The Chiefs and Home on the Range celebrate

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What do the Kansas City Chiefs and Home on the Range have In common?

The Home on the Range cabin is in Smith County, Kansas and it is over 100 years old. Doc Higley had help with a new dugout by Beaver Creek to live in the summer months to hunt and fish, and be the doctor on call in the 1870s. Erosion by the creek changed the dugout into a cabin. After he left Kansas, the cabin was lived in by many families. The floor is all dirt. Pete and Ellen moved onto the property and refused to sell the Higley cabin. Doc Higley wrote the poem My Western Home there and it became a song, Home on the Range and state song of Kansas in 1947. Pete and Ellen Rust owned the property and surrounding area. {{more}}

Pete passed away and Ellen eventually moved to Smith Center and then a nursing home. She was nearing 100 years old when she passed away. She had thought ahead about the future of the cabin, and with the help of nieces and nephews, the cabin’s popularity soared.

One nephew, El Dean Holthus, and wife had three sons, and the middle son, Mitch, became a sports announcer. He called the football games on the radio for Kansas State for many years and then he went on to the Kansas City Chiefs as a play by play announcer on the radio.

Eventually, the cabin needed to be restored and money had to be raised. With fundraisers around the state, the cabin was refurbished in 2013. Mitch and Tami Holthus created a golf tournament fundraiser in the spring to raise money for other projects on the property. Chiefs players were flown in and they played golf and signed autographs, and then a pickleball tournament at the high school in Smith Center was well attended. A Patrick Mahomes autographed football brought almost $2000 at the ending bid.

The movie Home on the Radio co-written by Sharon Black was filmed in 2016. Mitch Holthus had the part of ‘Pete the announcer’ in the radio station in the 1930s. Mitch has Chiefs kingdom show after the games on Monday night on the radio to talk about the game and talk to players and people involved with the Chiefs. He also led audiences in pep rallies in Miami and in Kansas City. He rode in the parade in Kansas City.
So Home on the Range is a family affair including anyone who wants to volunteer. The cabin is open to the public free of charge sunup to sundown.

You can read Sharon’s previous story on Home On The Range…

Home on the Range was directed by Ken Spurgeon and was filmed in Smith Center, El Dorado, Topeka and Wichita, Kansas.

The film won Best Documentary at the 2017 Wild Bunch Film Festival in Willcox, AZ and the 2018 Western Heritage Wrangler Award as the best Docudrama by the National Cowboy and Western Museum in Oklahoma City, OK.

Sharon Black is from Smith Center, Kansas. We welcome her to our team of volunteers.

Smith Center KansasSharon Black has been writing for many years including newspapers, short stories, and as a publisher. She was born in Nebraska and has lived in Kansas most of her life. In her hometown of Smith Center, Kansas, Willa Cather’s hometown is to the north and Bob Dole’s hometown is to the south. Sharon is a press release writer for the National Parks Arts Foundation, and writes for b U n e k e magazine. The biggest project she has accomplished is co-writer of the TV movie Home on the Range. The movie is about the song, which is the state song of Kansas and the lawsuit surrounding it in the 1930s, and finding the rightful author of the song. Sharon is distantly related to the Mississippi writer Eudora Welty.

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