Relive the Old West Legend of Dodge City Through Exhibits, Education and Entertainment.

Jim Gilliland – Rancher/Cattleman

Jim Gilliland Rancher Cattleman 2006“You never saw Jim work cattle in a suit.”

Jim Gilliland was born to Claude and Josephine Gilliland, August 3, 1925 at Casper, Wyoming. The family moved to Butler County, Kansas when Jim was six months old, where the family founded the Gilliland Ranch. He attended school in Leon until his sophomore year, finishing high school in 1943 at the New Mexico Military Institute in Roswell. In September of that year he joined the U.S. Army Air Corps. He flew 26 missions over Germany and Austria as a tail gunner in a B-24 bomber.

After the War, he attended both Kansas University and Kansas State University. In 1948 Jim began his ranching career starting the Meldrum Ranch in Cowley County with his uncles, Mike and Brady Meldrum. Jim and Brady had a profit sharing plan with the Hash Knife Ranch shipping cattle from New Mexico to Kansas for the grazing season. These two uncles gave Jim a working knowledge of the ranching business. At the age of 35 Jim started managing both the Meldrum Ranch and the Gilliland Ranch. On November 17, 1984 Jim married his wife Paula. Jim has received awards for grassland conservation in Cowley County in 1992 and Butler County in 2003.

He is a long time member of the Kansas Livestock Association and served as chairman of the Cow-Calf Stocker Council in 1989. Jim was on the Kansas Beef Council Executive Committee from 1988 to 1995. He was a member of the Board of Directors of the National Livestock and Meat Board from 1992 to 1995. He lives with his wife near Leon. He has four sons, Joe Gilliland (deceased); Mark Gilliland, Houston, Texas; Scott Tracy, Dexter; and Shane Tracy, Leon. Scott and Shane both carry on the family ranching tradition.

Year inducted: 2006

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John J. Vanier – Rancher/Cattleman

John J Vanier Rancher Cattleman 2005“John Vanier was a self-made businessman, who ran his business right from under his hat.” – A description of John J. ‘J.J.’ Vanier

John J. Vanier, former owner of the CK Ranch located near Brookville, Kansas was born in 1897, on a farm settled by his grandfather in Pawnee County, Nebraska. His parents, Jacob C. and Julia A. Vanier, moved their family to Kansas City, Missouri. Vanier attended school before he left and sought employment with the E.D. Fisher Commission Company in the Board of Trade Building. While there, he learned about grain trade and the milling industry. Later, John became a salesman for the Abilene Flour Mill in Abilene, Kansas. Following his service in the Marine Corps during World War I, John worked in the Flour Mill in Abilene. On May 13, 1922, Vanier married Lesta. The couple had three children, sons Jack and Jerry and daughter Joyce. In 1925, John secured controlling interest in the Western Star Milling Company, located in Salina, Kansas. Vanier took the Western Star Milling Company from flounder status to an efficient, profitable firm; allowing John to assume guidance over other grain and milling firms in Kansas, Oklahoma and Nebraska. He was able to found the Central Kansas Hereford Ranch, later the CK Ranch, near Brookville, Kansas. Vanier expanded his holdings, adding farm and ranch property in Hunter, Dorrance, Herrington, Manhattan and Salina. He established commercial cattle ranches in Wyoming, Colorado and Oklahoma; and grew his business empire to include: milling plants, elevators, soybean plants, food processing plants, livestock feed mixing plants, dehydrating plants and pelleting plants. In 1935, John Vanier began the CK Ranch’s register Hereford Herd. By the 1950s, the CK Ranch’s registered cattle were 2,000 head with annual registrations totaling over 1,500 a year. In 1946, Vanier served on the Board of Directors for the American Hereford Association and was elected the organizations President in 1952. John also belonged to the Kansas Livestock Association and the National Millers’ Federation. In 1978, John Vanier was one of the first thirty-eight members inducted into the Honor Gallery of the Hereford Heritage Hall. In 2005, the Kansas Business Hall of Fame, Emporia, inducted John as the Historical Heritage Award Recipient. Described as a self-made, generous businessman, he supported various schools and colleges, including the Kansas State University Animal Husbandry Department, with money, land, cattle and by activities held on the CK Ranch. In 1970, Vanier sold a major portion of his vast food manufacturing and marketing facilities, retaining the farming or ranching operations. John Vanier passed away on February 20, 1980 at the age of eighty-three. His children, thirteen grandchildren and several great-grandchildren still carry on the ranching legacy started by John J. Vanier.

Year inducted: 2005

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Horace Greely “Buck” Adams – Rancher Cattleman

Horace Greely Buck Adams Rancher Cattleman 2004“My father was a conservationist before anyone ever thought about what that meant.” – H.G. Adams IV describing his father’s dedication to preserving the land.

Horace Greely “Buck” Adams, owner of the XI Ranch located near Plains, Kansas, was born in Topeka in 1921 and lived on the XI Ranch as a child. By 1923, Buck’s grandfather had amassed 75,000 acres on the ranch. Unfortunately, Buck’s immediate family had to move away in 1933 to their farm in eastern Kansas because his younger brother had dust pneumonia. Buck married Wynona Keller in 1943. Two years later, the couple moved to the XI Ranch, where they raised their family. Growing up during the Great Depression and Dust Bowl Era, Buck learned how tough the ranching lifestyle could be. He recalled a time when his family ran 5,000 heifers on their 75,000 acres; yet by 1934, they sold almost all of them. After moving back to the XI Ranch, Buck devoted the rest of his life to ranching. He endured many of the same problems his grandfather had dealt with before him. In the 1950s, a drought caused Buck to run 150 cattle on 25,000 acres that normally held 1,000 head. Later, in the spring of 1957, blizzard broke the drought and killed sixty of their 150 head. Yet Buck persevered. Buck believed that a handshake sealed a deal. Buck’s son, H.G. Adams IV, couldn’t recall a time when his father had a contract to sell cattle. He had a reputation for never backing out on a deal, even if the price of beef increased after the agreement was made. Being a conservationist by nature kept him in the agriculture business, even during the hardest of times. He preached about the need to take care of the land. Buck wanted to join the rodeo circuit during his youth. He felt his height of 6’1” and weight of 200 lbs. would have been an advantage in steer roping competitions. Buck would always look back with a twinge of regret that he never had the time or money to fulfill his rodeo dreams. Horace Greely “Buck” Adams passed away in 1995, leaving the XI Ranch to his family and a lifetime of ranching knowledge to all he came in contact with.

Year inducted: 2004

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Henry Gardiner – Rancher

Henry Gardiner Rancher 2003“From a covered wagon to a 21,000 acre, 1,800-head Angus beef cow operation…we’ve been fortunate…It’s a good life and a great way to make a living.”

Henry Gardiner is owner and operator of the Gardiner Angus Ranch near Ashland Kansas. He runs his family’s ranch with the assistance of his three sons Greg, Mark and Garth, and specializes in the production and sale of superior Angus breeding stock. The ranch, established by the Gardiner family in 1885, consists of 21,000 acres of prime breeding ground for GAR Angus, Gardiner Quarter Horses, and many of Mother Nature’s free roaming creatures. Henry was named after his Grandfather who settled in western Kansas. Due to his 1947 grand champion steer at the State Fair that won him $100 to put towards his purchase of two registered heifers, he was one of the first ranchers to employ artificial insemination in the 1950s. By 1964, all breeding at the ranch was done by artificial insemination with no clean-up bulls. Gardiner went on to implement ultrasound technology on all registered bulls in 1987. Today, the Gardiner Angus Ranch keeps extensive genetic data on their herds and they sell around 1,000 head at the ranch’s annual Production Sale. Henry, his wife Nan, and the rest of their family all continue to live and cultivate the land settled by Henry’s ancestors.

Year inducted: 2003

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Don Goodnight – Cowboy Historian

Don Goodnight Cowboy Historian 2002“I’m kind of a historian of the cattle trails and all of the Goodnight history.”

Don Goodnight, ancestor of the famed Charles Goodnight of the Goodnight Loving Trail Drive, was the first Cowboy Historian inducted into the Kansas Cowboy Hall of Fame. Born and raised on the plains of Meade and Clark Counties, Don dreamed of life filled with ranching, farming and flying. As a man, Don made those dreams a reality, as well as realizing the importance of collecting and preserving tools utilized by 19th century cowboys. Throughout his life, Don lived the “Cowboy Way” and upheld the “Code of the West”. He served as President of the Meade County Historical Society, Honorary Life President of the Old Trail Drivers Association, and as the “keeper of the flame” in knowledge of the history, heritage and traditions of the west. An avid pilot, he trained more than 200 pilots, including his own children. Don Goodnight’s accomplishments include that of rancher, pilot, author, and historian. He was also a humanitarian, futurist with Christian values that extended to his family. But above all Don Goodnight was a cowboy.

Year inducted: 2002

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