Sisters Pat Spire, Teresa DeMott, Jane Risner and Joyce Mendenhall, recently donated a vintage cowboy once owned by their grandfather, Benjamin Frank Mendenhall, to the Nodaway County Historical Society Museum.
The saddle was purchased by Mendenhall, then still in late teens, in the late 1890s from the Wyeth Hardware & Manufacturing Co. in St. Joseph.
At the time, the Mendenhall family lived on a farm northwest of Hopkins.
According to the family, Benjamin Mendenhall boarded a train known as "The Bug" for the four-hour, one-way trip to the Buchanan County seat.
Typical of Western-style saddles of the period, Mendenhall's has a high back or "cantle," which increases the rider's leverage while roping horses and cattle.
The sisters noted that their grandfather practically wore out the saddle horn while working cattle and training horses during the 1930 before hanging it up for good in the rafters of the family barn.
In the late 1940s, the sisters' father, Olaf Mendenhall, reconditioned the saddle and stained it black to contrast with the color of "Champ," his palomino horse.
During the 1950s, Olaf used the saddle when riding as a member of Nodaway County Sheriff’s posses as well as on trail rides and at horse shows.
Gene Spire, Olaf’s son-in-law and Pat Mendenhall Spire's husband, noted that the saddle "rode hard as a rock and would break your butt."
The sisters had the saddle refurbished for a third time and presented it to Olaf on his 80th birthday shortly before his death in 1993.
It is now on display on the main floor of the museum, which is located at
110 N. Walnut in Maryville. Hours are 1-4 p.m. Tuesday through Friday.