Ranching is the main profession in Chase County, which is the only Kansas county that lies entirely within the Flint Hills.
Thus, most appropriate that ten Chase County ranches were recognized at the recent 75th anniversary Flint Hills Rodeo in Strong City.
Jim Hoy, a cowboy in-his-own-right and lifelong Flint Hills historian, said, “About 85 percent of Chase County is in pasture, and this native bluestem prairie is the best grass in the world for putting weight on cattle efficiently and economically.”
Before the Friday night rodeo performance, Hoy recognized the ranches with representatives standing in front of the bucking chutes.
“These ranches, some long-established and others started more recently, are only a few of many in the county. They were chosen as representative of the different types of operations here in the heart of the Flint Hills,” Hoy clarified.
Fox Creek Ranch north of Strong City dates to 1862 when George Smith took possession with a patent signed by President Abraham Lincoln. Paul Hatcher and Olma Peak bought 2,800 acres from David Wood, grandson of Chase County pioneer Sam Wood in 1946. Bill and Jeanne Hatcher became sole owners in 1980, and they now have a summer grazing operation with their sons, Matt and Gary.
Hinkson Ranch traces to beginnings in Nebraska through Texas and New Mexico before Frank and Marilyn Hinkson settled on Sharps Creek south of Cottonwood Falls. With their son, Trey, and his wife, Becky, they raise registered Angus cattle from a herd totaling 400 cows. Seed stock is sold to other cow-calf operators throughout the country during an annual production sale on the third
Saturday of March.
Homestead Ranch is 4,000-acres east of Matfield Green. Jane Koger operates the ranch homesteaded by her great grandparents in the mid-1800s. Her grandparents attended the High Prairie School that has been moved to the ranch, which runs a herd of 125 stock cows and summer grazes 3,000 stocker cattle. Each spring, many visitors come to the ranch to watch the booming ritual of mating prairie chickens.
Mulvane Ranch, northwest of Strong City, was purchased by Joab Mulvane in the early 1900s from the Western Land and Cattle Company, a British syndicate which owned 100,000 acres in Chase County. Most of the 12,000 acres ranch has been divided into three pastures, some of the largest in the Flint Hills. It is a stocker operation with Ray Crawford serving as manager for 12 years.
Mushrush Ranch near Elmdale is 8,000-acres that have been operated by Joe and Connie Mushrush since 1982. Featuring registered Red Angus, the three-generation family business has more than 500 spring and fall calving cows. All cattle are grown on the Flint Hills and in a ranch feedlot. Seed stock produced by the ranch is sold during an annual production sale on the fourth Thursday in March.
Ranch Management Group is the largest single cattle operation in the county with 85,000 acres in seven locations. Headquartered at Cottonwood Falls, with Cliff Cole as manager, the ranch summer grazes yearling steers shipped in from Texas and Mexico, and then finishes them to slaughter weights at custom feedlots. This year, the ranch is also grazing 1,800 heifers being bred to be sold as cowherd replacements.
Rogler Ranch was founded north of Matfield Green by Charles Rogler, who homesteaded 160 acres on Southfork River in 1859. His son, Henry, later operated the ranch, until it was turned over to his son, Wayne Rogler, the third generation. When Wayne Roger passed away in 1993, there were 4,000 acres. Original home and outbuildings are open to the public daily under the Pioneer Bluffs Foundation.
Sauble Ranch near Cedar Point is the oldest continually operating ranch in Chase County, and the oldest family ranch in Kansas. David Sauble founded the ranch in 1856, and his grandson, Pat Sauble, and three other generations of the family live there today. Original cattle were herded on open range from Barber County. Now strictly a cattle ranch, it has also had a large layer operation.
Tallgrass Prairie National Reserve, north of Strong City, is the only national park in Kansas. Stephen Jones founded the Spring Hill Ranch in 1878 and built a home and barn. The National Park Service owns the acreage with those historic structures, while The Nature Conservancy has the remainder of the 11,000 acres grazed by yearlings and a bison herd. The ranch is open to public tours.
TS Hereford and Quarter Horse Ranch, Cottonwood Falls, started when Elmore Stout married Doris Titus in 1938, although Stout was already a rancher. When the couple passed away, the ranch, a registered Hereford and Quarter Horse operation, was placed in a family trust. Second, third and four generations merchandize production in the sale that’s been at the ranch on the last Saturday of February since 1965.