The Code of the West

Live each day with courage
Take pride in your work
Always finish what you start
Do what has to be done
Be tough, but fair
When you make a promise, keep it
Talk less say more
Remember that some things aren’t for sale
Know where to draw the line
Ride for the Brand


 Writing for the Brand

Can you imagine over a hundred years ago walking miles and miles across unsettled prairie after seemingly endless days on a train and a rickety stagecoach to reach your destination? Then in need of shelter you would brave a Dakota winter cutting and hauling logs miles across frozen ground and assembling them one on top of another with ropes to build your cabin. Would you have had the faith and courage it took to be a young widow with six children in the 1600’s to sail across the ocean for America, where you knew no one and had no idea of what was in store? Think of being the first “white man” to raise cattle in an area of western North Dakota in the latter part of the 19th century and what that must have been like!  What kind of character would one have to have to take the risk and leave the security of home for this great adventure? These are just a few of the countless stories of people who shaped the course of history, whether they realized it or not.

In 2014, I had the opportunity to begin  writing articles for the Cowboy Chronicle; a publication of the North Dakota Cowboy Hall of Fame.  The idea to catalog these articles and preserve old photos was the impetus for this website.  The stories are a tribute to those who instilled in me a love and appreciation of history. I am especially mindful of the journeys through life my ancestors made.  One of these was my grandfather, who when I was running around the ranch yard on summer visits didn’t seem that exceptional, but as an adult I understand so much more.  These pages are dedicated to my father who was particularly proud of his North Dakota heritage.  He dreamed of continuing his father’s legacy.  He lived long enough to have everything set for the family’s move back to the ranch he loved, but in an ironic twist of fate suffered an untimely death.  I also dedicate this work to my children and grandchildren who I hope will have an appreciation and affection for all those who came before them. Finally, I dedicate this work to my college sweetheart and husband, who not only tolerates my delving into the past but supports me in all my endeavors.

Mary Patricia Martell Jones


May 2018 Update

Recently I was reading a book that had the following quote: “When a man dies, that aspect of the universe which is his own particular vision and the unique play of his mind also crashes in ruins forever” (Greek poet Nikos Kazantzakis). This goes straight to the heart of my love for “people” history,  stories and musings  – how much is lost when someone passes out of this world. If we don’t capture these stories, what will be missed forever?

Mary Pat went to U C Davis graduating with a B.S in Agricultural Education and taught Science for many years. She is currently retired from teaching but continues to collaborate with the California Foundation for Agriculture in the Classroom on various projects. She is also a District 13 trustee for the North Dakota Cowboy Hall of Fame, on the board of directors for the Lewis and Clark Trail Museum in Alexander North Dakota, and is the secretary on the board of directors for a Sacramento area non-profit. 

Her father grew up on ranch by Charbonneau where his father began homesteading in 1908. She spent many childhood summers visiting her grandfather C.F. Martell, and enjoying life in Western North Dakota. Her great, great uncle Andrew Nohle was an early pioneer and one of the first commissioners of McKenzie County.  Mary Pat still makes  trips to North Dakota at least twice a year and is proud of her heritage. She currently lives in California with her husband of 42 years and enjoys her five children and 9 grandchildren.


  • Katie Dahlstrom

    Hi my name is Katie Dahlstrom I am a hospice nurse for patient Leo Hecker. He read your article in the North Dakota Horizons, The True Facts by Mary Patricia Martel Jones. He lived in Belfield from 1930-1955. He went into the military and moved to MT and then returned back in 1960. He went to work for the ranch that McCardy had but McCardy was gone by that time. He thinks he remembered Mr. McCardy but he does not know his first name. Would you be able to tell me what his first name was? Also, if you had anymore information on the town during that time he would love it if you would share that with him.

    • Mary Patricia Martell Jones

      Hi Katie,

      Sorry, I do not know his first name, but would love any memories of working at the ranch Mr. Hecker would want to share. I love the history and especially the personal anecdotes – the stuff of real people. I don’t have information on the town,but if I had a chance I could research it.

      I just returned form ND and MT. I visit friends out there every year.

      Mary Pat

      • Katie Dahlstrom

        Would I be able to get your address as Leo would like to write you a letter letting you know where he worked in the badlands of ND and MT.


        • Mary Patricia Martell Jones

          Hi Katie,

          Yes that would be fine

          Sorry it took so long for me to get back to you. I was traveling for a few weeks.

          My best to Mr. Hecker.

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