Hereford Crossroads draws large crowd

Terri Licking
for The Fence Post
Golden Design 14, our "flagship" goes nose to nose with Ram, Cain's Land and Livestock prize bull. They will meet again Nov. 9 at the NHA annual meeting and banquet hopefully.
Photo by Terri Licking

BROKEN BOW, Neb. — In 2015 a group of dedicated Nebraska Hereford enthusiasts — Richard Brown and Gerri Monahan, Lincoln; Linda Teahon, Dunning; Ken Stephens, Valentine; and Dixie Hoffman and Terri Licking, Thedford — met at the Thedford Art Gallery with the purpose of hosting an evening for past and present Hereford breeders at Thedford to begin the journey of keeping the love of the breed alive for future generations. They called it Hereford Crossroads (HC#1) and over 120 were present that first year.

Five years later, after being held in Alliance, Taylor and Mullen, this year HC#5 was at the One Box Convention Center in Broken Bow, having the second largest in attendance.

Invites were given to several to display their family’s Hereford memorabilia. Display tables were set up for Colonel Art Thompson, a renown auctioneer who in his later years, called strictly Hereford sales; Ken Stephens of KEG Hereford of Valentine; who emceed HC#5, Cain Land and Livestock, Broken Bow; Pederson Hereford Ranch, Berwyn; Borwege Herefords, Roseland; Diamond Ring Herefords, Taylor; Mousel Brothers, Cambridge; and historic photos from Lila (Drybread) Churchill, Valentine. Gerri Monahan, the historian for the newly formed Nebraskans for Hereford Heritage (NHH) also put their collections of the last five years on a table for all to see. NHH received not only their official title last year, but also achieved 501©3 status.

The committee from the very first began the Nebraska Hereford Hall of Fame. Prominent families have been recognized through the years, as well as a herd sire that the members thought contributed much to the breed’s progeny.

“You men are the backbone of America. Burn all the cities down — you farmers and ranchers will live. Tear up the farms and ranches — that’s the end of everybody.”

This year’s inductees included an auctioneer, and two Hereford families, one with decades of distinction and one whose family had the distinction of the oldest Hereford ranch in Custer County, where the third generation, a son, made his mark in less than a decade, but oh what a mark he made.

Colonel Art Thompson

In 1906, Thompson started crying farm sales and auctions in York County. Eventually he sold purebred swine, lambs and cattle at the principal venues such as the Chicago International Stock Show, the Denver Stock Show, the Kansas City American Royal, the San Francisco Cow Palace and the National Ram Show in Salt Lake City, Utah. In later years he specialized in Black Angus and Hereford cattle and eventually, from 1943 until his retirement in 1953, in Herefords exclusively.

Thompson’s impact on the livestock industry went beyond the sales arena. As an advocate of modern methods in animal husbandry, he worked closely with the University of Nebraska College of Agriculture (now Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources) to spread his message. He used the proof of his sales record, his knowledge of livestock values and the pulpit of the auctioneer to urge constantly and convincingly farmers, ranchers and purebred cattlemen to upgrade the quality of their livestock. He encouraged and influenced the annual 4-H sales at the Nebraska State Fair. He “cried” the first Ak-Sar-Ben 4-H sale and did so, again for no fee, for many years thereafter.

In 1950, Time magazine wrote about “ … brisk, blue-eyed ‘Colonel’ Arthur Weimer Thompson, dean of U.S. cattle auctioneers … Thompson has probably done more than anyone else to make Herefords the highest-priced cattle breed. In the last 42 years, auctioneer Thompson has knocked down $250 million worth of cattle at more than 7,000 sales all over the U.S. His record $506,000 for a single day’s selling set at the auction of Colorado Rancher Dan Thorton’s Hereford herd in 1947, still stands … as does the $65,000 bid at which he sold the prize bull Baca Duke II last year. Only eight Hereford bulls have ever been sold for more than $50,000. Colonel Thompson has auctioned them all …”

In 1947, Colonel Thompson and his wife established the Arthur W. and Viola Thompson Scholarship at the University of Nebraska. It is given to outstanding second semester sophomore or junior animal science majors. (taken from

In 1950, with a captive crowd of cattle buyers and sellers, he told them, “You men are the backbone of America. Burn all the cities down — you farmers and ranchers will live. Tear up the farms and ranches — that’s the end of everybody.”

The Nebraska Hall of Fame Commission deemed Thompson met their selection criteria for the Nebraska Hall of Fame, where busts of prominent Nebraskans greet visitors on the second floor of the state capitol. Simply, “to bring to public attention and to recognize officially those people who, in their lives, have achieved prominence and who were outstanding Nebraskans.”

Thompson was inducted in 1990, his bust, sculpted by Bryant Baker was placed in 1992 with the title “Dean of American Auctioneers.”

Norbert borwege

The long standing Hereford family from Roseland, the Borwege Herefords got their start from Norbert Borwege in 1946 when he purchased 12 registered Hereford heifers, then in 1948 at the National Western Stock show he paid $3,500 for WHR Helmsman 107, one of the champion pen of 10 bulls from Wyoming Hereford Ranch. Back then, $3.500 for a bull was an enormous amount, but it was the best investment for the future of his legacy in Nebraska Hereford history.

The bull went on to sire more champions and reserve champion bulls at the Old Reliable Hereford Show in Grand Island than any other bull. His first son, NB Helmsman 1, topped the sale at $3,325 at the Old Reliable, almost getting back for Borwege what he paid for his sire. Another son, NB Royal Duke was the first Register of Merit Bull (on points) in Nebraska in 1956. That year Borwege was named the Nebraska Hereford Breeder of the year by the Nebraska Stock Growers Association. His daughter Diane said, “that year he enjoyed ribbing from friends also as after four daughters, a son was born, 10 years after the youngest daughter.”

Borwege showed at many national shows such as NWSS in Denver, Chicago, Iowa State Fair, AK-SAR-BEN winning many honors at most of them. His daughters, Sharon, Bonna, Diane and Colleen were the labor force — halter breaking the bulls, feeding, watering, fitting the bulls, cleaning the stalls and helping show them.

When the frame size changed in the mid-60s, to a rangier look, Borwege would not conform, and went to a commercial herd, quitting the show circuit. Borwege died in 1989 at the age of 74. His children, all but Bonna, and other extended family members were on hand to accept the honor of his induction into this year’s Nebraska Hereford Hall of Fame.

PEDERSON hereford ranch

The earliest intact Hereford ranch in Custer County was begun in 1910 by P.R. Pederson who homesteaded near Berwyn in the 1890s.

Much of the herd descended from 18 registered bred cows of Anxiety 4th purchased by Pederson. The family’s frequent saying was, “We know the ancestors of our cows — we raised them.” P.R.’s son, Marmien, returned to the ranch in 1929 to form a partnership with his dad. The partnership ensured the expansion and improvement of genetics in every generation after. Marmien’s son, Steve, the third generation, a University of Nebraska-Lincoln graduate, came back to the ranch in 1957 after serving a year in Lincoln County as an Extension agent. He and his wife Helen, daughter of Leslie Lomax, another strong Hereford breeder, loved the ranch life, continuing the expansion and improvement of the herd. Pederson Herefords sold private treaty bulls and for several years had a joint production sale of their “All Aster Real” with the Fairway ranch (Everett and Velma Brown, Valentine).

The couple had four children, Stuart, Cherlyn, Korri and Stan. Steve was considered an upcoming bright and shining star in the Nebraska Hereford industry. He had been a director in the Sandhills Cattle Association and president of the Central Nebraska Hereford Association and was a UNL Block and Bridle honoree. His youngest son was only 3 days old when his riderless horse came home in November 1965 and was 3 weeks old when he died. Marmien could not carry on the cattle operation without his son and sold it shortly after. The family established a traveling trophy in his honor, The Steve Pederson Memorial Trophy, which was awarded for several years to prominent Nebraska Hereford breeders. Steve’s widow, Helen, now 83, all four of their children and other extended family members were on hand to accept the Pederson Hereford Ranch, Steve and Marmien’s poster, into the Nebraska Hereford Hall of Fame. The family then donated the Steve Pederson Memorial Trophy to the Nebraskans for Hereford Heritage, where it will be prominently displayed at the Sandhills Heritage Museum, Dunning.

golden aster 068

One of the bulls that had a huge impact on the Hereford cattle business in the 1960s was Golden Aster 068. This bull, owned by Harold Harms at Valentine, was Dr. Lance Jones’ DVM pick as the one bull that shaped many breeding programs throughout the Sandhills and Nebraska. Accepting the honor of 068’s induction was Harold’s son John, and grandson Jim and daughter Heather. They presented an oil painting of the bull, painted several years earlier and given to Harold before his death. The artist’s autograph read L. Miche in the bottom right corner. The family loaned the painting to Nebraskans for Hereford Heritage to display at the museum in Dunning.

All past inductees and other Hereford memorabilia, including the organization’s flagship, metal sculpture Hereford bull Golden Design 14 had been on display at the Custer County Historical Society Museum for six weeks and brought to the One Box Convention center the day before HC#5. When not on ‘tour’ GD 14, sets at the Sandhills Heritage Museum surrounded by Hereford memorabilia.

Prior to the evening, a photo op occurred when Golden Design 14 went nose to nose with Don Cain’s prize Hereford bull, CSU Ram Dominator 2401, nicknamed Ram. The bull, born in 2004 died in 2016 after which Cain had his head mounted and HC#5 was its debut.

For the first time ever, but hopefully not the last — videos were compiled by Katie Hoblyn of Ansley of several Custer County Hereford families, as well as a video of the Borwege Hereford and the Pederson Hereford ranches. These videos will be displayed at the Sandhills Heritage museum when they get their AV room done.

The evening closed with Linda Teahon introducing Tom Lemmons and his brother Lon, Hereford breeders and past members of the defunct Crawford Hereford Breeders Association. The brothers invited all to Crawford in 2020 for HC#6, date to be determined.

Herefords will shine again at the One Box on Nov. 9 when the Nebraska Hereford Association has their annual meeting and awards banquet. ❖