Loren Jenkins of Big Sandy has been a lot of things in his life.
He was a member of the Montana Legislature. He was the voice of the Big Sandy Pioneers athletic teams for 20 years. He was a farmer.
But he was always a cowboy at heart.
His cowboy spirit and his success at horse breaking combined with his community service prompted the Montana Cowboy Hall of Fame to select him for induction this year.
Induction in the hall depends as much on community service as on cowboy exploits, said Christy Stensland, the hall’s executive director.
In addition to nominating present-day cowboys, the hall annually inducts “legacy” members, cowboys who have died.
Legacy inductees from the District 4 — the Hi-Line — this year include:
• Roger Henry St. Pierre Sr. of Box Elder
• Fred Charles Henderson of Warrick
• And this year the Hall of Fame honored the Warrick Rodeo, a Hi-Line tradition.
Always, Jenkins was as much a rancher as a farmer. He always had cattle and always had a string of horses. He regularly broke horses for friends and neighbors.
He’s full of horse stories.
“In 1962 I bought two horses from a guy who came through Big Sandy,” he recalled. “I got on one and was bucked off so fast I didn’t know what happened to me.
“But we entered her as a bucking horse in the Big Sandy rodeo,” he said. Tiny Wilson won first money for staying on her, but he earned every cent of it.”
He loved horses, though one time a horse put him in the hospital.
After being thrown under the horse and draggged a ways, his face was all skinned up. He kept asking a friend who found him if he was still alive.
He was. He went to the hospital, but in the end everything turned out OK.
By accident, he ended up the voice of the Big Sandy Pioneers at many sporting events.
“I had my own sound system,” said Loren, laughing. “I did it because my oldest son had just started playing football, and I could not tell who he was on the field.”
“Pat Welty (a friend) was my spotter. “ he said. “I could not have gotten along without him.”
Jenkins was elected to the Montana House in 1984, and was elevated to the state Senate four years later. Four years after that, he lost the election, but he came back in another four years to serve his final term.
A Republican, he always took pride in working with people of both parties to get legislation passed.
Other inductees this year include:
Roger Henry St. Pierre
St. Pierre was one of the first Indian cowboys at Rocky Boy’s Indian Reservation. He died earlier this year.
He prided himself in being able to round up a herd of horses by himself.
He started and owned one of the first quarter-horse ranches on the reservation. His skills helped him become successful in cattle ranching.
With his love of cattle, he took pride in his stock.
He was a rodeo fan or fanatic, depending on who you talk to.
But his abilities as a cowboy were eclipsed by his community service.
Born in Fort Belknap, he spent most of his life at Rocky Boy’s Indian Reservation.
He graduated from Montana State College and was the first member of his family to graduated from college. In fact, he was one of the first members of the Chippewa Cree Tribe to graduate.
He wanted to ensure that all young people on the reservation had similar educational opportunities.
He served as president of the Rocky Boy school board and was chair of the board of regents at Stone Child College. He was instrumental in the establishment of both the high school and the college.
St. Pierre had a real passion for the less fortunate. He helped deliver Christmas packages to Rocky Boy children and worked to improve health opportunities for young people. .
He served on virtually every tribal committee there is.
St. Pierre worked with the federal government for 20 years, serving in the Agriculture Department, Indian Health Services and the Bureau of Indian Affairs.
For the next 20 years, he served the tribe in many capacities. He worked on projects as varied as health and dam safety.
He was an artist and enjoyed painting Native American scenes and was good at cartooning.
Fred Charles Henderson
Fred Henderson was born in Kalispell in 1895. He moved to his family‘s ranch in Warrick, a tiny town in the Bear Paw Mountains, when he was 1.
He was born a farmer and rancher. He started doing the job professionally when he was 12, when he began working off the ranch for pay.
He also worked for the post office in his small town, driving to Big Sandy —18 miles one way — to get the mail and drive it back to Warrick.
After his father died, he, his mother and his wife ran the farm. It continually grew until there were 800 head of cattle on 10,000 acres.
He was self-taught at the guitar, fiddle and mandolin and frequently played for dances at the Warrick Community Hall, which his family members had built.
In 1930, he his brother and and son helped build the Warrick Rodeo grounds and began organizing the annual rodeo that became a fixture of the community for the next 50-some years.
He ranched until 1976, when he moved into Big Sandy.
In 1977, he was elected honorary president of the Montana Cowboy’s Association.
Starting in 1927 — and lasting until 1984 — the rodeo was a focal point of life on July 4th for north-central Montanans.
The first rodeo was held on the Weaver ranch. There was a corral but no chutes. They roped horses out of the corral, blindfolded them, saddled, got on and rode them out in open country. They had a dance in the hayloft of Weaver’s barn that night.
Hundreds of spectators showed up to cheer, party and sometimes engage in fisticuffs.
Community members built the site at which the rodeo was held from 1930 on.
There were no bleachers or grandstands. People sat on the nearby hillside and enjoyed the show.
It was a community gathering as much as a rodeo.