White Ranch: Going strong since 1889 | TSLN.com

White Ranch: Going strong since 1889

Courtesy photoIn 1953, the branding fire at the White Ranch was still fueled with wood.

From the captain of the Mayflower to the Civil War battlefields, the White family’s ancestors have been important people in the nation’s history. In more recent times, the Whites have been prominent cattlemen and involved citizens in the northern plains, building ranches and raising families and cattle on the rolling prairie east of Oelrichs, SD.

The curing grasslands are golden with the tinge of green that a wet spring and summer can paint on the prairie grass. Unturned by plow, the White Ranch is still in the native grass that the buffalo grazed many years ago, and that the early Whites homesteaded in 1889.

In 1858, John Halstead White was born in Kewanee, IL. In 1870, he and his parents, Egbert and Mary Ann White, moved to Farragut, IA. John White was the proprietor of a drug store at Farragut, and that is where he met and married Annie Maria Robbins, whose family had moved to Farragut in 1878 from Kentucky. She was a school teacher at the time.

In 1889, John came to Fall River County, Dakota Territory and homesteaded east of Oelrichs. He moved the office building of the, by then defunct, Anglo-American Cattle Company to his homestead for a house. The fall of 1889, he trailed his cattle from Iowa to the homestead, and in the spring of 1890, his wife and their five children – Maude, Edith, Charles H., Edward F. and Bernice – came by train to join him on the place.

Hard years were the norm of the time, and the family endured scarlet fever, harsh winters and the Indian uprising of 1889. The winter of 1889 wiped them out and they went to Texas, bought more cattle, and trailed them back. With hard work the Whites accumulated over 14,000 acres of land. Unfortunately, they had to relinquish part of it due to the government opening the country up for the filing of claims.

In 1899, the family moved to Chadron to allow their family better schooling. John White pursued other business interests, though his heart remained that of a cattleman and rancher.

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He was killed in a car accident in 1930, the week after he and Annie had celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary. Annie died in 1936.

Ranching was flowing in the blood of the Whites, for when Charles H. “Charley” was 21 years old, he returned to the Oelrichs country and filed a claim on what had been part of his folks holdings. He proved up on two 80 acre parcels in the following few years, the first in 1907, the second in 1909. The cost of those patents was $7 each.

He married Martha Groves in 1909. They had three children, Dorothy, John E. and Charles E. “Pete”. Between the births of Dorothy and John, Charley moved the old house, which had been the office building for the cattle company, to the homestead and added it to the three room house they were living in, making a fine home for the time and place.

During those years, besides his own ranching interests, Charley was one of the roundup bosses for the Matador Ranch. The Matadors had a big lease on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation and ran thousands of cattle there, and each fall, the steers were trailed to the railroad to be shipped to Omaha or Chicago.

During those open range days, Charley and his brother Ed ran their horses in the Hay Canyon country. Each spring they would gather the horses and bring them to Charley’s ranch to sort off the ones to break, brand and cut the colts, and run the mares with the good Thoroughbred stallion that the government provided from Ft. Robinson.

Breaking horses was a big job, but thoroughly enjoyed by the young spectators, Dorothy, John and Pete. They watched the horse breaker get those horses rideable and then some were sold to the Remount. The remainder were used on the ranch.

Charley’s brother Ed was quite a hand himself, and it’s told by the family that Ed carried a set of emasculators with him when he rode, and if he saw a five- or six-year-old stud running loose, he would rope him, tie him down and geld him right there. He was obviously pretty well mounted as well.

In the 1930’s when the government was buying back the homesteads, Charley chose to keep his and was able to buy some more of the neighboring land for around $4/acre. He had a big hay meadow that produced bumper crops of hay, enabling Charley to borrow money from the bank to buy cattle because he had so much feed on hand. It’s said that the ranch went broke three times in those years, but they could always get another start, thanks to that good hay meadow.

Dorothy and John both married and left the ranch, but Pete stayed put and married Marjorie Cavanaugh in 1940.

They lived for a year and a half with Pete’s folks, then moved a homestead house in from a mile south and attached it to the old bunkhouse, making a two-room house, just before their firstborn arrived. Their son James M. “Jim” was born in 1942, William Charles in 1943, and Thomas Lee in 1948.

When the two oldest boys were old enough to go to school, their mother drove them to Oelrichs every day. The roads were bad though, and made it difficult at times to get there and back, so in 1952 they bought a house and 40 acres at Oelrichs and moved there. Pete then drove to the ranch every day, which became easier when Highway 18 was completed past the ranch in 1953.

In 1959, they traded homes with Pete’s folks and moved back to the ranch, while Pete’s folks moved to town. The boys were old enough to drive to school by then and were needed on the ranch.

Pete’s folks had lived for 50 years on the ranch, celebrating their anniversary there before moving to town. Martha died in 1964 and Charley in 1971.

Pete was active in endeavors outside of ranching as well. He served six years on the State Brand Board, and in 1962, was elected to the State House of Representatives. He resigned the last year of his second term, however, because he just couldn’t be away from the ranch that much as plans had changed at home.

Son Jim had graduated from high school in 1960, and then from Colorado State University, Ft. Collins in 1965. He intended to return to the ranch, but was drafted instead, as the Vietnam War was on. He was discharged in 1966 and married Cheri Boldon the same year. They stayed on the home ranch until 1969 when they bought a ranch east of it and moved there. They had three children: Tobie Ann in 1969, Heidi Lee in 1972, and James Hardin “Hardy” in 1975.

Bill graduated from high school in 1962 and worked on the ranch until 1965, then went to college, first at University of Wyoming at Laramie, and then at Black Hills State University in Spearfish, SD.

Youngest son Tom graduated from Oelrichs High School in 1966 and headed off to college that fall, first at South Dakota State University in Brookings for one semester, then graduated from Chadron State College in 1972.

In 1971, Pete and Marjorie built a new house on the ranch and moved into it. Son Bill was back working for them on the ranch at the time. When Bill married Judy Perry in 1972, they moved into the old house. In 1973, they had twin daughters, Wendy Bee and Ellen Lee, in 1976 Brenda Sue, and then Scott Charles in 1977.

After their father Pete’s death in 1972, Tom worked with Bill and Judy on the ranch. In 1976, they bought the old Moody-Geiser Ranch and Bill and Judy moved onto it. Tom married Lori Thompson in 1979 and they moved into his folk’s house on the ranch. His mother moved to Oelrichs at that time. Tom and Lori had three children – Jeff Thomas in 1980, Lukus Loren in 1982, and Shawn Thompson in 1985. Their mother Marjorie passed away in 1984.

The White Ranch is still going strong. Tom and Lori are on the home ranch, along with their son Shawn, his wife Tanna, and their son Owen, 20 months, who is the sixth generation on the ranch. The oldest son, Jeff, and Megan Edwards live in Casper, WY and have a daughter Charlee, born in June 2009, and Luke is in Bozeman, MT.

Bill and Judy live just across the highway and their son Scott is on the ranch with them. Their daughters Wendy and Ellen both live in Oelrichs, and daughter Brenda is in Sheridan, WY. Brenda took the title of 1996 College National Finals Rodeo Ladies Breakaway Champion, and continues to rodeo in the NRCA.

Jim and Cheri left the ranch they had and now live in Chadron, NE, where Jim is a truck driver. Their son Hardy and his wife Mandy live in Hot Springs, and have three children: daughter Jessy, 7, and five week old twins, a girl and a boy, Josey and Avery. Jim and Cheri’s daughter Tobie Ann Copp lives in Scottsbluff, NE, and her sister Heidi lives in Commerce City, CO.

Improvements have been made over the years, and the arrival of electricity in 1952 was one of them. Another important one was rural water from Hot Springs. Shallow wells had been used before then, but had awfully hard water.

Bill said, “The shallow wells aren’t good water, they’re just wet.” Tom added, “In the ’60’s, dad was trying to run yearlings but fought waterbellies so bad that he finally gave up. With this rural water now, we had one last year but hadn’t had one for a long time before that.”

The shallow wells were piped to all the pastures on the ranch, but the wells couldn’t keep up. Scott said, “Without the rural water during the drouth, there wouldn’t have been any cattle left.” When the drouth finally broke, it presented an amusing problem for the cattle, as Bill, laughing, told, “We had cows that waded through the creek to get to a tank to drink. They were raised during the drouth and just didn’t know they could drink that running water!”

The old house was dismantled and the durable Anglo-American Cattle Company office was moved once again and made into a grainery/cake shed on Tom’s ranch. The old bunkhouse was added onto to make a shop building.

Better transportation and good machinery have also been important improvements.

“Those blizzard of ’49 pictures didn’t look any different than this past April, but we just have so much better equipment to deal with it,” Tom said. “It was bad, but not like then.”

Early transportation was with teams and wagons or saddle horses, and it was a long ways to anywhere. They remember their granddad talking about hauling hay to Ft. Robinson and selling it, and that it was a long trip with a team and wagon. Even after cars became common, the roads were still nearly impassable under the best of circumstances, and hopeless when it was wet. Good roads now ensure that they can go where they need to nearly any time.

Cow numbers were reduced on the ranches during the dry years, and are slowly being built back up again. In the early years, the White Ranch was exclusively a Hereford outfit. It remained so until the trend changed to black baldies, so using Angus bulls and the Hereford base, they’ve stayed viable in the business. Today’s cowherds are predominately black with some baldies and brockle-faced cows showing their Hereford heritage.

Bill and Scott’s cows calve the end of March and they run them on grass and supplement with cake and native hay. They background the calves and sell the steer calves in December.

Tom and Shawn calve their cows in April, sell some calves in the fall and run some steers over.

“We had reduced numbers during the drouth, so decided to run some of the steers over and sell them as yearlings,” said Tom. “I like how that worked, as the steers we shipped last week weighed 970 and sold really well. I think we’ll keep doing that.”

Their cows winter on grass, supplemented with hay and cake, plus they are feeding some distillers grain as well.

The big hay meadow is still turning out hay every year, though some years a little less than others, as Shawn points out with a grin, “One bale might not be called a hay crop.” During the drouth it didn’t produce much, and one very wet year after the ’30’s it had water standing on it so the hay couldn’t grow. It’s still an important part of the ranch and had a bumper crop of hay this year and that lessens the concern Tom and Shawn have going into the winter.

As if the markets on both cattle and feed aren’t a big enough problem, government policies continue to bother both ranches. About 50 percent of the ranch’s pastures are part of the National Grasslands, and dealing with the politics involved can be a problem. Bill elaborated on this, “We can take the weather, blizzards, drouths, and that, but the politics are there forever.” Shawn and Scott, being the next generation to take over in the future, share the same concerns about dealing with the government regulations, the prairie dogs and changes in policy on the National Grasslands. The uncertainty of year-to-year policies keep them watching the situation closely, and losing critical grazing land is a worrisome possibility.

In regard to the next generation, Bill and Judy and Tom and Lori all have spent time doing some estate planning in preparation for the time when the reins are handed to Scott and Shawn. Each ranch is set up as a LLC (Limited Liability Company). As far as the knowledge needed to run the ranches, Shawn said it best with the statement, “We learned from the best, and they learned from the best.”

Jim’s son Hardy helps on the ranch whenever he can. He enjoys staying involved, and has a strong attachment to the land. He said, “I’d love to have a piece of it, but will probably have to do something on my own someday if I want to ranch.”

It’s not all work and no play for the Whites, though, as they have been successful in the rodeo arena for many years, through High School Rodeo, College Rodeo, NRCA, SDRA, and PRCA. Scott currently rodeos and competes in calf roping, team roping and steer roping, while Hardy is a pickup man at area rodeos. Shawn quit rodeoing to be home with his family, after a successful high school and college rodeo career. Bill chuckled and said, “Yep, the only farming we do on the ranch is the arena.”

A big celebration is scheduled for Aug. 22, 2009 at the Tom White Ranch, with a family gathering that afternoon, followed by a BBQ and dance at 6 p.m. for all their friends and family. They will be commemorating the John H. White homestead of 1889 and the Charles H. White homestead of 1907.

The Whites have been watering the gumbo soil of Fall River County with their sweat for five generations and counting. Hard work and determination are what it has required, and that won’t let up any time soon. Another generation is following in his father’s footsteps even now, learning the ranch and the business, as little Owen, wearing hat and boots, hurries after Shawn.

Good stewardship and family ties have made the White Ranch what it is today.

From the captain of the Mayflower to the Civil War battlefields, the White family’s ancestors have been important people in the nation’s history. In more recent times, the Whites have been prominent cattlemen and involved citizens in the northern plains, building ranches and raising families and cattle on the rolling prairie east of Oelrichs, SD.

The curing grasslands are golden with the tinge of green that a wet spring and summer can paint on the prairie grass. Unturned by plow, the White Ranch is still in the native grass that the buffalo grazed many years ago, and that the early Whites homesteaded in 1889.

In 1858, John Halstead White was born in Kewanee, IL. In 1870, he and his parents, Egbert and Mary Ann White, moved to Farragut, IA. John White was the proprietor of a drug store at Farragut, and that is where he met and married Annie Maria Robbins, whose family had moved to Farragut in 1878 from Kentucky. She was a school teacher at the time.

In 1889, John came to Fall River County, Dakota Territory and homesteaded east of Oelrichs. He moved the office building of the, by then defunct, Anglo-American Cattle Company to his homestead for a house. The fall of 1889, he trailed his cattle from Iowa to the homestead, and in the spring of 1890, his wife and their five children – Maude, Edith, Charles H., Edward F. and Bernice – came by train to join him on the place.

Hard years were the norm of the time, and the family endured scarlet fever, harsh winters and the Indian uprising of 1889. The winter of 1889 wiped them out and they went to Texas, bought more cattle, and trailed them back. With hard work the Whites accumulated over 14,000 acres of land. Unfortunately, they had to relinquish part of it due to the government opening the country up for the filing of claims.

In 1899, the family moved to Chadron to allow their family better schooling. John White pursued other business interests, though his heart remained that of a cattleman and rancher.

He was killed in a car accident in 1930, the week after he and Annie had celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary. Annie died in 1936.

Ranching was flowing in the blood of the Whites, for when Charles H. “Charley” was 21 years old, he returned to the Oelrichs country and filed a claim on what had been part of his folks holdings. He proved up on two 80 acre parcels in the following few years, the first in 1907, the second in 1909. The cost of those patents was $7 each.

He married Martha Groves in 1909. They had three children, Dorothy, John E. and Charles E. “Pete”. Between the births of Dorothy and John, Charley moved the old house, which had been the office building for the cattle company, to the homestead and added it to the three room house they were living in, making a fine home for the time and place.

During those years, besides his own ranching interests, Charley was one of the roundup bosses for the Matador Ranch. The Matadors had a big lease on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation and ran thousands of cattle there, and each fall, the steers were trailed to the railroad to be shipped to Omaha or Chicago.

During those open range days, Charley and his brother Ed ran their horses in the Hay Canyon country. Each spring they would gather the horses and bring them to Charley’s ranch to sort off the ones to break, brand and cut the colts, and run the mares with the good Thoroughbred stallion that the government provided from Ft. Robinson.

Breaking horses was a big job, but thoroughly enjoyed by the young spectators, Dorothy, John and Pete. They watched the horse breaker get those horses rideable and then some were sold to the Remount. The remainder were used on the ranch.

Charley’s brother Ed was quite a hand himself, and it’s told by the family that Ed carried a set of emasculators with him when he rode, and if he saw a five- or six-year-old stud running loose, he would rope him, tie him down and geld him right there. He was obviously pretty well mounted as well.

In the 1930’s when the government was buying back the homesteads, Charley chose to keep his and was able to buy some more of the neighboring land for around $4/acre. He had a big hay meadow that produced bumper crops of hay, enabling Charley to borrow money from the bank to buy cattle because he had so much feed on hand. It’s said that the ranch went broke three times in those years, but they could always get another start, thanks to that good hay meadow.

Dorothy and John both married and left the ranch, but Pete stayed put and married Marjorie Cavanaugh in 1940.

They lived for a year and a half with Pete’s folks, then moved a homestead house in from a mile south and attached it to the old bunkhouse, making a two-room house, just before their firstborn arrived. Their son James M. “Jim” was born in 1942, William Charles in 1943, and Thomas Lee in 1948.

When the two oldest boys were old enough to go to school, their mother drove them to Oelrichs every day. The roads were bad though, and made it difficult at times to get there and back, so in 1952 they bought a house and 40 acres at Oelrichs and moved there. Pete then drove to the ranch every day, which became easier when Highway 18 was completed past the ranch in 1953.

In 1959, they traded homes with Pete’s folks and moved back to the ranch, while Pete’s folks moved to town. The boys were old enough to drive to school by then and were needed on the ranch.

Pete’s folks had lived for 50 years on the ranch, celebrating their anniversary there before moving to town. Martha died in 1964 and Charley in 1971.

Pete was active in endeavors outside of ranching as well. He served six years on the State Brand Board, and in 1962, was elected to the State House of Representatives. He resigned the last year of his second term, however, because he just couldn’t be away from the ranch that much as plans had changed at home.

Son Jim had graduated from high school in 1960, and then from Colorado State University, Ft. Collins in 1965. He intended to return to the ranch, but was drafted instead, as the Vietnam War was on. He was discharged in 1966 and married Cheri Boldon the same year. They stayed on the home ranch until 1969 when they bought a ranch east of it and moved there. They had three children: Tobie Ann in 1969, Heidi Lee in 1972, and James Hardin “Hardy” in 1975.

Bill graduated from high school in 1962 and worked on the ranch until 1965, then went to college, first at University of Wyoming at Laramie, and then at Black Hills State University in Spearfish, SD.

Youngest son Tom graduated from Oelrichs High School in 1966 and headed off to college that fall, first at South Dakota State University in Brookings for one semester, then graduated from Chadron State College in 1972.

In 1971, Pete and Marjorie built a new house on the ranch and moved into it. Son Bill was back working for them on the ranch at the time. When Bill married Judy Perry in 1972, they moved into the old house. In 1973, they had twin daughters, Wendy Bee and Ellen Lee, in 1976 Brenda Sue, and then Scott Charles in 1977.

After their father Pete’s death in 1972, Tom worked with Bill and Judy on the ranch. In 1976, they bought the old Moody-Geiser Ranch and Bill and Judy moved onto it. Tom married Lori Thompson in 1979 and they moved into his folk’s house on the ranch. His mother moved to Oelrichs at that time. Tom and Lori had three children – Jeff Thomas in 1980, Lukus Loren in 1982, and Shawn Thompson in 1985. Their mother Marjorie passed away in 1984.

The White Ranch is still going strong. Tom and Lori are on the home ranch, along with their son Shawn, his wife Tanna, and their son Owen, 20 months, who is the sixth generation on the ranch. The oldest son, Jeff, and Megan Edwards live in Casper, WY and have a daughter Charlee, born in June 2009, and Luke is in Bozeman, MT.

Bill and Judy live just across the highway and their son Scott is on the ranch with them. Their daughters Wendy and Ellen both live in Oelrichs, and daughter Brenda is in Sheridan, WY. Brenda took the title of 1996 College National Finals Rodeo Ladies Breakaway Champion, and continues to rodeo in the NRCA.

Jim and Cheri left the ranch they had and now live in Chadron, NE, where Jim is a truck driver. Their son Hardy and his wife Mandy live in Hot Springs, and have three children: daughter Jessy, 7, and five week old twins, a girl and a boy, Josey and Avery. Jim and Cheri’s daughter Tobie Ann Copp lives in Scottsbluff, NE, and her sister Heidi lives in Commerce City, CO.

Improvements have been made over the years, and the arrival of electricity in 1952 was one of them. Another important one was rural water from Hot Springs. Shallow wells had been used before then, but had awfully hard water.

Bill said, “The shallow wells aren’t good water, they’re just wet.” Tom added, “In the ’60’s, dad was trying to run yearlings but fought waterbellies so bad that he finally gave up. With this rural water now, we had one last year but hadn’t had one for a long time before that.”

The shallow wells were piped to all the pastures on the ranch, but the wells couldn’t keep up. Scott said, “Without the rural water during the drouth, there wouldn’t have been any cattle left.” When the drouth finally broke, it presented an amusing problem for the cattle, as Bill, laughing, told, “We had cows that waded through the creek to get to a tank to drink. They were raised during the drouth and just didn’t know they could drink that running water!”

The old house was dismantled and the durable Anglo-American Cattle Company office was moved once again and made into a grainery/cake shed on Tom’s ranch. The old bunkhouse was added onto to make a shop building.

Better transportation and good machinery have also been important improvements.

“Those blizzard of ’49 pictures didn’t look any different than this past April, but we just have so much better equipment to deal with it,” Tom said. “It was bad, but not like then.”

Early transportation was with teams and wagons or saddle horses, and it was a long ways to anywhere. They remember their granddad talking about hauling hay to Ft. Robinson and selling it, and that it was a long trip with a team and wagon. Even after cars became common, the roads were still nearly impassable under the best of circumstances, and hopeless when it was wet. Good roads now ensure that they can go where they need to nearly any time.

Cow numbers were reduced on the ranches during the dry years, and are slowly being built back up again. In the early years, the White Ranch was exclusively a Hereford outfit. It remained so until the trend changed to black baldies, so using Angus bulls and the Hereford base, they’ve stayed viable in the business. Today’s cowherds are predominately black with some baldies and brockle-faced cows showing their Hereford heritage.

Bill and Scott’s cows calve the end of March and they run them on grass and supplement with cake and native hay. They background the calves and sell the steer calves in December.

Tom and Shawn calve their cows in April, sell some calves in the fall and run some steers over.

“We had reduced numbers during the drouth, so decided to run some of the steers over and sell them as yearlings,” said Tom. “I like how that worked, as the steers we shipped last week weighed 970 and sold really well. I think we’ll keep doing that.”

Their cows winter on grass, supplemented with hay and cake, plus they are feeding some distillers grain as well.

The big hay meadow is still turning out hay every year, though some years a little less than others, as Shawn points out with a grin, “One bale might not be called a hay crop.” During the drouth it didn’t produce much, and one very wet year after the ’30’s it had water standing on it so the hay couldn’t grow. It’s still an important part of the ranch and had a bumper crop of hay this year and that lessens the concern Tom and Shawn have going into the winter.

As if the markets on both cattle and feed aren’t a big enough problem, government policies continue to bother both ranches. About 50 percent of the ranch’s pastures are part of the National Grasslands, and dealing with the politics involved can be a problem. Bill elaborated on this, “We can take the weather, blizzards, drouths, and that, but the politics are there forever.” Shawn and Scott, being the next generation to take over in the future, share the same concerns about dealing with the government regulations, the prairie dogs and changes in policy on the National Grasslands. The uncertainty of year-to-year policies keep them watching the situation closely, and losing critical grazing land is a worrisome possibility.

In regard to the next generation, Bill and Judy and Tom and Lori all have spent time doing some estate planning in preparation for the time when the reins are handed to Scott and Shawn. Each ranch is set up as a LLC (Limited Liability Company). As far as the knowledge needed to run the ranches, Shawn said it best with the statement, “We learned from the best, and they learned from the best.”

Jim’s son Hardy helps on the ranch whenever he can. He enjoys staying involved, and has a strong attachment to the land. He said, “I’d love to have a piece of it, but will probably have to do something on my own someday if I want to ranch.”

It’s not all work and no play for the Whites, though, as they have been successful in the rodeo arena for many years, through High School Rodeo, College Rodeo, NRCA, SDRA, and PRCA. Scott currently rodeos and competes in calf roping, team roping and steer roping, while Hardy is a pickup man at area rodeos. Shawn quit rodeoing to be home with his family, after a successful high school and college rodeo career. Bill chuckled and said, “Yep, the only farming we do on the ranch is the arena.”

A big celebration is scheduled for Aug. 22, 2009 at the Tom White Ranch, with a family gathering that afternoon, followed by a BBQ and dance at 6 p.m. for all their friends and family. They will be commemorating the John H. White homestead of 1889 and the Charles H. White homestead of 1907.

The Whites have been watering the gumbo soil of Fall River County with their sweat for five generations and counting. Hard work and determination are what it has required, and that won’t let up any time soon. Another generation is following in his father’s footsteps even now, learning the ranch and the business, as little Owen, wearing hat and boots, hurries after Shawn.

Good stewardship and family ties have made the White Ranch what it is today.

From the captain of the Mayflower to the Civil War battlefields, the White family’s ancestors have been important people in the nation’s history. In more recent times, the Whites have been prominent cattlemen and involved citizens in the northern plains, building ranches and raising families and cattle on the rolling prairie east of Oelrichs, SD.

The curing grasslands are golden with the tinge of green that a wet spring and summer can paint on the prairie grass. Unturned by plow, the White Ranch is still in the native grass that the buffalo grazed many years ago, and that the early Whites homesteaded in 1889.

In 1858, John Halstead White was born in Kewanee, IL. In 1870, he and his parents, Egbert and Mary Ann White, moved to Farragut, IA. John White was the proprietor of a drug store at Farragut, and that is where he met and married Annie Maria Robbins, whose family had moved to Farragut in 1878 from Kentucky. She was a school teacher at the time.

In 1889, John came to Fall River County, Dakota Territory and homesteaded east of Oelrichs. He moved the office building of the, by then defunct, Anglo-American Cattle Company to his homestead for a house. The fall of 1889, he trailed his cattle from Iowa to the homestead, and in the spring of 1890, his wife and their five children – Maude, Edith, Charles H., Edward F. and Bernice – came by train to join him on the place.

Hard years were the norm of the time, and the family endured scarlet fever, harsh winters and the Indian uprising of 1889. The winter of 1889 wiped them out and they went to Texas, bought more cattle, and trailed them back. With hard work the Whites accumulated over 14,000 acres of land. Unfortunately, they had to relinquish part of it due to the government opening the country up for the filing of claims.

In 1899, the family moved to Chadron to allow their family better schooling. John White pursued other business interests, though his heart remained that of a cattleman and rancher.

He was killed in a car accident in 1930, the week after he and Annie had celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary. Annie died in 1936.

Ranching was flowing in the blood of the Whites, for when Charles H. “Charley” was 21 years old, he returned to the Oelrichs country and filed a claim on what had been part of his folks holdings. He proved up on two 80 acre parcels in the following few years, the first in 1907, the second in 1909. The cost of those patents was $7 each.

He married Martha Groves in 1909. They had three children, Dorothy, John E. and Charles E. “Pete”. Between the births of Dorothy and John, Charley moved the old house, which had been the office building for the cattle company, to the homestead and added it to the three room house they were living in, making a fine home for the time and place.

During those years, besides his own ranching interests, Charley was one of the roundup bosses for the Matador Ranch. The Matadors had a big lease on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation and ran thousands of cattle there, and each fall, the steers were trailed to the railroad to be shipped to Omaha or Chicago.

During those open range days, Charley and his brother Ed ran their horses in the Hay Canyon country. Each spring they would gather the horses and bring them to Charley’s ranch to sort off the ones to break, brand and cut the colts, and run the mares with the good Thoroughbred stallion that the government provided from Ft. Robinson.

Breaking horses was a big job, but thoroughly enjoyed by the young spectators, Dorothy, John and Pete. They watched the horse breaker get those horses rideable and then some were sold to the Remount. The remainder were used on the ranch.

Charley’s brother Ed was quite a hand himself, and it’s told by the family that Ed carried a set of emasculators with him when he rode, and if he saw a five- or six-year-old stud running loose, he would rope him, tie him down and geld him right there. He was obviously pretty well mounted as well.

In the 1930’s when the government was buying back the homesteads, Charley chose to keep his and was able to buy some more of the neighboring land for around $4/acre. He had a big hay meadow that produced bumper crops of hay, enabling Charley to borrow money from the bank to buy cattle because he had so much feed on hand. It’s said that the ranch went broke three times in those years, but they could always get another start, thanks to that good hay meadow.

Dorothy and John both married and left the ranch, but Pete stayed put and married Marjorie Cavanaugh in 1940.

They lived for a year and a half with Pete’s folks, then moved a homestead house in from a mile south and attached it to the old bunkhouse, making a two-room house, just before their firstborn arrived. Their son James M. “Jim” was born in 1942, William Charles in 1943, and Thomas Lee in 1948.

When the two oldest boys were old enough to go to school, their mother drove them to Oelrichs every day. The roads were bad though, and made it difficult at times to get there and back, so in 1952 they bought a house and 40 acres at Oelrichs and moved there. Pete then drove to the ranch every day, which became easier when Highway 18 was completed past the ranch in 1953.

In 1959, they traded homes with Pete’s folks and moved back to the ranch, while Pete’s folks moved to town. The boys were old enough to drive to school by then and were needed on the ranch.

Pete’s folks had lived for 50 years on the ranch, celebrating their anniversary there before moving to town. Martha died in 1964 and Charley in 1971.

Pete was active in endeavors outside of ranching as well. He served six years on the State Brand Board, and in 1962, was elected to the State House of Representatives. He resigned the last year of his second term, however, because he just couldn’t be away from the ranch that much as plans had changed at home.

Son Jim had graduated from high school in 1960, and then from Colorado State University, Ft. Collins in 1965. He intended to return to the ranch, but was drafted instead, as the Vietnam War was on. He was discharged in 1966 and married Cheri Boldon the same year. They stayed on the home ranch until 1969 when they bought a ranch east of it and moved there. They had three children: Tobie Ann in 1969, Heidi Lee in 1972, and James Hardin “Hardy” in 1975.

Bill graduated from high school in 1962 and worked on the ranch until 1965, then went to college, first at University of Wyoming at Laramie, and then at Black Hills State University in Spearfish, SD.

Youngest son Tom graduated from Oelrichs High School in 1966 and headed off to college that fall, first at South Dakota State University in Brookings for one semester, then graduated from Chadron State College in 1972.

In 1971, Pete and Marjorie built a new house on the ranch and moved into it. Son Bill was back working for them on the ranch at the time. When Bill married Judy Perry in 1972, they moved into the old house. In 1973, they had twin daughters, Wendy Bee and Ellen Lee, in 1976 Brenda Sue, and then Scott Charles in 1977.

After their father Pete’s death in 1972, Tom worked with Bill and Judy on the ranch. In 1976, they bought the old Moody-Geiser Ranch and Bill and Judy moved onto it. Tom married Lori Thompson in 1979 and they moved into his folk’s house on the ranch. His mother moved to Oelrichs at that time. Tom and Lori had three children – Jeff Thomas in 1980, Lukus Loren in 1982, and Shawn Thompson in 1985. Their mother Marjorie passed away in 1984.

The White Ranch is still going strong. Tom and Lori are on the home ranch, along with their son Shawn, his wife Tanna, and their son Owen, 20 months, who is the sixth generation on the ranch. The oldest son, Jeff, and Megan Edwards live in Casper, WY and have a daughter Charlee, born in June 2009, and Luke is in Bozeman, MT.

Bill and Judy live just across the highway and their son Scott is on the ranch with them. Their daughters Wendy and Ellen both live in Oelrichs, and daughter Brenda is in Sheridan, WY. Brenda took the title of 1996 College National Finals Rodeo Ladies Breakaway Champion, and continues to rodeo in the NRCA.

Jim and Cheri left the ranch they had and now live in Chadron, NE, where Jim is a truck driver. Their son Hardy and his wife Mandy live in Hot Springs, and have three children: daughter Jessy, 7, and five week old twins, a girl and a boy, Josey and Avery. Jim and Cheri’s daughter Tobie Ann Copp lives in Scottsbluff, NE, and her sister Heidi lives in Commerce City, CO.

Improvements have been made over the years, and the arrival of electricity in 1952 was one of them. Another important one was rural water from Hot Springs. Shallow wells had been used before then, but had awfully hard water.

Bill said, “The shallow wells aren’t good water, they’re just wet.” Tom added, “In the ’60’s, dad was trying to run yearlings but fought waterbellies so bad that he finally gave up. With this rural water now, we had one last year but hadn’t had one for a long time before that.”

The shallow wells were piped to all the pastures on the ranch, but the wells couldn’t keep up. Scott said, “Without the rural water during the drouth, there wouldn’t have been any cattle left.” When the drouth finally broke, it presented an amusing problem for the cattle, as Bill, laughing, told, “We had cows that waded through the creek to get to a tank to drink. They were raised during the drouth and just didn’t know they could drink that running water!”

The old house was dismantled and the durable Anglo-American Cattle Company office was moved once again and made into a grainery/cake shed on Tom’s ranch. The old bunkhouse was added onto to make a shop building.

Better transportation and good machinery have also been important improvements.

“Those blizzard of ’49 pictures didn’t look any different than this past April, but we just have so much better equipment to deal with it,” Tom said. “It was bad, but not like then.”

Early transportation was with teams and wagons or saddle horses, and it was a long ways to anywhere. They remember their granddad talking about hauling hay to Ft. Robinson and selling it, and that it was a long trip with a team and wagon. Even after cars became common, the roads were still nearly impassable under the best of circumstances, and hopeless when it was wet. Good roads now ensure that they can go where they need to nearly any time.

Cow numbers were reduced on the ranches during the dry years, and are slowly being built back up again. In the early years, the White Ranch was exclusively a Hereford outfit. It remained so until the trend changed to black baldies, so using Angus bulls and the Hereford base, they’ve stayed viable in the business. Today’s cowherds are predominately black with some baldies and brockle-faced cows showing their Hereford heritage.

Bill and Scott’s cows calve the end of March and they run them on grass and supplement with cake and native hay. They background the calves and sell the steer calves in December.

Tom and Shawn calve their cows in April, sell some calves in the fall and run some steers over.

“We had reduced numbers during the drouth, so decided to run some of the steers over and sell them as yearlings,” said Tom. “I like how that worked, as the steers we shipped last week weighed 970 and sold really well. I think we’ll keep doing that.”

Their cows winter on grass, supplemented with hay and cake, plus they are feeding some distillers grain as well.

The big hay meadow is still turning out hay every year, though some years a little less than others, as Shawn points out with a grin, “One bale might not be called a hay crop.” During the drouth it didn’t produce much, and one very wet year after the ’30’s it had water standing on it so the hay couldn’t grow. It’s still an important part of the ranch and had a bumper crop of hay this year and that lessens the concern Tom and Shawn have going into the winter.

As if the markets on both cattle and feed aren’t a big enough problem, government policies continue to bother both ranches. About 50 percent of the ranch’s pastures are part of the National Grasslands, and dealing with the politics involved can be a problem. Bill elaborated on this, “We can take the weather, blizzards, drouths, and that, but the politics are there forever.” Shawn and Scott, being the next generation to take over in the future, share the same concerns about dealing with the government regulations, the prairie dogs and changes in policy on the National Grasslands. The uncertainty of year-to-year policies keep them watching the situation closely, and losing critical grazing land is a worrisome possibility.

In regard to the next generation, Bill and Judy and Tom and Lori all have spent time doing some estate planning in preparation for the time when the reins are handed to Scott and Shawn. Each ranch is set up as a LLC (Limited Liability Company). As far as the knowledge needed to run the ranches, Shawn said it best with the statement, “We learned from the best, and they learned from the best.”

Jim’s son Hardy helps on the ranch whenever he can. He enjoys staying involved, and has a strong attachment to the land. He said, “I’d love to have a piece of it, but will probably have to do something on my own someday if I want to ranch.”

It’s not all work and no play for the Whites, though, as they have been successful in the rodeo arena for many years, through High School Rodeo, College Rodeo, NRCA, SDRA, and PRCA. Scott currently rodeos and competes in calf roping, team roping and steer roping, while Hardy is a pickup man at area rodeos. Shawn quit rodeoing to be home with his family, after a successful high school and college rodeo career. Bill chuckled and said, “Yep, the only farming we do on the ranch is the arena.”

A big celebration is scheduled for Aug. 22, 2009 at the Tom White Ranch, with a family gathering that afternoon, followed by a BBQ and dance at 6 p.m. for all their friends and family. They will be commemorating the John H. White homestead of 1889 and the Charles H. White homestead of 1907.

The Whites have been watering the gumbo soil of Fall River County with their sweat for five generations and counting. Hard work and determination are what it has required, and that won’t let up any time soon. Another generation is following in his father’s footsteps even now, learning the ranch and the business, as little Owen, wearing hat and boots, hurries after Shawn.

Good stewardship and family ties have made the White Ranch what it is today.

From the captain of the Mayflower to the Civil War battlefields, the White family’s ancestors have been important people in the nation’s history. In more recent times, the Whites have been prominent cattlemen and involved citizens in the northern plains, building ranches and raising families and cattle on the rolling prairie east of Oelrichs, SD.

The curing grasslands are golden with the tinge of green that a wet spring and summer can paint on the prairie grass. Unturned by plow, the White Ranch is still in the native grass that the buffalo grazed many years ago, and that the early Whites homesteaded in 1889.

In 1858, John Halstead White was born in Kewanee, IL. In 1870, he and his parents, Egbert and Mary Ann White, moved to Farragut, IA. John White was the proprietor of a drug store at Farragut, and that is where he met and married Annie Maria Robbins, whose family had moved to Farragut in 1878 from Kentucky. She was a school teacher at the time.

In 1889, John came to Fall River County, Dakota Territory and homesteaded east of Oelrichs. He moved the office building of the, by then defunct, Anglo-American Cattle Company to his homestead for a house. The fall of 1889, he trailed his cattle from Iowa to the homestead, and in the spring of 1890, his wife and their five children – Maude, Edith, Charles H., Edward F. and Bernice – came by train to join him on the place.

Hard years were the norm of the time, and the family endured scarlet fever, harsh winters and the Indian uprising of 1889. The winter of 1889 wiped them out and they went to Texas, bought more cattle, and trailed them back. With hard work the Whites accumulated over 14,000 acres of land. Unfortunately, they had to relinquish part of it due to the government opening the country up for the filing of claims.

In 1899, the family moved to Chadron to allow their family better schooling. John White pursued other business interests, though his heart remained that of a cattleman and rancher.

He was killed in a car accident in 1930, the week after he and Annie had celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary. Annie died in 1936.

Ranching was flowing in the blood of the Whites, for when Charles H. “Charley” was 21 years old, he returned to the Oelrichs country and filed a claim on what had been part of his folks holdings. He proved up on two 80 acre parcels in the following few years, the first in 1907, the second in 1909. The cost of those patents was $7 each.

He married Martha Groves in 1909. They had three children, Dorothy, John E. and Charles E. “Pete”. Between the births of Dorothy and John, Charley moved the old house, which had been the office building for the cattle company, to the homestead and added it to the three room house they were living in, making a fine home for the time and place.

During those years, besides his own ranching interests, Charley was one of the roundup bosses for the Matador Ranch. The Matadors had a big lease on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation and ran thousands of cattle there, and each fall, the steers were trailed to the railroad to be shipped to Omaha or Chicago.

During those open range days, Charley and his brother Ed ran their horses in the Hay Canyon country. Each spring they would gather the horses and bring them to Charley’s ranch to sort off the ones to break, brand and cut the colts, and run the mares with the good Thoroughbred stallion that the government provided from Ft. Robinson.

Breaking horses was a big job, but thoroughly enjoyed by the young spectators, Dorothy, John and Pete. They watched the horse breaker get those horses rideable and then some were sold to the Remount. The remainder were used on the ranch.

Charley’s brother Ed was quite a hand himself, and it’s told by the family that Ed carried a set of emasculators with him when he rode, and if he saw a five- or six-year-old stud running loose, he would rope him, tie him down and geld him right there. He was obviously pretty well mounted as well.

In the 1930’s when the government was buying back the homesteads, Charley chose to keep his and was able to buy some more of the neighboring land for around $4/acre. He had a big hay meadow that produced bumper crops of hay, enabling Charley to borrow money from the bank to buy cattle because he had so much feed on hand. It’s said that the ranch went broke three times in those years, but they could always get another start, thanks to that good hay meadow.

Dorothy and John both married and left the ranch, but Pete stayed put and married Marjorie Cavanaugh in 1940.

They lived for a year and a half with Pete’s folks, then moved a homestead house in from a mile south and attached it to the old bunkhouse, making a two-room house, just before their firstborn arrived. Their son James M. “Jim” was born in 1942, William Charles in 1943, and Thomas Lee in 1948.

When the two oldest boys were old enough to go to school, their mother drove them to Oelrichs every day. The roads were bad though, and made it difficult at times to get there and back, so in 1952 they bought a house and 40 acres at Oelrichs and moved there. Pete then drove to the ranch every day, which became easier when Highway 18 was completed past the ranch in 1953.

In 1959, they traded homes with Pete’s folks and moved back to the ranch, while Pete’s folks moved to town. The boys were old enough to drive to school by then and were needed on the ranch.

Pete’s folks had lived for 50 years on the ranch, celebrating their anniversary there before moving to town. Martha died in 1964 and Charley in 1971.

Pete was active in endeavors outside of ranching as well. He served six years on the State Brand Board, and in 1962, was elected to the State House of Representatives. He resigned the last year of his second term, however, because he just couldn’t be away from the ranch that much as plans had changed at home.

Son Jim had graduated from high school in 1960, and then from Colorado State University, Ft. Collins in 1965. He intended to return to the ranch, but was drafted instead, as the Vietnam War was on. He was discharged in 1966 and married Cheri Boldon the same year. They stayed on the home ranch until 1969 when they bought a ranch east of it and moved there. They had three children: Tobie Ann in 1969, Heidi Lee in 1972, and James Hardin “Hardy” in 1975.

Bill graduated from high school in 1962 and worked on the ranch until 1965, then went to college, first at University of Wyoming at Laramie, and then at Black Hills State University in Spearfish, SD.

Youngest son Tom graduated from Oelrichs High School in 1966 and headed off to college that fall, first at South Dakota State University in Brookings for one semester, then graduated from Chadron State College in 1972.

In 1971, Pete and Marjorie built a new house on the ranch and moved into it. Son Bill was back working for them on the ranch at the time. When Bill married Judy Perry in 1972, they moved into the old house. In 1973, they had twin daughters, Wendy Bee and Ellen Lee, in 1976 Brenda Sue, and then Scott Charles in 1977.

After their father Pete’s death in 1972, Tom worked with Bill and Judy on the ranch. In 1976, they bought the old Moody-Geiser Ranch and Bill and Judy moved onto it. Tom married Lori Thompson in 1979 and they moved into his folk’s house on the ranch. His mother moved to Oelrichs at that time. Tom and Lori had three children – Jeff Thomas in 1980, Lukus Loren in 1982, and Shawn Thompson in 1985. Their mother Marjorie passed away in 1984.

The White Ranch is still going strong. Tom and Lori are on the home ranch, along with their son Shawn, his wife Tanna, and their son Owen, 20 months, who is the sixth generation on the ranch. The oldest son, Jeff, and Megan Edwards live in Casper, WY and have a daughter Charlee, born in June 2009, and Luke is in Bozeman, MT.

Bill and Judy live just across the highway and their son Scott is on the ranch with them. Their daughters Wendy and Ellen both live in Oelrichs, and daughter Brenda is in Sheridan, WY. Brenda took the title of 1996 College National Finals Rodeo Ladies Breakaway Champion, and continues to rodeo in the NRCA.

Jim and Cheri left the ranch they had and now live in Chadron, NE, where Jim is a truck driver. Their son Hardy and his wife Mandy live in Hot Springs, and have three children: daughter Jessy, 7, and five week old twins, a girl and a boy, Josey and Avery. Jim and Cheri’s daughter Tobie Ann Copp lives in Scottsbluff, NE, and her sister Heidi lives in Commerce City, CO.

Improvements have been made over the years, and the arrival of electricity in 1952 was one of them. Another important one was rural water from Hot Springs. Shallow wells had been used before then, but had awfully hard water.

Bill said, “The shallow wells aren’t good water, they’re just wet.” Tom added, “In the ’60’s, dad was trying to run yearlings but fought waterbellies so bad that he finally gave up. With this rural water now, we had one last year but hadn’t had one for a long time before that.”

The shallow wells were piped to all the pastures on the ranch, but the wells couldn’t keep up. Scott said, “Without the rural water during the drouth, there wouldn’t have been any cattle left.” When the drouth finally broke, it presented an amusing problem for the cattle, as Bill, laughing, told, “We had cows that waded through the creek to get to a tank to drink. They were raised during the drouth and just didn’t know they could drink that running water!”

The old house was dismantled and the durable Anglo-American Cattle Company office was moved once again and made into a grainery/cake shed on Tom’s ranch. The old bunkhouse was added onto to make a shop building.

Better transportation and good machinery have also been important improvements.

“Those blizzard of ’49 pictures didn’t look any different than this past April, but we just have so much better equipment to deal with it,” Tom said. “It was bad, but not like then.”

Early transportation was with teams and wagons or saddle horses, and it was a long ways to anywhere. They remember their granddad talking about hauling hay to Ft. Robinson and selling it, and that it was a long trip with a team and wagon. Even after cars became common, the roads were still nearly impassable under the best of circumstances, and hopeless when it was wet. Good roads now ensure that they can go where they need to nearly any time.

Cow numbers were reduced on the ranches during the dry years, and are slowly being built back up again. In the early years, the White Ranch was exclusively a Hereford outfit. It remained so until the trend changed to black baldies, so using Angus bulls and the Hereford base, they’ve stayed viable in the business. Today’s cowherds are predominately black with some baldies and brockle-faced cows showing their Hereford heritage.

Bill and Scott’s cows calve the end of March and they run them on grass and supplement with cake and native hay. They background the calves and sell the steer calves in December.

Tom and Shawn calve their cows in April, sell some calves in the fall and run some steers over.

“We had reduced numbers during the drouth, so decided to run some of the steers over and sell them as yearlings,” said Tom. “I like how that worked, as the steers we shipped last week weighed 970 and sold really well. I think we’ll keep doing that.”

Their cows winter on grass, supplemented with hay and cake, plus they are feeding some distillers grain as well.

The big hay meadow is still turning out hay every year, though some years a little less than others, as Shawn points out with a grin, “One bale might not be called a hay crop.” During the drouth it didn’t produce much, and one very wet year after the ’30’s it had water standing on it so the hay couldn’t grow. It’s still an important part of the ranch and had a bumper crop of hay this year and that lessens the concern Tom and Shawn have going into the winter.

As if the markets on both cattle and feed aren’t a big enough problem, government policies continue to bother both ranches. About 50 percent of the ranch’s pastures are part of the National Grasslands, and dealing with the politics involved can be a problem. Bill elaborated on this, “We can take the weather, blizzards, drouths, and that, but the politics are there forever.” Shawn and Scott, being the next generation to take over in the future, share the same concerns about dealing with the government regulations, the prairie dogs and changes in policy on the National Grasslands. The uncertainty of year-to-year policies keep them watching the situation closely, and losing critical grazing land is a worrisome possibility.

In regard to the next generation, Bill and Judy and Tom and Lori all have spent time doing some estate planning in preparation for the time when the reins are handed to Scott and Shawn. Each ranch is set up as a LLC (Limited Liability Company). As far as the knowledge needed to run the ranches, Shawn said it best with the statement, “We learned from the best, and they learned from the best.”

Jim’s son Hardy helps on the ranch whenever he can. He enjoys staying involved, and has a strong attachment to the land. He said, “I’d love to have a piece of it, but will probably have to do something on my own someday if I want to ranch.”

It’s not all work and no play for the Whites, though, as they have been successful in the rodeo arena for many years, through High School Rodeo, College Rodeo, NRCA, SDRA, and PRCA. Scott currently rodeos and competes in calf roping, team roping and steer roping, while Hardy is a pickup man at area rodeos. Shawn quit rodeoing to be home with his family, after a successful high school and college rodeo career. Bill chuckled and said, “Yep, the only farming we do on the ranch is the arena.”

A big celebration is scheduled for Aug. 22, 2009 at the Tom White Ranch, with a family gathering that afternoon, followed by a BBQ and dance at 6 p.m. for all their friends and family. They will be commemorating the John H. White homestead of 1889 and the Charles H. White homestead of 1907.

The Whites have been watering the gumbo soil of Fall River County with their sweat for five generations and counting. Hard work and determination are what it has required, and that won’t let up any time soon. Another generation is following in his father’s footsteps even now, learning the ranch and the business, as little Owen, wearing hat and boots, hurries after Shawn.

Good stewardship and family ties have made the White Ranch what it is today.

From the captain of the Mayflower to the Civil War battlefields, the White family’s ancestors have been important people in the nation’s history. In more recent times, the Whites have been prominent cattlemen and involved citizens in the northern plains, building ranches and raising families and cattle on the rolling prairie east of Oelrichs, SD.

The curing grasslands are golden with the tinge of green that a wet spring and summer can paint on the prairie grass. Unturned by plow, the White Ranch is still in the native grass that the buffalo grazed many years ago, and that the early Whites homesteaded in 1889.

In 1858, John Halstead White was born in Kewanee, IL. In 1870, he and his parents, Egbert and Mary Ann White, moved to Farragut, IA. John White was the proprietor of a drug store at Farragut, and that is where he met and married Annie Maria Robbins, whose family had moved to Farragut in 1878 from Kentucky. She was a school teacher at the time.

In 1889, John came to Fall River County, Dakota Territory and homesteaded east of Oelrichs. He moved the office building of the, by then defunct, Anglo-American Cattle Company to his homestead for a house. The fall of 1889, he trailed his cattle from Iowa to the homestead, and in the spring of 1890, his wife and their five children – Maude, Edith, Charles H., Edward F. and Bernice – came by train to join him on the place.

Hard years were the norm of the time, and the family endured scarlet fever, harsh winters and the Indian uprising of 1889. The winter of 1889 wiped them out and they went to Texas, bought more cattle, and trailed them back. With hard work the Whites accumulated over 14,000 acres of land. Unfortunately, they had to relinquish part of it due to the government opening the country up for the filing of claims.

In 1899, the family moved to Chadron to allow their family better schooling. John White pursued other business interests, though his heart remained that of a cattleman and rancher.

He was killed in a car accident in 1930, the week after he and Annie had celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary. Annie died in 1936.

Ranching was flowing in the blood of the Whites, for when Charles H. “Charley” was 21 years old, he returned to the Oelrichs country and filed a claim on what had been part of his folks holdings. He proved up on two 80 acre parcels in the following few years, the first in 1907, the second in 1909. The cost of those patents was $7 each.

He married Martha Groves in 1909. They had three children, Dorothy, John E. and Charles E. “Pete”. Between the births of Dorothy and John, Charley moved the old house, which had been the office building for the cattle company, to the homestead and added it to the three room house they were living in, making a fine home for the time and place.

During those years, besides his own ranching interests, Charley was one of the roundup bosses for the Matador Ranch. The Matadors had a big lease on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation and ran thousands of cattle there, and each fall, the steers were trailed to the railroad to be shipped to Omaha or Chicago.

During those open range days, Charley and his brother Ed ran their horses in the Hay Canyon country. Each spring they would gather the horses and bring them to Charley’s ranch to sort off the ones to break, brand and cut the colts, and run the mares with the good Thoroughbred stallion that the government provided from Ft. Robinson.

Breaking horses was a big job, but thoroughly enjoyed by the young spectators, Dorothy, John and Pete. They watched the horse breaker get those horses rideable and then some were sold to the Remount. The remainder were used on the ranch.

Charley’s brother Ed was quite a hand himself, and it’s told by the family that Ed carried a set of emasculators with him when he rode, and if he saw a five- or six-year-old stud running loose, he would rope him, tie him down and geld him right there. He was obviously pretty well mounted as well.

In the 1930’s when the government was buying back the homesteads, Charley chose to keep his and was able to buy some more of the neighboring land for around $4/acre. He had a big hay meadow that produced bumper crops of hay, enabling Charley to borrow money from the bank to buy cattle because he had so much feed on hand. It’s said that the ranch went broke three times in those years, but they could always get another start, thanks to that good hay meadow.

Dorothy and John both married and left the ranch, but Pete stayed put and married Marjorie Cavanaugh in 1940.

They lived for a year and a half with Pete’s folks, then moved a homestead house in from a mile south and attached it to the old bunkhouse, making a two-room house, just before their firstborn arrived. Their son James M. “Jim” was born in 1942, William Charles in 1943, and Thomas Lee in 1948.

When the two oldest boys were old enough to go to school, their mother drove them to Oelrichs every day. The roads were bad though, and made it difficult at times to get there and back, so in 1952 they bought a house and 40 acres at Oelrichs and moved there. Pete then drove to the ranch every day, which became easier when Highway 18 was completed past the ranch in 1953.

In 1959, they traded homes with Pete’s folks and moved back to the ranch, while Pete’s folks moved to town. The boys were old enough to drive to school by then and were needed on the ranch.

Pete’s folks had lived for 50 years on the ranch, celebrating their anniversary there before moving to town. Martha died in 1964 and Charley in 1971.

Pete was active in endeavors outside of ranching as well. He served six years on the State Brand Board, and in 1962, was elected to the State House of Representatives. He resigned the last year of his second term, however, because he just couldn’t be away from the ranch that much as plans had changed at home.

Son Jim had graduated from high school in 1960, and then from Colorado State University, Ft. Collins in 1965. He intended to return to the ranch, but was drafted instead, as the Vietnam War was on. He was discharged in 1966 and married Cheri Boldon the same year. They stayed on the home ranch until 1969 when they bought a ranch east of it and moved there. They had three children: Tobie Ann in 1969, Heidi Lee in 1972, and James Hardin “Hardy” in 1975.

Bill graduated from high school in 1962 and worked on the ranch until 1965, then went to college, first at University of Wyoming at Laramie, and then at Black Hills State University in Spearfish, SD.

Youngest son Tom graduated from Oelrichs High School in 1966 and headed off to college that fall, first at South Dakota State University in Brookings for one semester, then graduated from Chadron State College in 1972.

In 1971, Pete and Marjorie built a new house on the ranch and moved into it. Son Bill was back working for them on the ranch at the time. When Bill married Judy Perry in 1972, they moved into the old house. In 1973, they had twin daughters, Wendy Bee and Ellen Lee, in 1976 Brenda Sue, and then Scott Charles in 1977.

After their father Pete’s death in 1972, Tom worked with Bill and Judy on the ranch. In 1976, they bought the old Moody-Geiser Ranch and Bill and Judy moved onto it. Tom married Lori Thompson in 1979 and they moved into his folk’s house on the ranch. His mother moved to Oelrichs at that time. Tom and Lori had three children – Jeff Thomas in 1980, Lukus Loren in 1982, and Shawn Thompson in 1985. Their mother Marjorie passed away in 1984.

The White Ranch is still going strong. Tom and Lori are on the home ranch, along with their son Shawn, his wife Tanna, and their son Owen, 20 months, who is the sixth generation on the ranch. The oldest son, Jeff, and Megan Edwards live in Casper, WY and have a daughter Charlee, born in June 2009, and Luke is in Bozeman, MT.

Bill and Judy live just across the highway and their son Scott is on the ranch with them. Their daughters Wendy and Ellen both live in Oelrichs, and daughter Brenda is in Sheridan, WY. Brenda took the title of 1996 College National Finals Rodeo Ladies Breakaway Champion, and continues to rodeo in the NRCA.

Jim and Cheri left the ranch they had and now live in Chadron, NE, where Jim is a truck driver. Their son Hardy and his wife Mandy live in Hot Springs, and have three children: daughter Jessy, 7, and five week old twins, a girl and a boy, Josey and Avery. Jim and Cheri’s daughter Tobie Ann Copp lives in Scottsbluff, NE, and her sister Heidi lives in Commerce City, CO.

Improvements have been made over the years, and the arrival of electricity in 1952 was one of them. Another important one was rural water from Hot Springs. Shallow wells had been used before then, but had awfully hard water.

Bill said, “The shallow wells aren’t good water, they’re just wet.” Tom added, “In the ’60’s, dad was trying to run yearlings but fought waterbellies so bad that he finally gave up. With this rural water now, we had one last year but hadn’t had one for a long time before that.”

The shallow wells were piped to all the pastures on the ranch, but the wells couldn’t keep up. Scott said, “Without the rural water during the drouth, there wouldn’t have been any cattle left.” When the drouth finally broke, it presented an amusing problem for the cattle, as Bill, laughing, told, “We had cows that waded through the creek to get to a tank to drink. They were raised during the drouth and just didn’t know they could drink that running water!”

The old house was dismantled and the durable Anglo-American Cattle Company office was moved once again and made into a grainery/cake shed on Tom’s ranch. The old bunkhouse was added onto to make a shop building.

Better transportation and good machinery have also been important improvements.

“Those blizzard of ’49 pictures didn’t look any different than this past April, but we just have so much better equipment to deal with it,” Tom said. “It was bad, but not like then.”

Early transportation was with teams and wagons or saddle horses, and it was a long ways to anywhere. They remember their granddad talking about hauling hay to Ft. Robinson and selling it, and that it was a long trip with a team and wagon. Even after cars became common, the roads were still nearly impassable under the best of circumstances, and hopeless when it was wet. Good roads now ensure that they can go where they need to nearly any time.

Cow numbers were reduced on the ranches during the dry years, and are slowly being built back up again. In the early years, the White Ranch was exclusively a Hereford outfit. It remained so until the trend changed to black baldies, so using Angus bulls and the Hereford base, they’ve stayed viable in the business. Today’s cowherds are predominately black with some baldies and brockle-faced cows showing their Hereford heritage.

Bill and Scott’s cows calve the end of March and they run them on grass and supplement with cake and native hay. They background the calves and sell the steer calves in December.

Tom and Shawn calve their cows in April, sell some calves in the fall and run some steers over.

“We had reduced numbers during the drouth, so decided to run some of the steers over and sell them as yearlings,” said Tom. “I like how that worked, as the steers we shipped last week weighed 970 and sold really well. I think we’ll keep doing that.”

Their cows winter on grass, supplemented with hay and cake, plus they are feeding some distillers grain as well.

The big hay meadow is still turning out hay every year, though some years a little less than others, as Shawn points out with a grin, “One bale might not be called a hay crop.” During the drouth it didn’t produce much, and one very wet year after the ’30’s it had water standing on it so the hay couldn’t grow. It’s still an important part of the ranch and had a bumper crop of hay this year and that lessens the concern Tom and Shawn have going into the winter.

As if the markets on both cattle and feed aren’t a big enough problem, government policies continue to bother both ranches. About 50 percent of the ranch’s pastures are part of the National Grasslands, and dealing with the politics involved can be a problem. Bill elaborated on this, “We can take the weather, blizzards, drouths, and that, but the politics are there forever.” Shawn and Scott, being the next generation to take over in the future, share the same concerns about dealing with the government regulations, the prairie dogs and changes in policy on the National Grasslands. The uncertainty of year-to-year policies keep them watching the situation closely, and losing critical grazing land is a worrisome possibility.

In regard to the next generation, Bill and Judy and Tom and Lori all have spent time doing some estate planning in preparation for the time when the reins are handed to Scott and Shawn. Each ranch is set up as a LLC (Limited Liability Company). As far as the knowledge needed to run the ranches, Shawn said it best with the statement, “We learned from the best, and they learned from the best.”

Jim’s son Hardy helps on the ranch whenever he can. He enjoys staying involved, and has a strong attachment to the land. He said, “I’d love to have a piece of it, but will probably have to do something on my own someday if I want to ranch.”

It’s not all work and no play for the Whites, though, as they have been successful in the rodeo arena for many years, through High School Rodeo, College Rodeo, NRCA, SDRA, and PRCA. Scott currently rodeos and competes in calf roping, team roping and steer roping, while Hardy is a pickup man at area rodeos. Shawn quit rodeoing to be home with his family, after a successful high school and college rodeo career. Bill chuckled and said, “Yep, the only farming we do on the ranch is the arena.”

A big celebration is scheduled for Aug. 22, 2009 at the Tom White Ranch, with a family gathering that afternoon, followed by a BBQ and dance at 6 p.m. for all their friends and family. They will be commemorating the John H. White homestead of 1889 and the Charles H. White homestead of 1907.

The Whites have been watering the gumbo soil of Fall River County with their sweat for five generations and counting. Hard work and determination are what it has required, and that won’t let up any time soon. Another generation is following in his father’s footsteps even now, learning the ranch and the business, as little Owen, wearing hat and boots, hurries after Shawn.

Good stewardship and family ties have made the White Ranch what it is today.

From the captain of the Mayflower to the Civil War battlefields, the White family’s ancestors have been important people in the nation’s history. In more recent times, the Whites have been prominent cattlemen and involved citizens in the northern plains, building ranches and raising families and cattle on the rolling prairie east of Oelrichs, SD.

The curing grasslands are golden with the tinge of green that a wet spring and summer can paint on the prairie grass. Unturned by plow, the White Ranch is still in the native grass that the buffalo grazed many years ago, and that the early Whites homesteaded in 1889.

In 1858, John Halstead White was born in Kewanee, IL. In 1870, he and his parents, Egbert and Mary Ann White, moved to Farragut, IA. John White was the proprietor of a drug store at Farragut, and that is where he met and married Annie Maria Robbins, whose family had moved to Farragut in 1878 from Kentucky. She was a school teacher at the time.

In 1889, John came to Fall River County, Dakota Territory and homesteaded east of Oelrichs. He moved the office building of the, by then defunct, Anglo-American Cattle Company to his homestead for a house. The fall of 1889, he trailed his cattle from Iowa to the homestead, and in the spring of 1890, his wife and their five children – Maude, Edith, Charles H., Edward F. and Bernice – came by train to join him on the place.

Hard years were the norm of the time, and the family endured scarlet fever, harsh winters and the Indian uprising of 1889. The winter of 1889 wiped them out and they went to Texas, bought more cattle, and trailed them back. With hard work the Whites accumulated over 14,000 acres of land. Unfortunately, they had to relinquish part of it due to the government opening the country up for the filing of claims.

In 1899, the family moved to Chadron to allow their family better schooling. John White pursued other business interests, though his heart remained that of a cattleman and rancher.

He was killed in a car accident in 1930, the week after he and Annie had celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary. Annie died in 1936.

Ranching was flowing in the blood of the Whites, for when Charles H. “Charley” was 21 years old, he returned to the Oelrichs country and filed a claim on what had been part of his folks holdings. He proved up on two 80 acre parcels in the following few years, the first in 1907, the second in 1909. The cost of those patents was $7 each.

He married Martha Groves in 1909. They had three children, Dorothy, John E. and Charles E. “Pete”. Between the births of Dorothy and John, Charley moved the old house, which had been the office building for the cattle company, to the homestead and added it to the three room house they were living in, making a fine home for the time and place.

During those years, besides his own ranching interests, Charley was one of the roundup bosses for the Matador Ranch. The Matadors had a big lease on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation and ran thousands of cattle there, and each fall, the steers were trailed to the railroad to be shipped to Omaha or Chicago.

During those open range days, Charley and his brother Ed ran their horses in the Hay Canyon country. Each spring they would gather the horses and bring them to Charley’s ranch to sort off the ones to break, brand and cut the colts, and run the mares with the good Thoroughbred stallion that the government provided from Ft. Robinson.

Breaking horses was a big job, but thoroughly enjoyed by the young spectators, Dorothy, John and Pete. They watched the horse breaker get those horses rideable and then some were sold to the Remount. The remainder were used on the ranch.

Charley’s brother Ed was quite a hand himself, and it’s told by the family that Ed carried a set of emasculators with him when he rode, and if he saw a five- or six-year-old stud running loose, he would rope him, tie him down and geld him right there. He was obviously pretty well mounted as well.

In the 1930’s when the government was buying back the homesteads, Charley chose to keep his and was able to buy some more of the neighboring land for around $4/acre. He had a big hay meadow that produced bumper crops of hay, enabling Charley to borrow money from the bank to buy cattle because he had so much feed on hand. It’s said that the ranch went broke three times in those years, but they could always get another start, thanks to that good hay meadow.

Dorothy and John both married and left the ranch, but Pete stayed put and married Marjorie Cavanaugh in 1940.

They lived for a year and a half with Pete’s folks, then moved a homestead house in from a mile south and attached it to the old bunkhouse, making a two-room house, just before their firstborn arrived. Their son James M. “Jim” was born in 1942, William Charles in 1943, and Thomas Lee in 1948.

When the two oldest boys were old enough to go to school, their mother drove them to Oelrichs every day. The roads were bad though, and made it difficult at times to get there and back, so in 1952 they bought a house and 40 acres at Oelrichs and moved there. Pete then drove to the ranch every day, which became easier when Highway 18 was completed past the ranch in 1953.

In 1959, they traded homes with Pete’s folks and moved back to the ranch, while Pete’s folks moved to town. The boys were old enough to drive to school by then and were needed on the ranch.

Pete’s folks had lived for 50 years on the ranch, celebrating their anniversary there before moving to town. Martha died in 1964 and Charley in 1971.

Pete was active in endeavors outside of ranching as well. He served six years on the State Brand Board, and in 1962, was elected to the State House of Representatives. He resigned the last year of his second term, however, because he just couldn’t be away from the ranch that much as plans had changed at home.

Son Jim had graduated from high school in 1960, and then from Colorado State University, Ft. Collins in 1965. He intended to return to the ranch, but was drafted instead, as the Vietnam War was on. He was discharged in 1966 and married Cheri Boldon the same year. They stayed on the home ranch until 1969 when they bought a ranch east of it and moved there. They had three children: Tobie Ann in 1969, Heidi Lee in 1972, and James Hardin “Hardy” in 1975.

Bill graduated from high school in 1962 and worked on the ranch until 1965, then went to college, first at University of Wyoming at Laramie, and then at Black Hills State University in Spearfish, SD.

Youngest son Tom graduated from Oelrichs High School in 1966 and headed off to college that fall, first at South Dakota State University in Brookings for one semester, then graduated from Chadron State College in 1972.

In 1971, Pete and Marjorie built a new house on the ranch and moved into it. Son Bill was back working for them on the ranch at the time. When Bill married Judy Perry in 1972, they moved into the old house. In 1973, they had twin daughters, Wendy Bee and Ellen Lee, in 1976 Brenda Sue, and then Scott Charles in 1977.

After their father Pete’s death in 1972, Tom worked with Bill and Judy on the ranch. In 1976, they bought the old Moody-Geiser Ranch and Bill and Judy moved onto it. Tom married Lori Thompson in 1979 and they moved into his folk’s house on the ranch. His mother moved to Oelrichs at that time. Tom and Lori had three children – Jeff Thomas in 1980, Lukus Loren in 1982, and Shawn Thompson in 1985. Their mother Marjorie passed away in 1984.

The White Ranch is still going strong. Tom and Lori are on the home ranch, along with their son Shawn, his wife Tanna, and their son Owen, 20 months, who is the sixth generation on the ranch. The oldest son, Jeff, and Megan Edwards live in Casper, WY and have a daughter Charlee, born in June 2009, and Luke is in Bozeman, MT.

Bill and Judy live just across the highway and their son Scott is on the ranch with them. Their daughters Wendy and Ellen both live in Oelrichs, and daughter Brenda is in Sheridan, WY. Brenda took the title of 1996 College National Finals Rodeo Ladies Breakaway Champion, and continues to rodeo in the NRCA.

Jim and Cheri left the ranch they had and now live in Chadron, NE, where Jim is a truck driver. Their son Hardy and his wife Mandy live in Hot Springs, and have three children: daughter Jessy, 7, and five week old twins, a girl and a boy, Josey and Avery. Jim and Cheri’s daughter Tobie Ann Copp lives in Scottsbluff, NE, and her sister Heidi lives in Commerce City, CO.

Improvements have been made over the years, and the arrival of electricity in 1952 was one of them. Another important one was rural water from Hot Springs. Shallow wells had been used before then, but had awfully hard water.

Bill said, “The shallow wells aren’t good water, they’re just wet.” Tom added, “In the ’60’s, dad was trying to run yearlings but fought waterbellies so bad that he finally gave up. With this rural water now, we had one last year but hadn’t had one for a long time before that.”

The shallow wells were piped to all the pastures on the ranch, but the wells couldn’t keep up. Scott said, “Without the rural water during the drouth, there wouldn’t have been any cattle left.” When the drouth finally broke, it presented an amusing problem for the cattle, as Bill, laughing, told, “We had cows that waded through the creek to get to a tank to drink. They were raised during the drouth and just didn’t know they could drink that running water!”

The old house was dismantled and the durable Anglo-American Cattle Company office was moved once again and made into a grainery/cake shed on Tom’s ranch. The old bunkhouse was added onto to make a shop building.

Better transportation and good machinery have also been important improvements.

“Those blizzard of ’49 pictures didn’t look any different than this past April, but we just have so much better equipment to deal with it,” Tom said. “It was bad, but not like then.”

Early transportation was with teams and wagons or saddle horses, and it was a long ways to anywhere. They remember their granddad talking about hauling hay to Ft. Robinson and selling it, and that it was a long trip with a team and wagon. Even after cars became common, the roads were still nearly impassable under the best of circumstances, and hopeless when it was wet. Good roads now ensure that they can go where they need to nearly any time.

Cow numbers were reduced on the ranches during the dry years, and are slowly being built back up again. In the early years, the White Ranch was exclusively a Hereford outfit. It remained so until the trend changed to black baldies, so using Angus bulls and the Hereford base, they’ve stayed viable in the business. Today’s cowherds are predominately black with some baldies and brockle-faced cows showing their Hereford heritage.

Bill and Scott’s cows calve the end of March and they run them on grass and supplement with cake and native hay. They background the calves and sell the steer calves in December.

Tom and Shawn calve their cows in April, sell some calves in the fall and run some steers over.

“We had reduced numbers during the drouth, so decided to run some of the steers over and sell them as yearlings,” said Tom. “I like how that worked, as the steers we shipped last week weighed 970 and sold really well. I think we’ll keep doing that.”

Their cows winter on grass, supplemented with hay and cake, plus they are feeding some distillers grain as well.

The big hay meadow is still turning out hay every year, though some years a little less than others, as Shawn points out with a grin, “One bale might not be called a hay crop.” During the drouth it didn’t produce much, and one very wet year after the ’30’s it had water standing on it so the hay couldn’t grow. It’s still an important part of the ranch and had a bumper crop of hay this year and that lessens the concern Tom and Shawn have going into the winter.

As if the markets on both cattle and feed aren’t a big enough problem, government policies continue to bother both ranches. About 50 percent of the ranch’s pastures are part of the National Grasslands, and dealing with the politics involved can be a problem. Bill elaborated on this, “We can take the weather, blizzards, drouths, and that, but the politics are there forever.” Shawn and Scott, being the next generation to take over in the future, share the same concerns about dealing with the government regulations, the prairie dogs and changes in policy on the National Grasslands. The uncertainty of year-to-year policies keep them watching the situation closely, and losing critical grazing land is a worrisome possibility.

In regard to the next generation, Bill and Judy and Tom and Lori all have spent time doing some estate planning in preparation for the time when the reins are handed to Scott and Shawn. Each ranch is set up as a LLC (Limited Liability Company). As far as the knowledge needed to run the ranches, Shawn said it best with the statement, “We learned from the best, and they learned from the best.”

Jim’s son Hardy helps on the ranch whenever he can. He enjoys staying involved, and has a strong attachment to the land. He said, “I’d love to have a piece of it, but will probably have to do something on my own someday if I want to ranch.”

It’s not all work and no play for the Whites, though, as they have been successful in the rodeo arena for many years, through High School Rodeo, College Rodeo, NRCA, SDRA, and PRCA. Scott currently rodeos and competes in calf roping, team roping and steer roping, while Hardy is a pickup man at area rodeos. Shawn quit rodeoing to be home with his family, after a successful high school and college rodeo career. Bill chuckled and said, “Yep, the only farming we do on the ranch is the arena.”

A big celebration is scheduled for Aug. 22, 2009 at the Tom White Ranch, with a family gathering that afternoon, followed by a BBQ and dance at 6 p.m. for all their friends and family. They will be commemorating the John H. White homestead of 1889 and the Charles H. White homestead of 1907.

The Whites have been watering the gumbo soil of Fall River County with their sweat for five generations and counting. Hard work and determination are what it has required, and that won’t let up any time soon. Another generation is following in his father’s footsteps even now, learning the ranch and the business, as little Owen, wearing hat and boots, hurries after Shawn.

Good stewardship and family ties have made the White Ranch what it is today.

From the captain of the Mayflower to the Civil War battlefields, the White family’s ancestors have been important people in the nation’s history. In more recent times, the Whites have been prominent cattlemen and involved citizens in the northern plains, building ranches and raising families and cattle on the rolling prairie east of Oelrichs, SD.

The curing grasslands are golden with the tinge of green that a wet spring and summer can paint on the prairie grass. Unturned by plow, the White Ranch is still in the native grass that the buffalo grazed many years ago, and that the early Whites homesteaded in 1889.

In 1858, John Halstead White was born in Kewanee, IL. In 1870, he and his parents, Egbert and Mary Ann White, moved to Farragut, IA. John White was the proprietor of a drug store at Farragut, and that is where he met and married Annie Maria Robbins, whose family had moved to Farragut in 1878 from Kentucky. She was a school teacher at the time.

In 1889, John came to Fall River County, Dakota Territory and homesteaded east of Oelrichs. He moved the office building of the, by then defunct, Anglo-American Cattle Company to his homestead for a house. The fall of 1889, he trailed his cattle from Iowa to the homestead, and in the spring of 1890, his wife and their five children – Maude, Edith, Charles H., Edward F. and Bernice – came by train to join him on the place.

Hard years were the norm of the time, and the family endured scarlet fever, harsh winters and the Indian uprising of 1889. The winter of 1889 wiped them out and they went to Texas, bought more cattle, and trailed them back. With hard work the Whites accumulated over 14,000 acres of land. Unfortunately, they had to relinquish part of it due to the government opening the country up for the filing of claims.

In 1899, the family moved to Chadron to allow their family better schooling. John White pursued other business interests, though his heart remained that of a cattleman and rancher.

He was killed in a car accident in 1930, the week after he and Annie had celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary. Annie died in 1936.

Ranching was flowing in the blood of the Whites, for when Charles H. “Charley” was 21 years old, he returned to the Oelrichs country and filed a claim on what had been part of his folks holdings. He proved up on two 80 acre parcels in the following few years, the first in 1907, the second in 1909. The cost of those patents was $7 each.

He married Martha Groves in 1909. They had three children, Dorothy, John E. and Charles E. “Pete”. Between the births of Dorothy and John, Charley moved the old house, which had been the office building for the cattle company, to the homestead and added it to the three room house they were living in, making a fine home for the time and place.

During those years, besides his own ranching interests, Charley was one of the roundup bosses for the Matador Ranch. The Matadors had a big lease on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation and ran thousands of cattle there, and each fall, the steers were trailed to the railroad to be shipped to Omaha or Chicago.

During those open range days, Charley and his brother Ed ran their horses in the Hay Canyon country. Each spring they would gather the horses and bring them to Charley’s ranch to sort off the ones to break, brand and cut the colts, and run the mares with the good Thoroughbred stallion that the government provided from Ft. Robinson.

Breaking horses was a big job, but thoroughly enjoyed by the young spectators, Dorothy, John and Pete. They watched the horse breaker get those horses rideable and then some were sold to the Remount. The remainder were used on the ranch.

Charley’s brother Ed was quite a hand himself, and it’s told by the family that Ed carried a set of emasculators with him when he rode, and if he saw a five- or six-year-old stud running loose, he would rope him, tie him down and geld him right there. He was obviously pretty well mounted as well.

In the 1930’s when the government was buying back the homesteads, Charley chose to keep his and was able to buy some more of the neighboring land for around $4/acre. He had a big hay meadow that produced bumper crops of hay, enabling Charley to borrow money from the bank to buy cattle because he had so much feed on hand. It’s said that the ranch went broke three times in those years, but they could always get another start, thanks to that good hay meadow.

Dorothy and John both married and left the ranch, but Pete stayed put and married Marjorie Cavanaugh in 1940.

They lived for a year and a half with Pete’s folks, then moved a homestead house in from a mile south and attached it to the old bunkhouse, making a two-room house, just before their firstborn arrived. Their son James M. “Jim” was born in 1942, William Charles in 1943, and Thomas Lee in 1948.

When the two oldest boys were old enough to go to school, their mother drove them to Oelrichs every day. The roads were bad though, and made it difficult at times to get there and back, so in 1952 they bought a house and 40 acres at Oelrichs and moved there. Pete then drove to the ranch every day, which became easier when Highway 18 was completed past the ranch in 1953.

In 1959, they traded homes with Pete’s folks and moved back to the ranch, while Pete’s folks moved to town. The boys were old enough to drive to school by then and were needed on the ranch.

Pete’s folks had lived for 50 years on the ranch, celebrating their anniversary there before moving to town. Martha died in 1964 and Charley in 1971.

Pete was active in endeavors outside of ranching as well. He served six years on the State Brand Board, and in 1962, was elected to the State House of Representatives. He resigned the last year of his second term, however, because he just couldn’t be away from the ranch that much as plans had changed at home.

Son Jim had graduated from high school in 1960, and then from Colorado State University, Ft. Collins in 1965. He intended to return to the ranch, but was drafted instead, as the Vietnam War was on. He was discharged in 1966 and married Cheri Boldon the same year. They stayed on the home ranch until 1969 when they bought a ranch east of it and moved there. They had three children: Tobie Ann in 1969, Heidi Lee in 1972, and James Hardin “Hardy” in 1975.

Bill graduated from high school in 1962 and worked on the ranch until 1965, then went to college, first at University of Wyoming at Laramie, and then at Black Hills State University in Spearfish, SD.

Youngest son Tom graduated from Oelrichs High School in 1966 and headed off to college that fall, first at South Dakota State University in Brookings for one semester, then graduated from Chadron State College in 1972.

In 1971, Pete and Marjorie built a new house on the ranch and moved into it. Son Bill was back working for them on the ranch at the time. When Bill married Judy Perry in 1972, they moved into the old house. In 1973, they had twin daughters, Wendy Bee and Ellen Lee, in 1976 Brenda Sue, and then Scott Charles in 1977.

After their father Pete’s death in 1972, Tom worked with Bill and Judy on the ranch. In 1976, they bought the old Moody-Geiser Ranch and Bill and Judy moved onto it. Tom married Lori Thompson in 1979 and they moved into his folk’s house on the ranch. His mother moved to Oelrichs at that time. Tom and Lori had three children – Jeff Thomas in 1980, Lukus Loren in 1982, and Shawn Thompson in 1985. Their mother Marjorie passed away in 1984.

The White Ranch is still going strong. Tom and Lori are on the home ranch, along with their son Shawn, his wife Tanna, and their son Owen, 20 months, who is the sixth generation on the ranch. The oldest son, Jeff, and Megan Edwards live in Casper, WY and have a daughter Charlee, born in June 2009, and Luke is in Bozeman, MT.

Bill and Judy live just across the highway and their son Scott is on the ranch with them. Their daughters Wendy and Ellen both live in Oelrichs, and daughter Brenda is in Sheridan, WY. Brenda took the title of 1996 College National Finals Rodeo Ladies Breakaway Champion, and continues to rodeo in the NRCA.

Jim and Cheri left the ranch they had and now live in Chadron, NE, where Jim is a truck driver. Their son Hardy and his wife Mandy live in Hot Springs, and have three children: daughter Jessy, 7, and five week old twins, a girl and a boy, Josey and Avery. Jim and Cheri’s daughter Tobie Ann Copp lives in Scottsbluff, NE, and her sister Heidi lives in Commerce City, CO.

Improvements have been made over the years, and the arrival of electricity in 1952 was one of them. Another important one was rural water from Hot Springs. Shallow wells had been used before then, but had awfully hard water.

Bill said, “The shallow wells aren’t good water, they’re just wet.” Tom added, “In the ’60’s, dad was trying to run yearlings but fought waterbellies so bad that he finally gave up. With this rural water now, we had one last year but hadn’t had one for a long time before that.”

The shallow wells were piped to all the pastures on the ranch, but the wells couldn’t keep up. Scott said, “Without the rural water during the drouth, there wouldn’t have been any cattle left.” When the drouth finally broke, it presented an amusing problem for the cattle, as Bill, laughing, told, “We had cows that waded through the creek to get to a tank to drink. They were raised during the drouth and just didn’t know they could drink that running water!”

The old house was dismantled and the durable Anglo-American Cattle Company office was moved once again and made into a grainery/cake shed on Tom’s ranch. The old bunkhouse was added onto to make a shop building.

Better transportation and good machinery have also been important improvements.

“Those blizzard of ’49 pictures didn’t look any different than this past April, but we just have so much better equipment to deal with it,” Tom said. “It was bad, but not like then.”

Early transportation was with teams and wagons or saddle horses, and it was a long ways to anywhere. They remember their granddad talking about hauling hay to Ft. Robinson and selling it, and that it was a long trip with a team and wagon. Even after cars became common, the roads were still nearly impassable under the best of circumstances, and hopeless when it was wet. Good roads now ensure that they can go where they need to nearly any time.

Cow numbers were reduced on the ranches during the dry years, and are slowly being built back up again. In the early years, the White Ranch was exclusively a Hereford outfit. It remained so until the trend changed to black baldies, so using Angus bulls and the Hereford base, they’ve stayed viable in the business. Today’s cowherds are predominately black with some baldies and brockle-faced cows showing their Hereford heritage.

Bill and Scott’s cows calve the end of March and they run them on grass and supplement with cake and native hay. They background the calves and sell the steer calves in December.

Tom and Shawn calve their cows in April, sell some calves in the fall and run some steers over.

“We had reduced numbers during the drouth, so decided to run some of the steers over and sell them as yearlings,” said Tom. “I like how that worked, as the steers we shipped last week weighed 970 and sold really well. I think we’ll keep doing that.”

Their cows winter on grass, supplemented with hay and cake, plus they are feeding some distillers grain as well.

The big hay meadow is still turning out hay every year, though some years a little less than others, as Shawn points out with a grin, “One bale might not be called a hay crop.” During the drouth it didn’t produce much, and one very wet year after the ’30’s it had water standing on it so the hay couldn’t grow. It’s still an important part of the ranch and had a bumper crop of hay this year and that lessens the concern Tom and Shawn have going into the winter.

As if the markets on both cattle and feed aren’t a big enough problem, government policies continue to bother both ranches. About 50 percent of the ranch’s pastures are part of the National Grasslands, and dealing with the politics involved can be a problem. Bill elaborated on this, “We can take the weather, blizzards, drouths, and that, but the politics are there forever.” Shawn and Scott, being the next generation to take over in the future, share the same concerns about dealing with the government regulations, the prairie dogs and changes in policy on the National Grasslands. The uncertainty of year-to-year policies keep them watching the situation closely, and losing critical grazing land is a worrisome possibility.

In regard to the next generation, Bill and Judy and Tom and Lori all have spent time doing some estate planning in preparation for the time when the reins are handed to Scott and Shawn. Each ranch is set up as a LLC (Limited Liability Company). As far as the knowledge needed to run the ranches, Shawn said it best with the statement, “We learned from the best, and they learned from the best.”

Jim’s son Hardy helps on the ranch whenever he can. He enjoys staying involved, and has a strong attachment to the land. He said, “I’d love to have a piece of it, but will probably have to do something on my own someday if I want to ranch.”

It’s not all work and no play for the Whites, though, as they have been successful in the rodeo arena for many years, through High School Rodeo, College Rodeo, NRCA, SDRA, and PRCA. Scott currently rodeos and competes in calf roping, team roping and steer roping, while Hardy is a pickup man at area rodeos. Shawn quit rodeoing to be home with his family, after a successful high school and college rodeo career. Bill chuckled and said, “Yep, the only farming we do on the ranch is the arena.”

A big celebration is scheduled for Aug. 22, 2009 at the Tom White Ranch, with a family gathering that afternoon, followed by a BBQ and dance at 6 p.m. for all their friends and family. They will be commemorating the John H. White homestead of 1889 and the Charles H. White homestead of 1907.

The Whites have been watering the gumbo soil of Fall River County with their sweat for five generations and counting. Hard work and determination are what it has required, and that won’t let up any time soon. Another generation is following in his father’s footsteps even now, learning the ranch and the business, as little Owen, wearing hat and boots, hurries after Shawn.

Good stewardship and family ties have made the White Ranch what it is today.

From the captain of the Mayflower to the Civil War battlefields, the White family’s ancestors have been important people in the nation’s history. In more recent times, the Whites have been prominent cattlemen and involved citizens in the northern plains, building ranches and raising families and cattle on the rolling prairie east of Oelrichs, SD.

The curing grasslands are golden with the tinge of green that a wet spring and summer can paint on the prairie grass. Unturned by plow, the White Ranch is still in the native grass that the buffalo grazed many years ago, and that the early Whites homesteaded in 1889.

In 1858, John Halstead White was born in Kewanee, IL. In 1870, he and his parents, Egbert and Mary Ann White, moved to Farragut, IA. John White was the proprietor of a drug store at Farragut, and that is where he met and married Annie Maria Robbins, whose family had moved to Farragut in 1878 from Kentucky. She was a school teacher at the time.

In 1889, John came to Fall River County, Dakota Territory and homesteaded east of Oelrichs. He moved the office building of the, by then defunct, Anglo-American Cattle Company to his homestead for a house. The fall of 1889, he trailed his cattle from Iowa to the homestead, and in the spring of 1890, his wife and their five children – Maude, Edith, Charles H., Edward F. and Bernice – came by train to join him on the place.

Hard years were the norm of the time, and the family endured scarlet fever, harsh winters and the Indian uprising of 1889. The winter of 1889 wiped them out and they went to Texas, bought more cattle, and trailed them back. With hard work the Whites accumulated over 14,000 acres of land. Unfortunately, they had to relinquish part of it due to the government opening the country up for the filing of claims.

In 1899, the family moved to Chadron to allow their family better schooling. John White pursued other business interests, though his heart remained that of a cattleman and rancher.

He was killed in a car accident in 1930, the week after he and Annie had celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary. Annie died in 1936.

Ranching was flowing in the blood of the Whites, for when Charles H. “Charley” was 21 years old, he returned to the Oelrichs country and filed a claim on what had been part of his folks holdings. He proved up on two 80 acre parcels in the following few years, the first in 1907, the second in 1909. The cost of those patents was $7 each.

He married Martha Groves in 1909. They had three children, Dorothy, John E. and Charles E. “Pete”. Between the births of Dorothy and John, Charley moved the old house, which had been the office building for the cattle company, to the homestead and added it to the three room house they were living in, making a fine home for the time and place.

During those years, besides his own ranching interests, Charley was one of the roundup bosses for the Matador Ranch. The Matadors had a big lease on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation and ran thousands of cattle there, and each fall, the steers were trailed to the railroad to be shipped to Omaha or Chicago.

During those open range days, Charley and his brother Ed ran their horses in the Hay Canyon country. Each spring they would gather the horses and bring them to Charley’s ranch to sort off the ones to break, brand and cut the colts, and run the mares with the good Thoroughbred stallion that the government provided from Ft. Robinson.

Breaking horses was a big job, but thoroughly enjoyed by the young spectators, Dorothy, John and Pete. They watched the horse breaker get those horses rideable and then some were sold to the Remount. The remainder were used on the ranch.

Charley’s brother Ed was quite a hand himself, and it’s told by the family that Ed carried a set of emasculators with him when he rode, and if he saw a five- or six-year-old stud running loose, he would rope him, tie him down and geld him right there. He was obviously pretty well mounted as well.

In the 1930’s when the government was buying back the homesteads, Charley chose to keep his and was able to buy some more of the neighboring land for around $4/acre. He had a big hay meadow that produced bumper crops of hay, enabling Charley to borrow money from the bank to buy cattle because he had so much feed on hand. It’s said that the ranch went broke three times in those years, but they could always get another start, thanks to that good hay meadow.

Dorothy and John both married and left the ranch, but Pete stayed put and married Marjorie Cavanaugh in 1940.

They lived for a year and a half with Pete’s folks, then moved a homestead house in from a mile south and attached it to the old bunkhouse, making a two-room house, just before their firstborn arrived. Their son James M. “Jim” was born in 1942, William Charles in 1943, and Thomas Lee in 1948.

When the two oldest boys were old enough to go to school, their mother drove them to Oelrichs every day. The roads were bad though, and made it difficult at times to get there and back, so in 1952 they bought a house and 40 acres at Oelrichs and moved there. Pete then drove to the ranch every day, which became easier when Highway 18 was completed past the ranch in 1953.

In 1959, they traded homes with Pete’s folks and moved back to the ranch, while Pete’s folks moved to town. The boys were old enough to drive to school by then and were needed on the ranch.

Pete’s folks had lived for 50 years on the ranch, celebrating their anniversary there before moving to town. Martha died in 1964 and Charley in 1971.

Pete was active in endeavors outside of ranching as well. He served six years on the State Brand Board, and in 1962, was elected to the State House of Representatives. He resigned the last year of his second term, however, because he just couldn’t be away from the ranch that much as plans had changed at home.

Son Jim had graduated from high school in 1960, and then from Colorado State University, Ft. Collins in 1965. He intended to return to the ranch, but was drafted instead, as the Vietnam War was on. He was discharged in 1966 and married Cheri Boldon the same year. They stayed on the home ranch until 1969 when they bought a ranch east of it and moved there. They had three children: Tobie Ann in 1969, Heidi Lee in 1972, and James Hardin “Hardy” in 1975.

Bill graduated from high school in 1962 and worked on the ranch until 1965, then went to college, first at University of Wyoming at Laramie, and then at Black Hills State University in Spearfish, SD.

Youngest son Tom graduated from Oelrichs High School in 1966 and headed off to college that fall, first at South Dakota State University in Brookings for one semester, then graduated from Chadron State College in 1972.

In 1971, Pete and Marjorie built a new house on the ranch and moved into it. Son Bill was back working for them on the ranch at the time. When Bill married Judy Perry in 1972, they moved into the old house. In 1973, they had twin daughters, Wendy Bee and Ellen Lee, in 1976 Brenda Sue, and then Scott Charles in 1977.

After their father Pete’s death in 1972, Tom worked with Bill and Judy on the ranch. In 1976, they bought the old Moody-Geiser Ranch and Bill and Judy moved onto it. Tom married Lori Thompson in 1979 and they moved into his folk’s house on the ranch. His mother moved to Oelrichs at that time. Tom and Lori had three children – Jeff Thomas in 1980, Lukus Loren in 1982, and Shawn Thompson in 1985. Their mother Marjorie passed away in 1984.

The White Ranch is still going strong. Tom and Lori are on the home ranch, along with their son Shawn, his wife Tanna, and their son Owen, 20 months, who is the sixth generation on the ranch. The oldest son, Jeff, and Megan Edwards live in Casper, WY and have a daughter Charlee, born in June 2009, and Luke is in Bozeman, MT.

Bill and Judy live just across the highway and their son Scott is on the ranch with them. Their daughters Wendy and Ellen both live in Oelrichs, and daughter Brenda is in Sheridan, WY. Brenda took the title of 1996 College National Finals Rodeo Ladies Breakaway Champion, and continues to rodeo in the NRCA.

Jim and Cheri left the ranch they had and now live in Chadron, NE, where Jim is a truck driver. Their son Hardy and his wife Mandy live in Hot Springs, and have three children: daughter Jessy, 7, and five week old twins, a girl and a boy, Josey and Avery. Jim and Cheri’s daughter Tobie Ann Copp lives in Scottsbluff, NE, and her sister Heidi lives in Commerce City, CO.

Improvements have been made over the years, and the arrival of electricity in 1952 was one of them. Another important one was rural water from Hot Springs. Shallow wells had been used before then, but had awfully hard water.

Bill said, “The shallow wells aren’t good water, they’re just wet.” Tom added, “In the ’60’s, dad was trying to run yearlings but fought waterbellies so bad that he finally gave up. With this rural water now, we had one last year but hadn’t had one for a long time before that.”

The shallow wells were piped to all the pastures on the ranch, but the wells couldn’t keep up. Scott said, “Without the rural water during the drouth, there wouldn’t have been any cattle left.” When the drouth finally broke, it presented an amusing problem for the cattle, as Bill, laughing, told, “We had cows that waded through the creek to get to a tank to drink. They were raised during the drouth and just didn’t know they could drink that running water!”

The old house was dismantled and the durable Anglo-American Cattle Company office was moved once again and made into a grainery/cake shed on Tom’s ranch. The old bunkhouse was added onto to make a shop building.

Better transportation and good machinery have also been important improvements.

“Those blizzard of ’49 pictures didn’t look any different than this past April, but we just have so much better equipment to deal with it,” Tom said. “It was bad, but not like then.”

Early transportation was with teams and wagons or saddle horses, and it was a long ways to anywhere. They remember their granddad talking about hauling hay to Ft. Robinson and selling it, and that it was a long trip with a team and wagon. Even after cars became common, the roads were still nearly impassable under the best of circumstances, and hopeless when it was wet. Good roads now ensure that they can go where they need to nearly any time.

Cow numbers were reduced on the ranches during the dry years, and are slowly being built back up again. In the early years, the White Ranch was exclusively a Hereford outfit. It remained so until the trend changed to black baldies, so using Angus bulls and the Hereford base, they’ve stayed viable in the business. Today’s cowherds are predominately black with some baldies and brockle-faced cows showing their Hereford heritage.

Bill and Scott’s cows calve the end of March and they run them on grass and supplement with cake and native hay. They background the calves and sell the steer calves in December.

Tom and Shawn calve their cows in April, sell some calves in the fall and run some steers over.

“We had reduced numbers during the drouth, so decided to run some of the steers over and sell them as yearlings,” said Tom. “I like how that worked, as the steers we shipped last week weighed 970 and sold really well. I think we’ll keep doing that.”

Their cows winter on grass, supplemented with hay and cake, plus they are feeding some distillers grain as well.

The big hay meadow is still turning out hay every year, though some years a little less than others, as Shawn points out with a grin, “One bale might not be called a hay crop.” During the drouth it didn’t produce much, and one very wet year after the ’30’s it had water standing on it so the hay couldn’t grow. It’s still an important part of the ranch and had a bumper crop of hay this year and that lessens the concern Tom and Shawn have going into the winter.

As if the markets on both cattle and feed aren’t a big enough problem, government policies continue to bother both ranches. About 50 percent of the ranch’s pastures are part of the National Grasslands, and dealing with the politics involved can be a problem. Bill elaborated on this, “We can take the weather, blizzards, drouths, and that, but the politics are there forever.” Shawn and Scott, being the next generation to take over in the future, share the same concerns about dealing with the government regulations, the prairie dogs and changes in policy on the National Grasslands. The uncertainty of year-to-year policies keep them watching the situation closely, and losing critical grazing land is a worrisome possibility.

In regard to the next generation, Bill and Judy and Tom and Lori all have spent time doing some estate planning in preparation for the time when the reins are handed to Scott and Shawn. Each ranch is set up as a LLC (Limited Liability Company). As far as the knowledge needed to run the ranches, Shawn said it best with the statement, “We learned from the best, and they learned from the best.”

Jim’s son Hardy helps on the ranch whenever he can. He enjoys staying involved, and has a strong attachment to the land. He said, “I’d love to have a piece of it, but will probably have to do something on my own someday if I want to ranch.”

It’s not all work and no play for the Whites, though, as they have been successful in the rodeo arena for many years, through High School Rodeo, College Rodeo, NRCA, SDRA, and PRCA. Scott currently rodeos and competes in calf roping, team roping and steer roping, while Hardy is a pickup man at area rodeos. Shawn quit rodeoing to be home with his family, after a successful high school and college rodeo career. Bill chuckled and said, “Yep, the only farming we do on the ranch is the arena.”

A big celebration is scheduled for Aug. 22, 2009 at the Tom White Ranch, with a family gathering that afternoon, followed by a BBQ and dance at 6 p.m. for all their friends and family. They will be commemorating the John H. White homestead of 1889 and the Charles H. White homestead of 1907.

The Whites have been watering the gumbo soil of Fall River County with their sweat for five generations and counting. Hard work and determination are what it has required, and that won’t let up any time soon. Another generation is following in his father’s footsteps even now, learning the ranch and the business, as little Owen, wearing hat and boots, hurries after Shawn.

Good stewardship and family ties have made the White Ranch what it is today.