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Pete Hammert is a writer, rancher, father and grandfather. He said he hopes to live to be 100 years old. (Photo by Chance McGill)

Meet Pete

Wednesday, May 24, 2023

Media Contact: Kristin Knight | Communications and Marketing Manager | 405-744-1130 |

The story of the Hammert family legacy began with a 15-year-old boy, a German czar and what would become Oklahoma.

The boy was Bernhard William Hammert Sr., who wrote a poem in the 1800s that started the legacy of the Hammert family.

“My grandfather was in Stuttgart, Germany, and he made some derogatory statements about the German czar,” Pete Hammert said. “He was 15 years old, and they were going to put him into the German Army when he got to be 16.

“His parents didn’t want that,” Pete Hammert added, “and he didn’t either, so he moved to Kansas.”

When Bernhard Hammert got to the U.S., he served as a busboy in an elegant hotel in Kansas City, Missouri, before working as a butcher in a packing house in St. Louis.

“Anadarko, Oklahoma, was up for sale for lots to be developed on August 6, 1901,” Pete Hammert said. “Papa bought a lot for his meat market and a lot for his house, then he made a deal to build them.”

Bernhard Hammert returned home, loaded up his family, household goods, and a Jersey bull, and moved to Anadarko, Oklahoma.

“He got to Anadarko, unloaded everything, butchered the Jersey bull, and opened a meat market,” Pete Hammert said. “That’s what you call a bare beginning.”

That market became the Hammert Grocery Store, which was officially founded in 1901.

“When they first got here, the prairie grass was so high it reached the horse’s belly,” said Pete’s daughter, Rhonda Hammert. “My great-grandpa worked all the time, even on Sundays. They tried to tell him to close on Sundays, and he said, ‘No, people will buy,’ and he would stay open as late as they needed.”

The Hammert Grocery Store survived the Great Depression and stayed open until the late 1970s. The store closed a few years after Bernhard Hammert died at the age of 94.

In the mid-1920s, the Hammert family sent their son Bernhard Willie Hammert, Pete Hammert’s father, to college in Nevada.

“My dad and brothers were pretty good athletes,” Pete Hammert said. “My dad got a scholarship to go to the University of Nevada. He went there for one year as a running back, then he went to the University of Oklahoma.

“In 1923, my dad was captain of the OU football team,” he continued. “My mother, my dad, my aunts and my uncles all went to OU, as well. So, I came along, and they said, ‘Where are you going to go to school?’ I said, ‘Oklahoma A&M.’”

From then on, Pete Hammert and his entire family have attended either Oklahoma A&M College or Oklahoma State University.

“I was the first one to go to Oklahoma A&M,” Pete Hammert said. “Since then, I have had two daughters and three grandsons graduate from there. One of my grandsons was Pistol Pete in 2008 and 2009. We had a lot of fun that year.”

When Pete Hammert first got to Oklahoma A&M, only 5,000 students were on campus, he said. By the time he graduated, about 6,500 students were there, he added. That number has grown ever since.

“Stillwater was a great place to go to school,” Pete Hammert said.

During his time at Oklahoma A&M, Pete Hammert said he and his friends were regulars at the Keyless Café.

“One of my friends would yell at us through the window, ‘Come on, let’s go. We’ve got to go eat,’” he said. “Back then, you could get a cheeseburger and fries for 40 cents. We’d go down there about every night.

“They were open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year,” he said. “They didn’t even have locks on the doors because they never closed.”

Pete Hammert earned his degree in animal husbandry from Oklahoma A&M in 1957, right after he voted on the name change from Oklahoma A&M to Oklahoma State University.

“We had everybody trying to figure out a name to put on it,” Pete Hammert said, “and we figured Oklahoma State was as good as any.

“They had some other names like Southwestern, Western, and a whole bunch of others,” he added, “but we all got behind Oklahoma State.”

In May 1957, Pete Hammert was among the last graduating class of Oklahoma A&M. Oklahoma State University was adopted as the official name of the university July 1, 1957.

“After college, my dad served on the local school board, worked for a meat packer, and then went to work for Production Credit Association in Chickasha in October 1965,” Rhonda Hammert said. “He got an offer with the Federal Land Bank after that. Then, he retired. Then, he went back again. Then, he retired again.”

Pete Hammert now raises cattle on wheat pasture and is still not officially retired, she said.

Throughout Pete Hammert’s life, he has stayed connected with OSU, said Denise Parr, Hammert family friend and administrative assistant in the Caddo County extension office.

“Pete is so proud to be an OSU graduate,” Parr said. “I always love seeing him come in the office. It makes your day to see him.”

In 2019, Pete Hammert sat down and wrote a book about his family and their lives in Anadarko, Oklahoma.

“He’s got such a good outlook on life,” Parr said. “From what I understand, there is not a lot of written history on Anadarko so what is in his book was difficult to come up with.”

Pete Hammert began his book as a hobby, he said.

“I sat down one night, and I thought, I believe I’ll try to write something about my Uncle Carl,” Pete Hammert said. “So, I went in there and started writing, and I could just write. I had never been able to do anything like that in my life.”

He said his stories would take him back through time and whenever he finished writing he would have lost track of hours at a time.

“I would write until I’d get tired and get up and go to bed,” he said. “I’d look up at the clock, and it would be 4 o’clock in the morning whenever I’d finally go to bed.”

Pete Hammert’s book, “Secondhand Cowboys,” is a selection of short stories from his life he has accumulated over the years.

“I like to never got out of English,” Pete Hammert said with a laugh. “I failed English twice, and the third time I finally passed it.

“It just had to be a gift from God for letting me write like that,” he said. “If I could have written like that in English, I would have gotten out the first year.”

Pete Hammert still feeds cattle every day, sings to the tellers at the bank, and is writing a paper on crossbreeding cattle, Rhonda Hammert said.

“He is 88 years old,” she said. “He’ll be 89 in October.”

Rhonda Hammert said her father keeps his mind sharp by keeping written records of everything he observes throughout the day.

“We call his front pocket his filing cabinet,” she said. “He’s got a little notebook that he’ll write down how much it rains, what the markets are doing and phone numbers. He’s got everything in that pocket.”

Pete Hammert has tried to stay true to his roots throughout his entire life, he said.

“There are not very many of us left who graduated from Oklahoma A&M,” he said. “I am one of the last ones whose diploma says Oklahoma Agricultural and Mechanical College.”

Pete Hammert smiled as he picked up his bachelor’s degree and showed the room.

From Oklahoma A&M to OSU, Pete Hammert said he and his family have stayed loyal and true to Oklahoma and to the Cowboys. 

Hammerts and their time at OSU

  • Pete Hammert: 1953-1957
  • John Hammert (Brother): 1955
  • DeLois Hammert (Daughter): 1977-1982
  • Janice Hammert Blasingame (Daughter): 1979-1983
  • Rhonda Hammert (Daughter): 1983
  • Steve Blasingame (Son-in-Law): 1979-1983 
  • Holly Hammert (Niece): 1988
  • John Kord Hammert (Nephew): 1985-1989
  • Matt Barnes (Grandson): 2003-2010
  • Lauren Williams Barnes (Granddaughter-in-law): 2003-2010
  • Patrice Freeny Odle (Step-granddaughter): 2004
  • Adam “Ty” Barnes (Grandson): 2005-2009
  • Evan Blasingame (Grandson): 2007-2011 
  • Jilene Osborne Blasingame (Granddaughter-in-law): 2007-2011
  • Caitlin Freeny Dobecka (Step-granddaughter): 2008-2012 

Story By: Chance McGill | Cowboy Journal

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