October 21, 1926
Ben Burdick was born in a sod house on October 21, 1926 in the Purdum, Nebraska area. He was one of seven children born to Ray and Vera Burdick. Ben’s family worked hard and had little to show for it, as with many other people in that time. His childhood involved walking or riding a horse five miles to school every day, where he learned the essential subjects of arithmetic, writing and reading. Following school, it was home to do the daily chores and help on the ranch.
Raised as a ranch boy, he was destined to remain, but with the calling of World War II, Ben found himself overseas defending our country. He served for four years in the U.S. Army Infantry Division in the South Pacific, before returning to this area to settle and make a permanent life. Following his service, Ben met the love of his life, Alita Mae Koch and they joined as husband and wife in October of 1951. To them, four children were born: Terry, RoxAnn, Cindy, and Benny. As Ben and Alita raised their children, Ben made his life as a cowboy and rancher in Brown and Cherry Counties, running a cow/calf operation.
Western ranching, riding horses, brandings, moving cows, putting up hay, feeding cows, weaning calves, fixing fence, leathering windmills, breaking horses and rodeoing has comprised Ben’s life over the past 86 years. The cowboy way is definitely Ben’s way.
During Ben’s life, one of his favorite past times was horses. He regularly broke horses for himself, others, and his children to ride. Ben is one of the few cowboys left who knew how to break and drive teams of horses in the annual chariot races held at the Brown County Fair. Ben was able to experience first-hand the thrillin’ ride of haulin’ back and grabbing the reins of horses driven hard. Ben’s love for horses is evident because that same love transpired into his children and grandchildren as he taught them the ways of riding and roping.
Ben and Alita and their children eventually settled on a homestead in Johnstown, where he resides today. At the age of 86, Ben still loves country music and country dancing and riding horses. He continues to make his way to the hayfield every summer and runs a successful cow/calf operation with his son Terry and grandson, Byron.
Ben has opened chutes at the National Rodeo Finals in Fargo, North Dakota, judged numerous rodeo competitions throughout the state of Nebraska, served as the Johnstown Volunteer Fire Department Fire Chief, a Brown County Fair board Director, and Elks and American Legion member of Post #79 in Ainsworth. He has headed, rounded up and drove cattle to Dunning, Nebraska to load on the trains, drove cattle from Elsmere and Purdum areas to Bassett for sale and served his country and is honored to be a Veteran of World War II.