Dawes County Ag Hall Of Fame Recognizing 3 Families


       Descendants of three homesteaders will be inducted into the Dawes County Agricultural Hall of Fame at 2 p.m. on Sunday, Aug. 1 in the grandstand at the fairgrounds in Chadron.  Several other awards also will be presented. The public is invited to attend free of charge.

       The inductees are Bob Delsing of Hemingford, John and Kim Madsen of Chadron and Alan and Debbie Soester of Crawford. The great-grandfathers of Delsing, Kim Madsen and Alan Soester all homesteaded in Dawes County in the 1880s.  All three honorees have combination farms and ranches that have grown substantially through the years. Each of them raises cattle, wheat and alfalfa.

      Delsing’s great-grandfather, William, a native of Germany, homesteaded near Old Dunlap alongside the Niobrara River in 1888. Bob has been appointed by two governors to serve on the Nebraska Wheat Commission, representing seven counties in the Panhandle, and is the current president. 

That office also makes him a member of the U.S. Wheat Board.  Both entities meet four times a year to help promote wheat improvement and sales.  His wife, the former Karen Messersmith, died in 2009.   Their son, Scott, is now in charge of the Delsing operation, but Bob still enjoys helping with the work.

      Kim Madsen’s great-grandfather, Thomas Claywell Grantham, homesteaded in the Deadhorse community southwest of Chadron in 1884.  She and John Madsen, who also grew up in Chadron, became chums in middle school and have been married 51 years.

John quickly adapted to becoming a farmer/rancher.  He was the Dawes County Weed Control superintendent for four years before being elected a county commissioner in 1998 and serving two terms. 

Kim’s father, Ray Grantham, now 94, is still mentally sharp and resides at Ponderosa Villa in Crawford.  The Madsen son, Justin, and his family live just a mile from John and Kim and are partners in the operation. Kim has taught at Chadron State College since 1983.

     Alan Soester’s great-grandfather, Bernard Soester, was a stowaway on a German ship bound for America in 1869. After living in Wisconsin and near Atkinson, Neb., several years, he walked from the end of the railroad in Chadron in 1885 and homesteaded near Squaw Mound. 

Bernard and his wife, Dora, had 12 children, all of whom grew to adulthood and several of whom lived in Dawes County all of their lives. Five other descendants have previously been inducted into the Ag Hall of Fame. Alan’s father, Earl, received the Dawes County Farm Bureau’s Persistent Farmer Award at the County Fair in 2002 when he was 86..     

Alan and Debbie’s headquarters are eight miles east of Crawford near West Ash Creek. Sons Chance and Austin live nearby and are partners in the farming and ranching. Both daughters, Aubrey and Haley, were home in mid-July to run combines that cut an outstanding wheat crop. 

     After the Agricultural Hall of Fame inductions, several other special awards will be presented, starting with the Extra Miler Award, which is given by the Dawes County Ag Society to someone who has gone above and beyond to help make the fair click. This year’s recipient is Scott Roberts, owner of Roberts Electric in Chadron.

    “When we need help with something involving electricity, he’s the first one to arrive to help,” says Brooke Kime, the Ag Society secretary. “We might need him to change a light bulb, replace a blown fuse or adjust the speakers so they can hear better in the grandstand, at the bucking chutes or in one of the buildings or something else.”

    Dan Rhembrandt, chairman of the Ag Society, says Roberts has been needed more than usual during the past year while a new small animal exhibit structure is being built.

    “We might have called him 100 times this year,” Rhembrandt said, “because we’ve had to connect and disconnect the electricity going to that building a lot of times. He’s really good about helping us out and never charges for it.”

The Upper Niobrara White Natural Resources District will present its Conservation Awards to three individuals for their efforts in the immediate region: Wade Anderson, Rick Arnold, and Lucinda Mays.

Kylen Armstrong, the NRD conservation program coordinator, says each has put forth great effort to make improvements that caught the attention of those who nominated them – adding that she’s impressed, too.

Anderson, a resident of Sioux County, will receive the award for forest management. He’s spent more than 10 years to make the forest in his family’s locality more wildfire defensible. He’s also helped neighbors protect their properties.

Arnold is being recognized for natural resources management. A Chadron resident and a Nebraska Game and Parks Wildlife, Arnold is a wildlife biologist for the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission, has led the way in initiating grazing and fire prevention strategies and also making more government land suitable for grazing.

The third NRD honoree, Chadron State College horticulturist Lucinda Mays, is being honored in the area of natural resources education. Mays has improved the campus landscape and led workshops to help community residents with their landscaping and tree management efforts.