Robert Jennings Moreland (February 21, 1923 – August 28, 2014)
Robert Jennings Moreland was born to John Jennings (Jack) and Grace Fairhead Moreland, at the home of his grandparents, G.O. and Julia Boden Fairhead, in Merriman, Nebraska on February 21, 1923. At that time, the family lived on a farm about ten miles east of Martin, South Dakota. In 1931, the family leased a ranch at the head of LaCreek, still in Bennett County, South Dakota. Bob and his younger brother, Stan, rode horseback five miles each way to the Lone Star School where there were 16 boys and a man teacher. In 1934, the Moreland family moved to a leased ranch which they later purchased, one mile south of Merriman, Nebraska in Cherry County.
Bob graduated from Merriman High School in 1940. The following year he took a post-graduate agriculture course at Curtis, Nebraska, and the next year he attended Ag College at the University of Nebraska in Lincoln. While there in the fall of 1942, he joined and boarded at Alpha Gamma Rho fraternity. Fees, room, and board cost $32 per month. Bob returned to the ranch after one semester of college.
The following year Clyde Weber offered Bob a job at $75 per month, agreeing to keep 50 bred heifers at $1.50 per head per month in lieu of wages. Bob sold his other cattle and purchased 53 bred Hereford heifers from Fred Tuchenhagen for $81 per head. Bob worked alternately at Webers and with his dad the next three years. During two of those winters, Bob batched and fed hay with a four-horse team to 800 cows on a hay meadow near LaCreek. He greatly enjoyed living in that community, and was invited to many meals with his friends. He even hosted a couple neighborhood steak-fry suppers at his meager one room cabin.
In the fall of 1946, the 16,000 acre Quigley ranch northeast of Merriman (known as the Bar T) came up for sale. Charlie Snyder bought 8,000 acres of the east half for $15 per acre, Clyde Weber bought the northwest corner consisting of 4,000 acres of summer range for $10 per acre, and Bob and his dad, Jack, went into partnership and purchased 3500 acres of the home meadow and headquarters for $20 per acre, also getting a lease on 500 acres of school land. Possession was not until spring of 1947, so Bob worked for Fred Tuchenhagen during that winter. Fred’s ranch was uniquely located. Every day on Bob’s feeding round, he passed through two states and four counties, as the ranch lay where Shannon and Bennett counties in South Dakota corner with Sheridan and Cherry counties in Nebraska.
Bob and his brother Stan moved to the new ranch, later known as the Green Valley Hereford Ranch, on May 1, 1947. Stan was working for their father, taking his wages out in keep on cattle. The two young men batched on the new ranch until Stan got married in September of 1949. Stan’s wedding was in Greeley, Colorado, and one of his army buddies, Bruce Anderson, from Minnesota attended. Bruce’s sister, Elaine, accompanied him to the wedding, as she had Labor Day week-end off from the bank where she worked in Minneapolis. Elaine met Bob, and they courted long-distance until they were married on October 15, 1950 in Benson, Minnesota.
Stan and his wife Joy Lue moved south of Merriman to run the Moreland home ranch, while Bob and Elaine stayed on the Green Valley Hereford Ranch. Bob and Elaine had four children: Steve, born in 1951; Sandra in 1954; Sybil in 1958; and Nancy in 1966. Bob and his family acquired more land from Fred Fuchser in 1961, and from Lester Leach in 1967. Bob helped his son Steve purchase the remainder of Leach’s land south of Merriman in 1972. In 1986 the land south of Merriman was traded for the Snyder Ranch northeast of Merriman, which joined the Green Valley, and Steve and his family moved to the new ranch.
Bob and his family raised Hereford bulls for many years, and hosted the annual Green Valley Country Music Hereford Bull Sale for ten years, from 1973—1982. In later years the Moreland family switched to mostly Angus commercial cattle.
Bob was a life-long member of the Methodist Church. He was active as a Mason for 67 years as a member of Pioneer Lodge #219 A.F. & A.M. in Martin, South Dakota. He was a member of the Gordon Gideon Camp. Bob belonged to the Tri-State Old-Time Cowboys Association, almost from its inception in the mid 1960’s. He was a long-time member of the Nebraska Stockgrowers which evolved into the Nebraska Cattlemen. Bob has served three times as a director of the Sandhills Cattle Association. In 1990, he instigated the idea to have an annual January ranch tour. These tours have been very successful since January of 1991, with usually 200—250 people in attendance. In January of 2014, at nearly 91 years of age, Bob once again went on the tour. He and Ronna Morse, the director/manager of the Sandhills Cattle Association, are the only two people who have been on all 24 tours.
Bob was artistic and painted many pictures, and was a member of the Sand Painter Art Guild. He also took a multitude of photographs through the years. Bob enjoyed writing, and published his autobiography SANDHILLS SATISFACTION in 1994. He started writing a newspaper column ‘Friends and Fancies’ in September of 2003, which was published weekly in four area newspapers. After each year of 52 columns, they were compiled into a book. There have been ten of these books published, and his last column was written the week before he died. Bob has interviewed several old-timers through the years, writing down some of their history. He has always been good with a typewriter, and could type about as fast as they could talk.
Bob was musically talented, and sang at many funerals through the years in a quartet with his brother, Stan, and two cousins, Garould and Joy Fairhead. He enjoyed traveling and meeting people, and had many friends in all corners of the country and overseas. He felt deep affection for the Sandhills and its pioneer history. He admired good ranch practices and high quality livestock, and he loved his family and many friends.
Bob and Elaine Moreland celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary in October of 2000. Elaine passed away in 2004. Bob married Arliss Emley DeKay in 2007, promising her at least ten years of wedded bliss. He passed away three years too soon to fulfill his deal, and this may be the only time in his life that he didn’t keep his word.
Bob died on August 28, 2014 at age 91. He was preceded in death by his parents, Jack and Grace Moreland, his brother Stan in 1999, wife Elaine in 2004, and their daughter Sandra in 1993. He is survived by wife Arliss; son Steve (Carol) Moreland, daughter Sybil Moreland, and daughter Nancy (Shawn) Vineyard; grandsons Will (Desiree) Moreland, Brock (Chelsie) Moreland, and Terrel Vineyard; granddaughters Tiffany Moreland and Tori Vineyard; and great-grandchildren Fiora, Finnegan and George Moreland, Holden and Rowan Moreland.
A memorial has been established for the Tri-State Cowboys Museum or the Gordon Gideon Camp or the Donor’s Choice and donations may be sent in care of Chamberlain-Pier Funeral Home, PO Box 366 Gordon, NE 69343.