Cattle Rustling in Texas…..

Welcome back.  I’m tracking another unsolved mystery and I need the public’s help in solving this one. There is also an elven thousand-dollar reward so all you wannabe detectives, listen up. Just last month on February 18th 262 cows, mostly mixed yearling weight between 500 and 600 pounds, were stolen from a ranch in Perryton, Texas which sits in the far northeast corner of the state, about fifty miles southeast of Guymon, Oklahoma.

It’s one of the largest thefts of cattle, or rustling as it is commonly called, in recent history and it has a tie to this area because the fellow whose cattle were stolen grew up here. Bob Adcock was raised on the 8,000-acre Cobb Ranch east of Ramona. His dad Edward ran the ranch for years and as Bob grew up, he developed a love of the cattle business.

After first working for his dad, Bob bought his first ranch near Talala, Oklahoma and began building his own cattle business but he needed more land. Texas had lots of available land and when he bought his first ranch there, he soon also expanded into feed lots, eventually operating several in both Texas and Oklahoma.

Bob knew cattle but he had them everywhere and to manage an operation of this size you need to know men as well because often on these far from civilization ranches its just a hired hand watching a large number of cattle on a big piece of land as was the case on February 18th.

Bob had just been to the ranch in Perryton, shipping out over three hundred head to a feed lot. The remaining 262 head were scheduled to go to a wheat field he owned in a week or two and that’s when he returned to find out every cow he had left on the ranch was gone.

How could this have happened? The cows were fed and counted almost daily and there was only one road in that a person could drive a huge cattle truck down and it went right by the house where the cowboy who worked for him lived. It would have taken at least three big semi-trucks and trailers along with several cowboys to haul that many cattle. In addition, every cow had the Lazy 11 brand on it which is basically the two numbers slanted.  The Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association, which is an arm of the Texas Rangers, is checking the brands everywhere so taking these cows to a cattle auction wouldn’t work.

So, the big question is where could you put that many cows without drawing suspicion?  This week if you can figure it out, you’ll be eleven thousand dollars richer and you’ll also be helping a fellow from this area that I’m sure many of you know and or are at least familiar with the Adcock name.

You long time readers may remember that I covered a story about stolen cattle in central New Mexico north of Red River not long ago. It wasn’t nearly as many cows and when the cops found them mutilated, the mystery was how they had been killed.  I went out there and for days spent time at the kill sites during both the day and the night looking for clues. Nothing turned up except rumors that aliens and witchcraft followers had killed the cattle which was an interesting story but never proven.

This my friends isn’t some far-fetched idea but just downright theft so if you think you can help Bob call Special Ranger Ben Eggleston at his Texas office (806) 852-4741.

Till next time I’ll see ya down the road…….

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When You Have To Get O ut of the House Safely

Welcome back.  With the closing of most of the trade shows where I have been scheduled for book signings as well as many area museums, I have been thinking what better time for a road trip? But there is a problem, with so many great spots a person could go to in the area, the question is which one to choose.

I would start with Woolaroc for both the scenery and the animals. It is still open but with things changing so rapidly I suggest you call before you go at (918)-336-0307.

As of this writing area lakes are all open too and for you readers who are having a bout of cabin fever you might think about a day trip to one of them. Copan and Hulah lakes both have plenty of nice picnic tables and if you are ready for spring you will find that the grass and trees are already turning green. If you want to go a little further, up in Parsons, Kansas you’ll find the Parsons city lake which offers plenty of free spots where you can stop and enjoy mother nature.

To the east is one of my favorite local destinations, Oolagah Lake where the views are magnificent. Oolagah of course is the home of Will Rogers and I understand his birthplace the Dog Iron Ranch is still open to visitors.

Going west you come to another of my favorite spots, Osage Hills State Park which has its own lake that is perfect for fishing and kayaking. Osage Hills also has many great picnic spots and hiking trails. Down the road a ways you will find Bluestem Lake which is over by Pawhuska and well worth the drive. Friends there tell me the fishing is great and it’s not unusual to spot a bald eagle or two circling around the lake.

 The Nature Conservancy’s Tallgrass Prairie Preserve sits outside of Pawhuska and it is another wonderful place to visit in the spring. Anywhere along the drive you may run into a bunch of free ranging bison and this is the time of year when they are having babies. You may also see an elusive prairie chicken or two, birds which were once plentiful and now have become quite rare. While you’re at the preserve you can tour the old Chapman Barnard Ranch headquarters and see where cowboy actor Ben Johnson grew up while his dad was the ranch foreman.

If you’re still looking for more you might also think about visiting Hominy which is just another short drive away. There is a wonderful lake close to town with great views and Hominy is where the original Drummond family home is located. A must see for any history buff, the home has many of the original furnishings and an extensive exhibit about the family’s role in settling Oklahoma.

Yes folks, gas is cheap and you’ll be able to avoid close contact with others as we have been instructed so what better time to cheer yourself up spending some time in the great outdoors.

I’ll end with a vision I had this week. Many of you long time readers know I often refer to myself in jest as a scout, tracker, translator and interpreter and so this week I am going to make two predictions. First, the Tower Center at Unity Square project that is under construction between the Price Tower and the Community Center is going to change the face of Bartlesville tremendously by attracting even more people to the downtown area. I know you may have already heard of this project but I’m predicting it will have even more of an impact than they think!

Second, by this time next year food banks around the country will start receiving their largest donations ever as the result of the stocking up on food that people are doing everywhere.

Till next time I’ll see ya down the road….

Coronavirus Changes Everything

 Welcome back.  Hotels were full from Owasso to Coffeyville this past weekend for a variety of events and I was in the thick of things so I hardly know where to start this week. Besides the big college basketball tournament going on in Bartlesville which many enjoyed there were other reasons it was hard to find a place to stay in the area.

Leadership Oklahoma had a meeting in Bartlesville this past weekend and they booked sixty rooms at the Hilton Garden Inn downtown. Then there also were dozens of workers from Coffeyville where a big construction job is going on at the refinery and hotels there are full as well. In fact, lodging was so hard to come by that many of teams from the basketball tournament and their fans had to stay in Owasso hotels. As you can imagine, local restaurants report that business has been great with waiting lines at some places.

You may know that the local officials of this tournament have said that this will be the last one. The event has been going on for twelve years from its beginning as the Lone Star Tournament and every year it has attracted plenty of fans and dozens of out of town sportswriters. Hundreds of games have been played and spectators have come and gone over the years but on the last day of the last game I found one man who has attended all of the games.

Buck West is a retired plumber for the school system in Bartlesville who has gone to every game, both boys and girls, for the past twelve years.  Buck told me he just loves basketball and thinks that the Bartlesville High School gym is a great place to watch games. This super fan also said that the food is good and he hopes that the people organizing the tournament will bring it back at some point in the future. I spoke with the folks at the box office and they verified that Buck has been a season ticket holder every year. Friends, that’s dedication and with the passing this week of two well known men who were devoted to both their families and to our town, dedication is a word that should be spelled in capital letters when we’re talking about these guys.

Douglas Whistler was a Nowata boy who went on to open his own dental practice which became so popular that people came from miles away to see him. He was also a Sunday school teacher and a deacon at First Baptist Church in Bartlesville. The massive church was full of mourners for this well-loved fellow.

At 12:45 this past Saturday morning another well-known and I’ll add well loved man passed away. Ken Dunlap grew a small local construction company into a big one for sure. At one time Dunlap Construction had over one hundred men working on projects at Phillips Petroleum Company and another fifty plus building houses, churches and schools all over town. In the 1960s,70s and 80s the name Dunlap Construction meant quality. With their passing this has been a sad week for many of us.

Now on to a happier tale. There was no coronavirus scare in Coffeyville, Kansas this past weekend as hundreds of people showed up for the 4th annual Interstate Farm and Home Show. I can tell you from personal experience this was the best show yet and I look forward to seeing all my Kansas friends again next year. If you weren’t able to make it to Coffeyville, Oklahoma’s largest home and garden show is coming up this weekend at the Tulsa fairgrounds along with a big gun show. I’ll be at the gun show but if you plan to attend be prepared, parking will be hard to find with two big events going on at the same time. With that said I hope to see you there!

I’m closing this week with two quotes from Waite Phillip’s book of epigrams that he carried in his pocket until the day he died:

The most effective sermon is expressed in deeds instead of words. W.P.

Nothing in this world is permanent but change. W.P.

I think they fit Ken and Doug.

Till next time I’ll see ya down the road……

Deer Creek Station, Oklahoma

Welcome back. Deer Creek Station; back in 1887 it was just a railroad maintenance stop for the Southern Kansas Railway until the land run and a Kansas investor changed all that. Today Deer Creek Station, Oklahoma is one of the state’s premiere tourist destinations and during my three day visit last weekend I learned why.

If I could let me tell you a little about this town and why I was in the area. City parks; there’s 13 of them here as well as a handful of lakes. There are six museums including the Drugstore, the Oklahoma Territory, a big sports museum and three others I didn’t have time for. Things to do here are unlimited, from touring the historic downtown with its fantastic architecture and thriving mom and pop businesses to listening to great live music which seems to be everywhere. This is the home of the famous fiddle player Byron Berline, a guy who has played with everyone from the Rolling Stones to Bill Monroe and he has the contacts to bring in the best bluegrass musicians in the world during the several music festivals that are held here every year. Byron also puts on concerts regularly at his own theater downtown which folks tell me is a must attend and you never know who might show up to play with him. The equally famous Pollard Theater is nearby and the list of renowned actors who got their start there would fill my whole column.

If you like rodeo Deer Creek has that covered too and that’s the reason I came to town. The Lazy E Arena and the International Pro Rodeo Association have become partners and the finals which just wrapped up this past Sunday was held for the first time not in Oklahoma City but right here in Deer Creek at the Lazy E and friends they drew a huge crowd. Four shows in three days at the most famous rodeo arena in the country, it’s a match that should have happened years ago. If you haven’t heard of the Lazy E or the I.P.R.A. here’s little history about both of them.

After fifty years in the rodeo business the I.P.R.A. has produced more pros in this sport than any other association and judging from the attendance at the shows it’s plain it is still going strong in what many call the toughest sport on dirt.

The Lazy E has quite a history of its own. The facility was developed by E.K. Gaylord II and opened in December 1984. Gaylord eventually sold the arena to an investment group and in October 2013 that group sold the property to the McKinney family from Midland, Texas. The family is dedicated to maintaining the Lazy E as a world leader in the presentation of western entertainment and they have spent millions keeping it up to date. Over forty major events are held there every year including livestock sales and concerts as well as rodeo competitions. By now you may have guessed the identify of this town which was once called Deer Creek Station but was renamed in honor of that business man from Kansas City who had a vision of what the little railroad stop could be. His name was John Guthrie and he lived just long enough to attend the renaming ceremony.

If you haven’t been to this historic town put it on your list for a visit. I guarantee you’ll be just as impressed as I was. Till next time I’ll see ya down the road… #

Welcome back. First off this week I have news of a new writer for the Bartlesville Magazine who will be introduced when the magazine comes out this week. I’ll leave his identity a mystery but this is a man in his late sixties who went to school locally and has traveled many miles around the country from coast to coast, border to border, living in several locations along the way. He has written for several newspapers and magazines, published two books and has been the ghost writer for several other projects. The new column will be called “Through My Eyes” and it will be the featured article in the magazine. I’ve read the column and without giving too much away I can tell you that Don Doty, Walter Allison, John F. Kane, Art Gorman and a café called Kenny’s are all mentioned. If those names don’t get your interest I will simply say that they are all part of Bartlesville’s history. Check it out this month. As for me, when the news got back to me that my book Footprints in the Dew made Oklahoma’s Best Seller List again I decided to stay on the book signing circuit a bit longer. First up is a big trade show at the Oklahoma City fairgrounds. If you haven’t travelled there lately, you would find that things are changing with several new buildings under construction while older ones are coming down. From there it’s a return to Tulsa where the Tulsa Flea Market is celebrating 48 years at the fairgrounds. On to sports. Last Saturday with bad weather in the area I cancelled a book signing in Pawhuska choosing instead to attend a Golden Eagles basketball game on the campus of Oral Roberts University in Tulsa. The game was held in the Mabee Center on the campus and if you haven’t been there before here’s a little history on the building. The center opened in 1972 and has 10,575 permanent seats all of which offer clear sightlines for games and concerts. Over the years the Mabee Center has hosted a wide range of events including NCAA and NAIA championships, the Miss Oklahoma pageant and concerts by Elvis Presley, Garth Brooks and the Blue Man Group among many others. As it turned out there were lots of people who wanted to watch a good game that night. The Eagles played the North Dakota Fighting Hawks and a good game it was as ORU won decisively. Basketball season is going full steam so if you’re looking to get out and have some fun check out a local high school or college game. I can guarantee from personal experience you will enjoy yourself. You rodeo fans will be excited to learn that the International Professional Rodeo Association is moving their finals competition to the world famous Lazy E Arena in Guthrie, Oklahoma. Designed specifically for rodeo competition, the arena was recently renovated to install state of the art lighting, sound and video systems along with new seating. The arena offers R.V. hookups for visitors and contestants as well as free parking for event attendees. This is the 50th anniversary of the International Finals Rodeo which will be held this weekend and I’ll be there. Till next time I’ll see ya down the road…………….

A Christmas Story

Welcome back. Continuing from last week’s column, what kind of person can draw two past Oklahoma governors, George Nigh and Frank Keating to a Christmas party at his house, along with Garth Brook’s guitarist Ty England, champion bronc rider Billy Etbauer and a dozen more well-known folks? Well, as I promised to tell you last week, they all came to see a man whose home is now in Yukon, Oklahoma but his story doesn’t start in Oklahoma though but rather in a small town called Duvall just outside of Seattle, Oregon.

The date was May 14, 1940 and the occasion was the birth of a baby boy but life started out rough. With a father who milked cows for a living and a mother who suffered a crippling nervous breakdown soon after his birth, the boy was raised mostly by his sister who was only four years older. Religion always played a big role in the boy’s early years but in 1949 after attending a revival meeting led by Christian crusader Billy Graham his faith became central in his life. An athlete in school, the boy exceled in several sports as well as academics, eventually graduating from Pacific University in Seattle in 1962. He went on to the University of Edenborough in Scotland which had the world’s foremost seminary. While he was studying there he also worked part-time and traveled through much of Europe, making many new friends whom he is still close to sixty years later. After graduation the boy, who was now a young man, moved back home to Duvall where he started working and got married but he had bigger dreams. First of all, he wanted to serve god, then he wanted to help other people and have his own herd of cows. All of this would come to him but not without hard work.

He got the perfect job to help other people at Acme Personnel and from sun up to way past sundown he worked finding employment for people who needed it. In 1968 Acme offered him a job in Oklahoma which he took. By now Acme was the largest job placement company in the country but financial trouble was brewing for the firm. With good credit, a proven work ethic and he would say god’s help, the young man bought Acme Personnel and turned it into Express Employment Professionals. It was a big gamble and for several years during the early 1980s it looked like the new company might not make it. There was also another problem because this full-grown man could not restrain himself when it came to giving to others. By the 1990s he had his own ranch and as was his way, became particularly interested in helping young people get involved in farming and ranching donating millions in scholarships over the years but he supported many other endeavors as well. From the arts to feeding the hungry, he was willing to chair any worthwhile event or organization that benefited others.

Meanwhile his stature in the business community continued to grow and along the way he was invited to become a director and then chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank in Kansas City. Yes, the boy who had wanted to help others had achieved all he dreamed of and even today as he has gotten older, he still wants to assist those in need. Friends his work in life has not gone unnoticed and last Sunday was a tribute by his friends who came from near and far to wish this man, Yukon, Oklahoma’s own Bob Funk, a Merry Christmas. Now you know the rest of this Christmas story and if you want to learn more about Mr. Funk check out the Express Employment Professionals website.

You can also make a visit to the Copan Café and out in the back pasture are some of Bob’s prize-winning cattle that café owners John and Donna Chaney bought from Bob’s Express Ranches. Next week a story about a rancher from Bartlesville and how he made his way into the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum.

Till then have a happy New Year and I’ll see ya down the road…

George Nigh , Ty England and Others

Welcome back. Like many other writers at this time of year I am still on the road doing book signings and hitting all the Christmas parties that I can. This week I thought a few profiles of the well-known and just plain interesting folks I’ve run into along the way might appeal to you readers. I’ll start with a man who was Oklahoma’s only four term governor and who was also the only person to win all seventy-seven counties in the process. The first to recognize how important the film industry could be for Oklahoma, he pushed for incentives to encourage movie producers to come to our state. This man also appointed the first woman to the Oklahoma Supreme Court, boosted new highway construction, improved the Oklahoma prison system and promoted the arts. He expedited construction of Arrowhead and Fountainhead lodges at Lake Eufaula and following his terms as governor he became the President of the University of Central Oklahoma. By now most of you know I’m speaking about George Nigh. I’ve known George for several years and Sunday night I got the chance to visit with the ninety-three-year-old legend. He said he had a lot of friends in Bartlesville and to tell everyone hello, especially former State Representative A.C. Holden. Back in the day he and A.C. both played a big role in expanding highway 75 into Kansas.

I also spoke by phone to A.C. who is living happily in Texas with his wife Ann at their son’s home. He wishes all of his old friends here a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. At the same Christmas party where I saw George, I ran into former Oklahoma Governor Frank Keating and his wife Cathy who also have close connections to A.C, and Bartlesville. This Tulsa guy has held more positions in government than I can count including positions with the FBI, the U.S. Treasury and the U.S. Department of Housing. He was a U.S. Attorney General and as Governor he was responsible for the largest tax cut in Oklahoma History. He was also Governor on April 19, 1995 when the Murrah Building was blown up and he and Cathy led the recovery efforts following the bombing. Frank, Cathy and I first met at this Christmas party I’m talking about in Yukon, Oklahoma five years ago after he read my book about the Mullendore murder. They both send greetings to their friends in Bartlesville as well.

You Garth Brooks fans may know of Ty England and he is also a regular at this party. I am happy to say that Ty and I are friends and he is about as down to earth as it gets. He told me he’s back playing guitar with Garth at stadiums around the world and he’d just flown in from Canada to get here.

Five-time World Champion Saddle Bronc rider Billy Etbauer had come to the party from Las Vegas where the PRCA was wrapping up and I got a chance to visit with him about Tyler Milligan, a local boy who made the finals this year in tie-down calf roping. His dad Steve who was also a rodeo champ lives in Bartlesville and when Tyler is not on the rodeo circuit he trains in Stephenville, Texas which is the home of more world rodeo champions than any other place in the world. Doctors, lawyers, bankers, cops and even a few T.V. celebrities all attended the party.

Every day working people were there too and it’s always the same, when you get there every year you get a big hello and a warm handshake from the boss and when you leave you get a nice gift to remember the evening by. Well, where was I this time you may be asking. Sorry, I’m out of space so that will just have to wait till next week.

Merry Christmas and till next time I’ll see ya down the road….

Tulsa Flea Market

If you haven’t finished your holiday shopping you can find something unique at the Tulsa Flea Market tomorrow at the Expo Center. I will be there singing books so come check it out.

Holiday Giving

Welcome back. I find many of my stories while I’m traveling up and down our country’s highways and as it happened one came to me this past week on my way to Oklahoma City. It’s actually an old story, something I’ve written about before at this time of year. It is not about a famous murder, or a long forgotten town. There is no breaking news on the Cindy Kinney disappearance of 1976 or on the recent death of someone who played a big role in people’s lives like Donna Chaney. This week it’s not about giving to the needy or donating to charity because we all do what we can in our own way. So, with all that said, how about a gift to yourself that will last all year? I’m a member of several not for profit organizations including Woolaroc and the Frank Phillips Home and I’ve found that membership programs are especially common among museums. From the National Cowboy Hall of Fame and Western History Center in Oklahoma City to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City these programs offer free entrance to exhibitions usually with a guest, special discounts at their gift shops and reciprocal agreements for free entrance to other museums around the country. I think one of the best benefits offered by these membership programs are the members only events. Locally both Woolaroc and the Frank Phillips Home have great Christmas parties with wonderful decorations and delicious food. Although these organizations hold many other events throughout the year for members, I always try to catch a couple during the Christmas season because you never know who you’ll meet. Think about a gift of a membership for yourself this year, it’s money well spent. This coming week takes me to Oklahoma City once again where I’m meeting up with a bestselling Oklahoma author, lawyer and historian for a book signing at the renowned Full Circle Books which is located on Northwestern Boulevard among miles of shopping centers. Kent Frakes has written two volumes on “Oklahoma’s Most Notorious Cases” and both made the bestseller list. I’ve traveled with him before and I can tell you he is quite the investigator when it comes to researching information for a book as well as a very interesting speaker. Have you ever heard of Ardmore millionaire Jake Harmon? Here was a guy who made millions in shady deals and then lost it all. After rebuilding his fortune and going into politics, he was even mentioned as a possible presidential candidate at the 1920 Republican Convention. A married man, Harmon paid his nephew $10,000 to marry his secret mistress, a woman who would eventually shoot and kill the well-known politician. Kent’s books have around thirty of these stories about Oklahoma’s most famous murders, some dating back to statehood and others more recent like the murder of prominent Tulsa businessman Roger Wheeler who unknowingly tangled with Boston’s Winter Hill Gang. Gang leader Whitey Bulger ordered a hit on Wheeler and for thirty years it was one of Tulsa’s most famous unsolved mysteries. These books are a must read for anyone interested in true crime. There will be five of us bestselling authors all together at Full Circle on December 14th from 3-4:30 and it should be a lot of fun. Till next time I’ll see ya down the road……

Hell on the Border World Premiere

Welcome back. Pawnee, Oklahoma was my destination this past Sunday to catch the world premiere of a new movie based on the true story of U.S. Marshall Bass Reeves. Marshall Reeves was from a time long ago when Judge Parker ruled over the Indian territories of what is now Oklahoma. I was lucky to be invited to this screening and when you see it advertised be sure to check it out. The movie is called Hell on the Border and the public release date is coming up soon. I’ll let you know as soon as I get it.

As many of you may know Pawnee has a lot to offer. Gordon William Lillie’s ranch and museum is a must see. Lillie is better known as Pawnee Bill, a star of Wild West shows that were popular in the late19th and early 20th century. Pawnee Lake and the beautiful bath house which was built by the W.P.A. in 1932 is another interesting stop. Another attraction is the Pawnee Agency and Boarding School which was established in 1875. The present native stone building was also built by the W.P.A. in the 1930s and was empty for years after the school closed. Today it is the home of the Pawnee Nation College. Pawnee is the home of four Medal of Honor recipients whose life stories are told in the town’s Veterans Memorial Museum. The museum also houses the largest collection of old military gear in the area. The movie was shown at the historic Buffalo Theatre and as you can imagine from the name, the theatre has some great history of its own.

There is one more thing about this town for you older folks who might remember the name Dick Tracy. This cartoon character was created by Pawnee native Chester Gould. When the Chicago Tribune began running the cartoon strip in 1931 Gould was a young man living six miles outside of town. Eventually the New York Times picked it up along with dozens of other papers across the country. Years later after he became famous Gould surprised many people in town when he told an interviewer that his cartoon characters were based on people he knew in Pawnee. If you want to learn more about Pawnee give their County Historical Society a call at 918-762-4681 or better yet take a drive to town. It is a bit out of the way from everywhere but once you’re there plan on exploring the interesting history and possibly eating at the well-known Click’s Steakhouse.

With Thanksgiving here and Christmas around the corner, you’re bound to have family and friends in town so you might think about an entertaining trip for them to one of the many museums in Bartlesville and Dewey. Woolaroc, the Frank Phillips Home, the Tom Mix Museum, the Dewey Hotel and the Price Tower immediately come to mind but there’s also one that’s frequently overlooked. The Phillips company museum tells the story of the founding of the company, their successes and failures and it’s very, very interesting.

I’ve got to go for now but this is the season so don’t forget to donate to your favorite charity. Happy Thanksgiving and till next time I’ll see ya down the road….. #