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Cowboy Hall of Fame welcomes new inductees

Former Gov. Ed Schafer speaks to a crowd of close to 300 Saturday during the 2013 North Dakota Cowboy Hall of Fame induction ceremony in Medora. Ed Schafer and his mother, Sheila Schafer, accepted a legacy award designated for the late Harold Schafer.

MEDORA -- Making her way in a time, place and way of life dominated by men, Lettie Uhlman Kellogg is always held in the highest regard by her great-granddaughter.

On Saturday, nearly 40 years after Kellogg's death in 1974, Erin Ceynar was able to recognize the woman she had heard so many stories about, as her great-grandmother was one of nine individuals honored at the 2013 North Dakota Cowboy Hall of Fame induction ceremony at Tjaden Terrace.

"She was a woman in a man's field -- big time," Ceynar said. "My great-grandmother had to endure a lot of sexism with a lot of cowboys, but I think it served a purpose for making her work harder and smarter in what was back then really a man's world. I'm bursting with pride today."

After her birth in 1890, Kellogg's father brought his family to western North Dakota at the turn of the century. Though Kellogg was married to a man involved in the logging business and lived in western Wisconsin for a time, she came to miss the Badlands, said Ceynar, a resident of St. Paul, Minn.

Kellogg went on to divorce her husband -- a rare thing for a woman to do at the time -- to move back to North Dakota and work on her ranch outside Watford City.

"I think her heart was always in the Badlands," Ceynar said. "For her to be recognized in the ranching division, that's so remarkable. Most of the recognized ranchers are men and for her to be a rancher through the Great Depression, through World War II, it's pretty unheard of. She would be at auctions bidding on land and she would be the only woman raising her hand. You know those guys in the room were looking at her like, 'Where do you get off?' But none of that affected her."

A single mother, Kellogg built the 10,000-acre "Kellogg UE Ranch," which had a sizable heard of Hereford cattle. Riding until she was well into her 80s, Kellogg was known for saying, "It was a hard life, but I loved every minute of it."

Besides Kellogg's recognition in the pre-1940 ranching category, other honorees Saturday included Lynn Linseth (modern-era rodeo), Tom Solberg (modern-era rodeo), Russ Danielson (legacy award), Bill Lowman (Western arts and entertainment), the late Leroy "Bud" Perry (modern-era ranching), the late Henry Baker (pre-1940 rodeo), the late founder of Medora, Marquis de Mores (great Westerner) and the late Harold Schafer (legacy award).

Formally established in 1995 and located in Medora with a corporate office in Mandan, the Hall of Fame has enshrined 149 cowboys and cowgirls.

Accepting the award for Harold Schafer -- the man who had the vision for what Medora, the top tourist destination in the state, is today -- were his widow, Sheila Schafer, and his son, former North Dakota Gov. Ed Schafer.

"It's so fun to be able to be here and to celebrate the life of the cowboy," Ed Schafer said. "Today, it's not so much a set of boots and a hat that make a cowboy -- it's a place in your heart. It's a way of life and a Western culture. Harold Schafer was a cowboy. He learned about the cowboy life -- the life of honesty, hard work and frontier justice."

Inductees and speakers highlighted the staples of the "cowboy way of life" and others qualities such as family, hard work, respect for the land and an affinity for animals.

To Lowman, who ranches near Sentinel Butte, recording the cowboy way of life is something he holds near and dear and something that is emphasized through his writings, poetry, artwork and public appearances.

"This award isn't about me, it's about preserving the American cowboy culture," Lowman said. "The older generations didn't get a lot of that stuff down. We're an oral history and if we don't start getting that into literature, a lot of that will be lost. It's our way of life."

In true cowboy fashion, Lowman -- founder of the "Dakota Cowboy Poetry Gathering" in Medora -- said being inducted in the hall won't change him.

"It's a great honor, but my life won't change a bit," Lowman said. "We put in a mile of fence (Friday) and I'm going to go back and set some ties tomorrow."

Bryan Horwath
A Wisconsin native, Horwath has been covering news in the Oil Patch of North Dakota since 2012. Horwath currently serves as the senior agriculture and political reporter for The Dickinson Press and, despite the team's tendency to always let him down, remains a diehard Minnesota Vikings fan.
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