Historically Speaking: Marshal Kenneth "Ramon" House

Kathie Bell
Special to the Globe
Kenneth "Ramon" House was the first U.S. Marshal from Dodge City.

He, and the posse he belonged to, followed in the footsteps of the Dodge City Cowboy Band, but they didn't play musical instruments.

Kenneth "Ramon" or "Kenny" House was born on September 25, 1915, in Kentucky.

From an early age, Ramon wished to pursue a career in civil service. He left home at 16 enlisting in the U.S. Calvary. After his time in the military, Ramon returned to Kentucky and joined the Louisville Police Department where he remained until his 1956 transfer to the Dodge Police Department.

Soon after House's arrival in Dodge City, the mayor appointed House as Chief of Police and City Marshal. Marshal House was among those who greeted Senator John F. Kennedy when he visited Dodge City while campaigning for President in 1962. Marshal House and his posse offered the Presidential hopeful a cowboy hat on behalf of the “Cowboy Capital.” It was one of those rare occasions Kennedy was seen wearing a hat.

In January 1961, after Kennedy's victory, House and his posse got to do what Chalkley Beeson's band had done in 1889 for Benjamin Harrison - be in an inaugural parade.

In 1968 and 1969, House held the honor of serving as President of the Kansas Association of Chiefs of Police.

In 1971, Ramon House left city office and began serving intermittently as a deputy U.S. Marshal.

In 1978, the U.S. Government appointed 62-year-old Ramon House as the first U.S. Marshal from Dodge City.

However, Marshal House’s office did not move from Topeka to Dodge City until 1981.

After the move of his U.S. Marshal's office to Dodge City, he gave visitors to Dodge City tours of his office, located upstairs in the U.S. Post Office building.

His office, an air conditioned replica of "Gunsmoke" Marshal Matt Dillon’s office, housed a roll top desk, early law books, records, saddles, gun racks, branding irons, hats and various memorabilia.

House believed his office, “was a tribute to the brave men, past and present, who serve as marshal.”

In 1991, House traveled to New York City to promote one of his greatest passions, the annual Boot Hill Cattle Drive. This event involved driving cattle from the YO Ranch in Texas to Boot Hill Museum in Dodge City.

Every year, Marshal House traveled with the herds until the drovers neared Dodge City. He then rode ahead of them and met them at the deadline to ceremoniously take their guns.

House's love of riding horses transferred to his work. He regularly rode grazing lands around Dodge City on horseback and found crowd control in town was easier from a saddle.

Marshal Ramon House remained as U.S. Marshal until he completely retired in the 1990s. He continued to serve as a public figure and representative of Dodge City until his death on September 1, 1998, at the age of 82.

Fellow U.S. Marshal for Kansas, Bert Cantiwell, eulogized House with the statement, “Kenny was a wild west character from the word go.”