“My grandfather’s brand is on that door right over there.“There are pieces of different ranches and outfits from all over this part of the state, and some of their grandsons come in here and have me make branding irons for them.” Pake Mc Nally makes signs for large ranches, hand-forged fireplace tools, branding irons and artwork he sells across the state.By then, he had built his own forge and worked in his stepfather’s shop at Belvue, near Wamego. By the time Mc Nally got to be friends with Smith, his mentor was home-bound and had trouble getting around. “He was like a grandfather, a friend,” Mc Nally says of Smith. “But we also talked about politics and women and fighting – fighting war and fighting fire. I told him I was engaged, and he told me I was diving into deep water.” On Dec. “He had some pretty crazy stories.” The blacksmith’s shop is filled with the tools and memories of Smith.5, Mc Nally married Tayla Kimball, a woman with Barber County ranching roots who supports his blacksmithing. Skillets hang from a corner in the shop; Smith used them to make Stateline Roadkill Chili.His business comes from his Facebook page, Mc Nally Metal Design, from festivals he shows at and from word of mouth.“I am always worried about this business and afraid I won’t be able to put food on the table, but the thing is, right when I start to freak out, a check will come in the mail and I will get a big job, and that’s how I know I am supposed to be in here,” he says.
“This place is where I am supposed to be, what I am supposed to be doing.” For three generations, Mc Nallys have lived in Barber County. “There’s not very more like it anymore,” Mc Nally says.
For Mc Nally, it was simply a matter of time and finding the right mentor, Tom Smith, who was 93 when he died. “My dad and grandpa got a lot of their work done here. “I was a wild man firefighter, and we went all over the West fighting fires,” he says. They started on Smith’s living room couch in the 1950s-era house Smith built himself. His wife, Juanita, was originally from neighboring Kiowa.