Bud Alexander, prominent Council Grove rancher, is being posthumously inducted into the Kansas Cowboy Hall of Fame.
Induction ceremonies scheduled last Saturday at the Boot Hill Museum in Dodge City were canceled due to coronavirus concerns.
“We will have a virtual event in the future with details forthcoming when details are completed,” said Kathie Bell, museum curator.
“Each year five legendary Kansas cowboys, past or present, are honored by induction into the Cowboy Hall of Fame,” Bell explained.
Inductees are selected for their significant contributions to the Western heritage lifestyle and preservation of the cowboy culture. “Each of them personifies the cowboy ideals of integrity, honesty, and self-sufficiency,” Bell pointed out.
Alexander is to be inducted in the Rancher/Cattleman category. Several Alexander family members from Council Grove and others in eastern Kansas had planned to attend the ceremony.
Faye (Peck) Heath, Junction City, is also to be posthumously inducted as a Rodeo Cowgirl. Heath was well known in Morris County as a regular participant in local rodeos, horse activities and ranch work.
Additional inductees are Charles “Walter” Couch, Kingsdown, Cowboy Historian; Keith L. Downer, Garden City, Working Cowboy; and John E. “Cowboy Jack” Steinmitz, deceased, Dodge City, Cowboy Entertainer.
Orson E. “Bud” Alexander was born December 24, 1890, to A.G. and Albertine Alexander at the farm they purchased north of Council Grove in 1897.
Married to Maude Carr in 1917, they had sons, Bob, Wayne and Jim, and daughter Mary Elizabeth, deceased during infancy. Maude was a staunch supporter of the family caring for the ranch home.
Recognized as a “Cowboy’s cowboy,” Bud was a working Flint Hills rancher admired by agriculturists of all endeavors. Backed by inherent years of horse sense, cow sense and common sense, Bud passed his working cowboy skills to future generations.
Sons Bob and Wayne were honored with induction into the Kansas Cowboy Hall of Fame as Working Cowboys in 2014.
With personal cattle operations and limited farming enterprises, Bud’s profession was pasture management of grazing cattle riding his own ranch-trained cow horses.
Before tractors, draft horses and mules were bred, raised, trained and used in ranch work requiring horsepower for maneuvering. Looking after and caring for large grassland acreages of area owners-operators, Bud was responsible for care of summer grazing cattle.
Mottled Longhorn-Brahman-influenced lightweight cattle of some maturity typically averaging 400-pounds arrived in early May by trainloads from the Southwest. With other area cowboys and well-mounted family members, Bud met loaded cattle trains at the railroad stockyards.
Unloaded from the many-hours train ride, cattle, generally steers, were rambunctious going through the streets of Council Grove to summer pastures. For the first few weeks, Bud made daily counts assuring the newcomers had not strayed to neighboring pastures.
In those days, the cattle remained on native pastures full season ending in October when rounded up for shipment to terminal market. The 800-900-pound cattle were readily driven back through Council Grove to railroad stockyards.
Cattle owned the Webster family, San Angelo, Texas; Alfred Drummond, Madill, Oklahoma; and Joel Sanner, Port Arthur, Louisiana, were managed by Bud for summer grazing more than 40 years.
Bud’s honesty was apparent such that all dealings were solidified with a handshake agreement.
Before pickups and trailers, Bud would often get up at 4 o’clock in the morning and ride to pastures many miles away to gather cattle as the sun came up.
“Riding your horse always makes him better than standing in the corral eating,” Bud contended. “We rode our horses a lot and they became better all of the time.”
In the 1950s, semi-tractor trailers replaced trains for transporting cattle to the Flint Hills and the lightweight cattle would be unloaded right in the pastures. On horseback, Bud met the truckloads at the pasture gate and drove the cattle into the grassland.
After summer grazing, the cattle were rounded up and loaded back into trucks for shipment to feedlots to be grain fattened before slaughter at Midwest processing plants.
Calving out momma cows was part of the working cowboy’s demand, sometimes even pulling calves and making sure the babies were alive and up nursing. Some summer farm work was done by Bud to harvest winter feed for his own cattle and horses.
Competing in rodeos personally during his younger years, Bud encouraged his sons to improve their arena skills. Bob and Wayne became rodeo champions in calf roping, steer roping, bulldogging, wild cow milking and team roping.
When stationed at Fort Riley, Gene Cox, father of renowned horse clinician Chris Cox, became friends with Bud. Originally from Texas, Cox was a rodeo champion who has kept ties with the Alexanders since living in Australia.
Bud was a distant cousin to the Emmett Roberts rodeo family of Strong City. Three Roberts’ children Ken, Gerald and Marge were rodeo champions often in the same arena as the Alexander family. Gerald Roberts was inducted into the Kansas Cowboy Hall of Fame as a Rodeo Cowboy in 2005.
The new era of looking after cattle pasture with a four-wheeler never appealed to Bud always preferring to work horseback. Well past retirement age, Bud continued assisting other cowboys with their cattle pasture duties.
Acquaintances fondly remember Bud hauling his buckskin gelding in his pickup with no stock rack. Into the late ’60s, Bud’s pickup and loaded one-horse trailer were common sight in Council Grove daily spring through fall always on time at the pasture gate when needed.
Bud helped organize a number of rodeos and horse activities sometimes supplying livestock and often serving as arena director and judge.
Common knowledge of all who were acquainted with Bud Alexander: “He was a working cowboy, gracious, loyal and respected. Bud loved his family, horses, cattle and the Flint Hills.”
In his own words, Bud insisted: “Being a working cowboy has been my life and a family tradition to carry on for generations on our Flint Hills ranch.”
Bud Alexander died at the age of 87 on February 4, 1978, and is buried at Greenwood Cemetery alongside his wife Maude who passed in 1992.
Today, Bud’s remaining son Jim, grandchildren, great-grandchildren and great-great-grandchildren keep the cowboy tradition alive while working the six-generation Council Grove ranch.