Farm and ranch collectibles bring fond memories for Robbins family at recent auction

Edward J. Naughton
Kiowa County Signal
Amber Robbins looks over longhorn steer skulls that were part of a special auction held by Brown Auction Service of Greensburg at her father's Anchor D Ranch near Belvidere last weekend.

Brown Auction Service of Kiowa County conducted a very special auction on September 18 and 19 at the Anchor D Ranch, the home of Amber Robbins, daughter of the late Dick Robbins Jr. A wide variety of equipment, antique, machinery old and new, trailers for hauling, and novelties such as Texas longhorn skulls were sold. Even a live Texas longhorn steer named Kyle, a favorite of the late Dick Robbins, Jr. was sold. 

Anchor D ranch has been in the Robbins family for many decades. The ranch property itself was not sold since Amber Robbins still calls Anchor D home. She works as a nurse, but she has a strong sense of connection to the ranch and its heritage.

Robbins said that her father was always very passionate about his Texas longhorn cattle which were his favorite kind of cattle without dispute, so obvious was it that he frequently was seen doing business in Kiowa County and the surrounding region wearing a ball cap with animated Texas longhorns extending out either side of his hat.

"Most of these Texas longhorn cattle my dad bought, he bought off of wildlife refuges, one in Oklahoma and one in Nebraska," Robbins said. "There was a fancy sale that we would go to in San Antonio, Texas, run by Red McCombs, who had at one time owned the professional football team Minnesota Vikings.  Going to these sales were like vacations to him."

Kyle, the Texas longhorn steer that sold at the auction after living on the ranch for 7 years where he was born and bred, brought $2,450. The exact buyer was not identified.

"My dad was absolutely in love with and enamored with longhorn cattle, but longhorn cattle do not always pay the bills - some of it is weight, they don't put on the weight like the angus breed do in the feedyard," Robbins said.

Many horses and a donkey also at home on Anchor D were not on the sale bill as Robbins said she enjoys the presence and limited care of these ranch animals. She added in $2,500 to the sale that will be contributed to Comanche and Kiowa County 4-H Clubs with animal projects as that was something Dick Robbins wholeheartedly supported during his life.

Much of the property where the late Dick Robbins lived and now current Amber Robbins lives is considered historic for many reasons. One of the most interesting reasons is that one of the previous owners of the land where Anchor D Ranch is now situated was owned well over 100 years ago by the late Frank Rockefeller, brother to the oil tycoon and very rich, late John D. Rockefeller.

One of the barns still standing on the property, a big white barn, was built by farmhands Frank Rockefeller hired well over 100 years ago. This barn has housed cattle in the past, but over the years it became a giant storage shed of sorts for old equipment, tackle, one-horse buggies, chuck wagons, and similar decades-old items.

Frank Rockefeller reportedly ended up finally attempting to settle in Kansas after he had a major falling out with his brother, John D. Rockefeller, which heightened to the point that he broke away from his brother in 1900 and resigned from his position as vice president of Standard Oil of Ohio.

When Rockefeller travelled to Kansas he entered into partnership in 1878 with a man named Lawrence Wilson, whose 520 acres of land were located immediately to the south of Rockefeller's. These two men combined their holdings into one large ranch they named Soldier Creek Park, thereby controlling access to the water in Soldier Creek for almost five miles. The strategy used in this case apparently was common among cattlemen of the time - acquire all of the land adjacent to a stream or river, then monopolize the nearby government land for grazing without having to own it.