Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Chadron Assumption Kindergarten ∆ 1957-58


Another great school photo arrived on our doorstep recently. Thanks to Dave Schlickbernd!  This one is the Assumption Academy Kindergarten of 1957-58.  Several of the students are identified as follows: 
(Standing-L-R): Teacher Van Loan, Unknown, John Ryan, John Melton, Roger Lauder, and Dave Schlickbernd.
(8 Seated L-R but only 7 notations):  Diane Trabert, Unknown, Kathy Engel, Julie Grantham, Mary Phillips, Norita Faulk, Unknown
If you can offer additions/corrections, please drop us an e-Mail You can check out more photos in our Schools Gallery.


Wednesday, October 23, 2019

From Guadalcanal to China – Warren Umshler, USMC


by Larry Miller

We’re approaching 75 years since the end of­­­ the Second World War, the six-year war that – in terms of lives lost and destruction of land a property – was the worst in history.  Most of those who fought in that war, or even remember it, are gone.  Their stories are not.

Nazi Germany surrendered unconditionally on May 8, 1945, which is recognized throughout much of the world as Victory in Europe Day (V-E Day).   Three months later, the war in the Pacific came to an end, and Victory over Japan Day (V-J Day) was proclaimed on August 15.

Private First Class Warren Umshler, USMC
First word of “V-J Day” reached the United States on August 14, 1945, although in the Solomon Islands of the South Pacific, it was already August 15, and Marine Technical Sergeant Warren Umshler of Osceola, Nebraska was surely among those celebrating the moment!  He had been in the Marine Corps more than three years, and those years had marked some of the most significant – and horrific – moments of his young life.   Little could he have known that life would beset him with even more challenges in the months to come, despite the formal surrender of Japan on September 2, 1945, which later would become the official “V-J Day” and marked the end of World War 2.

But to understand and appreciate Umshler’s story, it’s necessary to start at the beginning, in the small east Nebraska town of Shelby, about a one-hour drive west of Omaha.  That’s where Warren Hardy Umshler was born on January 3, 1923, the first of seven children born to Walter and Vera Hardy Umshler.  Warren’s father worked as a railroad depot agent, and his mother was a talented musician.

Umshler, a Junior in 1940, played for the Osceola "Bulldogs" (#4 front row at left)

They moved to Columbus, Nebraska for a couple of years before settling in the Polk County community of Osceola, where Warren attended high school and played basketball.  He was also a swimmer – but perhaps his most memorable experience was meeting and dating Genevieve “Jen” Hartson.  They soon became high school sweethearts.



Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Marshall releases new book: "Say That Again"


By Larry Miller

Few people know as much about Chadron and Dawes County Nebraska as Conrad Marshall.  And fewer still – nay, I believe no one – knows as much about Chadron State College as this self-described longtime “CSC news reporter,” who served as Director of Information, Sports Information Director, among other titles, which only begin to describe his role at the institution over the years.  His love for and attachment to CSC are readily apparent in just about everything he does. Too, those passions reach well beyond the college and Chadron.
Con Marshall with his new book "Say That Again"
(Picture courtesy of CSC)
In July, Con put together a booklet of stories he’d written about a few of the many exceptional speeches delivered at CSC by a wide variety of folks over the past 35 years or so.  It’s dubbed “Say That Again,” a collection short stories about 32 of those speeches – including a bit about the selected speakers themselves.  Many of those folks are now deceased – but their messages live on in these synopses, and hopefully in the memories of folks who were there to hear them speak.
From Nobel Prize winner Val Fitch and Olympic Champion Billy Mills to Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist Clarence Page and former U.S. Secretary of Education Terrell Bell, the topics range from poignant stories about the horrors of the Holocaust and World War II to topics related to the U.S. Constitution and the importance of knowing our history.
Not all of the speakers were nationally known – Con has tapped speeches delivered by highly-respected local and regional folks, like Chadron State’s James Sheaffer, George Watson, Sam Rankin and Rolland Dewing, newspapermen Don Huls and Tom Allan, and several military veterans, like Ed Bieganski, to name just a few.
Of the 32 selected speeches, several focused on regional and Nebraska history – including early Chadron, the Great Plains, and Nebraska’s legendary U.S. Senator, George Norris.
This is an interesting and fun book to read, but it left me thinking Con should do another one, harvesting even more from other and earlier speeches.  He's been around CSC for more than half a century – reaching back to his years as a student beginning in 1959.  There are likely a lot of other speeches he's encapsulated over the years , if only they can be found!  But, as he explains in his brief Forward to the book, the task is not as easy as one might think.  
Nonetheless, I suspect down the road we’ll be enjoying more Con Marshall stories. 
Say That Again” is priced at $10 and can be ordered from Con at (308) 432-6478.   We think you’ll enjoy it.

Wednesday, October 2, 2019

Ed Bieganski (1920-2019)

Ed Bieganski received the Distinguished
Alumni Award at Chadron State College
- 2015 -
Edmund “Ed” Bieganski came into this world at Cover, Pennsylvania, on February 4, 1920. He was the third of the six sons born to Josef and Katherine Wroblewski Bieganski. These boys, referred to by the locals as the “brothers six” grew up on a dairy farm near Cambridge Springs, Pennsylvania.

These were the depression years and young Ed began watching for ways to make a little money. He started with pounding nails for a new barn being built on the way to school (sometimes instead of school) and earning $1.00 a day. 
At the age of seventeen, Ed’s second brother left home and headed west. Ed listened closely to the tales of those adventures, shared with the family on a return trip, and decided that was what he wanted to do. Upon turning eighteen and graduating high school Ed tasted the life of a hobo, riding trains, picking up odd jobs, carnival work, truck driving, and hitchhiking. He followed in his older brother’s footsteps that led to the George Weise farm west of Chadron, Nebraska, and the Bass Truck Garden east of Chadron.
In August of 1939, Ed learned of the Fort Robinson Army Post and due to his working with horses in his growing-up years, was enlisted immediately into the Army. Thus began his twenty-year military career. He was issued his uniform (from what is now the Post Playhouse) and began his job in the Quartermaster Remount Station, classifying/documenting each horse with pedigree, height, weight, origin, and branded with its file number. That included breaking, and riding the horses to be issued to other forts for cavalry or horse-drawn artillery. This assignment continued for three years, during these years, he met a sweet school teacher from Valentine, Nebraska, on a blind date and he and Fern Linabery were married August 4, 1941. Fort Robinson has always been a special place for Ed all of his life.
Ed Bieganski - A remarkable life!
When cavalry units were deactivated, Ed reenlisted and was assigned to a trucking company, where he was involved with the rebuilding of Iwo Jima. With his third reenlistment, he performed administrative duties in Okinawa, Japan; Fort Lee, Virginia; Frankfort, Germany; and Tooele, Utah.

During these military years, Ed and Fern had two children, Gary and Maria. The family lived in numerous locations of interest, including the Quonset huts in Okinawa, and was able to travel to all European countries.
In 1959, Ed retired from the army and moved the family back to Dawes County, Nebraska. “Retirement” brought on many other opportunities starting with building a home south of Chadron. Ed worked for Olson Moving and Storage, driving Allied Van Lines across the country, being a part of the Chadron Police Force, the US Forest service, and Pine Ridge Job Corp.
It was at Chadron State College that Ed earned both his bachelor’s and master’s degrees and taught speech and communications, as well as adult and continuing education classes for a couple years. He enjoyed maintaining his military connections with the Honor Guard, American Legion, VFW and while traveling across the country in the Allied Van Lines. Ed loved his ninety-nine-plus years full of life, adventure, experience and friends.
Edmund Bieganski passed away Wednesday, September 25, 2019, in Hay Springs, Nebraska. He was preceded in death by his wife, Fern of 69 years, parents, son-in-law Gene Daniels, and four brothers. Immediate survivors include daughter Maria Daniels, son Gary and wife Donna, brother Arthur and wife Joan, 4 grandchildren, and 9 great grandchildren.
A memorial has been established for the Chadron State College Foundation for the Ed Bieganski " Develop Your Potential " Endowment. Earnings from the Endowment provide scholarships to CSC Students who demonstrate a strong work ethic and the willingness to give back to society. Donations may be sent to Chamberlain Chapel, PO Box 970, Chadron, NE 69337.

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

CHS alum Mike Smith–noted editor–dies in Minnesota

By Con Marshall

Mike Smith kept close ties with Chadron friends
A 1953 Chadron High School graduate who miraculously survived a horrific automobile accident the following year while he was attending Chadron State College and became a noted journalist died Monday, Sept. 9 at age 84 in the Coon Rapids, Minn., hospital.

A celebration of life for Mike Smith will be at 2 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 21 at the Kolzak Funeral Home in Blaine, Minn.  A cousin who is a retired Jesuit priest will conduct the services. Inurnment will take place next June at the Calvary Cemetery in Chadron, a family member said.               

The auto accident occurred 65 years ago, a few hours after Chadron sports fans had listened to the first radio broadcast of a Chadron State football game when the Eagles played South Dakota Tech in Rapid City at night some four months after KCSR Radio had gone on the air. 

Both Frank Clark, who was the play-by-play announcer, and Smith, who had been the spotter, were sophomores at Chadron State.  En route home from the game, they missed the turn in Custer south to Hot Springs and Chadron and wound up in Newcastle, Wyo.

After getting their bearings, they traveled to Lusk to connect with Highway 20.  In the wee hours of the morning, Clark fell asleep at the wheel of his 1949 Studebaker, which rammed into a bridge between Crawford and Whitney.

A bridge railing split as it penetrated the front of the vehicle. The upper portion went through Smith’s upper leg and left side, and even into the trunk, pinning him in the passenger seat. Clark tried to both attend to Smith and flag down the few vehicles that were on highway, but it was still quite dark and the car had gone into the ditch and into a pasture about 50 yards, according to the patrolman’s report, before coming to a stop.

About 45 minutes after the accident had occurred, help arrived. The Chadron Record story said Dr. Leo Hoevet and the Chadron Rescue Unit headed by Paul Thein and Alden Rasmussen sped to the scene. Crawford authorities also were alerted and Dr. Ben Bishop brought blood plasma.

The first problem was how to get Smith out of the car. Someone raced to the Ross Drinkwalter farm about a half mile away and borrowed a saw.  Smith, who remained conscious during the ordeal, was in pain, but not unbearably so, he said years later, believed Rasmussen did the sawing, both in front of Smith and behind the seat. It was about 7 o’clock when he was removed from the car, placed in an ambulance, given a blood transfusion and rushed to the Chadron Hospital.

While Smith had part of his hip bone sheared off, a cracked lower vertebra and a ruptured spleen, no vital organs or arteries were hit. Dr. Hoevet removed the chunk of creosote timber, apparently with the aid of Betty Thompson, a surgical nurse.

Frank Clark and Mike Smith re-unite in Chadron - 2002
Smith remained hospitalized several weeks, with updates of his condition reported frequently by KCSR and the Record. Years later, he recalled being well enough to attend one of Chadron State’s late-season football games and was introduced to the Elliott Field crowd.

Sometime that fall, Smith said he also went to a dance at the college and sat at a table where Clark, who had remained in close contact with Smith during his recovery, and his date, JoAnn Dollison, were seated.  Dollison, a native of David City, Neb., also was attending Chadron State.

“Frank introduced Jo and I and we had a pleasant visit,” Smith said. “I certainly didn’t dance that evening, but I did take a shine to Frank’s date. We were married a couple years later when I was attending Fresno State.

”Smith said he also took over Clark’s job as sports director at KCSR after Clark transferred to Iowa State in the fall of 1955 to earn a degree in communications. Clark later spent 20 years in the Navy, much of it as an officer on submarines. 

After both left Chadron, the men had little contact until the 1990s, when they renewed their friendship, visited each other’s homes and began exchanging e-mails.

Sports reporting became Smith’s ticket to success.  After graduating from Fresno State and with the encouragement of Maurice Van Kirk, publisher of the Chadron Record during the 1950s and then the editor of the Scottsbluff Star-Herald, Smith joined that newspaper as a sportswriter. He also wrote sports for about three years at the North Platte Telegraph, and worked seven years at the Omaha World-Herald, some of them as the Nebraska editor, before moving to the Minneapolis Star Tribune in 1967.

During much of the 1970s, Smith was the Star Tribune’s sports editor during the era when Harmon Killebrew, Tony Oliva and Rod Carew were starring for the Twins and Fran Tarkington and the Purple People Eaters were leading the Vikings to the Super Bowl.
Smith also was that newspaper’s Sunday magazine editor before retiring and he and Jo moved to Arizona in 1991.

He was an athlete.  He played basketball at Chadron High and was a member of the Chadron American Legion baseball team and the Elks’ town team in its latter years. 

The Smiths never lost contact with Chadron.  Several summers during the early 2000s, they avoided the Arizona heat for a few weeks by living in the High Rise at Chadron State and “stuffing envelopes for the CSC Alumni Office,” in Jo’s words. 

Smith also faithfully attended Chadron High Class of 1953 reunions, including the 65th in the fall of 2018.  Classmates and other friends remember him as being “a happy-go-lucky, life-of-the-party” type who despite his successes, never took himself too seriously.

During a 2002 interview when both he and Clark returned for the Chadron State homecoming, both called Smith’s survival “a miracle.” He credited Chadron firemen and Dr. Hoevet “for doing everything perfect” during the rescue and ensuing surgery.

Because four of their six children live in the Minneapolis area, the Smiths moved back there about 10 years ago.  There are 12 grandchildren. 

Sunday, September 1, 2019

Caught in the Past! #1

Who exactly were these luminaries?

A.  Actors Anthony Quinn and Bill Cullen visiting Crawford in 1947 considering Crow Butte as a movie location. 

B.  State Senators A. V. Cunningham and Jim Beaufort at NSTC in 1950 reviewing plans for a new Student Union at the college.

C.  Lawman Bob Beers and City Manager Ken Kyle conferring in 1955 at Chadron City Hall.

D.  Movie mogul Darryl Zanuck and State Game Commission member Oliver Durham prior to Zanuck's 1951 speech at Ft. Robinson.






THE ANSWER IS C 
Chadron Chief of Police Robert Beers and City Manager Kenneth Kyle

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

"Through the Years" exhibit at Chadron State

Daniel Binkard with early photo of CSC's first building
An exhibit featuring vintage memorabilia and photographs of Chadron State’s history since 1911 will be on display Aug. 5 to Aug. 26 in Memorial Hall’sMain Gallery. “Chadron State through the Years,” is free and open to the public from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.
The display includes an Elmo mascot costume, wool blanket, cheerleading outfit, letter sweater, and slide show of archived photographs designed by Digital Graphic Designer Daniel Binkard.
Binkard created the slideshow for the show from photos in the College Relations historical photo archive.

“This archive is an ongoing project to catalogue the photos that are in Con Marshall’s collection, plus photos in the College Relations collection that have been taken by myself, Dewayne Gimeson, Justin Haag, and Jerry Ingram, among many others. I’m glad to have an opportunity to showcase some of the photos in the archive as I continue to add to it and refine the information in it,” Binkard said.
The collaboration included the Chadron State Foundation and Alumni Office, the Mari Sandoz High Plains Heritage Center, the Galaxy Series Committee, the Conferencing Office, Art Professor Laura Bentz, and College Relations Director Alex Helmbrecht.
“We’ve received a lot of items through the generosity of alumni and their families. This show gives us the opportunity to display some of these items where more people can see them and enjoy them. It’s remarkable to walk through the show and compare the historic photographs to the campus today,” Director of Alumni and Development Karen Pope said.

-- Story courtesy of Chadron State College Relations

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Fur Trade Days – History, Friends, Food & Fun!

Fur Trade Days is to Chadron, Nebraska, as Mardi Gras is to New Orleans.  Oh, sure, the Mardi Gras "krewes" throw a lot more stuff from the floats – and they definitely do have a wider variety of music venues across the city – but hey – Fur Trade Days' "Bordeaux Creek Fur Trade and Muzzleloading Association’s Rendezvouspays homage to the fur trade and its value to this region of North America.  And, of course, the Fur Trade parade "throws" includes the World Championship Buffalo Chip Throw!

Fact is, for the difference in size, the Chadron community hosts more events and activities than you can shake a stick at.  Carnivals, music, historical walks, treasure hunts, story telling.  Our favorite venues this year included the Greenwood Cemetery Tour and the events on the Courthouse grounds.  On parade day, Saturday, there's food, music from bygone eras, including "Songs and Dances of the Lakota."  

Visits to the Dawes County Museum and the world-class Museum of the Fur Trade are "musts" for newcomers.  And they remain high on the list for returnees.  We always see something new.

Topping our list, though, is crossing paths with folks who return year after year – many of them "youngsters" who attended Chadron Assumption, Chadron High, Chadron Prep, Chadron Prep, and even Chadron State College (perhaps a few attended when it was Chadron Normal.)  We've discovered over the years that the Courthouse grounds is a favorite place to chat with fellow ex-students, their families, and others who visit this event.  Of course, the cake and ice-cream served across the street at the Congregational Church is an added incentive! 

At the American Legion Club in Chadron on Friday evening, July 12th, a few dozen alums from 1957, 1958, and 1959 at Chadron High gathered for a "picnic" buffet and an evening of reminiscing.  They're shown in the photo below – but if you want a closer look, we invite you to take a moment and visit our "Dawes County School Gallery," where you'll also find their names. 

The were among many CHS grads attending "Fur Trade Days" in Chadron this year. 

Of course, there's so much going on during Fur Trade Days, one can't attend everything, even though some of us try.  We know there were a similar "alumni" gathering for Chadron Prep – and likely Chadron Assumption.  Alas, we couldn't make them all, but we're hoping one of our good neighbors will contact us and share any photos that we could post.

One Fur Trade Days event we were delighted to witness this year was the Cemetery Walk at Greenwood Cemetery on Saturday.  Despite being outnumbered by mosquitoes, a few dozen folks partook the event, which featured nine people from the "early days" of the region.  

Rex Cogdill portrayed area pioneer William Martens
Among the characters portrayed were Frank O'Rourke, Harvey Anderson, Faye and Ray Graves, William Martens, Josiah Gillespie, the Waltz family, along with "Rattlesnake Pete" and "Opportunity Hank."  

It was Ray and Faye Graves who operated an early Chadron photo studio that preceded the old "O'Neill Photo Company."  Of course, a few returning to Chadron will remember the Marten's place not far from town.  They grew delicious watermelons. Late-night visits to the Martens watermelon patch was almost a rite of passage for more than just a few area youth – present company excepted, of course!

This was the 43rd year for Fur Trade Days.  We suspect next year's event will be well worth the wait.  You can check out the Fur Trade Days website for the countdown.

Friday, May 31, 2019

Remembering the Howard family of Whitney

It was four years ago today – 31 May, 2015 – that long-time Whitney resident Naomi Howard McCafferty passed away at age 90.  Her husband, Jim McCafferty, died in 2012. 

Naomi was the granddaughter of Dawes County pioneer John F. Howard and his wife Elizabeth.
  
Howard family marker - Whitney Cemetery
According to a Howard family profile that was written by Naomi for the 1985 book, Dawes County Nebraska – The First 100 Years – John Howard first came to Dawes County in 1885. He "batched" it before bringing his family to the area south of Whitney two years later.
  
It was there that John  established a successful farming operation and raised his family. His son William would later take over the place, marrying local school teacher Irene Goodell.  The Howard family donated a parcel of land to Whitney for a cemetery.  Mother Elizabeth Howard died in 1905 and was the first person to be buried in the new cemetery.

In March of 1925, John Howard died.  Five months later, his granddaughter Naomi Joyce was born to "Will" and Irene Howard and was their only child.

What follows is a biographical sketch of John F. Howard as it appeared in the 1909 publication Compendium of History, Reminiscence & Biography of Western Nebraska.
~~~~~~~~~~~~

JOHN FLANNERY HOWARD

John F. Howard, residing in Whitney, Dawes county, is one of the oldest settlers in western Nebraska, and by his efforts he has aided materially in the development of the agricultural and commercial resources of his county. Mr. Howard is a gentleman of most estimable character, highly respected in the community and one of the leading old-timers of the section.

Mr. Howard was born in Clark county, Missouri, in December, 1839. His father, Isaac Howard, was of old American stock, born and raised in Virginia, who married Miss Elizabeth Morris, of Kentucky, the latter dying April 7, 1907, at the advanced age of eighty-nine years and five months. At this writing the father is still living in Iowa and is ninety years old. Our subject's grandfather and great-grandfather were also American born, the latter serving in the Revolutionary War.

When our subject was twelve years of age the family moved to Iowa, where he grew to manhood on a farm, helping his parents in all the hard work of building up a farm and home in a new country, and attending the country schools where he received his early education, later attending college at Birmingham, Iowa. Our subject enlisted in Company H, Third Iowa Cavalry, August 15, 1861, served during the war. being first mustered out January 1, 1864, and then re-entering the service was finally mustered out August 9, 1865. 

Mr. Howard, was truly a war veteran, seeing service though Georgia and Alabama and all through the south and west. He started farming in Iowa in 1866 and remained there up to 1885, then came to Dawes county, filing on a homestead in section 1, township 32, range 51. At that time the railroad was only laid as far as Chadron. He spent three years here, starting his farm, and "batching it," part of the time working at the carpenter's trade, his first house being a plank shanty 12 x 14 in size and lived in this shack for two years, then his family joined him here and they built up a good home and farm. 

In Iowa Mr. Howard was a pioneer and handled ox teams, leading a regular frontierman's (sic) life, then came to Nebraska and went through the same experiences, so that nearly his entire lifetime has been spent in building up a new country. In Iowa he lived in different counties, - Van Buren, Madison and Warren county. 

After coming to Nebraska he met with failures of crops, caused by drouths, and had many discouragements, but has succeeded in accumulating a nice property, and owns one thousand two hundred acres of land, which includes a son's homestead. He cultivates sixty acres, and has a seventy-acre field of alfalfa, engaging quite extensively in stock raising, running seventy head of cattle and fourteen horses. His place is well improved with good buildings, fences, etc., and he has plenty of timber, water and fruit.

Mr. Howard is now serving as assessor for his district. He has been justice of the peace for several years, also on the school board for sixteen years, and was one of the organizers of different schools in his section. He is a strong Republican.

Mr. Howard was united in marriage in Iowa in 1867, to Miss Elizabeth Moore, daughter of Littleton L. Moore, a retired farmer and old settler in Van Buren county. Mrs. Howard was born in Ohio in 1845, and she died in Dawes county May 28. 1905. leaving a family of seven children, named as follows: Walter C., Minnie M., Lula M., Arthur E., Earl V., William N., and Mabel (deceased).

~~~~~~~~~~~~~
(NOTE:  Thanks to Jim Sheaffer of Chadron for the photograph of the Howard family marker located in the Whitney Cemetery – and for the thousands of other photos he has provided over the years to the Nebraska Gravestone Photo Project, now containing more than 326,000 images!)

Sunday, May 26, 2019

The Great American Rail-Trail....coming soon!

by Larry Miller

The "Rails to Trails Conservancy" is spearheading a nationwide trail that will stretch some 3,700 miles across the United States – from Washington, D.C. to Washington state. More than 52 percent of the trail – more than 1,900 miles – is already complete.

And Chadron, Whitney, Crawford, and Fort Robinson will be right in the center of all the action!

Nebraska's "Cowboy Trail" and the "White River Trail" in western Dawes County are among stretches of the trail that are already familiar to many folks in the region.

The Great American Rail-Trail undertaking will span 12 states and the District of Columbia. Some years ago, while living in Pennsylvania, we became fans of the "rails to trails" program and continued to pursue them after we retired and moved to the Black Hills of South Dakota. Bicycling the Mickelson Trail from Deadwood to Edgemont is a terrific experience, allowing riders to see much of the Black Hills up close and personal! It's a beautiful ride.

A few weeks ago, the Rails to Trails Conservancy launched their national campaign to gain more support for the project. This video captures that event.


Picture yourself … pedaling across the entire country on a safe, seamless and scenic pathway—or walking a local trail that connects along historic routes. Imagine the incomparable experience of exploring America’s heritage by trail—its potential, its beauty and bounty, its people and places. And it should spur economic opportunities and the benefits for communities along the route of this multiuse trail that stretches more than 3,700 miles from Washington to Washington. 

We'll be writing more about this project in the months to come.

Thursday, April 11, 2019

Art on wheels....a Ford Mustang made of snow


What is it, you might ask?  It's "Snowpony" – sort of like a snowman, but in this instance, it's constructed in the image of a 1967 Ford Mustang GTA.  It's the work of 43-year-old Jason Blundell of Chadron and his two teenagers following an early March snow.  While we first heard about it in Arizona and found the story at the York News-Times online, it was a video recorded by their neighbor –  Sergeant Mick Downing of the Nebraska State Patrol – that went viral.  Last we heard, the video had been viewed some 2.3 million times!  Watch the Snowpony Video.
(Video courtesy of NSP)

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Mack Peyton selected for Hall of Fame in Wyoming


By Con Marshall
The late Mack Peyton, long-time coach and athletic director at Chadron State College, will be inducted into the University of Wyoming Athletics Hall of Fame on August 30, some 70 years after he graduated from the institution.
Mack Peyton at CSC in the 1970s
(CSC file photo)
Peyton was both a basketball and a baseball standout for the Cowboys in the late 1940s after he had served 36 months in World War II. After launching his teaching and coaching career in 1949 at Rock Springs High School, where he spent nine years, and serving two years as a coach at New Mexico Military Institute, Peyton spent the last 20 years of his life at Chadron State.
His untimely death occurred in 1980 at age 57. He was among the charter inductees into the Chadron State Athletic Hall of Fame in 1983.
He was a native of Richmond, Indiana, and was on the Indiana Hoosiers’ basketball team his freshman year in 1942-43 before joining the Army. A portion of his military career was spent in Casper, where Ev Shelton, the UW basketball and baseball coach, learned about Peyton’s athletic abilities and when the war ended convinced him to join the Cowboys instead of returning to Indiana.
Peyton was a three-year starter and a two-year captain of both the Wyoming basketball and baseball teams. He also was named to “Who’s Who Among American College and University Students.”
During most of his college basketball career, he played what is now referred to as point guard, and was known for his court sense and ball-handling and passing skills. The Cowboys had a cumulative record of 65-25 and advanced to the NCAA Tournament all three years. As a senior in 1948-49, he was named to the Skyline Six All-Conference team, and the Pokes won the conference championship.
Near the end of his collegiate career, the Casper Star-Tribune reported: “Peyton has always been a leader on the cage court. Imaginative, quick to seize on the opposition’s momentary lapses. In addition, his repertoire has always included lengthy long shot accuracy, either with both hands or one as the occasion demands.”
Peyton also excelled in baseball. As a sophomore in 1947, he reportedly played every position except pitcher and catcher and led the Cowboys with a .391 average. From then on he primarily played centerfield and also was the team’s leading hitter again in ’48.
All three Wyoming baseball teams he played on had winning records and were described as the best the Cowboys ever had.
During his senior season, Peyton signed a minor league contract with the Santa Barbara Dodgers, an affiliate of the Brooklyn Dodgers, and went to Brooklyn for a workout. He played for Santa Barbara in the summer of 1949.
However, by then he was 26 years old, he and his wife Mary Dee had one child and another was on its way. So he accepted the teaching and coaching position at Rock Springs. He was the school’s head basketball coach nine years, his teams qualified for the state tournament each year, won one state championship and reached the tourney finals three more years.
Peyton had a 202-56 record when left Rock Springs to become the basketball coach at New Mexico Military Academy in 1958. His second year there was the Broncos’ first winning season.
Peyton came to Chadron State in 1960. He coached the baseball team for 10 years and the men’s basketball team 14 years. His basketball teams had a cumulative 190-159 record, making him the winningest coach of that sport in Chadron State history. His most successful team was in 1966-67, when the Eagles went 22-6, were undefeated in the Nebraska College Conference, swept two games from the University of Omaha to win the district crown and represented the state at the NAIA National Tournament in Kansas City, where they split two games.
He was named both the District 11 Basketball Coach of the Year and the Omaha World-Herald’s Coach of the Year for all sports in 1967.
Peyton also coached the CSC women’s basketball team in 1978-79, leading the Lady Eagles, who had been 4-22 the previous season, to a 12-12 record.
One of Peyton’s proteges, Larry Riley, also from Richmond, Ind., and later the general manager of the Golden State Warriors, said when he attended CSC in the early 1960s, the coach often played one-on-one against his basketball players and “was hard to beat,” even though Peyton was beginning to have problems with arthritic hips that plagued him the rest of his life.
Riley also noted that when the Armstrong Building, which had a swimming pool, opened in 1964, Peyton taught a swimming class and “could swim faster than just about anyone in the class.”
In 1970, when Ross Armstrong reached the college’s mandatory retirement age for an administrative position, Peyton was appointed the college’s athletic director. Soon afterwards he also was elected to succeed Armstrong as chairman of NAIA District 11, comprised of about a dozen small colleges in Nebraska.
He was filling both positions when he died on June 25, 1980.
Peyton was an improviser and a worker who never sought much help from others. He could get the jobs done himself, but was very generous in lending assistance.
Soon after his arrival on campus, he founded the Chadron State Holiday Basketball Tournament which became the nation’s largest during the holidays. It utilized Chadron’s three gymnasiums (Armstrong Building, Middle School Gym and Assumption Arena). At its peak after girls began playing basketball, it featured 16 college and 32 high school teams and a total of 72 games over a three-day span. The tournament operated 16 years and he was its director 15 of them.
Mack Peyton (right) was CSC director of athletics in the 1970s when he presented a plaque
to Dub Miller, honoring him as the first former CSC athlete to play professional football
(CSC file photo)
He also founded the college’s outdoor education program that was a part of the Physical Education Department’s curriculum. It included two- or three-day sixth grade camps at Camp Norwesca that were attended annually by more than 1,200 students from area schools. The youths were instructed and supervised by college students who were enrolled in Peyton’s classes.
During the summers in this era, Peyton led college students who rode horseback for a 10-day into the Wind River Mountains of western Wyoming. The curriculum focused on appreciation of the environment and how to “live off the land.”
In addition, he coached the Chadron American Legion baseball team to third place in the Class A State Tournament in 1964, founded the Colter Run during Chadron’s Fur Trade Days, planted numerous trees when Ridgeview Country Club was being developed and was a strong supporter of the Museum of the Fur Trade east of town. He served on the board of directors of both the golf course and museum.
Peyton’s widow, Mary Dee, is now in her 90s and lives in Gothenburg. The Peytons’ three children--Judy, Becky and Mark--and their families live in central Nebraska.
Although he had some help from Chadron State personnel, most of the credit for getting Peyton into the Wyoming Hall of Fame belongs to Henry Wilks, now of Bigfork, Montana. He began the push to get Peyton inducted several years ago and proved that persistence pays.
Wilks was 8 years old when his family moved to Rock Springs in 1949, the same year the Peytons arrived. One of Peyton’s early initiatives there was founding a church league youth basketball program that required both the players and the coaches to attend church at least three Sundays each month.
“He brought me to both Christ and basketball,” Wilks said during an interview with the Rock Springs Rocket-Miner two years ago. “Several of my teachers in Rock Springs were University of Wyoming graduates and they and others I got to know often spoke about what a great athlete Mack Peyton had been there. They said he was among the best of that era on highly successful teams in two sports and also was a captain of both teams.”
Through the years, Wilks became a staunch Cowboys’ fan, even helped form the Cowboy Joe booster club and began attending the Hall of Fame induction dinners.
“It soon dawned on me that Mack Peyton was not in the Hall of Fame,” Wilks recalls. “I started researching his athletic career more, found out that everything I’d heard about him was true and tried to make it happen.”
After submitting nominations a couple of times, Wilks discovered that most of the members of the Selection Committee were too young to know much about his hero’s athletic accomplishments. They needed more information.
About a year ago, Wilks went all out to present the case again. He spent countless hours in libraries and newspaper offices doing more research, hired a helper who searched the files and microfilms of newspapers as far away as Las Vegas and Salt Lake City to obtain addition material. Together, they prepared binders containing nearly 150 pages that were sent to all 12 members of the Selection Committee.
“It was with great relief and satisfaction when I was notified a couple of weeks ago that Mack Peyton was finally going into the Hall of Fame,” Wilks said. “I’ve seldom spent this much time, energy and money on a project, but it was worth it. It is something that needed to happen.”