National GWT conference to be held in Altus

Attending the first post placing in Oklahoma were, from left, Glenn Payne, Dennis Vernon, Maurice King, Al Sullivan, Yudell Barton, Robert L. (Bob) Klemme (the one who marked the Chisholm Trail in Oklahoma), Dr. Walter L. (chick) Bishop (Old Trail Drovers Association, and Joe Harkins, kneeling. This marker was set July 12, 2003. Since then, nine states, as well as Mexico and Canada, have placed markers on the Great Western Trail.

Attending the first post in Texas were, from left, Sylvia Mahoney, Jeff Bearden, Rick Hardcastle (Texas State Representative), Robert M. (Bob) Kerr (Oklahoma State Senator), Dennis Vernon, Yudell Barton, Santa Rosa Palomino Round-Up club in back. This marker was set May 1, 2004 at Doan’s Crossing on the Texas side.

The Oklahoma Chapter of The Great Western Cattle Trail Association will be hosting the annual conference of the National GWT in Altus on July 17-19. The Association consists of nine states, which include Oklahoma, Texas, Kansas, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana, Colorado, and Wyoming. The theme of the conference will be “Back Where It Started,” with a memorial to Mary Ann McCuistion, former director of the Red River Valley Museum in Vernon, Texas. Mary Ann was a contributor and dedicated promoter of The Great Western Trail until her untimely death in December 2014.

The conference will begin on Friday, July 17 at 6 p.m. with the Museum of the Western Prairie acting as host. Food and drink will be provided with a display of the Neatherlin Journal, and a video of the first Great Western Trail markers placed in Oklahoma and Texas.

A business meeting will be conducted on Saturday, July 18 at 8 a.m. at Southwest Technology Center in the Frances Herron Room. Following the business meeting, the Oklahoma chapter will be hosting a chuckwagon noon meal prepared by the Cross Timbers Ranch. Following the meal, a travel bus will escort attendees to Doan’s Crossing in Texas, where the first Texas post was placed. Jeff Bearden of Vernon, Texas will also present a program based on the history of the area. The Bandera Texas Gunfighters Company will present a reenactment of a Texas shootout. The bus tour will follow the cattle trail with the placing of a marker at Highway 62 and Friendship Road in honor of the late Senator Robert M. Kerr. The bus tour will end at Southwest Technology Center.

The members of the Oklahoma Association will host a steak dinner at the Blair Banquet Hall on Saturday evening at 6:30 p.m. A silent auction will be held during this event by members and supporters of the Great Western Trail. Following dinner, a memorial to Mary Ann McCuistion will be presented by Jeff Bearden. Maurice King will be the featured speaker for the evening.

On Sunday, July 19, at 8 a.m., a post will be placed at the Ken and Gary Reid Farm north of Altus. A Cowboy Church will follow at the Reid Barn, conducted by LeRoy Jones of Mountain View.

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