Dawes County Agricultural Hall Of Fame 2023 Inductees


Dawes County is one of the few in Nebraska to recognize its agricultural leaders with its own Hall of Fame.

Membership in the Dawes County Agricultural Hall of Fame is approaching 200 members – individuals, businesses, and organizations.

By Con Marshall


Don Littrel is a prime candidate for a Persistent Farmer Award, something the Dawes County Farm Bureau formerly presented. At age 86, he’s still on the job daily, operating his farm and ranch about 12 miles east of Chadron. The good thing is, he says he enjoys what he’s doing and is much healthier now than he was about a decade ago when he was battling cancer.

Except for two years in the early 1960s when he was serving in the Army in Germany, Littrel has lived at the same place all of his life. His parents, Lloyd and Opal, rented it dating back to the 1930s. Don and his brother, Charlie, eventually became the renters, then bought it in the late ‘60s.

By then the Littrels also were in the construction business, much of it below the surface. They were building stock dams, laying water pipes and burying hundreds of miles of fiber optic cables, etc. Both the business and the farming/ranching flourished, but the brothers decided it would be best to divide them. Charlie and his boys became the contractors and Don took over the agriculture.

“I think it’s worked out well for both of us,” Don said. “I know we both keep busy and like what we do.”

Charlie was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2009, three years after he helped stop the wildfire that was threatening Chadron by using his equipment to plow fire guards in the hills behind Chadron State College. Now Don is being inducted.

Over the years, Don has expanded the ranch when neighbors died or retired. He raises wheat and alfalfa and runs about 325 cows. Although all the hay ground is dryland, it is often, including this year, so productive that Don can keep his calves after they are weaned and run them until they are yearlings.

Don counts his blessings. About 10 years ago, he was detected with lung cancer. He contemplated selling out, but went to Arizona where two of his daughters are in the medical field and received help from the Mayo Clinic there.

“I had never smoked except when I was in the Army, but they said I had eaten too much dirt while farming. We didn’t have cabs on tractors for many years.” he relates. “They pinpointed where the cancer was and treated it. I’ve been good ever since. I am so thankful.”

Don has four daughters–Joanie, Gina, Jill and Justine. He is proud of them and stays in close contact. He also has good words for his hired man—Alan Hushka. They have worked together almost every day for nearly 15 years.


Lance and Gwen Scherbarth have done their best to make sure family farms continue to thrive in Dawes County.

About a year after the high school sweethearts were married in 1965, they joined his parents, Leonard and Vera Scherbarth, in operating the family farm and ranch on the Table about 21 miles southwest of Chadron. They’ve lived in that neighborhood ever since.

Lance and Gwen have six children. Three of them—both boys and one of the girls and their families–have been or are partners with their parents in raising cattle and crops, helping feed America. Two more of the girls are married to farmers/ranchers.

Lance and Gwen are happy with their kids’ career choices and have helped them; “We haven’t gotten rich, but we’ve survived and I think we have gotten the kids started pretty well,” said Lance. “They seem to like what they’re doing and are good at it.”

Leonard and Vera Scherbarth came to Dawes County from the Hay Springs area in 1946 when they bought the Bill Deans’ place. Lance was a about a year old. Gwen’s parents, Bill and Mona Jones, were ranchers 11 miles northeast of Chadron.

After helping his parents several years, Lance and Gwen bought the adjoining Henry Deans place in 1972. That’s where Lance and Gwen have since lived.

They also bought another nearby Deans’ place, this one belonging to Everett (Henry’s oldest son) and Martha, in 1980. During the next 12 years they also purchased four more places, one of them on the Table and three in the Deadhorse Community, and acquired the “home place” in 1997 when their parents’ estate was settled.

“We put it together, and in recent years have divvied it up,” Lance said. “We own just a quarter section now. The kids own the rest of it. They let me run 80 cows and I still help them with the work.”

Ron and his wife Kelli, along with Ron’s son Cody, now operate the Everett Deans’ place separately from the remainder of the family’s holdings. Lance and Gwen’s daughter, Sandy, and her husband, Craig Jersild, oversee the Deadhorse property. The youngest son, John, and his wife, Chelsey, live in the same farmstead as his parents, and he does most of the farming

The other girls are Nancy, who is married to Crawford native Casey Serres and lives at Mitchell; Brenda, who ranches with her husband, Toy Litzel, near Edgemont; and Kerri, who is married to another rancher, Will Wild of Chadron. The Scherbarths have 16 grandkids and six great-grandkids.

Lance is proud of the quality of his cowherd and is pleased that John uses chemofallow on the wheat ground. He adds that Gwen has probably raked as much hay as anyone. She was a long-time 4-H leader and has served on the Dawes County Extension Board.

It’s not been all work and no play for Lance, a tackle on Chadron High’s undefeated, state championship football team in the fall of 1962. He admits to doing lots of hunting and fishing, and says their home may contain “50 mounts,” several of them of big game species. The couple is also active in their church.

Lance never regretted his career choice: “When you enjoy what you’re doing, it doesn’t seem like work,” he noted.


Like man other farmers and ranchers, Bruce and Marie Wohlers are busy people. They have their own combination farm and ranch about 4 miles north of Crawford and wor with family members on both sides in other enterprises, contribute their time and resources to support numerous activities, and have been or are involved in several boards and committees.

While Bruce’s paternal great-grandparents, Henrich “Dutch Henry” Wohlers, was one of Dawes County’s first homesteaders in 1884, today’s honor involves Bruce’s mother’s side of the family – the Galbreaths.

In 1914, Fred and Pearl Galbreath moved to Dawes County from WYoing and 4 years later purchased the 140 acres that is the basis for Bruce and Marie’s place. Fred and Pearl passed it on to their son Earl and his wife Viola, who gave it to their daughter, Janett and her husband Eldon Wohlers – Bruce’s parents.

Bruce and Marie have a cow-calf operation. After the calves are weaned, they go to a feedlot. They also raise alfalfa, millet, oats, triticale, and wheat – which is generally harvested for hay. Bruce is also an area sales agent for Furst-McNess, seller of “a variety of livestock feeding solutions.”

Marie also comes from a pioneer family, but that land is in Fall River Couty, South Dakota, 2 miles over the state line. It was homesteaded in 1909 by her great-grandparents Fred and Selma Humiston. Marie and Bruce, her brothers Brian and Lynn Webster, and their families operate it together.

Marie and Bruce have two sons, Drew and Taylor, and a daughter Michaela.. Drew works with his parents on the ranch and with the feed business. He is married to the former Jordan Nichols, an Omaha native, and they are expecting their third child in September.

Taylor owns the home place east of Crawford near Squaw Mound where Dutch Henry settled nearly 140 years ago. Known for its spectacular red barn, the ranch is also the home to another family operation – Pine Ridge Hunting and Lodging. Tylor and his wife, the former Tamara Connally of Powell, Wyo, have 2 children.

Michaela is a victim of Rett Syndrome and requires special health care, but – in her parents’ words – has made them appreciate the good things in life and desire to support community events. That list of events is long and often involves agriculture.

The Wohlers family has helped sponsor the Crawford Old West Trail Rodeo, the Chadron State College Rodeo, Crawford Cattle Call, Crawford’s Mr Fireworks 4th of July show, and many school activities.

Bruce and Marie have grilled and cooked for the Crawford FFA Chapter, Crawford History Day, both the Old West Trail and Old-TImers Rodeos in Crawford, Box Butte County Fair 4-H Sale, other fundraisers, family and class reunions, weddings, and many other events,.

Bruce and Marie Wohlers will receive double honors Sunday. Besides going into the Hall of Fame, they will receive the Pioneer Farm Award given by the Aksarben Foundation. Also often referred to as the Century Farm Award, it goes to families who have owned their land for at least 100 years.

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