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 and who passed that on to me.  He dreamed of continuing his father’s legacy.  He lived long enough to have everything set for the family’s anticipated and happy move back to the ranch he loved, but in an ironic twist of fate suffered an untimely death.  Phil Baird once commented; his dream was fulfilled, just never lived. I like to think of it this way. 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.

May be an image of text
Poem by Walter Butler Palmer

About Me

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 have been a contributor to North Dakota Horizons and Dakota Horse magazine. I have also had a feature in the Minot Daily News. In addition to my writing, I 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 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 almost 47 years our five children, children-in-law, and 10 grandchildren.

Contact Me

Mary Patricia Martell Jones



  • 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.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.