B O O T H I L L M U S E U M
Kansas Cowboy Hall of Fame
2017 Inductees - "Honoring Couples"
Andy & Helen Ebbutt Olson
Andrew "Andy" Olson was born near White City, Kansas on April 28, 1912 to Ole and Katharine Amthauer Olson. Helen Ebbutt Olson was born on January 19, 1914 to William and Margaret Ebbutt on the family farm north of Dwight, Kansas. Helen attended school at Ebbutt Grade School and graduated from Halfacre School after her parents purchased a ranch north of Skiddy. In 1932, she graduated from Xavier High School in Junction City. Helen had two sisters, Edith and Bessie with whom she helped her parents farm and ranch. Her and sister Bessie were especially adept at riding and handling horses. Helen married Andrew Olson, who grew up east of Skiddy on February 15, 1933. They rented a farm four miles north of Helen's parents while Andy worked for the Geary County Extension-Farm Bureau office in Junction City. Andy was more of a farmer than a rancher, but excelled in ranching after learning the ropes from Helen and his father-in-law, William Ebbutt. In May 1935, their daughter Lois "Elaine” was born. In 1938, they bought their ranch on Four-Mile Creek about seven miles southwest of Council Grove. Their nationally recognized herd originated from a highly bred Angus heifer which Helen won by guessing closest to her weight at Geary County Better Live-Stock Days. The Olson's were instrumental in starting the 4-H program along Four-Mile Creek in 1945, which every eligible child joined. Their 4-H activities gave them national attention when an article in the November 30, 1946 Saturday Evening Post about 4-H in the U.S. featured Andy Olson. As the herd grew, the Olson's purchased both farm and pasture which extended into Chase County. The Olson Ranch grew further when Elaine and husband, Norval Deschner, with twin daughters, Kim and Sue, returned from Japan in 1958 after the Korean Conflict. The Deschner's bought 400 acres up the Creek, which made the ranch over 2,000 acres, most of it being pasture. A short bout of cancer took Helen's life on August 10, 1962, when she was only 48. Andy died on March 23, 2004. Both are buried at Four Mile Cemetery near Council Grove.
Kansas Cowboy Hall of Fame connection: Helen's father William F. Ebbutt was inducted into the 2012 Hall of Fame as Rancher/Cattleman.
"You know, there aren't exactly classes in the country..." Andy in an interview with the Saturday Evening Post
Merritt & Elizabeth Beeson
Cowboy Historian Couple
Merritt Beeson was born in Dodge City to Chalkley and Ida Beeson on December 29, 1878. Elizabeth Irene Beeson was born in Appleton, Wisconsin on January 17, 1892 to Phillip V. and Appolonia Bloedel Schaetzel. On March 13, 1913 the two were united in marriage. Mr. and Mrs. Merritt Beeson began operating the Beeson Museum in 1932 in the basement of their home on the southwest corner of Beeson Road and Sunnyside Avenue. They had had assistance from Merritt's brother, Otero. This institution arose from the collection started in the 1870's by Merritt's father, Chalkley. By the time Chalkley died in 1912, the family had many souvenirs and relics from the late 19th century. Included in this assortment were items used by Chalkley's Cowboy Band. Prominent were a pair of golden eagles and musical instruments. Many heirlooms from both his and from his wife's family graced this assembly of artifacts. Documents and photographs also made up an integral part of this large collection. Later, the Museum expanded and moved east to the "Corral" on South Second. The Beeson Museum was a repository for scholars studying the history of the area, and it was a Mecca for tourists. Numerous letters to and from the Beeson's in the Boot Hill Museum archives attest to the fact Merritt himself was a "go to" source for early Dodge City history. Both Mr. and Mrs. Beeson corresponded with prominent Dodge City old timers and family members of early Dodge founders. Josephine Earp, Wyatt's last wife, was one of these, as were members of the Masterson family and Samuel Crumbine, who had become nationally famous in the area of public health. After Merritt died on Jan. 28, 1956, Elizabeth managed the Museum until it closed in 1964. She died on October 15, 1984 at the age of 92. The legacy of Beeson Museum lives on at Boot Hill Museum which acquired most of its collection when Beeson Museum closed. Many of these artifacts are displayed in the "Beeson Gallery," with others housed elsewhere throughout the complex.
Merritt and Elizabeth had two children; a boy who died in infancy and Irene Cross. Irene died in 2016, and had three children; Jan Shaw, Mark Cross, and Wade Cross. Wade passed away in 2016. Merritt had one child, Ida Elizabeth "Betty" Beeson Miller by his first wife, Marie Mary Douthitt Beeson. Betty had two children who have passed away; Michael Beeson Miller and Vee Ann Miller.
"My own life, of sixty years, have been spent among these characters and surroundings; I have faithfully tried to record in this labor." In a 1938 letter from Merritt to Brown Shoenheit.
Pete & "Boots" Tucker
Rodeo Cowboy Couple
W.E. "Pete" Tucker was born in Wilburton, Kansas on March 18, 1917 to Charles and Tracey Tucker. Lillian "Elease" or "Boots'' Tucker was born to William F. Hicks and Edna May Johnson Hicks in Sparta, Tennessee on April 1, 1918. Due to some dispute as to what to name her, she wasn't named until she was six months and her father simply called her "Boots'' a name which stuck well into adulthood. When she was two years old, her family homesteaded four miles west of Elkhart, Kansas. Though she had to work the fields with her father daily, she was an active horse rider who rode everyday just to enjoy life. Boots, who was very active in team sports, graduated from Elkhart High School where she met Pete Tucker during her junior year. They married in 1938. Pete's parents had died so the couple moved to McCune in Crawford County Kansas to care for Pete's siblings. They then lived for four years in Mulberry, also in Crawford County on the Missouri border. Here Pete hauled coal and Boots operated a small gas station. Afterwards they returned to Elkhart to assist Boot's parents with the family farm. Boot's rodeo career began in 1947 when the local Lions Club sponsored a rodeo. On a borrowed palomino she entered the Western Pleasure class, which she won. At that same event Boots was crowned runner-up for Frontier Blonde Rodeo Queen. In 1949, the Tuckers started showing horses and doing amateur rodeo. Soon the couple advanced to professional status. Pete became World Champion calf roper. After Boot's father died in 1959, they continued to work the farm. Though his full-time farming limited his rodeo performances to a five State area, in one season in the late 1950's, Pete placed in 27 rodeos. In his career he set an RCA world record in calf roping of 9.3 seconds in Rocky Ford, Colorado. In 1957, Boots set a record in a barrel race in Memphis of 15.5 seconds. In 1961, Boots won the World Champion Barrel Racing title on her favorite horse "Brownie." She was in the top 25 in women's rodeo events for 25 years. Her contests included Goat Tying, Barrel Racing and Bronc Riding. She won a belt buckle in 1962 at the National Finals Rodeo in Santa Maria, California. Pete died on February 15, 1963. Boots continued to rodeo for a couple more years, but without Pete her heart was not in it. On April 13, 2019, she passed away at Morton County Senior Living Community in Elkhart at 100 years old.
"Are you going to wait until she is grown up and can name herself?" Boots' grandfather Hicks when her father didn't want to name her "Lillian Elease."
Larry "Dee" & Phyllis Scherich
Working Cowboy Couple
Larry "Dee" Scherich was born on December 9, 1939 to Virgil and Mildred Scherich in Alva, Oklahoma and grew up on the Davis Ranch in Barber County and Merrill Ranch in Comanche County where his father worked. In the mid-1940's his father became manager of the Merrill Ranch, a position he held for 30 years. Dee graduated from Wilmore High School. Phyllis Scherich was born in Preston, Kansas on July 11, 1941 to Ervin and Ena Lucille Uhrig. Phyllis grew up in McPherson where she graduated high school. Dee received a football and track scholarship from Ottawa University in Ottawa, Kansas. Here, he met Phyllis and they married in McPherson in 1961. Dee has a BA in biology from Ottawa and an MS in biology from Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana. Phyllis received a BS from McPherson College. They then both taught school around Kansas for a few years. In 1976, the Scherich's stopped full-time teaching and moved to the Merrill Ranch when Dee's father retired from the Ranch. Phyllis continued as a substitute teacher in the Coldwater schools. Dee was the "cowboy" who managed the Ranch, but Phyllis, who cooked meals, performed administrative chores and did repairs and maintenance, played an integral role in making sure the Ranch ran smoothly. From 1995-2003 the Scherich's hosted an annual Benefit Trail Ride for the Comanche County Medical Foundation on the ranch which averaged over 200 riders each year. Funds from the Ride built a Dental and Health Clinic in Coldwater. Phyllis has done extensive research on the history of the Comanche Pool – especially as it relates to Evansville (the site of the Merrill headquarters), and of the construction of US 100 from Medicine Lodge to Coldwater. The Scherich's have traveled extensively and have visited Mexico, Australia, Alaska and Europe. They take great pleasure in locating and identifying wildflowers, and are on the board of the Kansas Native Plant Society. The Scherich's have three married sons, Kevin (Carol), Doug (Barbara) and Steve (Sandy). They have five grandchildren, Kyle, Ryan, Kieva, Kathryn and Sarah, three step-grandchildren, Ned and Cole Godsey and Chelsea Demmitt, and two step-great-granddaughters, Skyler and Paisley Demmitt. The Scherich's retired from the Merrill Ranch in 2016 after devoting 40 years to the Harold and Catherin Merrill Trust. They currently live in McPherson and are active in the Countryside Covenant Church
"We have retained a few cows of our own and currently have them in a pasture in Barber County - just because!"
Lem & Blanche McKenney Hunter
Lemuel M. "Lem" Hunter was born to Lemuel M., Sr. and Elizabeth Hunter 1873 in Illinois. An early achievement of Lem was his ride in a cattle drive across the State of Kansas. Blanche McKenney Hunter was born in Illinois in 1863 to Mr. and Mrs. A.C. McKenney, Sr. When she was an infant her family moved to Haddam, Kansas. Soon, she was in the saddle and it was nothing for her to ride 100 miles on the plains of Kansas and Nebraska. In 1896, Blanche McKenney gained fame when she won the gold medal in Pittsburgh, PA. Here, she rode the 20 mile relay race changing horses 19 times and leading her nearest opponent by one-quarter mile with a time of 38 minutes 52 seconds. This set a record which stood for many years. Blanche, Annie Oakley, and two others were the only four women who had acts in Buffalo Bill Cody's Wild West in 1898. While employed by Cody, she met Lem who was part of Cody's "Rough Bunch" of 16 men who rode broncos who were pitted against any other 16 men picked by the "world." Lem and Blanche both used "high school" horses for Col. Cody. High school is a style of balance and jumping most commonly performed by Lipizzaner and Andalusian horses. In 1899, Lem and Blanche married and formed their own company the "The Blanche McKenney-Hunter Racing Combination." Blanche performed "chariot races" against an opponent, usually Frank Asher, at fairs for the Hunter's company. In these races the riders stood on the back of two or three horses. Lem's professional riding career had ended when he was injured while riding in Cody's show. Lem died in 1929, but Blanche continued performing until 1939. She died in 1958. Lem and Blanche McKenney Hunter are buried in Haddam Cemetery.
"...Mr. Asher nearly cries every time I win." [Said by Blanche when asked if her races with Frank Asher are fixed.]
Kansas Cowboy Hall of Fame
A division of Boot Hill Museum, Inc. of Dodge City, Kansas | A 501(c)(3) Not For Profit Corporation