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Freida Bohnsack, Rancher

4/10/2004:

Today is the birthday of Freida Bohnsack, a rancher who was inducted into the North Dakota Cowboy Hall of Fame in 2002. She came home to Sheldon in 1935, during the Great Depression, to take over a large, rundown – and heavily mortgaged – ranch that she inherited from her father.

Freida was smart and ambitious, with a masters degree from the University of Minnesota. Soon, she was repairing buildings, mending fences, stacking hay and doctoring livestock. Starting with six calves, Bohnsack built up a nice herd of Angus by taking in up to 600 cattle for summer grazing. To ward of rustlers, she slept in her truck with her .22 caliber rifle beside her.

She also became a single mother when she adopted a baby girl named Bonita in 1941. During her spare time, Freida also taught school, started a saddle club, produced rodeos and organized a 4-H club. In 1954, Freida went to Texas and brought back two purebred Blue Brahman calves to start a herd of Brangus cattle.

She died of cancer in 1959, and her daughter now operates her mother’s award-winning ranch.