Grandma Pawhuska

By Roseanne McKee

Republished with permission of the Bartlesville Examiner-Enterprise


Virgie Elizabeth Steward, also known as Grandma Pawhuska

Hominy resident Carl Blue’s family is full of interesting characters and in this column, I’ll introduce you to several of them. The first is Virgie Elizabeth Stewart, Blue’s grandmother, who lived in the historic blacksmith’s house in Pawhuska where the Chamber of Commerce is now located.

Known to many as Grandma Pawhuska, Stewart, who was four foot eight inches tall, was an avid gardener with a gift for hospitality. She entertained many guests, starting in the 1930s, including outlaws who gathered in a secret room, located off Stewart’s bedroom under the steps, to drink and play cards, Blue said.

Stewart, who was born in about 1898, acquired the blacksmith’s house in the early 1930s, which needed some restoration at the time, Blue said. Stewart completed the needed repairs and lived there for many years.

Blue is proud of his family’s connection to the historic blacksmith’s house, one of the first built in Pawhuska.

“The Indians built it for their blacksmith,” Blue said.

A single mother of three, Stewart worked hard at a canvas tent factory and Dr. Pepper bottling company, Blue said.

To feed her family and bring in extra income, “grandma planted five acres of garden by herself. One year she grew a 110-pound white and black squash in the fork of an old cottonwood tree. She was in the paper for this with pictures of us lowering it out of the tree. We had to use two ropes to get it out of the tree,” he explained. Stewart continued gardening until her death at the age of 104.

“Back then, the grocery stores bought all of her vegetables. She was blessed with a green thumb, but she also used a lot of the natural herbs [she grew] for healing. Peach tree bark in one direction scraped and boiled makes you puke, but scraped in the other direction and boiled cures diarrhea,” Blue said.

“Grandma had so many varieties of plants. We’d pick handfuls of grapes. She grew green seedless, purple Concord and did everything by hand,” Blue said with pride. “We found the old root cellar five steps out the back door to the right … back in the early 1900s, people had to use a root cellar.

“Back in the late 1960s, the house caught on fire and, [Stewart’s son], Uncle Bill about burned to death, but he got out and saved the house. Inside was all natural with natural gas lights and the old electrical cloth-coated wires with insulators on it,” he explained. In those days, the house had a natural gas stove with oven, a refrigerator and a wood-burning stove, he said.
“Up the stairs at the top there was a room filled with books from the 1920s in there. Also upstairs was Uncle Bill’s bedroom. … When he came back from California, he lived [on the property] until his death in 1991.” After the fire, “he lived in an old Air stream camper in the back yard.”

Across the alley was the carriage house where the wagons were and the blacksmith worked on the wagons and carriages.

While his grandmother was still alive in 1992, Blue’s mother sold the home and auctioned everything. The city of Pawhuska bought the home and modernized it, removing the gas light fixtures and closing off the secret room in the process, Blue said with a note of sadness. The kitchen became an office and Uncle Bill’s bedroom upstairs became a conference room.

Since Stewart was not from Pawhuska, I wondered about her life before she arrived here. Blue filled in some of the gaps.

“She was raised by her grandparents, who were an Indian medicine man and woman. She was raised in the Kiamichi Mountains in southeast Oklahoma. She told me years ago that the last year of the sign in on the Cherokee rolls they had a flood … and they couldn’t get there. The last day of the sign in there were hers and a couple of other families that didn’t get to sign in. Her dad’s name was Ed Tice. Her mom died at her birth, but her father walked away,” Blue said.
“We’ve found information about her being in Rock Spring, Wyoming, in the early 1900s … and her three kids. We also found that she was in Canada in the 1930s and 40s census. It shows her at El Reno, Okla., and other parts, but she came to Pawhuska in the early 1900s by horse and buggy, or wagons, with the three kids — Augusta, William and Virginia.” Later, Betty Jo, Carl Blue’s mother, came along.

“Some say grandma was married to a Stewart out of Stewart, Okla., and that’s how she acquired the blacksmith’s house,” Blue said.

Blue’s uncle Bill, William Emanuel Stewart, who lived the second part of his life in Pawhuska at the blacksmith’s house, had worked as a movie actor in Hollywood. “He was Humphrey Bogart’s stand in until he got into drinking and divorced,” Blue explained.

Blue mentioned another interesting ancestor, his great grandfather, George Washington Blue, who served as a U.S. Marshall. He was killed at the corner of Price and Main in Hominy in 1932 by bootleggers, Blue said.

“He had arrested some bootleggers and busted their still. Two to three days later, they ran him over in a Model T Ford,” Blue said.

Carl’s own father, also named George Washington Blue, had been a boxer, who was the 1941 Golden Gloves Champion, Blue said.

Carl Blue, who is an electrician in Hominy has served in the National Guard and in the Army Reserves. He is active in the American Legion post in Hominy. Blue is married to Vivian Blue, and they have a son named Lewis Blue.

His wife’s great grandfather was Bill Doolin, who became a member of the Dalton Gang of outlaws in the 1890s, but that’s a story for another day!


Carl Blue

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Gold prospecting for profit and fun

By Roseanne McKee

Reprinted with permission of the Bartlesville Examiner-Enterprise

When Mike Grim retired, he had no idea what adventures lay ahead for him. One small decision changed the course of his retirement — he joined the GPAA (Gold Prospectors Association of America).

“They had a big dig in Montana in 2011. That was the first year I went prospecting and I’ve been going there ever since.”

This spring he brought back 16 buckets of concentrate, each weighing 80 to 100 pounds. The concentrate consists of dirt, rocks and gold. “I bring it home and go through it later in the year, but we’ve had a really nice August,” Grim said. “So, I’ve started working it just for the heck of it.”

He demonstrated the process with his Omni Fox brand gold machine. Water flows over the concentrate he feeds into the machine one trowel at a time.

“What I’m gonna do with this is run it through the [machine]. This will allow me to separate the gold from the rock. As the water carries it down, these rubber riffles will stop the gold from flowing out. Gold is heavy, so it stays. Rocks and water run by. A gallon of gold weight 160 pounds. Water weighs about eight pounds. Rocks weigh less than gold, so they and the water will run out of the sluice box,” he said.

He also said he has “eight, five-gallon buckets of concentrate that came out of an open pit sapphire mine outside of Helena, Montana,” and he’s excited to see what he will find.

If he gets tired of processing concentrate, he will go on another kind of adventure.

“This fall I plan on going to Arizona, and I’ll metal detect in the desert. My most expensive investment has been a metal detector. If I had to get rid of everything, I’d keep my metal detector,” Grim said.

“I find things every time I go out with it. I’ve found old silver dollars, some rings that I sold to Treasures Jewelry in Bartlesville. It was a diamond ring set in platinum,” Grim explained.

He’s dug a foot deep when he metal detector went off indicating there was something there. He also uses the metal detector in Montana.

“When you’re in gold country, you want to dig everything you find,” Grim said.
With a gleam in his eye Grim provided some Montana history. In the early gold prospecting days, Chinese immigrants, who worked in the mines, were known to bury gold in glass jars. Then, later they would come back and dig it up. Today, with a metal detector, one might find gold left behind a Mason jar somewhere, he said.

The first year prospecting, Grim had a bit of beginners luck. He found a gold nugget. Grim didn’t have to wait long to find a buyer. Back at this camp, the first person he showed it to asked to buy it for several thousand dollars.
Along the way Grim has also found sapphires, garnets — even a diamond. Grim acknowledges that gold prospecting is a time-consuming, meticulous pastime. Each bucket of concentrate must be processed several times before the gold is fully separated out in tiny flecks, but at $1,200 per ounce, Grim says his search for gold is well worth it.

“I’ve been a member of the GPAA for roughly nine years and they’ve opened doors for me. They have thousands of claims throughout the U.S.
— that’s worth the cost of membership and more,” Grim said.

For $84.50 the first year, GPAA members receive the GPAA Claims Club Membership Mining Guide, the bi-monthly publications the Pick and Shovel Gazette and Gold Prospectors Magazine. Members are also able to network by posting and conversing at the GPAA on-line forum with special members-only area.

For those interesting in prospecting, Grim recommends, “watch, look and learn before you begin. On the metal detector don’t cut corners — get a good one.
“I could do this from now on. I don’t drink, don’t smoke. It just fascinates me when I find a nugget.”

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Boys State an inspiring experience

By: Roseanne McKee

Republished with permission of the Bartlesville Examiner-Enterprise

The Chris Gailey American Legion Post 450 in Ochelata chose Weston Moses, 17,
to attend the American Legion Oklahoma Boys State, a weeklong camp, hosted annually by the American Legion.
Moses, a senior at Caney Valley High School, described this year’s Boys State as a life-changing experience. The camp, in its 79th year, took place starting the last Saturday in May at Northeastern Oklahoma A&M College in Miami.
The week began with marching exercises and concluded with learning to run a government.
“We learned how to get into formation like someone in the military would do. We did trust exercises and learned how to properly carry the flag,” Moses said.
Moses described some of the other things they did at the camp.
“One thing that I thought was real neat was we learned how to salute higher ranks in the military — the way a sergeant would salute a colonel,” Moses said.
He demonstrated the salute as he spoke: “You stand with your feet heels touching at a 45 degree angle and hold your hands at your side like you’re holding a roll of quarters with thumbs down, shoulders back; then with your hand perfectly straight, keeping your chin and eyes forward, you salute. After the colonel salutes, you don’t put your hand down until they do.”
“To me there’s no better way to highlight what we do as the world’s largest veteran’s organization. … I know that when these several hundred boys leave here every year, they know what American Legion is, they’re going to tell others about it and, hopefully, like me someday they’ll go on to serve and join themselves and carry on the tradition,” said Director of Oklahoma Boys State Clay Ballenger.
Speaking of is experience, Moses said, “I think a lot of it was about citizenship and Americanism — how to be a good role model in your community. Everybody has a role or a job in his community whether you realize it or not.”
The camp staff of about 30 demonstrated this by having the attendees learn about how to run a government. Students were separated into groups of 20, called cities, Moses said. The students remained in these groups for lodging. There were nine cities total, he said. The students elected boys within their groups to hold positions within each city and learn how to govern.
Moses also enjoyed meeting everyone at the camp.
“The sergeants and the colonels I met … you make a lot of connections,” Moses said.
Speaking of his peers, Moses said: “Those are friendships that will last for a while. They chose a group of boys who showed responsibility, respect and what they thought it was to be a true citizen. … Everybody I met at Boys State were people who put others before themselves.
“Attending was a big responsibility but I was very, very pleased to have been chosen — just the responsibility and the happiness it gives you to know you were selected as one of the most respected kids in northeast Oklahoma — every day showing your committed to respecting and putting others before yourself and your community,” Moses said.
Corey Brooks, the assistant director of Oklahoma Boys State said the camp was an opportunity to “get to know who you are as a team … as an individual … and who you’re going to be in the future as part of this great fabric of society.”
In fact, the experience influenced Moses’ thoughts about the future. “After graduation, I plan to join the Air Force and go into healthcare to get an EMT license. That would put me on the front lines in helping others during a disaster.”
Then, Moses plans to pursue a nursing degree at Oklahoma State University or the University of Oklahoma, he said.
The Chris Gailey American Legion Post 450 meets the second Monday of the month at 7 p.m. at the Caney Valley Senior Center in Ochelata. To join this post, or to nominate a student for next year’s Boys State, call the Post Commander Ray Raley at (951) 218-2708.

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Osage Nation Museum Curator takes position at American Indian Cultural Center and Museum


Osage Nation Museum Curator, Hallie Winter

Photo by Roseanne McKee

By Geneva HorseChief-Hamilton, ON Communications

It has been a few short, and very busy, years filled with more than Hallie Winter (Osage) imagined when she left Buffalo, N.Y., in early 2015 to become the new director at the Osage Nation Museum (ONM). In that time, she has organized several successful events and amazing exhibitions, received honors and awards, and completed a museum renovation.
Her successes at ONM have earned her recognition in the museum community and now a position at the American Indian Cultural Center and Museum (AICCM) in Oklahoma City scheduled to open in Spring 2021. At the end of the month she will join the AICCM team where she will be the new collections manager.
“It’s really very bittersweet,” said Winter about her departure from ONM at the end of this month. “I really put my heart and soul into the museum and I would like to thank my Osage community for welcoming and supporting me. It has been a wonderful experience to be back home again and to be involved with my culture.”
She said her first mission at ONM when she arrived was to begin renovating the museum and to update preservation and storage resources and methods. Winter’s second mission was connecting a now updated Osage Museum with the community it served, the Osage people and anyone wanting to learn about the Osage.
It took less than a year to get the museum ready for its first new exhibition and from there the museum took off. Winter said she remembers feeling overwhelmed with the incredible responsibility of these efforts but also feeling so thankful to be given the opportunity to help her people through history preservation and education.
“We are extremely proud that one of our own will represent us at the American Indian Cultural Center and Museum in Oklahoma City. [Winter] has done a lot of hard work and brought our small museum into the 21st century making it an excellent destination spot. Her work has been recognized nationally by the American Alliance of Museums and the National Center for American Indian Enterprise (NCAIE) ‘40 Under 40’ 2018 awards. I am proud of Hallie, excited for her new opportunity, but sad that we are losing such an impressive young lady to another museum,” said the Osage Nation Director of Operations Casey Johnson.
Working at the AICCM is an amazing opportunity and will put an Osage perspective and Osage voice at an international destination that is being shaped to redefine Native American history and contributions. The American Indian Cultural Center and Museum mission is to generate awareness and understanding of the history of tribes and their relationship to Oklahoma today.
“We are humbled to bring aboard Hallie Winter to the American Indian Cultural Center and Museum team. She is a highly qualified American Indian museum professional who has accomplished much throughout her career, most recently at the Osage Nation Museum. The Osage people can be assured that one of their own has an important role in developing and sharing the collective American Indian experience in Oklahoma today. We look forward to further strengthening our relationship with the Osage Nation and the other Native nations across the state of Oklahoma and around the country,” said Jim Pepper Henry (Kaw citizen and Muscogee Creek), AICCM CEO & Director.
Winter said it was hard to find the words to express how much she has learned and how humbled she feels to have been the director at ONM. She said the opportunity brought insight to her life that could only have been gained by living and working with her people. “Being the director of ONM has allowed me to delve deep into Osage history and to be an active member in our community. This position has allowed me to grow both personally and professionally and I will be forever grateful to the Nation for giving me this opportunity. I’m very proud of the work I have completed here and I am confident that the ONM is set up to succeed in the future and to grow.”
About the Osage Nation Museum
The premiere destination to experience Osage history, art, and culture
Visit the Osage Nation Museum (ONM) in historic Pawhuska, Oklahoma. Our continuously changing exhibits convey the story of the Osage people throughout history and celebrate Osage culture today. Highlights include an extensive photograph collection, historical artifacts, and traditional and contemporary art. Founded in 1938, the ONM is the oldest tribally owned museum in the United States.
Admission and parking is free.
Contact Information
Phone: 918-287-5441
Location: 819 Grandview Ave., Pawhuska, Okla. 74056.

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Ribbonwork a dying art

Republished by permission of the Examiner-Enterprise

By: Roseanne McKee


Painting of Red Corn doing ribbonwork. The original and cards of the print are available at The Water Bird Gallery in Pawhuska.

In June, while visiting the Water Bird Gallery, I ran into Kathryn Red Corn, who served as director of the Osage Museum for many years, was a member of the Osage Minerals Council and who provides step-on tours about the Osage murders. But there is another side to Red Corn — her skill at ribbonwork, which she calls “a dying art.”
“I started out in ribbonwork when I was really young,” Red Corn said. “My mom, her sisters and her cousins went in together and opened the Red Man Store, and all the spouses participated.
“They didn’t really know how to do all that stuff, but they learned it together. They learned how to cut the otter hides. Some of the men in the group learned to do moccasins,” she said.
Eventually, Georgeanne Robinson was the only one remaining who ran the store, Red Corn said.
“She lived in Bartlesville, and she’d drive over every day; that business stayed open 20-some years. I still have the business cards from it. The store had about four different locations. The last one was on Kihekah.
“But it was a one-stop shop where you could get everything you needed — the only such place,” she said.

These days, The Water Bird Gallery, owned by Danette Daniels, has taken on that responsibility.

“If Danette doesn’t have it, she can order it for you,” Red Corn said.

Ribbonwork is part of the regalia worn by the Osage during their ceremonial dances and on other items.

“Ribbonwork is layered,” she said. “You put your design in and then you put another ribbon, you put your design in that and some designs are just really difficult.
Red Corn described seeing one particularly complex design at a museum in Chicago, which she admired and wanted to re-create.

“I studied and studied and I couldn’t figure it out. John Red Corn gave me a copy of one to look at and I said, ‘I don’t think I can do this.’”

The traditional ways of constructing ribbonwork are going away, she said.
“It’s kind of becoming a dying art because people don’t want to take the time to cut each one, fold it under, press it, stitch it down and then go to the next little piece, so what they do is use Stitch Witchery with that glue on the back of it, cut it and go on to the next one and so it’s turning into a lost art,” Red Corn explained.

Ribbonwork is something that Red Corn learned from her mother, whose skill was highly sought after and respected.

“My mother [Emma Louise Red Corn] was the first person to go to the Smithsonian and demonstrate the ribbonwork. She and Georgeanne were sisters. When my mother died, they got my aunt Georgeanne Robinson to do that, but my mother was the first one at the Smithsonian,” she said.

Red Corn has a treasured cradleboard made by her family for her daughter, Julie, which is a family heirloom.

“My mother did the ribbonwork for the cradleboard, and my dad did the bow — because that’s an art too. Making the bow is from Bodark, that’s tough wood, and you have bend that stuff.

I have my daughter’s cradleboard. My mother did the ribbonwork, my Uncle Wakon did the yarn work, and my dad did the bow and the board and did the carving.

There’s a whole new ceremony that goes with all that. Put the baby on the cradle board for the first time, and there’s food, of course, she said.

A watercolor artist from Fairfax, Okla., Robin Elliott, wanted to paint someone doing ribbonwork. She asked Danette Daniels and that is how she found Red Corn. However, the two never met. The artist actually worked from a photograph of Kathryn doing ribbonwork, she said.

The watercolor, which is for sale at The Water Bird Gallery in Pawhuska, shows Red Corn doing ribbonwork. With a note of sadness, Red Corn shared that the artist, Robin Elliott, had passed away before Red Corn could meet her.

However, a reception, attended by Red Corn, was held on June 29 at The Water Bird Gallery to show the painting.

Prints of the painting made into cards are also available for purchase at The Water Bird Gallery, which is located at 134 E. 6th St. in Pawhuska. The gallery is open 11:30 a.m. – 5:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday.

For those interested in having Kathryn Red Corn do a step-on tour about the Osage murders, call Danette Daniels at the Water Bird Gallery at (918) 287-9129.

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Buford Ranch on OCCA Ranch Tour


By: Roseanne McKee

Republished with permission of the Bartlesville Examiner-Enterprise

The Osage County Cattlemen’s Association’s annual ranch tour, held each Father’s Day weekend, featured six ranches this year. This column provides highlights of the Buford Ranch, the fifth tour stop, which featured Hereford heifers and calves. Sam Buford was interviewed for this stop, which was broadcast on AM radio station 1500.“Originally, the Bufords purchased approximately 1,800 acres from the Craddock family, a neighboring Osage County ranching family,” Sam Buford said. “At the time of the original land purchase, the family also was able to lease approximately 9,000 acres from various other landowners. Over the past 77 years, we’ve been able to steadily grow the ranch to its present size of about 14,000 deeded acres and about 2,000 leased acres.

“Buford Ranches is the operating company that operates the ranches. It was formed by my brother, Stephen Buford, and my sister, Sharon Linsenmeyer and myself [Sam Buford] when our mother, D. J. Petit, and her brother, John R. Duncan, decided to retire from the ranching business.

“When we purchased the cow herd about 21 years ago … commercial cows made up the entirety of the ranch. Since that time, we’ve divided the ranch into about three different sections — one of which is still the commercial cow herd. And the commercial cow herd has always been the backbone of Buford Ranches.

“Since that time, we’ve added registered Hereford cattle, and they’re managed by the current manager of the ranch, Doug Branch. Doug grew up on a Hereford ranch south of Pawnee County.

“Then, in addition to that, we have part of the ranch reserved to take care of wild mustangs for the Bureau of Land Management.

“The registered Hereford cattle were actually started in Welch, Okla., at one of our other ranches. At that time we were partners with John Jones from Lexington, Ky. and we had registered Angus and registered Brangus cattle. After about four or five years into that partnership, Mr. Jones wanted to also try to acquire some Herefords, and we were able to find two cow herds in Cheyenne, Wyoming,” Buford said.

“At both of those ranches we were able to sort the cows we wanted, and, essentially, we got a big head start on our Hereford venture by being able to acquire the best genetics from two long-time, proven herds. Despite the genetic head start we got, … the Hereford program struggled for several years because, in all honesty, it took a back seat to our registered Angus cattle herd. In Welch we had always sold registered Angus cattle, and the people that ran the ranch up there — that’s where they had their experience.
“When we made the decision to move the registered Angus cows to Osage County on the Duncan Ranch and put Doug in charge of that program, we immediately saw improvements in weaning weights, yearling weights, cow confirmation, udder quality, disposition and just several other things that are hard to quantify. Over the past few years, as I steadily saw the registered Hereford herd steadily getting better and better, it made me want to do more for Doug. And so, we made a commitment to spend money on better genetics, and we’ve gone to the northern part of the U.S. in Montana and North Dakota, and we’ve revamped our herd bull battery. We’ve tried to buy the absolute best horn Hereford bulls that can be found anywhere. Those decisions have paid immediate dividends and the cow herd has improved the last two years than the previous five.
On the ranch the caravan of vehicles wound its way uphill to a red corral at the top where the tourists viewed a mature set of herd Hereford cows with spring bull calves born in late February or early March.

“We’ll pull them off their mothers in late October, and they’re going to average in the high sevens to low eights. We’ll have some bull calves that hit 850 to 900 lbs. The heifer calves are going to be about 50 to 75 lbs. back on those weights and we’re really not worried about pushing those heifers. We’re not having any Hereford-female sales right now. We’re just trying to slowly develop them in a manner that’s best for the Hereford females.

“After we wean those calves, they’re going to stay on the ranch for 60 to 90 days. We’ll get them good and straightened out. We’ll straighten the horns on up on the bull calves. We’ll sort which registered Hereford heifers we want to keep and put back in the herd. At that that point the Hereford heifers will stay in Hominy, and we’ll send the Hereford bull calves up to Welch, and they’ll go on feed with our registered Angus bull calves,” Buford explained.

Buford described their sale program.

“We’ve always sold 18- to -20 month bulls, so once the bulls leave Hominy, and the Angus bull calves come off the Angus mothers in Welch, we’ll develop those calves for ten to 12 months; then we’ll sell them as an 18- to 20-month bull calf either in the fall or the spring.

The grass in the pastures is important for optimizing the cattle’s heath and weight.
“As you drive through the ranch you’re going to be driving through native grass pastures. You’re going to be looking at a four-grass mix: big blue, little blue, Indian grass and switch grass,” Buford said. “Due to the terrain on the ranch, we’re forced to spray the ranch with either an airplane or a helicopter. We do quite a bit of spot spraying with a ground rig, but 95 percent of the land we need to spray through aerial means.
There are certain weeds that they work continously to eradicate, being mindful of their neighbors.

“We go to great lengths to try to be good to our neighbors to make sure that we don’t spray them, and we’re constantly watching wind direction and what kind of chemicals we use and how warm it is when we spray. We like to spray most of our pastures about every other year.

“Along with good grass, we’ve also tried to keep our money in roads and water. The cattle need good water. … We’ve spent a lot of money cleaning out ponds, building new ponds.

“In addition to that we’ve spent quite a bit of money on corrals and fences, and we’ve tried to make it that a cowboy can take care of a greater number of cows, but do a better job of it, even though the number of cows he’s taking care of keeps increasing.
Buford named the ranch cowboys.

“We’ve been so fortunate that we haven’t had hardly any turnover in the last 21 years. The longest tenured employee would be Carol Ray. He worked for our family for many, many years before we took over in 1997. He was our foreman until just a couple of years ago. Carol still works for the ranch.

“We have Jackie Joe Donaldson and John Holloway, and they run the west ranch about ten miles west of the Duncan Ranch and that ranch used to be called the Bledsoe Ranch. We still refer to the original owners, so we still call that the Bledsoe Ranch. We have two cowboys that work over there.

“We also have George Henry and Riley Holloway. “We have asked a lot out of all these cowboys,” Buford said. “They go to all of the other ranches in Adair and Vinita or Welch to help on projects up there or cattle working up there as well. And we also farm near the Arkansas River. We have a wheat pasture where we put our replacement heifers on wheat every year.

“We could not be in business without quality of the people that we have that work for us,” he said with admiration.

Tour attendees saw a set of black, baldy-bred heifers to be calved in the fall.

“There is a bull on them … we put a bull on them early summer to catch anything that didn’t bred to be a fall calver. These black, white face heifers are a cross between a Hereford and Angus genetics, and we believe that the baldy heifers make the best cows,” Buford explained.

“The ranch tour also showed a set of black-white baldy heifers, a set of mature Hereford cows with calves at their side and a set of yearling Hereford replacement heifers.

“These heifers are about 14-mos. old, and they should calve about the middle of next February. Buford’s sister, Sharon’s children, held cattle at one of the stops,” he said.IMG_9338

Buford is looking to the fourth generation of Bufords to continue the ranch.

“I also have two children, Audrey and Jacob. We think that among the six kids, there’s a great opportunity that the ranch can continue in the family in the future.”

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Alred Ranch, Bluestem Ranch and Turkey Trak Ranch on OCCA 2018 Ranch Tour

Republished with permission of the Bartlesville Examiner-Enterprise

By: Roseanne McKee

The Osage County Cattlemen’s Association annual ranch tour is a treasured tradition in Osage County. It’s an opportunity for ranchers to showcase their cattle operations. Interviews with the ranchers or ranch representatives are broadcast by the local AM 1500 radio station. The interviews are played at each stop. For the 2018 OCCA Ranch Tour, the following ranches were visited in this order: Thatcher Drummond, Alred Ranch, Lazy K Cattle, Bluestem LLC, Buford Ranch and Turkey Trak Ranch. In my previous column, I wrote about Thatcher Drummond’s Wagyu beef cattle operation. This week’s column focuses on three of the other ranches on the tour. Next week’s column will highlight Buford Ranch.
Melissa Alred spoke for the Alred Ranch, which featured two- and three-year olds.

“The Alred Ranch has always been a cow-calf operation. We breed and keep our own replacement heifers.

My husband’s grandfather came to the Osage in 1902 and established the Bar-6 Ranch in 1907. After his death, Ruth took over. She and her nephew, Charles, worked side-by-side,” Alred said.

“Ruth was inducted into the OCCA Hall of Fame. After Ruth’s passing, Charlie and the rest of the family continued on to operate the ranch with the help of our foreman, Brian Clark. The ranch will continue on for future generations.”
Jim Morris spoke for the Lazy K Cattle Ranch.

“I want to thank the Osage Tribe because they helped us on our lease with the Osage,” Morris said.

“We got into this business less than two years ago. We knew there would be ups and downs — probably didn’t know how much there would be. I mean we’ve dealt with everything from pasture fires, to contaminated water streams caused by leaking salt-water injection wells, to lower commodity prices … but like anything else, the thing that really ultimately makes the difference is people you work with.

“I wouldn’t say that cattle is our most profitable business, but I would absolutely say it is our most enjoyable business. Anybody that likes livestock, likes being outdoors, likes making a difference to improve the land, would have to like this business. We’ve been fortunate in many ways. We are certainly hoping that over the next several years, we’ll be able to continue to build the quality of our herd, and make sure that we truly have one of the highest quality herds of red Angus in this region.

“We have certainly found that the really good people in this business are willing to help each other. We’ve met a lot of great people, worked with a lot of great people and we really look forward to the future in this business,” Morris said.

The third stop on the ranch tour was at Bluestem LLC, which was purchased by the Osage Nation in 2016.

On the radio-broadcast interview, a Bluestem ranch representative shared that a board of directors had begun managing ranch operations in May 2017. Bluestem leases the grazing rights to approximately half of the ranch while utilizing the remaining acres for approximately 1,200 head of its own cattle.

In October 2017, the Osage Nation received its first herd of bison. In coordination with the Osage Nation, Bluestem Ranch has plans to establish a bison preserve on the ranch, the representative said.

“We have two cowboys working for us, Lee Chambers and Austin Holloway,” Ranch foreman Mike Alexander said. “We are a cow-calf operation” — spring and fall herd.

Alexander said that the cattle shown on the tour were a commercial Angus herd, purchased in Nebraska.

“This is their third [set of] calves. These calves are out of Buford bulls. The remaining herd is Angus and cross-bred cattle, and we are using Angus and Hereford bulls,” Alexander explained.

The last ranch tour stop was at Turkey Trak Ranch. Berry Keeler spoke for the ranch.

“My wife, Sharon and I would like to thank everybody for stopping by,” Keeler said. “We bought this place back in 1989. We originally bought a piece of land to kind of get away and we kept adding to it … here at the show barn we used to have a registered cattle operation. We did that for several years … [then] we converted to a commercial program, and we went with Angus cattle. We have about 1,200 cattle. About 800 are black Angus and about 400 are red Angus. Of course, people always ask why we got into red.

Their calving area, which has barns, was part of the tour.
“We calved 240 heifers. Both sons, Brandon and Matthew work there, and they both have their own cattle operations too. Brandon works full time and Matthew works part time. Brandon basically takes care of the farming and the south end of the ranch, and Matthew takes care of our ranch up at Burbank. … When they work cattle, they do it together. … I’m not allowed to do a whole lot, and I don’t think they need me anyway.

There is also a farming operation on Turkey Trak Ranch.

“I was raised on a farm and so I like it,” Keeler said. “It’s a tough business. You have to be about half mechanic to be a farmer. I think right now we’re farming about 1,300 acres, and we usually put in some crops to make us a little bit of money so we can survive from one season to the next — soybeans or wheat or something like that or wheat for winter pasture. The last several years, we’ve been converting some of it to Bermuda grass. We have 2,500 to 3,000 acres of Bermuda grass.

“We’re trying to farm for the cattle and not just farm per se. And so far that’s worked better for us. You know if you try to do everything, you can’t do nothin’ very good. … So, we’ve cut back on our farming. We have irrigation circles, that way the crops aren’t stressed. We have a lot of hay, alfalfa, millet for hay.

“It’s been an interesting 30 years, but I love the cattle,” he said.
On the tour were “some replacement heifers we’ve raised. We have them down here where we don’t have too many cattle — just enough not to have to mow it.”
Then on the second pasture: “some five-year olds and some babies … you’ll notice what you see is red Angus, but we have more black Angus than red.

“Hopefully, we can make a dollar or two and maybe we’ll all be rich,” he said jokingly at the conclusion of his narration.

Farm Credit provided the meal after the tour.

“Be sure to thank them,” Keeler said.

Next week’s column will focus on the Buford Ranch near Hominy, the fourth stop on the ranch tour.

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