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2023 Guest Speakers

This year promises a day filled with fantastic stories, lectures, chats, and conversations.


Michael R. Grauer

McCasland Chair of Cowboy Culture/ Curator of Cowboy Collections and Western Art

National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum

A Kansas native, Mr. Grauer holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts in painting and a Bachelor of Fine Arts in art history from the University of Kansas; the Master of Arts in art history from Southern Methodist University; and the Master of Arts in history from West Texas A&M University.  He was the University of Kansas Kress Foundation Department of Art History’s distinguished alumnus for 2012. He worked at the Smithsonian American Art Museum, before becoming curator of art and Western heritage and associate director for curatorial affairs at the Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum, Canyon, Texas, from 1987 to 2018. He was also Adjunct Lecturer in Western American Studies at West Texas A&M University. He joined the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City in September 2018. He has curated over 150 exhibitions on Western art, culture, and history and authored 65 publications, including the Dictionary of Texas Artists, 1700-1945, Rounded Up in Glory: Frank Reaugh, Texas Renaissance Man, and Making a Hand: The Art of H. D. Bugbee, which received the Western History Association Wrangler Award for Best Western Art Book for 2020.

Mr. Grauer lectures on art, history, and culture across the American West. He does a living history cowboy presentation called “Cowboy Mike.”

He serves as president of the Western Cattle Trail Association; vice-president of the International Chisholm Trail Association; on the boards of the Kansas Cowboy Hall of Fame, the National Drovers Hall of Fame; is a member of the research committee for the National Cowgirl Hall of Fame in Fort Worth; on the Charles M. Russell Catalogue Raisonne' committee, and is a board member and on the executive committee for Westerners International.

He and his wife, Leslie Baker, live in Oklahoma City. He has three children, Matthew (33), Hannah (26), and Sarah (22), and three grandchildren, Otto, Ezra, Redmund, and Eloise Rae.


Art Burton

Professor Emeritus and recognized authority on Bass Reeves

Art T. Burton received a B.A. and a M.A. in African American Studies from Governors State University. He retired in 2015 after spending 38 years in higher education. He was a history professor, at Prairie State College and South Suburban College and worked as an administrator in African American Student Affairs at Benedictine University, Loyola University Chicago, and Columbia College Chicago.

In 1991, Burton wrote the first book on African American and Native American outlaw and lawmen in the Wild West. It is titled “Black, Red and Deadly: Black and Indian Gunfighters of the Indian Territory, 1870-1907.” In 1999, Burton wrote the first book on African Americans who were scouts and soldiers in the Wild West. The book is titled “Black Buckskin and Blue: African American Scouts and Soldiers on the Western Frontier.” In 2007, Burton wrote the first scholarly biography on an African American lawman of the Wild West. This work is titled, “Black Gun, Silver Star: The Life and Legend of Frontier Marshal Bass Reeves.”  His most recent work, "Cherokee Bill: Black Cowboy, Indian Outlaw"  is out now! 

Some of the honors Mr. Burton has received include being named a “Territorial Marshal” by Gov. David Walters of Oklahoma in 1995; being inducted into “Who’s Who in Black Chicago” in 2007; inducted into the Hall of Fame at the National Multicultural Western Heritage Museum in Fort Worth, Texas in 2008; inducted into “Who’s Who in America” in 2010; and was given the “Living Legend Award” by the Bare Bones Film Festival in Muskogee, Oklahoma in 2015.”


Burton has appeared in four documentaries for the History Channel on cable television. He was a participant on BET’s Teen Summit with Mario Van Peebles for discussion on the movie “Posse.” In 2015, Burton appeared on FOX Cables’ Legends and Lies Series, episode title, “The Real Lone Ranger” and was a participant in the AHC Cable series Gunslingers episode on Bass Reeves. Burton spoke at the B.B. King Symposium at Mississippi Valley State University in the fall of 2018 on African American and Native American cultures. In July 2019, Burton was the keynote speaker at the 10th Anniversary Bass Reeves Western History Conference in Muskogee, Oklahoma. He was recently named the historian for the National Multicultural Western Heritage Museum of Fort Worth, TX. 

He is passionate about the Wild West and continues to bring unsung heroes to light. 


Ernest Marsh

Historian and Reenactor

Ernest Marsh, a Tyler, Texas, resident, brings the legendary black cowboy Bass Reeves to life by embodying Reeves through his accurate outfit, a mustache, and even brandishing a rifle he once used. 

Reeves began as a slave and evolved to one of the greatest Western Frontier heroes in U.S. history, during the mid-1800s and early 1900s. He was one of the first Black U.S. marshals with more than 3,000 arrests in the Wild West.

Prior to Marsh’s focus, Reeves’ uncanny firearm skills, special partnership with countless Native American tribes, and unique methods of arresting criminals, Reeves was historically left behind. 

Marsh, who had learned about the Reeves a few decades back, said many great cowboys of color had been left out of history books.


Already involved in reenactments of black Buffalo soldiers, Marsh focused on the life of Reeves.  At 6’2” and 195 pounds, with a “bushy mustache”, the transformation for Reeves was easy. Marsh began spreading the word through presentations of Reeves from slave to final days of his life. 

Marsh and other historians believe Reeves’ adventures inspired the character of the Lone Ranger, but the ethnicity was changed because he was a black man.


Michael Martin Murphey

Singer Songwriter

Michael Martin Murphey’s musical journey has taken many unpredictable paths over the past 50 years. Topping the Pop, Country, Western and Bluegrass charts, Murphey has never been one to rest on his laurels.

A loyal American son from Texas, Murphey is best known for his chart-topping hits “Wildfire,” Carolina In The Pines,” “What’s Forever For,” “Long Line of Love,” “Geronimo’s Cadillac”, “Cowboy Logic,” and many more across his 35 albums released to date.  

Murphey’s long-running incarnation as a purveyor of the music, lifestyle, and values of the American West is one of many musical mantles he has worn over the years. To track his career path is to span the country itself, from coming of age in the Texas folk music scene, to Los Angeles to Colorado to Nashville and then back to his native Texas.

Murphey’s original songs have been recorded by The Monkees, Kenny Rogers, The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, John Denver, Hoyt Axton, Johnny Cash, Tracy Byrd, Lyle Lovett, Jerry Jeff Walker, Dolly Parton, Johnny Rivers, Billy Ray Cyrus, and many others.  

During the early 1970s in Austin, TX along with artists like Jerry Jeff Walker and Gary P. Nunn, Murphey created the “Cosmic Cowboy” movement, which was pivotal in drawing artists like Willie Nelson to the scene and helped birth the “Outlaw” Country movement.  In 1972, Murphey signed a major label deal. Discovered by renowned producer Bob Johnston (Simon & Garfunkel, Bob Dylan), Murphey released his pivotal debut, Geronimo’s Cadillac.  “On the strength of his first album alone,” proclaimed Rolling Stone Magazine, “Michael Murphey is the best new songwriter in the country.”  In 1975 he topped the pop charts with his hit singles, “Wildfire” and “Carolina In the Pines” from the RIAA Certified Gold album Blue Sky - Night Thunder.  

Then, in the early 1980s, Murphey recorded a watershed country album for Capitol Records produced by Jim Ed Norman.  He topped the Country Charts with the  “Still Taking Chances” single, which solidified his relationship with country radio as a hit singer-songwriter, and exposed him to an entirely new audience.  Twelve years after his first hit in Pop music, Murphey was awarded “Best New Artist” by the Academy of Country Music (beating out George Strait).  He continued to top the country charts throughout the decade with hits like “What’s Forever For,” the Grammy nominated “A Face In the Crowd,” (with Holly Dunn), the number one “A Long Line of Love”, “I’m Gonna Miss You Girl”, and many more.


In 1985, Murphey performed with the New Mexico Symphony in a concept he titled “A Night in the American West,” which was so well received, it led to hundreds of performances with American and Canadian symphonies, including the National Symphony Orchestra in Washington, D.C. 


In 1990 he circled around to one of his first loves, cowboy music. Cowboy Songs Vol.1, was wildly successful and became the first album of cowboy music to go gold since the heyday of Marty Robbins.  Cowboy Songs was so popular and highly regarded that Warner Bros. created an entire imprint called Warner Western.  In the midst of this Country / Western successes he founded a Western cultural festival called “Westfest”, deemed “the best festival in America”. It is American West showmanship, culture, lifestyle and scholarship. 


Ever a genre-busting artist, Murphey refocused his attention again in 2009 with his Grammy nominated Buckaroo Blue Grass.  That project — and two subsequent releases, Buckaroo Blue Grass II and Tall Grass & Cool Water — topped the Bluegrass charts.


Murphey has been awarded gold albums for Cowboy Songs, Vol. I, Blue Sky Night Thunder, and a Platinum single, “Wildfire”.  He has been given the prestigious Charlie Russell Award for Western Heritage.  He is a 5-time recipient of the Wrangler award from the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum and Cowboy Hall of Fame, and boasts awards from the Academy of Country Music, Rock Music Awards, Academy of Western Music Awards, Governor of New Mexico’s Outstanding Achievement Award, Outstanding Son of Texas Award by the Texas Legislature, and multiple from BMI. In 2009, he was inducted into the Texas Heritage Songwriters Association Hall of Fame, joining old friends Willie Nelson, Guy Clark and Allen Shamblin.   


In 2018, he released Austinology, celebrating his early days as a pioneer of the Austin Music Scene of the 70s with guest artists that include Willie Nelson, Lyle Lovett, and many more.


Dr. Jody Ginn

Director of Development, Texas Rangers Hall of Fame & Museum

Dr. Jody Edward Ginn is Director of Development for the Texas Ranger Hall of Fame & Museum.  A former law enforcement investigator/administrator and U.S. Army veteran he has worked for over nearly two decades as a Public Historian.  He has also served as consultant to museums, educational institutions/non-profits, and as an adjunct professor of history at Austin Community College.

Dr. Ginn is a Life Member of the Texas State Historical Society. He regularly presents his ongoing research and moderates panels at the TSHA Annual Meeting and the East and West Texas Historical Association annual conferences. 

Dr. Ginn has authored numerous refereed publications on Texas history topics. His works include “Texas Rangers in Myth and Memory,” in the anthology Texan Identities: Moving Beyond Myth, Memory, And Fallacy in Texas History. (UNT Press, 2016). Ginn’s second refereed publication was also an anthology chapter, titled “American Indians in the Republic of Texas: A Case Study for Moving Beyond Traditional Perspectives,” in Single Star of the West: The Republic of Texas, 1836-1845.  (UNT Press, 2017).


In this most recent anthology on the history of the Republic of Texas, Ginn presents his research into the only American Indian to have been awarded a land grant in Texas, which will be his focus in this year's Symposium.



Dr. Richard McCaslin

TSHA Endowed Professor of Texas History at the University of North Texas

Richard B. McCaslin, a professor of history at the University of North Texas and the author of Tainted Breeze: The Great Hanging at Gainesville, Texas, October 1862_, which won the Tullis Prize of the Texas State Historical Association and a commendation from the American Association for State and Local History.


He has also written Lee in the Shadow of Washington, which was nominated for a Pulitzer and won the Slatten Award and the Laney Prize. His other works include three volumes in the Portraits of Conflict series published by the University of Arkansas on South Carolina, North Carolina, and Tennessee (won Douglas Southall Freeman award) as well as The Last Stronghold: The Campaign for Fort Fisher. His At the Heart of Texas: One Hundred Years of the Texas State Historical Association, 1897-1997, won the Award of Merit from the Texas Philosophical Society.


He published an annotated edition of Joseph B. Polley's A Soldier's Letters to Charming Nellie, and his most recent book is Fighting Stock: John S. "Rip" Ford of Texas, which won the Pate Award. For his work, McCaslin is listed in Who's Who in America, and he's an elected Fellow of the Texas State Historical Association. He currently chairs the Department of History at UNT.


Byron Price

Professor Emeritus, University of Oklahoma

B. Byron Price recently retired as Director of the Charles M. Russell Center for the Study of the American West. He has held the Charles Marion Russell Memorial Chair in the School of Art and Art History, for the University of Oklahoma in Norman.

Prior to joining the University of Oklahoma, Price spent nearly 25 year working in the museum profesion. He served as executive director of the Panhandle Plains Historical Museum in Canyon, Texas (1982-1986); the National Cowboy Hall of Fame and Western Heritage Center in Oklahoma City (1987-1996) and the Buffalo Bill Historical Center in Cody, Wyoming (1996-2001).

A 1970 graduate of the United States Military Academy at West Point, Price earned an M.A. in Museum Science at Texas Tech University in 1977.

He is the author of more than three dozen magazine and journal articles on western American history and art and has written or edited more than 14 books and monographs including Edward Borein: Etched by the West (2021); Picturing Indian Territory: Portraits of the Land That Became Oklahoma, 1819–1907 (2016); The Sons of Charlie Russell: Celebrating Fifty Years of the Cowboy Artists of America (2014); The Chuck Wagon Cookbook: Recipes from the Ranch and Range for Today's Kitchen; A Man for All Ages: The Legacy of Charles Goodnight (2012); Charles M. Russell: A Catalogue Raisonné (2007); Fine Art of the West (2004); Erwin E. Smith: Cowboy Photographer (1997); Cowboys of the American West (1996); and The National Cowboy Hall of Fame Chuck Wagon Cook Book (1995). He has also served as a consultant for several television series on the History and Discovery Channels.

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