John C. “J.C.” Stevenson
John C. “J.C.” Stevenson was born south of Leith in 1905 and became an early driving force in establishing rodeo as a major sport in North Dakota. He was educated in Grant County schools and was a life-long resident of the Carson community.
J.C. and his wife, Karen Jacobs, were married on October 26, 1938, and were among the founders of the North Dakota Rodeo Association.
At one time, J.C. was in partnership with Jack Chesrown, producing early NDRA rodeos across the state. He and Jim Weekes produced the first NDRA Finals rodeo, and J.C. later partnered with Emerson Chase. He also produced high school and all-Indian rodeos. J.C. had numerous accomplishments in business and ranching, but his greatest interest in and impact was in rodeo.
J.C. was active in livestock production and marketing at an early age and was one of the first rodeo livestock producers in the state. He purchased Brahman bulls in Florida and brought them to North Dakota. These bulls became some of the most famous ever in the state’s rodeo history, and the foundation bloodlines are still prevalent in today’s PRCA.
One of J.C.’s most significant rodeo contributions was giving young people the opportunity to try new events at play days and practices. Many of the state’s top rodeo hands got their start because of J.C.’s efforts.
He started the State Penitentiary rodeo in 1974, continuing it until his death. The penitentiary rodeo arena was dedicated to him in July 1981. J.C. was presented a plaque from the Grant County Fair Board on August 28, 1977, for his part in promoting the annual fair rodeo and getting the NDRA started. The Mandan Jaycees honored him with a John Stevenson Day in the 1970s. He was a true cowboy – a rancher, livestock marketer, cattle buyer, local auctioneer, rodeo producer, pick-up man, announcer, rodeo judge and stock contractor.
He died May 22, 1980, and is buried at the Mandan Union Cemetery.
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