The night was filled with laughter, music and lights as the Medora Musical went off without a hitch. The Medora Musical in Medora, North Dakota is a favorite of mine and I try to get there every year. No matter how many times I’ve crossed the state, the sharp contrast between the rich rolling plains on the east to the rugged badlands of the west never ceases to intrigue me.
This year, the musical’s theme was family—yours, mine, and ours as a nation. Those who came before and others who will follow in our footsteps. What was it like for those who came here in the early years? It must have felt like a different world to a German or Swedish family who homesteaded in the western part of North Dakota. Gone were the orderly small fields in a mild climate. Instead they exchanged that life for one with wide open spaces and rugged terrain and incredible beauty. How did they figure out how to be successful raising livestock in these new conditions
If you have ranching in your family, spend time documenting this for your family history. Things that you might take for granted like brands or cattle drives are unique to your family story. Talk about how things were done in the early years. What was different from the wheat fields of Minnesota or the stone-fenced fields of Ireland? What has changed from those early years? Are the ranches using four wheelers now to check on livestock, instead of horses? What kind of skills did they need to survive in that environment, as they learned how to handle livestock and live on the land. Some families spent their life savings to homestead…they had no choice but to stay. They didn’t have the money to move somewhere else or go back to the old country. What was that like? Do you have any family stories about those early years?
Here are some ideas on how you can find more information about your ranching ancestors:
Your Challenge is to lasso those facts and family stories related to your ranching ancestors and write about them in your family history.
"I do not believe there ever was any life more attractive to a vigorous young fellow than life on a cattle ranch in those days. It was a fine, healthy life, too; it taught a man self-reliance, hardihood, and the value of instant decision...I enjoyed the life to the full."
For those curious about Medora and the North Dakota Badlands. Check out the Theodore Roosevelt National Park. And learn more about Medora here.
With a lifelong passion for genealogy and history, the author enjoys the opportunity to share genealogy tidbits, inspiring others to research and write their family story.