February 2, 1922
John A. Sibbitt was born on February 2, 1922, and is lovingly called the “Godfather of the Sandhills.” This is primarily because he comes from the people who were founding members of the Sandhills. But mostly because he is a rare talent which combines being a true blue cowboy, a rancher and a cattleman, a businessman and community leader.
John is well known having made many connections as the owner and operator of the Alliance and Gering Sale Barns. The Alliance Livestock Sale Barn sold over $20 million of cattle a year and many times John “set” the market- “he was the market” many asserted, as he was the man who established the “base” price of cattle at the barn for over 16 years.
John was also a rodeo participant from the age of fourteen, riding broncs and even one of the first “old timers.” He is a cowboy par excellence, a cattle buyer with clients that ranged from Canada to Connecticut. He is also the father of four kids who avidly participated in rodeo. Because of his unique ability to tell stories about the West, growing up as a grandson of the pioneers, John is asked to speak year after year to student-teachers who will be teaching history to fourth graders. His quintessential “western” manner is the reason Nebraska Educational Television chose him to be featured on their historical documentary, “Beef State” in 2008. This document is now seen all over the country and is a wonderful portrait of Nebraska ranchers and beef producers.
John is one of the oldest and best “hill” pilots to ever come out of the Sandhills. It is mockingly said that he learned to fly at the dawn of aviation. His planes have carried crews of cowboys to work on one of his five ranches (in his heyday) to performing aerobatics and outrageous “stunts” (like landing on railroad cars), to flying rescue missions of injured sandhillers in need of emergency care and spotting fires, lost cattle and even lost children.
John is riotous practical joker known for pulling pranks so daring (or so glaring) that they are still long remembered and talked about in the Sandhills. Whether it was riding famous “un-ridable” broncs, such as B-29 in the early rodeos, or riding bareback, DOUBLE, with his hired man Cliff Prindle, or in a washtub, his reputation has spread.
John is also a man of conviction, who is unafraid to confront the sentiments of an entire county over their irrational exuberance to spend money unwisely, or to “back” the wrong kind of character when it came to school matters. He was elected to the school board to try to initiate programs that were fiscally responsible and to attract the best teachers to the area.
John is also a man of compassion. One day, while in the Hyannis Drugstore, he noticed that old Doc Howell did not have a very good vehicle. He said, “You know, we ought to get that man a good car.” So, John talked to the men sitting around the soda fountain and before he left there he had enough money for the car. By the time he walked down the street, he had money for the insurance, and by the time he presented the car to the Doc, there was money for gas for a year. This is but one example of the kind of generosity and kind observation John has employed to help many other people.