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

Tom Finney – Working Cowboy

Tom Finney Working Cowboy 2006“All in all it was a wonderful life.”

Thomas Clinton Finney was born December 20, 1913 at Paxico, the second child of Thomas and Bertha Finney. Shortly after he graduated from Paxico High School in 1931, his father passed away. While his mother and the rest of the family moved to Topeka, he went to work for his uncle, Karl Miller of Miller Herefords, in Belleville where he looked after the registered herd. In 1934 Tom went to work for the Brian Mitchell family on their sprawling ranch near Marfa, Texas. After about a year he returned to Wabaunsee County and went to work for R.E. Adams, Sr. of Maple Hill. In 1938 Mr. Adams sent him to his ranch in Meade County, Kansas and Beaver County, Oklahoma. After Mr. Adams death he continued to work for R.E. Adams, Jr. This was the beginning of a wonderful relationship that lasted until Tom’s death. In 1940 he married a girl from a neighboring ranch, Mary Ancshutz granddaughter of “Doc” Anschutz. Though their children are deceased, he has two granddaughters, Sarah Befort of Hays and Amy Marrs of Pittsburg, who were his pride and joy. In 1968, the couple moved to the XIT Ranch headquartered south of Plains, where they lived in the house built by X.I. Robert in 1892. Tom was always a fair and understanding boss. Over the years, so many of his employees have returned for events and stay in contact with his widow. Riding a good horse on an early morning round-up on the XIT Ranch was always a thrill for him. Both Oklahoma State University and Kansas State University sent people from other countries to the XIT to experience first-hand a working ranch. Tom Finney passed away January 2, 1996.

Year inducted: 2006

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Don Fisher – Working Cowboy

Don Fisher Working Cowboy 2005“Don is the epitome of the working cowboy…he’s over seventy-years old and still rides pens and doctors cattle almost everyday… he knows cattle inside and out.” – Sarah Jones describing Don Fisher.

Don Fisher, born July 1, 1929 in Meade County was the oldest child of Roy and Mertile Fisher. Don insists that being a cowboy is all he has ever known. Adopting the skills, manners and dress of a cowboy from his grandfather, Fisher is still rarely seen without his cowboy attire or boots. Don’s brothers, Jimmie and Gene, and his sisters, Velva and Carole, say his innate knowledge and love of all animals began as a child. Don’s true passion has always been horses. This fondness began when his father gave him a bay colt, named Dixie Lou. The filly, with a tell-tale stripe, became the foundation for Fisher Quarter Horses. Over seven decades later, her bloodline is still present in Don’s brood mares. Learning calf roping from his uncles, Fisher entered rodeos in western Kansas and northern Oklahoma. In 1947, Don married Warrenetta Marrs in Meade, Kansas; where the couple raised four sons – Steve, Stan, Randy and Bryan. On their farm, Don built a small roping arena, to practice with his brother and to pass along the cowboy tradition to his sons. Don, a self-taught livestock producer, worked as a ranch hand and cowboy for several large cattle operations. In 1972, Don and Warrenetta moved to Richfield, Kansas, where he ran thousands of heads of cattle for over twenty years. When the cattle market changed, Don went to work for various feed yards. Don is remembered for always asking, “Did you see any trouble?” In 1990, Don and Warrenetta moved to Garden City for semi-retirement. Never idle, Don worked for area feed yards. At over seventy-years old, Don still rides pens, and doctors and ships cattle. Don also works on the family livestock and hay operations and ropes with his son and friends. He helped found Garden City Chapter of the Fellowship of Christian Cowboys, and served as the group’s president. As a lifetime member of the International Feedlot Cowboy Association and the United States Team Roping Association, he competes annually in the National Finals in Amarillo, Texas. Don has also competed in the Pro/Celebrity Team Roping competition between Garden City’s Beef Empire Days Rodeo and Dodge City’s Roundup Rodeo. Those attending Don and Warrenetta’s fifty-eighth wedding anniversary got a chuckle when Don exclaimed, “I won this buckle and I want to show it off.”

Year inducted: 2005

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Otis W. Jennings – Working Cowboy

Otis W Jennings Working Cowboy 2004“The word ‘cowboy’ and the name Otis Jennings are synonymous.” – Jo Vanatta describing Otis Jennings.

 

Otis Jennings was born March 4, 1923 in Burr Oak, Kansas. Otis lived his virtually all his life in Kansas. As a child, he moved to Garden City with his parents, Roy and Mae Jennings. Soon after, Otis met and worked for a man who owned racehorses and worked as a horse trader. This started his lifelong interest in working with horses and cattle. In 1943, Otis married Shirley Haflich and worked on her family’s farm east of Garden City. During this time, he kept a few ponies and began working with colts from neighboring farms. He also started working as a “contract cowboy” looking after others’ cattle for pay. In 1962, Otis and Shirley purchased a quarter section of land west of Lakin.

After moving, Otis vowed, “They were going to do whatever they had to do make a living in the horse and cow world.” The State of Kansas hired Otis as a Brand Inspector. Besides the brand work with feedlots in Kearney County and the sale barn in Syracuse, the couple kept busy riding neighbors’ colts and continuing Otis’s business. In 1972, Otis and Shirley built an indoor arena at their home in Lakin. Otis performed all of the construction on the building’s interior. In 1978, the couple purchased a string of rodeo stock; creating J-J Rodeo Company. When they started producing rodeos, there were only three Little Britches Rodeos in western Kansas. Their hard work and dedication led to twenty Little Britches Rodeos being produced in the area.

When asked why he never worked the pro-rodeos, instead working with children, Otis always replied, “Kids have to start somewhere.” In 1995, Otis received the Bob Payne Memorial Award at the Kansas Ranch Rodeo Championship as a tribute to his dedication to his family, his job, his integrity, his honesty and his willingness to help others. Otis suffered a debilitating stroke in 1996. He had spent the day before in the saddle, just as he had everyday before that; he then worried about whether or not he would be a cowboy anymore. All who cared about Otis quickly reminded him that once a cowboy, always a cowboy. Otis passed away on Saturday, January 11, 2003 in Lakin, Kansas.

Throngs paid their respects to Otis “Pappy” Jennings, the man who had led many of the town’s rodeo parades and had provided many years of entertainment for rodeo fans.

Year inducted: 2004

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Richard Ingland – Working Cowboy

Richard ingland Working Cowboy 2003“The Cowboy Way is not about pay, but helping out fellow cowboys.”

Richard Ingland is an employee of Wilroads Garden Feed yard and born in Beaver County, Oklahoma in 1941, spent his childhood working on his family’s farm, which included a feedlot. His love for animals began when he assisted his father, a foreman at a local sale barn. Richard learned at an early age to work hard and “Cowboy Up”. He credits his Dad and his pony, Spot, for his riding ability. Around the age of seventeen he began to travel the rodeo off and on for about six years. In order to support his “hobby,” Ingland worked in the farming and livestock field. In 1960, he married Maybelle and the two began their family, causing Richard to give up rodeos and work for the Kansas State Highway Department. However, his love of the cowboy lifestyle led him back to employment dealing with cattle and horses. Richard is an active member of the Dodge City Roundup, the Dodge City Roundup Team Penning Association, and assists with the Annual Youthville Cattle Drive. He continues to take part in team penning events, 4-H, and Little Britches Rodeos, while still breaking horses. Anyone who knows Richard Ingland will testify that he is the epitome of the “True American Working Cowboy.”

Year inducted: 2003

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