FIVE OAKS RANCH – 8 miles west of Elmdale, Northwest Chase County
Photos submitted by Annie Wilson – July 2021
Artist’s rendering of L. R. Wiley horse ranch on Middle Creek west of Elmdale (now Five Oaks Ranch) in 1911 sale catalog. Regaled as the “largest importer and breeder of Percheron, Belgian and Shire horses west of the Mississippi,” Wileys operated this ranch from 1902 until early 1920’s. They also held the widely-attended Middle Creek Fair and rodeo (in which Bill Pickett performed) on the ranch from 1915 – 1921.
James Cauthorn (1917-1993) in the 1960’s in front of the barn formerly used to house the high-bred work horses of the Wiley operation, his tractor reflecting the eventual mechanization of farming. Mr. Cauthorn managed and partnered in the Browning Ranch (now Five Oaks Ranch) on Middle Creek west of Elmdale from 1946 to the 1980’s. He and W. P. Browning were cousins whose families came from the same neighborhood in Missouri. Jim and wife Mary Jo, a teacher in Chase County schools for many years, raised three daughters – Jane, Betsy and Polly – on the ranch. [Photo by Jane Cauthorn]
John O. Wilson checking cattle on Buddy around 2011. He and wife Annie Wilson, a teacher, began their Five Oaks Ranch operation in 1993 (formerly the Browning Ranch), which includes cropland along Middle Creek and upland pastures to the north along Maybell Creek. Here they raised their three daughters, Katie, Emily, and Julia. John Wilson has been an active board member and volunteer at Pioneer Bluffs, overseeing the renovation of the historic barn in 2015. [photo by Annie Wilson
(L-R) Katie Hancock, Emily Barnes, and Julia Wilson (Johns) – in 2006, children of John and Annie Wilson. Each girl was married in an outdoor wedding on the ranch. Katie (who holds a range management degree from K-State), husband Travis Hancock, and children Lily and Charlie, now also reside on the ranch and assist in operations. [Photo by Annie Wilson]
Annie Wilson along with Tallgrass Express String Band partners Brent Entz, Derrick Doty, and Carl Reed photographed in 2019 on the Five Oaks Ranch. In 2013, the state of Kansas named songwriter Wilson the “Flint Hills Balladeer” for her songs celebrating the landscape and ranching culture of the Flint Hills, written about her experiences on Five Oaks Ranch. [photo by Julia Wilson]