December 25, 1910 – May 17, 1982
George Edward Winters was born on his parent’s homestead in McPherson County, Tryon, Nebraska. George was the only son of Albert Edward and Florence M. Winters, he was born Christmas Day in 1910. George was born in a sod house and went to school in a sod schoolhouse that his father helped build.
George’s father, Ed, taught George how to mow hay when he was seven years old, from then on it was all work. During this time of hardship, George began working for neighbors and different ranches, much of the time his pay was for board and room and any extra pay went to help his parents and nine sisters.
He spent many hours breaking and training horses. This may have been what inspired him to enter the rodeo competition. The first rodeo he competed in was at Ray (Pete)Trumbull’s when he was 13 years old. From there, he competed in saddle broncs and calf roping at rodeos throughout the country.
In 1933, George worked for Jim McCullough down by Brady, Nebraska. He broke horses for Jim at $2.50 a head – green broke – some he broke to ride and some to drive.
In September 1933, George entered the bronc riding at Stapleton, Nebraska and won it. According to the Tryon Graphic newspaper, “the horses were shipped from northern Wyoming and was of the finest bucking stock” –this article made the front page news.
The winter of 1933, George was selected to go to Civil Conservation Camp and was stationed at Fort Robinson, Nebraska. While there, in his time off, he spent time in the barns and corrals with the horse trainers, they noticed his interest and his knowledge of horses and he also worked with horses and mules.
In the spring of 1934, George started out form Brady, Nebraska, to Wyoming horseback with the destination being Ed Daly’s Ranch. Ed lived on the Cheyenne River near Mule Creek. George started out with three horses, two of them were ridden very little, one was worked on the sweep and the other was just halter broken. He had his bedroll, sidemeat and biscuits specially made for him and proceeded west. It took about 10 days to ride out there. He stayed and worked for about a year. He was hired to find strays as there was about 65 head missing. It was all open range.
In 1938, George won the saddle bronc riding at Sutherland’s first rodeo. George came back to the Sandhills and worked on the Anderson place.
In 1940, George served in the United States Army Air Corps and in 1941; he was stationed in Columbus, Ohio, New Jersey and Missouri. Then he attended Armour School working on the Sperry Bomb Sight and was stationed at Lowry Field at Denver, Colorado. He decided to enter the saddle bronc riding at Frontier Days in Cheyenne, Wyoming and he placed riding “Humpy”. George was discharged on July 1, 1943.
After his discharge George went to work for Guy Combs on the Birdwood Creek country, once again enjoying the cowboy way of life.
In May of 1945, George’s parents, Ed and Florence, decided to leave the Sandhills and moved to Wyoming. They left the homestead for George to manage and he finished paying the mortgages against it.
On November 21, 1945, George married Vivian B. Wells Haskell. Vivian had been married before to Charles M. (Chad) Haskell, who passed away on December 6, 1944, leaving her with four small children. The children, Charles Wells was five years old, Leland Richard was four years old, Maudene Allice was three years of age and Michael Dee was three months. It didn’t seem to bother George that instead of one more mouth to feed there would be five. He was really proud of his new family; many people didn’t know the story of his new family and thought there could be some resemblance. He always loved his ready-made family and never once treated any of us any different than if we had been his very own flesh and blood. I have always thought if my own father would have picked a new daddy for us, it would have been George (my dad).
Life changed for George with his new family, not everybody gets to attend their parents on their honeymoon, let alone the Charvari, but we did.
The new life began, Charles and Dick were in school and Mike and Maudene were still at home. Dad could not do anything without kids, 40 questions, and with Dad came 40 answers. We helped him do everything. I don’t remember him ever saying that we could not help.
The last time George rode a bronc out of a chute he won $75.00 at Wayne Miller’s Rodeo on July 11, 1946. Dad insisted that all of his winnings go to buying a pressure cooker, a set of stainless pots and pans, 4 pairs of shoes for us kids and some bedding. George continued to participate in either calf roping, wild horse racing or team roping, etc. The last time he competed in a rodeo was in 1980 at the Old Timer’s Rodeo at Hyannis, Nebraska.
I have always marveled at Dad’s patience. He was blessed with patience, however, there was a fine line with him, as time marched on, we kids learned where that line was, and we shaped up.
We were nursed through broken bones, pneumonia, appendicitis, nightmares and etc. all the problems that go with kids growing up and being teenagers. They were always there to help us out and to listen to our problems.
On May 17, 1982, George Winters was invited to help a good friend and neighbor brand his calves. Dad was having such a good time getting in on the action. He had just roped a calf and dragged it in to be branded when God decided the final chapter needed to be written in the life of George Edward Winters. It was such a shock to us, but what a blessing. Not everybody passes from this life doing what they love to do. Just being a Cowboy.