HARRY ANDERSON (1871-1951)
Inducted in 2000
Harry Anderson was a “founding father” of the Ellensburg Rodeo. Anderson served on the Rodeo Board from 1923-26 and as its President from 1927-1941. Today, the “Harry Anderson Trophy” is awarded at the Monday Finals to the All-Around Cowboy of the Ellensburg Rodeo. Harry Anderson was born to William P. and Hulda (Border) Anderson in Ohio on February 7, 1871. In 1876, the Andersons returned to Bosquie County, Texas, where they had previously resided (and where Harry’s elder brother Charles Anderson was born). In 1882, Harry and Charles Anderson migrated to Washington Territory to work as cowboys near Walla Walla and, later, Boise. For nearly a decade they worked at running cattle and sheep, riding fences, branding, and roping on the ranges of Idaho and eastern Washington. By 1894, the Andersons had gained enough experience and capital to buy a sheep outfit of their own. They met great success over the next twenty-five years. Harry and Charles Anderson migrated to Kittitas County in 1916 and bought the McClennan and Wilson sheep outfit. They ran sheep on the range between the Kittitas Valley and the Columbia River for five years, selling out in 1921 to the Sanders Brothers. Using the capital from their sheep ventures, the Andersons soon rose to the station of prominent Ellensburg real estate investors; they owned the Olympia block, other prime commercial properties, and Harry’s Moreland Ranch. In 1923, Harry Anderson’s cowboy past and his business acumen made him a prime contact for “Doc” H. F. Pfenning, Leonard Davis, Cliff Kaynor, and other boosters of the Ellensburg Rodeo; they invited Anderson to help organize a “Wild West Show” in Ellensburg. Thus, the former Texas and Idaho cowboy and sheepman found himself a “founding father” of the 1923 Ellensburg Rodeo and subsequently played a crucial role in the first 19 years of the Ellensburg Rodeo. Elected the rodeo’s second President in 1927 (succeeding Bill Fudge), Anderson’s next fifteen years of service were crucial to the development of the Ellensburg Rodeo. “Our show is as good as there exists,” he declared. During Anderson’s Presidency Ellensburg joined the Rodeo Association of American (1930), Red and Rose Wall became primary stock contractors (1931), and the Rodeo Board began to name its own rodeo court (1932). Entries rose to such a great number that the Board introduced “slack” time to accommodate all cowboy competitors. Facilities improved, attendance increased, and the Ellensburg Rodeo firmly established its reputation as one of North American’s best professional rodeos. Old-timers remember Harry Anderson’s crucial negotiations and dealings during the “Cowboy Turtles” union strike of 1937. The Turtles (today’s Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association) had legitimate grievances about prize money and judging, and Anderson supported their cause. But he also opposed their boycott strategy and defied them by declaring the show had to go on. Although the 1937 Ellensburg Rodeo did not feature its usual array of talent, Anderson combined independent Turtles with other regional (including Canadian) cowboys to produce a professional show. Meanwhile, during the 1930s and 40s, Anderson served as a judge at major rodeos throughout North America, including Toronto, Cleveland, Buffalo, and New York City’s famed Madison Square Garden Rodeo. In 1941, Harry Anderson retired as President of the Ellensburg Rodeo. In his honor, the Rodeo Board created the Harry Anderson All-Around Trophy. Anderson retired to his 105 E 8th Avenue home where he and his wife lived until his March 7, 1951 death at the age of eighty. Harry Anderson’s nineteen-year term of service–four years as Board Member and fifteen years as President–stands unrivaled in the seventy-eight year history of the Ellensburg Rodeo.