Walt Ryan was born in Cheyenne County, Kansas.  The first home he can remember was a sod-walled house located on a rise south of the Republican River.  He attended his first eight years of school in one room school houses on the high plains and in the Missouri Ozarks.

His maternal grandparents migrated from the Smoky Mountain area of east Tennessee to Texas, eventually homesteading in northeast New Mexico.  Walt’s paternal grandfather left Kentucky in 1900 to seek his fortune in the West.  Along the way he took a job breaking horses and mules for an eastern Kansas farmer and mule trader.  He married the farmer’s daughter and eventually became a landowner in northwestern Kansas and Bent county Colorado near the Santa Fe Trail.

Walt grew up with an appreciation for the people of the western frontier, then and now. He enjoys writing about them in fact and fiction.  Walt has lived and worked in the plains country and traveled the West.  As a youth he worked as a combiner on the wheat harvest circuit beginning on the Waggoner Ranch in Texas, and finishing the season on the Rosebud Indian Reservation in South Dakota.

When Walt writes of horses and cattle he does so with first hand knowledge.  Walt’s many work experiences include mill hand, long haul truck driver, newsletter editor, photographer, article writer, electrician and business executive.  Walt lived and worked in historical Howard County Missouri, the birthplace of the Santa Fe Trail and boyhood home of famed frontiersman Kit Carson.

Collecting and restoring antique firearms and horse gear is Walt’s hobby.  He deer hunts with a vintage cap and ball rifle.  Kentucky-style rifles are his favorite items.  “I don’t care much for modern firearms, I love the old ones because of their place in history,” states Walt.  Walt Ryan currently lives with his wife Denny in Osage county, Missouri.




9 thoughts on “About

  1. sharon west lansing

    I enjoyed your paper on the Burning of Osceola… my comment is this: my family lived in El Dorado Springs, MO (Cedar Co) and paternal grandparents outside Schell City, MO (Vernon Co.). Whenever we traveled to their farm, we had to cross the old bridge across Clear Creek at Short’s Ford. As we journeyed (north, I believe) down this bad farm-market road (1935 to 1950), my mother pointed out to me 3 mounds off to the right of the road. She said these were civil war graves and that sometimes American Flags were placed on them. I never saw the flags, that I remember. Before my mother passed, I drove her out this same road (now widened somewhat with deep graded ditches) and asked her to show me as best she could where these graves had been because no longer were there any mounds visible to the eye. She was too frail to get out and walk around but she indicated to me an area the size of 3 to 4 city lots (approx., maybe larger) where the graves were. After she passed, I asked someone from Springfield, Mo to come up and see if we could find anything. After getting permission from the landowner (lived in NY), two men came with metal detectors and combed the area but did not find anything. Since a period of some 50 years had passed, trees had no doubt grown up through the graves and the entire landscape must have been greatly changed. This area is about l mile (give or take) south and east from the bridge and borders the only road there. It is a remote area, no houses real close and probably much today as it was in the Civil War days. I live in Florida part of the year but still have property in El Dorado Springs. If you would ever be interested in my showing you the approximate location of these graves, please let me know. I am back there at least once or twice a year. I am doing my own literary search on family from both Vernon and St. Clair Counties. I am not on facebook or any social media except I do have e-mail and I have put it in below. Feel free to contact me. Thank you for yourwork!

    • Thank you for your comments, and interest in Sundown Trail. The Battle at Clear Creek has always intrigued me, although I have not lived in that area for many years. I remember that sometime in the 1950’s or 1960’s, a bridge was constructed at Short’s Ford. Capricious old Clear Creek promptly washed it out. I recall being down the Short’s Ford road to a farm auction at the old Costello Ranch. The big old stone ranch house was in poor shape, but impressive even then. I understand it was torn down many years ago. I knew many people living in that area. Time has changed that. Your e-mail address did not make it through, but I had my web admin add a contact tab to the menu above, so please send me your email through the contact form, and we can visit more.

      • Sharon west lansing

        Sharon lansing here! My email is jihswl@yahoo.com. sorry it did not work last time. I need to read your book . A friend said it was at the library here. I live in eldo. Do you visit here? Stay in touch. I crossed the old iron short ford bridge from the
        1940s on and was always scared the car was going to get off the tracks where the wood was laid and I would cry most of the way to my grandparents farm! Take care.

      • Kayla Hooten

        Interesting reading material. I have lived in NE Vernon County all my life. I am an avid gravel road cruiser, and cross Clear Creek at Short’s Ford all the time. I love to hunt for artifacts in Clear Creek and Kitten Creek, and the Osage, and about any other wet weather ditch, lol.

      • Gary Hardison

        I have recently been interested in the Roscoe and Monegaw Springs area after the civil war era. And it has taken me to the Clear Creek battle at Shorts Ford bridge. I just read your comments in the Sundown Trail from 2013.

  2. Stephanie Fagan

    I found your paper about Hammtown from a friend on Facebook. I’m Norman Hamm’s great granddaughter. He talked a lot about Hammtown and the harvest and I always enjoyed listening to his stories. It’s nice to see the story out there for others to enjoy. Thanks for sharing a great piece of history.

    • Thank you for your comments. I am glad you found the Sundown Trail blog site. Hammtown helped many a young guy along the way. I met Norman only once, when I hired on for the harvest. I was impressed by his modest demeanor and business like attitude.

  3. Kevin Neville

    Couple of really good articles on here.

    Both my paternal/maternal lines settled in Cheyenne/Sherman counties of Kansas in the 1880’s. Some probably not far from your description of the south side of the Republican river but a bit further south actually on the North Fork of the Beaver Creek you mentioned in the Dewey-Berry fued. They would travel by wagon to Haigler, Nebraska and Ruleton, Kansas to pick up mail for that area before the town of St. Francis even existed.

    My wifes family homestead was maybe five miles from Beecher Island.

  4. Sharon Lansing

    Are you still writing? Is there a collection if your writings available for sale? My Street and Whitley relatives were in St Clair Co from 1830s to 1930s.
    Very in interesting times. Tell me how to get a book if one is available! Thank you.

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