© 2022
Prairie Public NewsRoom
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
Available On Air Stations

Dakota Boys Ranch

10/17/2005:

Walter Paul Buck was born in Garrison on this date in 1915. He was the son of Reverend Paul and Clara Buck and received his post-secondary education at Concordia Jr. College in St. Paul and at UND. Walter married Ella Sailer in Stanton in 1941, and with his subsequent jobs, they traveled the globe. He was employed with Chief Intelligence for the IRS, the Agency for International Development and the US State Department and Foreign Services.

Walter landed back in North Dakota at some point and settled in Fargo, and in the early ‘50s, he helped found the Dakota Boys Ranch. A 1952 Bismarck Tribune article reads: “The first step toward taking over the boys ranch near Mapleton, N. D., was taken [in Oakes] Tuesday by delegates to the North Dakota District convention of the Missouri Synod Lutheran Church. Articles of incorporation and bylaws to form a Dakota Boys Ranch Assn. were adopted.

“Purpose is ‘to provide a home and Christian training and education for juvenile boys who come from broken homes, or who are juvenile delinquents, or who are malajusted (sic) in their home or community.’ The corporation,” the story continues, “plans to purchase and maintain the buildings and general equipment for farming, educational and vocational training...The ranch is [presently] operated by the Lutheran Good Samaritan Society.”

Mr. Buck was the organization’s first president and helped handle the rocky beginnings stemming from a misunderstanding between the board and the Mapleton landowner. Soon, Mr. and Mrs. L. C. Butts of Tolley donated their 960-acre farm as a new location, and operations were moved there in December 1954.

By the end of 1955, the Dakota Boys Ranch was qualified to care for up to eight boys, ages 10 through 17. A Bismarck Tribune article stated: “Played top-notch poker at ten, was a nicotine fiend at nine, dad died at seven, mother was a boozehound and divorced from pop – he drank like a fish too...that is the background of five young Americans. Yours? Probably not, but still young Americans. And most of them North Dakotans...

“Every boy at the Ranch is there under release from juvenile court or sent by welfare authorities...” the story reads. “‘Graduation’ means either being placed in a foster home when they are ready, entry into [military] service or employment.”

The plan was for boys placed on the Ranch to be so busy they didn’t have the chance to get bored – and thus get into trouble. It was a working farm, and each was expected to pull his own weight. Field work, milking cows, feeding livestock, dish washing, table setting, cream separator cleaning – every boy had to take part. In 1955 alone, the boys and their guardians harvested more than 5,000 bushels of wheat, 869 bushels of flax, 700 bushels of oats, 3,500 of barley and 1187 of rye.

The boys also cared for 20 head of beef and dairy cattle, 12 hogs, 8 sheep, 400 chickens and also some ducks and turkeys that were either contributed or were born and raised on the Ranch. Two saddle horses were used for rounding up the cattle.

A photo that accompanied the story shows two boys feeding three hungry calves, with the caption reading: “No pool hall complexion here – Julian and Erling learn the good life...far removed from the pool halls which were once their haunts and education. Zestful living such as this at the ranch is combatting (sic) juvenile delinquency.”

Since those humble beginnings in 1952, the Dakota Boys Ranch has served some 6,000 boys and girls from 163 North Dakota towns and also from towns in 36 other states.

Sources: “Church group to have boys ranch.” The Bismarck Tribune. 28 May 1952.

“Dakota Boys Ranch gives break to youth who have had none.” The Bismarck Tribune. 9 Nov 1955.

“Walter P. Buck obituary.” Fargo Forum. Circa 12-3-2002.

Helseth, Candi. “Dakota Boys Ranch: Restoring families for 50 years.” Prairie Business. Oct 2002. <http://prairiebizmag.com/article.asp?id=363>

Dakota Datebook written by Merry Helm
Walter Paul Buck was born in Garrison on this date in 1915. He was the son of Reverend Paul and Clara Buck and received his post-secondary education at Concordia Jr. College in St. Paul and at UND. Walter married Ella Sailer in Stanton in 1941, and with his subsequent jobs, they traveled the globe. He was employed with Chief Intelligence for the IRS, the Agency for International Development and the US State Department and Foreign Services.

Walter landed back in North Dakota at some point and settled in Fargo, and in the early ‘50s, he helped found the Dakota Boys Ranch. A 1952 Bismarck Tribune article reads: “The first step toward taking over the boys ranch near Mapleton, N. D., was taken [in Oakes] Tuesday by delegates to the North Dakota District convention of the Missouri Synod Lutheran Church. Articles of incorporation and bylaws to form a Dakota Boys Ranch Assn. were adopted.

“Purpose is ‘to provide a home and Christian training and education for juvenile boys who come from broken homes, or who are juvenile delinquents, or who are malajusted (sic) in their home or community.’ The corporation,” the story continues, “plans to purchase and maintain the buildings and general equipment for farming, educational and vocational training...The ranch is [presently] operated by the Lutheran Good Samaritan Society.”

Mr. Buck was the organization’s first president and helped handle the rocky beginnings stemming from a misunderstanding between the board and the Mapleton landowner. Soon, Mr. and Mrs. L. C. Butts of Tolley donated their 960-acre farm as a new location, and operations were moved there in December 1954.

By the end of 1955, the Dakota Boys Ranch was qualified to care for up to eight boys, ages 10 through 17. A Bismarck Tribune article stated: “Played top-notch poker at ten, was a nicotine fiend at nine, dad died at seven, mother was a boozehound and divorced from pop – he drank like a fish too...that is the background of five young Americans. Yours? Probably not, but still young Americans. And most of them North Dakotans...

“Every boy at the Ranch is there under release from juvenile court or sent by welfare authorities...” the story reads. “‘Graduation’ means either being placed in a foster home when they are ready, entry into [military] service or employment.”

The plan was for boys placed on the Ranch to be so busy they didn’t have the chance to get bored – and thus get into trouble. It was a working farm, and each was expected to pull his own weight. Field work, milking cows, feeding livestock, dish washing, table setting, cream separator cleaning – every boy had to take part. In 1955 alone, the boys and their guardians harvested more than 5,000 bushels of wheat, 869 bushels of flax, 700 bushels of oats, 3,500 of barley and 1187 of rye.

The boys also cared for 20 head of beef and dairy cattle, 12 hogs, 8 sheep, 400 chickens and also some ducks and turkeys that were either contributed or were born and raised on the Ranch. Two saddle horses were used for rounding up the cattle.

A photo that accompanied the story shows two boys feeding three hungry calves, with the caption reading: “No pool hall complexion here – Julian and Erling learn the good life...far removed from the pool halls which were once their haunts and education. Zestful living such as this at the ranch is combatting (sic) juvenile delinquency.”

Since those humble beginnings in 1952, the Dakota Boys Ranch has served some 6,000 boys and girls from 163 North Dakota towns and also from towns in 36 other states.

Sources: “Church group to have boys ranch.” The Bismarck Tribune. 28 May 1952.

“Dakota Boys Ranch gives break to youth who have had none.” The Bismarck Tribune. 9 Nov 1955.

“Walter P. Buck obituary.” Fargo Forum. Circa 12-3-2002.

Helseth, Candi. “Dakota Boys Ranch: Restoring families for 50 years.” Prairie Business. Oct 2002. <http://prairiebizmag.com/article.asp?id=363>

Dakota Datebook written by Merry Helm