Anderson Family History
written by Beth Bashor
Have you ever stopped to consider why a little, old town out in the middle of nowhere would have a PRCA rodeo? There are not motels or filling stations to try to attract business, there aren't many people in the town, and even fewer who belong to the Grover Community Club, the organization that puts on the rodeo. Even if you were to ask the Community Club members why they continue to do it, chances are they'd probably shrug their shoulders and go back to welding or setting a new post or painting the chutes. The reason this little rodeo in this little town continues to thrive may be out of respect for the memory of the man for whom the rodeo is named, Earl Anderson. Earl has been dead since 1960 but the people who knew him still respect him for what he did. Everybody who knew Earl speaks of how much fun he was to be around, how he was so good to the young kids and the hungry cowboys, and how nobody around Earl ever went hungry because Mary, his wife, always had room at her table for another cowboy or kid. This year we would like to introduce you to the daughter and son of Earl and Mary Anderson and their families.
Warren and Peggy Adams
Peggy Anderson Adams grew up around horses and rodeos. Her parents had always had horses and the next activity, at least for Earl Anderson, was to put on rodeos. Peggy recalls living in the area of what is the present Glenmere park in Greeley as she was growing up. She was riding her horse one day when he ran away with her and ran as fast as he could back to the barn. Peggy ended up mud from top to bottom but that didn't deter her from getting back on. Peggy can remember having rodeos every week when she got a little older. The first ones were held on the old Andy Barnett place and probably in the mid to early 1930's. Cowboys such as Paul Carney, Paul Crane, and Dale Kennedy would come out and get on horses or bulls. They weren't advertised rodeos but more like a gathering. These young cowboys just started showing up. Peggy started secretarying the rodeos when she was about eleven, starting first at Grover and Pine Bluffs, Wyoming, and gradually did them at all the rodeos her dad produced. As Peggy talks about the early days of rodeo she remembers all the fun, the teasing, and the laughing that was a part of being around those cowboys. "They were always so good to me," she recently recalled. One of Peggy's regrets was that she never got to know the wives and children of the cowboys as well as she did the cow boys because she was always working in the office at the rodeos. In those days everything was done by hand, from figuring the payoff to posting the cowboys and the stock they had drawn so it was a time consuming job.
It was only inevitable that Peggy would meet a young cowboy and that's exactly what happened: in June of 1946 Peggy met Warren Adams at the Grover Rodeo and they had their first date later that summer when they were in Boulder for the Pow Wow Rodeo. They double-dated with another young cowboy and his date, and the four of them went to a movie. Warren, who had just returned from the service where he had been a member of the 32nd Division-a tank recovery unit-had been awarded the Bronze Medal. Warren's background is equally as interesting as Peggy's.
Raised in the Greeley area, he had attended a country school, (Auburn) east of Evans and his school teacher had been a trick rider in a Wild West Show. During recesses at school, she had shown Warren a few tricks to do on his horse, and thus he got his start as a trick rider. The old Sterling Theater in Greeley had a talent contest one year and Warren decided to enter it. He brought his horse into the theater and onto the stage. Nobody had ever seen a live horse on stage before so that in itself was pretty impressive but when he spun his rope and jumped over the top of his horse with a glass of milk in one hand and a piece of pie in the other, that was enough to impress the judges and the audience and win him first prize. He recalls that he must have been 14 or 15 then.
Warren continued to trick ride through high school. He entered the army right out of high school and stayed in until after World War II was over. One of the highlights of Warren's army memories was not of the war but of a rodeo he participated in in 1945 in Tokyo. Lt. Dick Ryan from California had promoted the rodeo and Warren and Jim Like, another Colorado cowboy, both participated. Jim Like was later named to the Cowboy Hall of Fame in Oklahoma City, 1993. Warren entered three events, the bull dogging, bareback riding, and bull riding. The bulldogging horses were Japanese Calvary horses and so were the bareback horses. The bulls were Japanese bulls. With 55,000 people watching, Warren won third in the bulldogging. Years later, when Warren was rodeoing back in the States, Dr. Ken Perry, a professor at Colorado State College (now University of Northern Colorado), always announced the rodeos that Earl Anderson produced and he always made sure that he told the audience that Warren and Jim Like had participated in the same rodeo in Tokyo.
Following his discharge, Warren got serious about rodeoing and rodeoed for about ten years. At Earl's rodeos he was a busy cowboy. He had continued his trick riding, so he trick rode, entered the bareback riding, the bull riding, and bulldogging and served as a pick-up man! Occasionally he would enter the calf roping or maybe would serve as a rodeo judge. Probably his favorite win in rodeo came in 1949 at the Boulder Pow Wow where he rode Earl's bull #3, who up to that time had not been ridden, and won the bull riding.
Warren's career as a trick rider came when a photographer from LIFE Magazine came to the rodeo at Boulder to photograph him doing his stunts. He took some photos during his performance, but after the rodeo was over he asked Warren if he would do one more stunt for him. Warren willingly obliged and did not realize until he saw his photo in the centerfold of LIFE that he had done the stunt in his boots! He had just finished performing in the bull riding and it had not dawned on him to change from his boots before he performed for the additional pictures.
After Warren broke his arm bulldogging at Cheyenne he quit trick riding, but he continued to enter the bull dogging until 1955.
As Warren and Peggy reminisced about the rodeos and the people they met and the fun they had it was so interesting to be able to sit and listen to them. They recalled trailing the stock to the rodeos at Livermore, Greeley, Nunn, and Pine Bluffs. Peggy recalled riding the train to the rodeos at Monte Vista and Rocky Ford. One car would have passengers in it and the stock for the rodeo would be in another car on the same train.
One of Warren's most vivid memories was one time he and Jack Anderson trailed the bucking horses from winter pasture near Iliff, Colorado, a distance of nearly 110 miles. With about 100 horses it was quite a trip. Warren recalled that they changed horses each day at noon and that the trip took about 3 days. When they crossed the lliff Bridge nearly a quarter of a mile long things were pretty adventuresome. There were no rails on the bridge and there were 100 horses on that bridge. Warren said that none of the horses got pushed off the bridge but some sure came close to it. Ironically, one of Jack Anderson's most vivid memories also came from trailing those horses home the next spring.
As you have the opportunity to sit and visit with Warren and Peggy about their lives you can't help but smile. This couple has had adventures that most of us only dream about or have seen in western movies and there are no regrets, only happy memories. Peggy is a doer; she does oil painting, is tracing the genealogy of her family, attends a weekly Bible study, and is a wonderful cook. Warren continues to be busy ranching and order buying, despite recent open heart surgery. When their eyes really light up it is when they start to talk about their children. Ric, the oldest son, is the head buyer of the cattle division of Simplot in Boise, Idaho. Doug and Tim are ranching and farming nearby and the girls, Amy and Kelli, are busy at the respective careers of teaching and cosmetology. All are busy raising their children.
Their lives have been full of adventure and yet they have never lived in the past. They recall good times but don't dwell on the past; they are just as busy and interested in what they are doing now and in what their grandchildren are doing. Our hats are off to this couple. They've lived their lives to the fullest...and with out regret...and are looking forward to tomorrow!