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

Melvin Fields – Rodeo Cowboy

Melvin Fields Rodeo Cowboy 2007Melvin Fields was born to Merle and Edith Fields at their family farm near Wayside, KS in Montgomery County on August 2, 1938. Melvin began riding horses when he was four years old as he worked on the farm. By the time he was nine, he knew rodeo was his passion. At the age of 15 he experimented with bareback and bull riding. His first rodeo was at Altamont, KS where he won the bull riding competition in 1954. In 1956 he won the All-Around at the Kansas High School Rodeo Finals and came in second at the Nationals in Reno, Nevada. Melvin competed in five events during his two-year amateur rodeo career – bull riding, bareback and saddle bronco riding, calf roping and bulldogging. He began his clown career in 1958 working with famous clowns John Lindsey, Bobby and Gene Clark, Jerry Olsen, Kajun Kidd, Junior Meek, Buck LeGrand and Wiley McCray. From 1961 through 1963 Melvin competed only in weekend rodeos while stationed at the Redstone Arsenal at Huntsville, Alabama as he served his country in the U.S. Army. From 1964 until his retirement in 1971 he won numerous riding events and placed 11 times in bull riding at the Cheyenne Frontier Days Rodeo. After retiring, he became a rodeo judge and coached at Coffeyville Community College from 1982-4. Melvin has raised and trained quarter horses and paint horses, and for several years was manager of country singer Roy Clark’s Horse Farm. For 20 years he has served as a consultant for the mechanical and construction firm Logan And Company and has been a liaison between them and the Coffeyville Resources Refinery. Melvin continues to work with young people in the rodeo field and attends numerous rodeos and rodeo reunions across the country.

Year inducted: 2007

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Carvel “Kurly” Hebb – Rodeo Cowboy

Carvel Kurly Hebb Rodeo Cowboy 2006“I never wanted to be anything but a Cowboy and live the Cowboy way of life.”

Carvel “Kurly” Hebb was born on January 16, 1934 to Manley and Letha Hebb in Howard, Kansas and raised on the family ranch in nearby Fall River. He learned to ride horses at the age of four and rode his Shetland pony “Tody” two miles each way to a one-room schoolhouse. Kurly recalls, “Tody and I went a lot of miles together; and we got there by and by.” In 1956 Kurly joined the RCA rodeo circuit in Strong City, Kansas. There he won the bronco riding, bull riding and all around. In 1972 he again won the saddle bronco riding at Strong City, a place Kurly has special feelings about. “Strong City has always been my favorite rodeo…it was always like coming back home.” Qualifying five times for the National Finals Rodeo in the 1960’s, he won saddle bronco riding titles at many venues including Phillipsburg, Kansas; Sikeston, Missouri; Montgomery, Alabama; and Toronto, Canada. About the time he qualified for his last Nationals he married his wife Nita Ann and started his family. Kurly is not only a rodeo cowboy, but a cattleman. He purchased his own ranch near Fall River in 1961 and one in Texas in 1968. He was an innovative force in the cattle industry, importing the first Chianina heifer from Italy into the United States in 1974. This heifer went on to produce the first full-blooded Chianina calf in the United States. Kurly is currently a Gold Card member of the PRCA. He divides his time between his two ranches with his wife, daughter Kanzi and son Wade. He runs several thoroughbred race horses and enjoys deer hunting in the Flint Hills.

Year inducted: 2006

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Gerald Roberts – Rodeo Cowboy

“He was a real pioneer, not only for his sport, but for all sports in Kansas.”
-Ted Hays, Secretary of the Kansas Sports Hall of Fame, describing Gerald Roberts.

Gerald Roberts was born on October 5, 1919, in Council Grove, Kansas. Gerald became a legendary bronco and bull rider in rodeos all over the United States. His parents, E.C. and Clara Roberts encouraged their six children to pursue the “cowboy lifestyle”. At the age of five Gerald knew he wanted to be a rodeo cowboy. By the age of 13 he rode the truck-loads of colts his father bought. When he turned 17, Roberts followed footsteps of his brother, Ken, and sister, Marge, by joining the professional rodeo circuit. As Gerald traveled and competed, his family started the Flint Hills Rodeo, the longest-running rodeo in the state of Kansas. Held in 1938 as the First Annual Chase County Rodeo, it was renamed the following year. In 1942, at 22, Gerald earned his first All-Around World Champion title. Six years later he earned his second; making him the only cowboy to earn world titles under two different rodeo associations – the Cowboy Turtle Association and the Rodeo Cowboy Association. During his career, Gerald became close friends with another famous bronc rider, Casey Tibbs. The two men traveled together and were the first cowboys to fly on airplanes when competing on the circuit. They also crossed over into the Hollywood entertainment industry together. Roberts served as a stunt double. Turning down a role in the TV series “Rawhide”, Roberts introduced Europe to American rodeos. Gerald’s rodeo career spanned three decades and won him sixty-seven championship belt buckles. He also won all-Around titles at rodeos like Cheyenne Frontier Days, the San Francisco Cow Palace, Reno and Madison Square Gardens. In 1948 Gerald became the first cowboy to wear and promote Wrangler jeans when he modeled for the Blue Bell Company. The Kansas Sports Hall of Fame nominated Gerald as a charter, and the only rodeo inductee, in 1961. In 1964, Gerald moved to Abilene, Kansas, where he established the Chap-parel Manufacturing Company. Two years later, Roberts married Pat Hershberger, who helped operate the company. He invented a nine-plait bull rope, which soon replaced the traditional five-plaited rope previously used by most bull riders. The company also made custom-made chaps, gear bags and rope bags used by rodeo contestants. As his rodeo career wound down and his business progressed, Gerald and Pat enjoyed life around Abilene with their children – Jim, Lala, Geri, Kasey, Claudette, Joye and Jaye [deceased]. In 1990, the Professional Rodeo Cowboy Association inducted Gerald into their Hall of Fame in Colorado Springs. He is also featured in the National Cowboy Hall of Fame in Oklahoma City. A lifetime member of the PRCA and the Western and English Sales Association, Sports Illustrated named Roberts one of the Top Fifty Kansas Athletes of the Century. In 1994, the Flint Hills Rodeo honored the Roberts family with a mural. On December 31, 2004, Gerald Roberts passed away at the age of eighty-five; leaving behind a legacy steeped in rodeo and cowboy traditions. Ted Hayes, of the Kansas Sports Hall of Fame recalled, “When you think of rodeo in Kansas as a sport, the first name that comes up is Roberts, not just Gerald, but the entire family.”

Year inducted: 2005

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Charles “Floyd” Rumford, Jr. – Rodeo Cowboy

Charles Floyd Rumford Rodeo Cowboy 2004“I just always had a way with horses…when I was four years old I’d hitch up a team of horses and take my older sister to school…About that time, a first cousin of mine and I decided we were going to be cowboys.”

Charles “Floyd” Rumford, Jr., a rodeo stock contractor for over fifty years, was born December 18, 1920. As a child he broke every mule and horse on his family’s farm. Before the age of ten, a Hutchinson sale barn hired Floyd to ride horses around the auction ring for $2.00. While serving in the South Pacific during World War II, Rumford decided he was going to participate in rodeos. In 1947, he won the All-Around Cowboy Title at Kingman’s Cattlemen’s Rodeo. He had a reputation he could ride anything with four legs. In 1949, Floyd spent three months in a hospital with a broken leg after he overturned a tractor. With talk of amputation he realized he would be crippled for life. Floyd saw his rodeo career slipping away. Before he was out of the hospital Floyd decided he would be a stock contractor and produced his first rodeo. Due to his injuries, he was unable to attend this successful event that was held in conjunction with the Sterling Saddle Club, but it paid $400 of his medical expenses. Animals needed for competitions came from Rumford’s farm and from area RCA Stock Contractors. The following year Floyd produced four rodeos in Kansas. Three years later, Floyd became an official rodeo stock contractor, giving rise to the Rumford Rodeo Company, which became known for its outstanding stock. Every year a generation of bucking horses and bulls was born. Floyd told rodeo committees if they’d bring in a horse that he couldn’t ride, he would knock $100.00 off his price. Floyd recalled, “They’d bring in a wild, crazy horse…I’d climb in the chute, lay down on the horse with my head towards it backside, lock my feet around its neck and grab his flanks…they’d swing open the gate and I’d come out riding him backwards…the crowd enjoyed it…sometimes you don’t get off gracefully, but I was never bucked off.” Rodeo was a family affair for Floyd, his wife Lola and their two sons Bronc and Tommy. Rumford Rodeo Company is still a family owned and operated business near Abbyville, Kansas. Every year, it produces an average twenty-five professional rodeos, as well as supply stock for 40 rodeos in the mid-west and southwest. The company still supplies regular qualifying, bucking stock for the National Finals Rodeo. They also conduct various high school, college and ranch rodeos. Floyd’s son Bronc said, “Rodeo was really in its infancy when Dad got started.” Floyd also helped start the Abbyville Rodeo. At the rodeo’s first performance, Floyd rode a bronco for an enthusiastic hometown crowd. In 1983, for the Abbyville Rodeo’s 20th Anniversary, Floyd climbed on another bronco. Ten years later, at the rodeo’s 30th Anniversary, Floyd – then seventy-years-old – again gave another crowd-pleasing bronco ride. In 1998, the Women’s Professional Rodeo Association selected Rumford Rodeo Company as its Stock Contractor of the Year. Later that same year, Rumford passed away on May 25th. Floyd – an author, poet, storyteller and rodeo cowboy – is remembered for his genuine interest in people, his love of horses and rodeos, and most importantly the love he held for his family and friends.

Year inducted: 2004

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Leonard Hampton – Rodeo Cowboy

Leonard Hampton Rodeo Cowboy 2003“He’s a cowboy…he likes to work with cattle…We have the arena…we’re getting a little age on us, but we just try to keep things going.” – Mary Hampton describing her husband, Leonard.

 

Leonard Hampton was born and raised in Dodge City. As a young man, he did trick roping and worked the chutes at rodeos to earn money for his entrance fees to compete in other rodeo events, such as calf roping and steer wrestling. As a member of the Rodeo Cowboys Association since 1962, he pursued a career in professional calf roping. In the early 1970’s, Leonard endured a painful knee injury, which kept him from competing in the National Finals Rodeo. With professional competition on hold, Leonard made a new career for himself by training horses; a side job he had started earlier in rodeo profession. In 1972, Leonard and his wife, Mary, built an indoor arena the Hampton, which allowed Leonard to work and train horses all year around. It hosted the first jackpot arena team roping competitions in Dodge City. Years later, the arena still hosts team roping events and weekly practices. Leonard, along with his wife, continue to stay active in teaching and coaching roping to all ages, and participate in the Annual Methodist Youthville Boy’s Ranch Cattle Drive. Team roping, calf roping, team penning, and barrel racing have been a part of the continued history of Dodge City’s “Cowboy Capital of the World” thanks to Leonard and Mary Hampton.

Year inducted: 2003

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