50 Years In The Saddle
North Dakota Cowboy Hall of Fame Inductee - 2009
On May 26, 1957, 22 ranchers who had been working with cattle since at least 1907 met in New Town and organized ‘50 Years in the Saddle’. They decided to gather once a year to reminisce and "to preserve memories and traditions".
Many of the charter members also belonged to the Western Livestockmen's Association (now the N.D. Stockmen's Association). The second annual meeting was held in 1958 at Angus Kennedy's Skunk Creek Camp on Ft. Berthold. Membership requirements have changed through the years.
Now, a man or woman must be at least 55 years old and have worked with livestock for his/her livelihood. Women were first allowed active membership with the right to vote in 1980 when Lettie Kellogg was admitted. The membership boards at Watford City's Heritage Park list over 500 members since 1957.
In 1958, charter members voted in 17 ‘old timers as honorary members, including Sam Rhoades, Crist Lee, Shy Osterhaut, Dr. H. Anderson, Alfred Haugen, Clint Randall, Billy Timmons, Richard Maase, Usher L. Burdick, Martin Knutson, Charlie Davis, Gube Saunders, E.H. O'Cain, Ben Bird, Bill Taylor, John Leakey and Mert Buckley.
In 1961, the group decided that Watford City would be the official headquarters, with dues set at $5.00. Dues have since risen to $10.00, which covers the annual meeting meal. There are about 130 members who meet for the June round up.
Four volumes of western N.D. history, compiled by Andrew Johnston and Manfred Signalness, have been published by the organization. The group has created historical markers; put up plaques, signs and benches; donated trophies for 4 H shows; and generally documented life on the ‘western edge.’
Many members have been individually inducted into the NDCHF, including Angus Kennedy, William ‘Bill’ Taylor, Brooks Keogh, Earl Henderson, Alvin Nelson, Louie Pelissier, Elmer Clark, Dale Jorgenson, Jim Johnston, Bill McCarty, George M. Christensen, Ray Schnell and Evelyn Neuens.