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Phippen unveils Rancher and Cowboy Hall of Fame

Bill Gary announces the first inductees into the Phippen Museum’s new Arizona Rancher and Cowboy Hall of Fame.

Courtesy<p> Bill Gary announces the first inductees into the Phippen Museum’s new Arizona Rancher and Cowboy Hall of Fame.

Phippen patrons had a special reason to celebrate at this year's annual Fall Gathering on Sept. 13.

The museum unveiled the new Arizona Rancher and Cowboy Hall of Fame to about 258 attendees.

Before the presentation, Mike Oden, a local rancher, fired up a Dutch oven on his vintage chuck wagon for some Western-style barbeque, peach cobbler and sourdough biscuits.

"That was a big hit. Most people, I'm sure, had never seen a chuck wagon," said Bill Gary, Hall of Fame founder, estimating the relic dates sometime around 1900.

Gary dedicated the new permanent display shortly after chowtime.

Gary said he constructed the exhibit from old photographs from families of the inductees taken on their ranches, and of rodeo cowboys during competitions, and whatever memorabilia the families donated, such as branding irons, chaps and spurs, and other ranch items.

Yavapai ranchers inducted included Dan Fain, whose father homesteaded on the Verde River in 1887.

The Fains extended their ranch over Mingus Mountain, over Prescott Valley, and well into what is now Prescott, managing livestock that totaled more than 4,000 cattle and 70,000 sheep, Gary said.

"We had a total of about 50 descendants of these people in attendance," Gary said, mentioning Bill Fain, Dan Fain's grandson, and great-grandson Ron and his family.

Other inductees were Harold James of the Deep Well Ranch, spanning an area from the Prescott Airport to Chino Valley; and Col. William Greene of the Oro Ranch, north of Prescott, covering about 250,000 acres, Gary said. Ranchers from outside Yavapai County inducted were Henry Boice of the Empire Ranch, whose daughter, Peggy Rubel, lives in Prescott; and John Babbitt of the Babbitt Ranch in Flagstaff, which still spans about 700,000 acres.

Rodeo cowboys inducted were Mike Stuart, rodeo champion from the 1920s and '30s; Everett Bowman, founder of the Professional Rodeo Association; Prescott world champion Chuck Sheppard, who competed from the 1940s to '60s; and Dale Smith, who is still living.

The Hall of Fame also recognizes a few individuals in the Working Cowboy category: Tim Liller and Frank Banks.

Liller grew up on the Date Creek Ranch northwest of Wickenberg, and managed the Fain Ranch for 20 years. His grandfather was one part of the Walker party, the first pioneers to settle in Prescott, Gary said.

Twenty Liller descendants showed up, Gary added.

Banks worked on the Babbitt Ranch for about 50 years. About 10 of his descendants attended.

Gary said the Hall of Fame would gradually add more people to the 11 now commemorated.

"We will start getting into people who are still alive," he said.

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