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, what that must have been like – for you and the people who had been there for generations!
What kind of character would one have to have to take the risk and leave the security of home for these great adventures? 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.
I came across the following quote that goes straight to the heart of my love for “people” history, those stories and musings behind the landmark events in history books. “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). How much is missed when someone passes out of this world? If we don’t capture these stories what will be indelibly lost?
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. His dream was fulfilled, just never lived. 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.
I went to the University of California at Davis and graduated with a B.S. degree in Agricultural Education. After teaching Science in the 5th through 8th grades for many years I am now retired. When teaching I collaborated with the California Foundation for Agriculture in the Classroom and continue to work with Ag in the Classroom on various projects from time to time. I serve as a District 13 trustee for the North Dakota Cowboy Hall of Fame (NDCHF) and am a frequent contributor to their publication, The Cowboy Chronicle. I am a contributor to North Dakota Horizons magazine. I also enjoy being on the board of directors for the Lewis and Clark Trail Museum in Alexander, North Dakota, where numerous items from the old Martell Ranch can be found. I currently serve as on the board of directors for the Sacramento Life Center, a Sacramento, California area non-profit, and am active with the Boy Scouts and Cub Scouts serving at the district, troop and den levels.
My father grew up on a ranch near Charbonneau, North Dakota, where his father began homesteading in 1908 after working a summer and fall for his uncles Andrew and George Nohle. I spent many childhood summers visiting my grandfather C.F. Martell, and enjoying life in Western North Dakota. My great, great uncle Andrew Nohle was an early pioneer and one of the first commissioners of McKenzie County. I am frequent visitor to North Dakota where I enjoy my friends, the open spaces and lifestyle found there. I am incredibly proud of my heritage and will always remember where I came from. I am dedicated to the preservation of Western history and the western way of life. It was with great joy I experienced my grandfather’s induction into to The NDCHF in June 2019. I currently live in California with my husband of 44 years our five children, children-in-law, and 9 grandchildren.
Mary Patricia Martell Jones