February 28, 1910 – September 22, 2005
If one is asked to describe a cowboy, the first vision that comes to mind is a rawboned, sun-weathered soul clad in a hat, chaps and boots that are as well seasoned as the man within. IF he is not mounted on a horse, the creature would surely not be more than a few feet away and somewhere in this vision would be cattle. This certainly describes Lewis Jens Olsen, better known to all as “Bus”. Now if you ask a lot of old cowboys, they would probably express a desire that they had pursued another line of work with a little more comfort and a whole lot more pay. Not Bus, he loved the cowboy way of life so much that he would often take a day off work just to go help someone work cattle.
Bus was born on February 28th, 1910 at Hartington, NE to Joseph Carl and Minnie McGregor Olson and grew up on a farm near Hartington. His passion for horses developed at the age of three when his uncle presented him with his first horse by leading it into their home on Christmas Eve. Bus was never without a horse for the rest of his 95 years of life on this earth. His talent for training and riding came naturally.
Bus began what turned out to be a 47 year career with the Western Public Service at Crawford, NE and ending with his retirement from Nebraska Public Power District in 1975 at Ainsworth, NE. He married Maxine Ellsworth, daughter of Guy and Molly Ellsworth, on October 7, 1989 in Rushville, NE.
Bus’s love of horses brought him to For Robinson at the age of eighteen in 1928. With his riding talent and ability to show horses he was soon being recruited by the locals to sell their horses to the army. He earned a whopping $5.00 for each horse that he got on.
This brings to mind a humorous story he loved to tell. A fellow in the area had this nice looking horse that had the nasty habit of bucking after being ridden for a while. On a bet, Bus accepted the challenge of getting this horse into the army remount. He rode him for 30 days and sure enough, the horse would buck after about an hour or so of riding. Knowing what the army was looking for in horses helped, so Bus rode him into shape and tuned him up to show. There was an officer in charge of buying and this officer took one look at the horse and decided this was the one he wanted for his own mount and the deal was struck. Later that day the horse returned to the Fort without the officer and the next day that same horse became dog food for the canine corp.
On another occasion, knowing that the military would not buy gaited horses, Bus showed a horse several times during the day and finally got him slowed down enough that the officer bought him not realizing he was the pacer shown earlier. Even so, Bus had all of the officers’ respect and would often be invited to participate in their leisure activities like chasing the hounds. Bus also learned to jump horses with the USA Equestrian Team trained for the Berlin Olympics at Fort Robinson in 1936.
After the Fort was abandoned in 1947 several of the buildings were being demolished so Bus led local efforts to preserve the Fort as a historical site and for this Governor Val Peterson awarded Bus the status of Admiral in the Great Navy of the State of Nebraska.
Bus served as a Corporal in the US Army 125th Field Artillery Battalion assigned to the 34th Division during World War II in Africa, Italy, France and Austria and participated in the liberation of Rome.
Before cutting was recognized as a competitive sport, Bus and a good friend started breeding and training horses to cut cattle. When the sport became popular his passion only grew and he eagerly shared his horses with both young and old alike so they could learn to compete