James A. Monahan was born on the Circle Dot Monahan Ranch in the Sandhills of Nebraska on July 2, 1929. The son of Earl and Marie Coppersmith Monahan, James has lived his entire life on the sprawling Circle Dot ranch of Monahan Cattle Company. Six generations of Monahans working their ranges and James is of the third.
There are four generations living on the ranch in Grant, Cherry, and Hooker Counties of Nebraska. James also says his fondest memories of his childhood come from ranch life. His worst naturally would be the blizzards and harsh weather all ranchers of that region endure. Not to mention his getting a whipping over his not wanting to “pick beans” as a child. James has one brother and two sisters.
James met his wife Hil when she came to cook in the ranch cookhouse for two summers to work. They married in August of 1950. They were blessed with son Bryan, married to Larene, son Bob, who is here today, daughter Gerri, and daughter Joan, married to Dan Phipps.
All with the exception of Gerri live and work on the ranch. Bob and Bryan manage the ranch and Joan manages finances and the kitchen. James and Hil have nine grandchildren. Three of them live on the ranch with two grandchildren. He hopes they will stay to run it in the future.
His worst fears are winter storms and a poor cattle market. His greatest pleasure is enjoying good health and his ability to be involved daily at age 90.
The Circle Dot is long and narrow. Thirty four miles wide and three to twelve miles north to south. There are eight sets of improvements with houses and pens placed strategically on the ranch where families live. Their spouses and children are actively involved as well. The tributaries of the Middle Loup River start west of the ranch and run down through the ranch into the Middle Loup River. Waterings include creeks and 300 wells, with windmills, and a few solar wells with submersible pumps. Earl Monahan always said no critter should have to walk over ½ mile to water. The ranch needs about 20,000 big round bales of hay to feed each winter. They have their own crews of two mowers, 2 hay rakes, 2 balers, 1 bale buncher, and 1 bale hauler to the bale yard. Yearling cattle are sold on the satellite video in July and delivered in August. Their registered Hereford business is well known.
He says the ranch will always need saddle horses, even though he is relegated to a side by side ATV for his mount nowadays. He still helps moving cattle and pairing out. His favorite horse “Pepper” was a great cow horse and good in the pens and dragging calves to the fire. He was just a good all around horse.
James says that this cow culture will stay grounded in an ever changing world. This culture will always appreciate what hard work will accomplish.
Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you our third Foy Proctor Memorial Cowman’s Award of Honor recipient, Mr. James A. Monahan.