Ranch foreman Mike Burkhart was hired by Dale Kuhrt in 1969 as more staff were hired on at Cross Bell to keep up with E.C.’s ambitious plans for the ranch. Dick Whetsell, the President of the Oklahoma Cattlemen’s Association called Burkhart a “true cowboy”. Burkhart’s only ambition in life was to be a cowboy, spending his life around horses and cattle, studying how the grasses lay and how many cattle you could put in each pasture. Burkhart understood how cattle think and he could anticipate their actions, enabling him and his crew to work huge herds of animals quickly and safely.
Mike had married a true country girl named Rubyane Adcock whose parents Helen and Elwood were from the southern part of the county. Her father’s family had been ranchers for several generations after migrating to Oklahoma in 1906 when the state was still Indian territory. Her mother’s family had also been ranching in the state since 1906. Ranching was the only way of life Rubyane had ever known. She and her nine brothers and sisters had worked right alongside their parents, working cattle and hauling hay from an early age.
Mike’s days started at five in the morning and he was usually on horseback in one pasture or another by six. He and the early rising E.C. usually caught up with each other by sunrise and Mike would give E.C. a rundown on the cattle and how different horses were coming along.
Mike passed away in 2008. In this interview his widow Rubyane speaks at length about the activities at the ranch on the day of the murder and in particular, the tension between Chub and E.C.