‘Real Cowboys’ exhibit retires

May 17, 2019

In January 2015, the Chisholm Trail Heritage Center generated a call requesting stories and photos of “Real Cowboys on the Chisholm Trail.” That exhibit was scheduled to close at the end of 2018, but many visitors enjoyed reading the stories and looking at the photos. We finally retired the exhibit May 16, 2019, but, those stories and images will be permanently exhibited through our blog here on the website.

An advantage is we can now share the full stories that were edited for the physical display because of space. Edited versions of the stories and photos were displayed on the wall outside the Campfire Theater.

Bobby Brower Real Cowboy1-web

In this undated black and white photograph (maybe 1950s), Bobby Wayne Brower of Duncan, Oklahoma, is seen calf roping at a rodeo.

Real Cowboys came about when Don Brower visited us to share his story about his father, Bobby Wayne Brower of Duncan, who died in 2014. Don had an old undated black and white picture of his dad calf roping at a small rodeo. Don wasn’t sure but thought it was probably from the 1950s. His dad was born in Duncan in 1930 and other than service time in the United States Navy, he had lived in Duncan his entire life.

“He worked on a lot of the area ranches and while he was never a champion in the rodeo arena, he loved being a cowboy,” Don said. “He loved bull riding, bareback and calf roping.”

Executive Director Stacy Cramer Moore listened to Don’s story which sparked an idea to create an exhibit for guests to see as the Chisholm Trail 150th anniversary was approaching in 2017. She said at that time, “We are looking for people who are doing the job, living that life or lived that life. These people probably didn’t win buckles at a rodeo because they are out there working, living the cowboy life.”

Bobby Wayne Brower

Bobby Wayne Brower, August 16, 1930 – June 6, 2014 – One of the “Real Cowboys on the Chisholm Trail.” Photos courtesy of his son, Don Brower.

Expanding upon the idea of honoring those men and women, press releases were issued to newspapers throughout Oklahoma and to those along the Chisholm Trail from Texas to Kansas. A few reporters visited to help spread the word. Eventually the stories and photos came in – most were hand delivered by individuals who had relatives that had indeed, worked along the Chisholm Trail. A few came in by email. Enough stories were generated that the exhibit was on the wall weeks ahead of its deadline – the National Day of Cowboy celebration in July 2015. More images and stories were added over the next two years.

We hope you enjoy these stories and others as we make use of this blog. Please share the blog with others and help us as we continue our mission:  “To celebrate and perpetuate the history, art and culture of the Chisholm Trail, the American Cowboy and the American West.”

We will share the stories of Mike Smith, Claude Sparks, John Carlos Fisher, John Maurice Fisher, Henry B. Tussy, Larkin P. Williams, Joe Dexter Diffie and others, including Bob Klemme, in the coming weeks.