A prominent Morris County ranch couple has posthumously been inducted into the Kansas Cowboy Hall of Fame.
In ceremonies Saturday at the Boot Hill Museum in Dodge City, Andy and Helen Olson of Council Grove were named for the distinction in the cowboy ranchers category.
Each year since 2002, the Kansas Cowboy Hall of Fame at the museum has inducted five or more legendary cowboys or cowgirls. This year, five man and wife couples of the American West were honored.
In addition to the Olsons, inductees include Merritt and Elizabeth Beeson, Dodge City, cowboy historians; Lem and Blanche Hunter, Syracuse, cowboy entertainers; Dee and Phyllis Scherich, McPherson, working cowboys; and Pete and Elease Tucker, Elkhart, rodeo cowboys.
Andrew “Andy” Olson was born near White City, on April 28, 1912, to Ole and Katharine Olson. Helen Ebbutt was born on January 19, 1914, to William and Margaret Ebbutt on the family farm north of Dwight.
Helen attended Ebbutt Grade School and graduated from Half Acre School after her parents purchased a ranch north of Skiddy. In 1932, she graduated from Xavier High School in Junction City.
Helen and her sisters, Edith and Bessie worked on their parents’ farm and ranch. Helen and Bessie were especially adept at riding and handling horses.
Andy Olson grew up east of Skiddy and married Helen on February 15, 1933.
The newlyweds 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 said to be more of a farmer than a rancher, but excelled in ranching after learning the ropes from Helen and his father-in-law, Bill 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.
The Olsons’ nationally recognized Angus herd originated from a highly bred Angus heifer which Helen won by guessing closest to the heifer’s weight at the Geary County Better Livestock Days.
Andy and Helen were instrumental in starting the 4-H program along Four Mile Creek in 1945, which every eligible child in the rural community joined.
Their 4-H activities gave the Olsons national attention when an article in the November 30, 1946, Saturday Evening Post about 4-H in the U.S. featured Andy Olson. He was quoted as saying: “You know, there aren’t exactly classes in the country.”
Elaine showed numerous home raised Angus champions at the county fair and also in prestigious state and national competitions.
As the Angus herd grew, the Olsons purchased additional farm and pasture land in Morris and Chase counties.
Both Andy and Helen were excellent on horseback. Helen was often recognized for roping a coyote while checking a ranch pasture.
Andy was a pickup man for Roberts Rodeo Company and later the Flint Hills Rodeo Company.
Angus calves produced by Andy and Helen were used in the calf scramble for many years at the Flint Hills Rodeo in Strong City.
The Olson Ranch grew more when Elaine and husband, Norval Deschner, with twin daughters, Kim and Sue, returned from Japan in 1958 after the Korean Conflict.
The Deschners bought 400 acres, also on Four Mile Creek, which made the ranch more than 2,000 acres, most of it being Flint Hills 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.
Helen’s father William F. Ebbutt was inducted into the Kansas Cowboy Hall of Fame in 2012 in the rancher/cattleman category.