Chapman brothers are “Friends of the Fair”
Wed, 08/02/2017 - 10:23am admin
I’ve had a pretty darned good life!” said Leonard.
New to the Perkins County Fair this year is the introduction of “Friends of the Fair,” something that TW Schalesky, fair board president, hopes will become an annual recognition event.
Receiving the honor for 2017 are brothers Edward, Lenard and Juell Chapman.
All three have enjoyed a long history with the Perkins County Fair and have shown livestock – sheep and cattle – throughout the years in 4H and Open Class.
Edward, nearly 88, remembers showing calves and yearlings in 4H and recalls how he and Lenard each once won calves in a Lemmon Jr. Livestock Show calf scramble and then showed them at the Perkins County Fair. Later, Edward and his wife Violet encouraged their five children in 4H activities.
Lenard, 83, has the longest association with showing livestock. He once showed a horse, “when I first started.” His claim to fame, however, is the successful Rambouillet sheep business that he built. He’s consistently won purple ribbons, plaques and other prizes at county and state fairs. “There may have been one or two years that we missed,” he said. The same strong strain of sheep is now being shown by Lenard’s grandson, Beau.
Juell, 81, also showed calves and sheep while in 4H and for many years as an adult. In 1960, he was part of a building crew - including Johnny Penor, Herb Kolb and Gary Larson – to erect the original rodeo arena in its current location in Bison. ”It was hot just like it’s been now,” he said. Juell helped because he always held a general interest in the fair and rodeo and wanted to “see it get going.”
They all remember the old stockyards and arena that was once on Highway 20. Later, it moved to Herb Kolb’s place on the southwest corner of Bison. Before the Elbert Bentley Memorial Fair Building became a reality in 1987, they recall 4H achievement days in other locations, including downtown, east of the current American Legion/Senior Citizen Center.
Howard and Eva Chapman raised four sons. The firstborn, Howard Jr., died of a heart attack at age 68 in 1994.
The boys were born at home on a place about 25 miles north of Bison, east of the old Fredlund school. They moved to Bison when Howard was old enough to start high school. They had a small farm and a dairy barn in what was then the outskirts of town. Today, Cindy’s Crop Insurance sits in that location.
Howard Sr. served as Perkins County sheriff twice – from 1949 through 1952 and again for another four-year term from 1964 to 1968. He passed away in 1988. Eva died young, preceding him in death in 1957.
All three men are Bison High School graduates. From there, their lives have taken different paths, although they’ve not strayed far from Bison.
EDWARD was in the 6th grade when he started school in Bison, graduating with the Class of 1947. For the two years immediately following graduation, he stayed home and helped his dad on the dairy. Later, he worked in the sheriff’s office while his dad served as sheriff.
In 1951, during the Korean War, he enlisted in the U.S. Navy. He served on a destroyer tender in Japan, as a “radio man.” Midway through his four-year hitch, he married Violet Kari in Long Beach, CA. She had previously boarded at his parent’s house in Bison.
Edward is a member of American Legion Post #255 in Bison.
Following his honorable discharge, Edward found employment at Bison Lumber. He and his dad built a Mobil Station up on Highway 20, which is now K-bar-T convenience store. It opened in 1956 and Edward worked there until 1959.
By the early 1960s, Edward moved his family to Java, SD where they rented and operated a small farm for three years. The family - including children Lois, Fern, Calvin, Blane and Kerry - returned to Perkins County where they farmed south of Meadow, off the Chance Road, on land owned by Floyd Hall.
Edward is happy that all five of their children have chosen to live and work in western South Dakota.
Eventually, Edward and Violet purchased land from the Beslers, which is where they live now. It is located six miles south and 1-1/4 miles east of the Bixby Road. Edward has worked with his son-in-law Brad Besler on the ranch and has run his own herd of sheep, too, but now keeps “just a few.” He also worked with his son Blane, who owns an electronics’ shop on Bison’s Main Street. Edward helped to install the area’s first satellite dishes.
“We’re just slowing down,” he said. He and Violet have 16 grandkids and 20 great-grandkids, with a couple more expected soon!
LENARD was in the BHS Class of 1952, the only student in that class to attend all 12 years in Bison.
As a ten-year-old, he received a loan through his involvement in 4-H. His dad knew a Rambouillet sheepherder in Jamestown, ND, and they used Lenard’s loan to purchase two bred ewes. The ewes arrived by train in a crate, by way of Jamestown to Miles City to Lemmon, and were trucked down from Lemmon to Bison and delivered to the Chapman’s doorstep! By age 16, Lenard was forced to sell those sheep. “There was no place to keep them,” he said, and he was no longer in 4-H.
“I liked the Rambouillet sheep,” he said. In 1967, as an adult, Lenard purchased a herd of them from a man in Fairpoint, SD, who had started his herd from an original 1919 herd, which he purchased from the current-day South Dakota State University.
This year marks the 50th anniversary of Chapman’s Rambouillet’s “continuous flock.”
Lenard’s active involvement with the sheep has slowed down now but grandson Beau continues to raise them and has also added some Hampshires. Lenard said that Beau showed an interest in the sheep from the time he was a little boy.
Just this July, Beau showed the Overall Champion (over all breeds) at the ND State Fair.
Immediately out of school, in the early 50s, Lenard wanted to become an auctioneer. He worked awhile at the Newell sale barn but returned to Bison to work on the Lauren ranch, six miles east of Bison on Hwy. 20 and then 2½ miles south. On Dec. 6, 1953, at the age of 19, he married Margaret Lauren.
Almost from the beginning, Margaret experienced health issues and Lenard became her caregiver. Still, they were able to have three children - Kirby, Margo and Colette –and, in 1964, moved to and made their home on the Lauren ranch. Margo still lives there now.
For nearly 10 years, Lenard operated Margaret’s dialysis machine in their basement. She underwent two kidney transplants and two open heart surgeries and passed away in the spring of 1995. Lenard moved to town in 1999 and has resided at Homestead Heights for the past two years.
He has served as a director, vice-president and president of the American Rambouillet Sheep Breeders’ Association and, in the past 25 years, has missed only one or two national shows. He has traveled throughout Texas, New Mexico, Utah, Wyoming, Minnesota, Ohio and South Dakota to attend them. He has sold Rambouillet sheep in Mexico, Ecuador, India and Canada.
Once, in 1997, he and Dan Anderson represented South Dakota sheep growers on a livestock tour to Mexico where they met with livestock officials and heard the Mexican president speak.
Lenard has nine grandkids and seven great-grandkids. He is happy to have lived in a “good community.”
“I’ve had a pretty darned good life!” he said.
JUELL was a 1954 graduate of BHS. His future wife, Dolores Larson, was two years behind him in school. They’ve now been married for 62 years and have raised two children, Cheryl and William. They have five grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren. Dolores was the Perkins County treasurer for many years.
For 31 years, Juell was a lineman and later a supervisor at Grand Electric. He had no formal education but trained on-the-job. He retired in 1998. Prior to his years with the cooperative, Juell worked at Bison Lumber and Pete’s Electric. He was also the custodian at the school for four years and coached a grade boys’ basketball team.
He still keeps a small herd of Black Angus cows near his home on the southeast edge of Bison. He is considering selling them because of the current drought. He’ll save a couple “to eat,” he said.
Throughout the years, Juell has been active in the civic affairs of Bison. He recently completed three three-year terms on the Bison Town Board, serving some of those years as its president. He is on the museum board and the senior citizen board and has been (for what seems like to him) “forever.”
In addition to bringing the rodeo grounds to town, he counts, among his greatest accomplishments, being on the boards that built the Bison Museum, bringing Earl’s Taxidermy to town; and, as a town trustee, Bison’s new storm sewer and reconditioned Coleman Avenue.
The Chapman brothers will be honored at the Perkins County Fair, prior to the Saturday night rodeo performance, at approximately 6:00 p.m. this coming weekend.