Dusty was a cowboy.
There are others who called him a ‘legendary character,’ ‘story teller,’ ‘Western artist,’ ‘a typical horse trader,’ ‘just a cowboy,’ ‘ornery,’ ‘rebel,’ ‘colorful,’ ‘just picturesque’ and many more, not always probably the most complimentary, monikers.
Tall, thin, athletic, statuesque, never without his high topped boots and shiny clingy spurs, chaps, long flashy blue, or red or white scarf around his neck and waxed, black mustache over a friendly grin on a beard-stubbled face under a sweat-stained, yet always distinctly shaped, cowboy hat left no doubt to anyone when Dusty rode up on his Appaloosa, Paint, Buckskin or dapple grey mount, he was a “real cowboy.”
For his lifetime of achievement in the chosen profession as a cowboy, Dusty Anderson of Skiddy has posthumously been inducted as a working cowboy into the Kansas Cowboy Hall of Fame at Dodge City.
Dusty Anderson’s proud family and friends lead by wife Dolly Anderson was among those gathered visiting and reminiscing during a recent Saturday afternoon reception at the Boot Hill Museum, Inc., on Old Front Street in Dodge City. Portrait and life story of the renowned, and some might unapologetically even call him glamorous, Morris County cowboy will be displayed there for perpetuity.
Actual induction ceremony was that Saturday evening with a public program telling the famous cowboy’s life story before a plaque presentation to the family represented by his wife Dolly Anderson, stepson Michael Moore and Tamara Moore, and their son Connor Moore.
Two additional well-known, respected Morris County cowboy brothers Bob and Wayne Alexander of Council Grove were also inducted as cattlemen/ranchers into the Kansas Cowboy Hall of Fame that evening.
Others inducted during the 12th annual Kansas Cowboy Hall of Fame presentations were C.L. “Bud” Sankey, Rose Hill, rodeo cowboy; Fredric Young, Dodge City, cowboy historian; and Barry Ward, Copeland native now living in Colorado, cowboy entertainer/artist, who performed at the Parkerville Baptist Church earlier this year.
Each inductee is a state native or current Kansas resident and has contributed significantly to the western heritage lifestyle and preservation of the cowboy culture in Kansas. With statewide historic significance, they each personify cowboy ideals of integrity, honesty and self-sufficiency.
Trademark traits of Dusty Anderson were his bottle of Dr. Pepper in hand, having replaced the Mountain Dew of earlier years, and always a jean pocket filled with jingling coins to give to every kid within eyesight of the cowboy, who magnetized them all to his side no matter how far they had to come.
Actually, Dusty on his various professional cowboy business cards through the years added additional personal descriptions headed by “Horse Trainer.”
Likewise, probably not considered flattering by many, if any, were the rest of his self-imposed imageries: “professional killer, world traveler, gourmet, singer of sentimental ballads, soft shoe dancer, international lover of beautiful women, sportsman, aviator extraordinaire, VHP, New Orleans gambler, soldier of fortune, last of the big spenders, road agent.”
“Known to take an occasional sip of sherry,” Dusty declared himself a “specialist in revolutions, gun running, boot legging, civil wars, smuggling, orgies, prayer meetings and church socials.”
Identifiable throughout the Midwest and around the world as Dusty, Dud, DA, “the Skiddy Cowboy,” and likely a number of other unrepeatable nicknames, Dusty Anderson was a cowboy.
“All I ever wanted to do in my life was to be a cowboy, and I became one early,” exclaimed Dusty, who was born March 1, 1922, in Skiddy, Kansas, USA, and passed away Mary 17, 2008, in Skiddy, Kansas, USA.
“I grew up with the 11 cowboys here in this town of Skiddy. I had a pony and followed them everywhere,” contended Anderson, whose mother passed away during his birth, and his dad left him soon after.
Raised by his grandparents and “the Skiddy cowboys,” Dusty lived in the now nearly extinct northern Morris County town, all except for a few years, while prominently serving his country during World War II.
Special fondness for Bill Ebbutt and his daughter, Helen (Olson) reflected in conversations of Dusty’s childhood days looking after Flint Hills cattle. Yet, his recollection was that by age 13, he was “shacking up and batching on his own looking after a herd of 150 cows and breaking horses for $2.50 a head.”
His rodeo career had already begun. “I was the first saddle bronc rider that rode at the first Wild Bill Hickok Rodeo in Abilene,” Dusty claimed.
While he had memories of limited high school classes, Dusty claimed he quit school at age 15, and went to work for the famous Clyde Miller Rodeo Company.
“They took care of my board and room and paid entry fees to ride bareback and saddle broncs. My most memorable rodeo was the six performances at the Chicago Stadium where I won $1,500; that was a lot of money in those days.
“But, I ‘loaned’ the money to the other cowboys who weren’t as lucky as I was, and never saw any of it again,” remembered Dusty, in his characteristic way of generosity.
World War II was in progress, and Dusty, then 17, enlisted in the Army, and volunteered to be a Paratrooper. “We were an airborne infantry flown in to support ground forces and for surprise attacks in the New Guinea jungle,” Dusty repeated many times in his lifetime.
“True horror stories of war” are a “best seller” book about Dusty. if it would have been written, but his obituary, when he passed away May 17, 2008, best and completely “simplified” those dreadful, yet tragically unforgettable “horrible days” of his life.
During the war, “Dusty was a member of the infamous 6th Ranger Battalion which was the first American force to return to the Philippines on the islands of Dinegat and Suluan, offshore Leyte. He was one of the first four men to set foot on Philippines and help raise the U.S. flag today recognized symbolically in art and paintings by all generations,” as reported in worldwide Associated Press news releases.
“The 6th Battalion Rangers, C Company and F Company liberated more than 500 survivors of the Bataan Death March, who were POW’s (Prisoners of War) in a prison camp on Luzon in what became universally known as the greatest and most daring raid in American military history,” credited a (Junction City) Daily Union story.
“I was a crazy cat in those days. Don’t think I haven’t been through a lot of hell, but you just as well know about the bad as well as the good. But, I was a leader, not a follower, and it’s been good to me,” Dusty verified.
Following the war, in 1946, Dusty resumed his life as a cowboy at Skiddy. Claiming not to have owned a motorized vehicle until he was 32-years-old, Dusty reminisced, “Back in those days I did it all on horseback. I’ve unloaded cattle off trains at Skiddy, White City, Dwight, Junction City, Alta Vista and Volland, and drove them on horseback to pastures in the area.”
In the early ’50s, trucking cattle to grass off the trains became a common practice, and by the early part of the next decade, trucks were used almost exclusively for distant cattle moving.
However, pasture cattle managers were still needed, and that was Dusty’s job. “I’d leave on horseback and have fresh horses scattered out in pastures around a 100-mile radius of Skiddy,” Dusty said.
“Nights and nights” were spent sleeping on his saddle blanket under the stars. “I spent more than 60 percent of my nights sleeping on the ground,” Dusty calculated. “I’m a survivor, you might say. I’m secure. I can live off rabbits, squirrel, mush and beans.”
He looked after cattle in Chase, Geary, Lyon, Morris, Riley, Shawnee, Pottawatomie and Wabaunsee counties. “The Flint Hills is the greatest place in the world to graze cattle,” Dusty boasted.
More than 21,000 steers were annually grazed in those “prime years,” the cowboy alleged.
“I accounted for every steer, dead or alive, that I turned out to pasture,” Dusty proudly professed.
“A lot turned out right for me, but I’ve been so honest. I lay my cards on top of the table; that’s the reason the business has been so good to me. When you have the same landowners 40 years, and you’ve never met them except for talking on the telephone, then you must have some judgment, respect, the whole bit.
“More than 60 percent of my clientele have been with me a long time and most of them buy their own steers for grass,” Dusty said in 1986.
While he did rodeo some successfully after the war, Dusty proclaimed, “I won lots of money at rodeos, but I needed an alternate position in life besides riding bucking horses, and I was already leasing grass anyway.”
Still for many years, the rodeo bug stayed in his blood. “All of the ranch horses I rode were bucking horses,” Dusty vowed. “Those horses would buck every morning when I got on them. Then, he college kids from Manhattan and soldiers from Fort Riley would come down on weekends to ride bucking horses and rope cattle here at Skiddy.
“They’d buck ‘em out of the chute, and then I’d saddle up the same horses and use them to pick up the broncs. They were all ‘snuffy’ horses; none of them should have been broke to ride. It took me 50 years to find out that all horses don’t buck.
“But, after I got ‘punchy,’ came to that cycle in life I guess, I decided that I was going to change my program, and that there had to be horses that don’t always buck,” Dusty evaluated.
Forever “doing a lot of horse changing,” trading actually, Dusty also generally had a small broodmare band and stallion to raise his own horses. “I produced horses that I liked to ride,” critiqued Dusty, a foundation Appaloosa breeder and lifetime member of Paint and Quarter Horse associations.
Frequently, Dusty owned up to 100 head of horses. Whenever a palomino horse came into his ownership, Dusty evaluated it for suitability to be used as a trail horse for youth campers at nearby Rock Spring 4-H Ranch Camp.
Dusty often noted, “I donated more horses to that 4-H horse program than anybody else.” For his continued generosity, Dusty was presented a certificate as an Honorary Member of the Kansas 4-H Foundation.
Helping train Cavalry riders at Fort Riley, Dusty also managed the buffalo herd at Fort Riley nine years. Although, most people don’t think buffalo can be roped, Dusty always roped and tripped the buffaloes when they need doctoring, or to be moved in a truck, as verified by a number of printed photographs.
Both Cavalry riders and Olympic horse trainers at Fort Riley were Dusty’s close friends, before those divisions of the Army were closed.
A personal friend of Fort Riley commander generals for more than 50 years, Dusty assisted in training100 troops in a special guerrilla force of the government, as reported in an archived Time magazine article. His continuous generosity from all angles merited Dusty an “Honorary Trooper” signification from Fort Riley.
As his days in the saddle shortened, Dusty relived them with pencil sketches. “I just do a picture when it comes to mind of something I did during my lifetime as a cowboy. I don’t look at anything.
“I just set down and draw a picture. I don’t know how it’s going to come out. I don’t have any idea what’s going to happen when I begin,” contended Dusty, who never used a photo, pattern or live animal to look at when he was drawing.
More than 400 drawings, some three dimensional when done with four colors of pencils, all carry his registered DA bar brand signature. “I have drawings in 33 states and seven foreign countries. I know a lot of people throughout the country, and it just spread by word of mouth that I was doing art,” Dusty claimed.
Most of the art pieces have been valued in the $300 to $500 range, but some have sold for $2,000, and the collectors’ pieces have increased in value since his passing.
Pleased to have assisted nationally respected horse trainers Mark Chestnut, Mitch Fechner and Bill James in the early stages of their highly successful careers, Dusty had a pilot’s license and was a pioneer checking pastures from an airplane.
There are more stories to tell, but the most important part of his life came when Dusty, a most unlikely yet most proficient ballroom dancer, married his beautiful, vivacious blonde bride in 1969, known throughout the world today: Dolly Anderson.
“It was actually a trade-off between Dusty and Me to move to Skiddy. Along with me came two kids, nine and 11, a dog and a horse. , Plus, I rode an English saddle, and still do, never changed,” Dolly verified.
As different as night and day, Dusty and Dolly were an unmatchable pair that survived and thrived. Dolly is a time and again world champion jumping Quarter Horse exhibitor and longtime recognized owner of G&A Real Estate at Manhattan.
“Dusty was my big encouragement with my horses and showing. He helped select all of my horses and gave me advice as well as taking care of them when I was gone,” Dolly credited.
At 75, Dolly Anderson was entered in open jumping at the American Quarter Horse Congress in Columbus, Ohio, but canceled entries to be in Dodge City for the induction ceremonies of her deceased cowboy husband. Leaving immediately following the induction, Dolly Anderson then flew to Ohio, rode in several over fences classes, as the most mature contestant in that division, and claimed one first place and two additional Top Ten awards to be the High Point Rider in the jumping.
“Oh gosh, I’ve ridden a lot of good horses. I could talk a week about the things I’ve been through. But, I’m proudest of the friendships I’ve made around the country. I’ve helped more people than I’ve helped myself, yet most people really don’t understand me. I’m real; there’s nothing false or fake about me,” Dusty revealed.
Dustin S. Anderson lived a life so many think they would like. He was his own boss, doing exactly what he loved: being horseback looking after cattle in the beautiful Flint Hills of Kansas.
Dusty’s influence was felt on every life he touched.