The Cowboy, Jim Gray is a 6th generation Kansan with roots in Kansas Territory. Great-grandfather, George Gray, set up Gray’s Ranch in central Kansas in 1883. Gray raises cattle on a portion of the old ranch. Gray published The Kansas Cowboy from 1996- 2008. The publication served the mission of the C.O.W.B.O.Y. (Cockeyed Old West Band Of Yahoos) Society, organized to promote and preserve the Cowboy heritage of Kansas. The articles researched and written by Gray examined the frontier history of Kansas from Gray’s own unique perspective on history. “I’ve always had an interest in things that have gone before. These Kansas plains have been witness to untold stories of joy and desperation. Many have been told over and over. Others have lapsed beyond recognition.” Gray authored Desperate Seed: Ellsworth Kansas on the Violent Frontier in 2009. The Way West, a weekly newspaper column about Old West Kansas is carried in several newspapers across the state. The 2011 150th Anniversary Cattle Drive from Caldwell to Ellsworth, Kansas, revisited the old-time cattle drive with cattle on the trail for two hundred miles over a three-week period of life under the open sky and long days in the saddle. Gray has been a speaker for Humanities Kansas since 2011. Rest assured Gray can put flesh and blood onto the bones of stories that have been buried but not forgotten.
Director Dickinson County Heritage CenterMichael Hook was born in Kansas City, Missouri, but spent his early years immersed in the cowboy culture. His father, Larry, attended School of the Ozarks in Branson, Missouri, and then they moved to Galveston, Texas where Michael was able to see first-hand the ranchers and cowboys that kept the Texas cattle drives alive. As the family moved back to Kansas City, Michael started playing baseball, and was able to pitch in college for Longview College and Missouri Western State University. His first job that he took was unloading trucks at Wal-Mart, but he was able to work his way up to Store Manager near Des Moines, Iowa. There was always a missing void in Michael’s life, and he went on searching for it as he completed his degree in History from Arizona State University. He ended up in Abilene, Kansas where he was once again immersed in the cowboy culture. He is the Event Coordinator for the 150th Anniversary of the Chisholm Trail; he is the president of the Seelye Foundation; the Director of the Dickinson County Heritage Center; and the Treasurer of the Kansas Cattletown Coalition.
Sharon is a California native, growing up on a small ranch in the San Joaquin Valley – raised by an “ol Arkansas Cowboy”. Always in jeans and boots! Now living in Carlton, with her husband Don Meyer – who she met while living in Fort Collins, Colorado. Don said he had a “chuckwagon” and she was smitten! Sharon has judged many speaking contests and has won Toastmaster Competitions. She has loved Cowboy Poetry all her life and enjoys the many poetry competitions they have attended in Colorado, Nevada, Wyoming and now Kansas. There is a family “rumor” that her great great grandfather was a drover on the Chisholm Trail, while the truth is her family homesteaded in the Hiawatha, KS area coming from Ohio in their wagons prior to the Civil War. Sharon and Don have cooked for wagon trains (Wyoming and Oregon) and Mormon Trek’s in Wyoming. They are members of the Ben Kern Wagon Train Club and continue to enjoy and treasure the friendships they have made over the years with those who love and cherish the “Western Life and The Cowboy Way!”