friends with KCHF Working Cowboy Dusty Anderson.
Martina Mariea Schiff was born on July 29, 1966 in Sharon, Kansas to Daryl and Jeanne Schiff. Her father, a farmer and cabinetry shop owner, introduced Martina to country music at a young age. After school she listened to, and sang along with, recordings of popular women country artists. Her father fronted a band, "The Schiffters," and at the age of eight or nine, Martina began singing with them. Over the next few years her role with the band increased as she played keyboard. She joined a Wichita rock band, the Penetrators, and in 1987, she formed a band, Lotus, which rented space from a studio engineer, John McBride who she married in 1988. In 1989, the couple moved to Nashville, Tennessee to launch their country music careers. The two worked for Garth Brooks who was impressed by Martina's enthusiasm and made her his opening act. She obtained a recording contract from RCA Nashville Records in 1991. Her debut album, The Time Has Come, was released later that year. Over her career she has had 13 studio albums and several concert and compilation albums. In early 1996, she had her first number one hit "Wild Angels" which was the title song from her third album. Her second number one song was "A Broken Wing" from her album Evolution. She won her first Female Vocalist of the Year from CMA in 1999. This was followed by three more in 2002, 2003 and 2004 tying her with Reba McEntire for the most wins. Her 17 nominations for this award also tied with those of McEntire. Her number one hits continued in 1999 with "I Love You," from the album Emotion. The number three country song "This One's for the Girls," off her 2003 album Martina, was a number one song on the Adult Contemporary charts. In 2010, Martina's run with RCA ended when she signed with Republic Nashville. Her 2016 album Reckless released through Nash Icon Records, debuted at number two on the Billboard Top Country Albums chart. Over the years, she has played a larger part in writing her songs on her albums. Martina has been very active in charitable causes, working as spokeswoman for the National Domestic Violence Hotline, the National Network to End Domestic Violence and Tulsa Domestic Violence and Intervention Services. Every year since 1995, she has hosted Middle Tennessee's YWCA's celebrity auction. Martina was awarded the Minnie Pearl Humanitarian Award in 2003. Martina and husband John have three daughters, Delaney born in 1994, Emma born in 1998 and Ava born in 2005.
"They don't recognize that [domestic violence] until it is too late. So it's an ongoing education that you have to give young girls."
Kansas Cowboy Hall of Fame
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