Pioneer Bluffs Prairie Talks

Ranching and Farming in the Flint Hills

A story of economic survival: The Pattons & Johnsons

Screen grab from video


Read a transcript

< Click the image to view video

Chapter links coming soon…


The Patton and Johnson families came to southern Chase County shortly after the Civil War. The Pattons settled west of Matfield Green and the Johnsons settled east of Matfield Green. Both families farmed the fertile soil along the creeks and ranched in the rich upland native tallgrass prairie pastures. Six generations later, some Patton/Johnson ancestors still live and work in the Flint Hills.

This Prairie Talk focused on how farming and ranching were equally important to the economic survival of pioneer Flint Hills families. The symbiotic relationship between farming and ranching still exists in 2023.

Recorded at Pioneer Bluffs, Aug. 2023

The Bill House Story

At the Pioneer Bluffs historic site Carol House of Arkansas City discussed her late husband, Bill House, who went from being an attorney to raising Grand Champion Herefords. After practicing law in the 1940’s, Bill House returned to the family Hereford business in Chautauqua County. By the early 1950’s, House had risen to the top of the National Order of Hereford Growers, winning Grand Champion four times at the American Royal in Kansas City, MO. In his 65 years of ranching, House was a strong influence in legislative initiatives that impacted the entire beef cattle industry. He served as past president of the Kansas Livestock Association, the American Hereford Association, and the American National Cattleman’s Association, now the National Cattlemen’s Association. In 1964, House was named Distinguished Jayhawk of the Year by then Governor Anderson. During the Prairie Talk, Carol House will tell many stories, possibly even how an 1,800 lb plastic ornamental bull came to be in her front yard.
Recording date: July 1, 2023

The Methvin Family Story

At the Pioneer Bluffs historic site, Nancy Methvin of Lincolnville tells how her Louisiana ranch family’s summer adventure turned into 46 years of living in, and loving, the Flint Hills of Kansas. The Methvin family ranched in Louisiana Bayou Country on land that had been in the family since 1714. The family came to the Flint Hills for one summer in 1977, and stayed on land that was once part of the original 101 Ranch and the Frye/Ronsick Ranch. Nancy shares the history of the areas they have lived.

Recorded in July 2023 at Pioneer Bluffs historic center, Matfield Green, Kansas.

The Bobbie Hammond Story

Bobbie Hammond has managed as many as 25,000 acres of Flint Hills grass and 8,000 head of cattle. At the same time, she was a professional rodeo barrel racer. She won in the Old Timers’ Rodeo National Finals when she was a grandmother – and that was 40 years ago. Hammond shares her unique life story in a Pioneer Bluffs Prairie Talk.

“I always thought cowboyin’ is women’s work,” said Hammond. “It never occurred to me there was anything I couldn’t do because I was a woman. I was working with my dad from the time I was big enough to ride.”

“I know it isn’t the kind of work every woman would want to do. Probably not every man can do it,” she continues. “It’s a lot of hard work. I do everything from breaking colts to fixing water gaps to treating sick steers. It’s knowing what an old steer will do before he even thinks of it himself.”

Hammond has been featured in “Larry Hatteberg’s KANSAS PEOPLE,” and Forbes Magazine.

Today at age 83, Hammond is still working. “I don’t let a lot of grass grow under my feet,” she says. “It is a lifestyle, I think.”

Recorded October 2022 at Pioneer Bluffs

Ranching Women Pioneer Bluffs Prairie Talk – Sept 2021

Click on image to play the video

Lady ranchers panel membersAbout the Women of the Ranch interviews Farm and ranch women typically play many roles. They are some combination of daughter, wife, mother, business partner, driver, drover, and cowhand all rolled into one. And a woman who began filling these roles in the first part of the 20th century has witnessed extraordinary change. It is likely that she has hauled water to bathe her children, cooked over a wood stove, and spent time behind a team of horses.

Mark Feiden and Farrell Hoy shared highlights from interviews with farm/ranch women. A panel discussion with some of the interviewees followed the film screening. This Prairie Talk was held in the loft of the historic barn at Pioneer Bluffs near Matfield Green, Kansas.

Pioneer Bluffs teamed with photographer/filmmaker Mark Feiden, author/educator Farrell Hoy, and Humanities Kansas, in this story collection project focused on the contributions of women to Flint Hills farming and ranching.

“When I began interviewing older farm and ranch folk in 2017, I quickly discovered something that should not have been a surprise,” said Feiden. “Women often have the richer body of stories—because they’ve worn so dang many hats!”

“When I finished interviewing 99 year old best friends Evelyn Zeckser and Mary Schultz, in 2019, I knew that I wanted to pull together an effort focused on older women—and I wanted to do it sooner rather than later,” continued Feiden. “I also knew that Farrell Hoy had an ongoing interest in documenting the lives of ranch women and so I approached her about teaming up. The experience has exceeded my expectations. Each and every interview has been a delight. I look forward to sharing the films—and seeing how the transcripts inform Farrell’s book project.”

Interviews include: Eula Barrett, Bobby Hammond, and Donita Rogers of Chase County; Irlene Huntington, Jackie Seeley, and Pat Surber of Greenwood County; Irene Thoes of Pottawatomie County; and Carol Feyh and Carol Michaelis of Wabaunsee County.

Mark Feiden, through his ongoing project Emil Redmon’s Cow ( is dedicated to building a significant archive of “stories from the farm and ranch.” Mark is a sixth-generation Kansan with pioneer roots in Reno and Wabaunsee countries. In 1998, he co-founded The Konza Press ( with the express mission of “promoting the people, places and rich history of Kansas.” A photographer, he has published a number of books on Kansas and the Flint Hills. Mark makes his home in Roeland Park, Kansas.

Farrell Hoy is a fifth-generation descendant of the Flying H Ranch, established by her great-great grandparents in Cassoday, Kansas, in 1877. She grew up helping her grandparents on the ranch, and from an early age noticed the many different tasks that fell to her grandmother, from performing nearly all the domestic duties to working alongside the men on much of the ranch work. Hoy is Faculty Development Director at Johnson County Community College. She is currently working on a book about Flint Hills women; she lives and works in Overland Park, Kansas.

Recorded at Pioneer Bluffs, Sept. 2021

Dr. Jim Hoy: vignettes from a talk to the Young Stockmens Academy of the Kansas Livestock Association on Monday, Sept 16, 2019

Gene Barr tb 1

Jim Hoy – the Early Years
Pioneer Bluffs, 2019

Gene Barr tb 1

Jim Hoy – Working for Wayne Rogler
Pioneer Bluffs, 2019

Gene Barr tb 1

Jim Hoy – Knute Rockne
Pioneer Bluffs, 2019

Gene Barr tb 1

Jim Hoy – Pasture Seasons
Pioneer Bluffs, 2019

Gene Barr tb 1

Jim Hoy – Grass as Sustainable Agriculture
Pioneer Bluffs, 2019

Gene Barr tb 1

Jim Hoy – Shipping Cattle on the Railroad
Pioneer Bluffs, 2019

Gene Barr tb 1

Jim Hoy – Loading Cattle on Railroad Cars
Pioneer Bluffs, 2019

Gene Barr tb 1

Jim Hoy – The Bucking Stud Horse
Pioneer Bluffs, 2019

The Roberts Rodeo Family

Gene Barr tb 1

Gerald Roberts was born to rodeo. His family started the Flint Hills Rodeo, and Gerald was a twice All Around World Champion cowboy (1942, 1948). His siblings, Ken and Marge, also were rodeo champions. Gerald’s granddaughter, Shannan Hauser, presents this family’s story of courage, talent, and hard work.

Recorded Spring 2019

Click on image to view the video

Rich Porter shares stories about the history of his ranch.

Gene Barr tb 1

Cattleman Rich Porter is loyal to his workers, suppliers, alliances, and, especially, to his community. “An ounce of loyalty is worth a pound of cleverness,” said Porter. “Do unto others better than you would have them do unto you. If they don’t respond in kind, merely walk away, but don’t retaliate.”

Each year Porter Cattle Company receives around 7,000 high-risk calves, taking them from 350# to 850#. Porter also farms around 2,600 acres of corn and soybeans.

Rich Porter credits successful business operations with strong values of loyalty and simple lessons he has learned in life. “If the market value of corn is 10 cents a bushel,” advised his dad, Walter Porter, “then you better find a way to produce it for 9 cents… or don’t grow corn.”

With degrees in chemical engineering and law, Porter had many options on what to do with his life. In 1979, he chose to return to the family stocker cattle business in Lyon County. This decision has made a positive impact locally; he is well known for his community support.

The Porter Cattle Company is based out of Reading, Kansas.  This talk was recorded on July 6th, 2019.

Mike Holder

Mike Holder – History of the Flint Hills

Mike Holder, Kansas State University Extension Agent (retired), begins at the beginning of the Flint Hills, “why it is what it is,” says Holder. He will discuss formation of the Flint Hills, the Native American presence, and the influence of ranching. Holder is known as a good storyteller and draws on 47 years with the Extension Service for his stories.

Recorded April 2022 at Pioneer Bluffs.

Click on image to view the video

Prairie Talk: The Hatcher Family story

Mike Holder

Jeanne Hatcher shares the history of six generations of the Hatcher family. From Emporia to Chase County, the Fox Creek Ranch grew. Today the children and grandchildren of Jeanne and Bill Hatcher have joined the family cattle business; they are all neighbors of Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve.

Recorded July 2022 at Pioneer Bluffs.

Click on image to view the video