“Cowboy-at-heart” is the real stipulation for balloting, and certainly the most recent inductees into the Kansas Cowboy Hall of Fame are that.
Five honorees were recognized in different categories during special ceremonies Saturday, Sept. 15, as the tenth class to be inducted with permanent displays at the Boot Hill Museum in Dodge City, according to curator Karen Pankratz.
“The Kansas Cowboy Hall of Fame is a project of Boot Hill Museum, Inc., and was developed to preserve and honor the life of the Kansas cowboy,” Pankratz pointed out.
“My girls can do anything boys can do,” Bill Ebbutt said on more than one occasion.
Born February 25, 1892, to John and Maria Ebbutt in Geary County, Ebbutt went to school at the Ebbutt School on land which his father donated.
Helping on the ranch horseback at a young age, Ebbutt rode 30-mile round trips to Dry Creek while courting his future bride, Margaret.
Ebbutt, successful in rodeo competition, was known as “a pasture man,” who managed more than 4,000 cattle annually from April to October, in Chase, Geary, Wabaunsee and Morris counties.
All cattle work was done from horseback, and Ebbutt was widely respected for his knowledge and ability with horses and cattle. His three daughters became top horsewomen.
Ironically, Ebbutt was killed in a riding accident at age 51, on August 30, 1943. Recognition was accepted by Elaine Deschner, a granddaughter.
“I lived, breathed, ate and slept to be a cowboy and to rodeo,” said Ernie Love.
Born June 3, 1934, to Raleigh and Mary Love in Hutchinson, Love grew up at El Dorado. He started working as a cowboy for Wilbur Countryman at Cassoday, who conducted Fourth of July rodeos, where Love began competing.
Consistently winning in all seven sanctioned rodeo events, Love rode bulls at the first National Finals Rodeo during 1958 in Dallas. Placing at 64 rodeos in 1973, Love continued riding bulls at Old Timers Rodeos until he was 61.
The father of three sons, Dale, Ernie and Neil, Love boarded horses and mentored young cowboys and cowgirls at his ranch east of Manhattan.
Love smiled when told of the impending Hall of Fame induction just hours before his death, July 22, 2012. His wife Kathy accepted the recognition.
“I give all the credit for my cowboy career to my parents, my wife Mary friends, horses, dogs, and the Good Lord,” said Ray Negus.
Born February 26, 1946, to Willis and Annie Negus at Fort Pierce, Florida, Negus always wanted to be a cowboy and worked on his father’s Florida ranch after graduating from college.
Continuing work as a cowboy and herdsman for several ranches, Negus came to Brookville in1978, to manage the CK Ranch, which the former research associate again manages today.
Negus and his wife, Mary, have three sons, Slade, Ryan and Wesley, two step-children, Becky Heimer and Kyle Neywick, and seven grandchildren.
Serving leadership roles in several cattle organizations, Negus, who was present to accept his recognition, has twice been nominated for the Commercial Producer of the Year by the Beef Cattle Improvement Federation.
“It was the cattleman, rather than the cowboy, who was the central character on the ranching frontier,” contended Frank Vallentine
Born August 1, 1931, to John and Venna Vallentine in Clark County, Vallentine attended Kansas State University, served in the U.S. Air Force, and received a Utah State master’s degree and a Texas A & M doctorate.
A professional genealogist and local historian authoring several books on ranch management and family history, Vallentine was a professor of range management at Brigham Young University until retirement.
Notably, in 1998, Vallentine penned “Cattle Ranching South of Dodge City – The Early Years 1870-1820.” It is said to be a “thoroughly researched and well-written account of the early ranches and cowboys in the area.”
Vallentine lives in Springville, Utah, near his three children, John, Dixie Davis and Cindy Richins, and six grandchildren.
“No matter what brand you ride for, give ‘em 110 percent,” recommended Geffrey Dawson.
Born February 8, 1961, to Glen and Joan Dawson at Abilene, Dawson competed in high school and college rodeos.
After studying animal science at Kansas State, Dawson married his wife, Dawn, and they have two children, Justin Dawson and Carmen Matzke, mother of their granddaughter, Haddie.
Recipient of many awards for his poetry, Dawson appeared on “Best of America by Horseback” and has been featured performer for the “Salute to the Great American Cowboy” at Branson, Missouri.
Dawson’s CD recording, “A Tougher Horse,” has been ‘Number 1’ for cowboy poetry, and he has been named Best of the West National Cowboy Poetry Champion.
Accepting his recognition personally, Dawson owns the Two Bar D Ranch near Alma, and manages the historic Illinois Creek Ranch in Wabaunsee County.