Fred M. Scheel
For many people in North Dakota, the word “Scheels” will likely conjure images of ‘sports’ and ‘hunting’ and ‘basketball-shoes’ and ‘fishing.’ But you might also think of “tradition” and “family,” for the Scheels stores have spanned five generations of the Scheel family.
The Scheels store legacy began with a German immigrant named Frederick A. Scheel. Born in 1858 in Hanover, Germany, he came to America in 1885. In Illinois, he met and married Miss Augusta Fraino.
It was on this date, in 1892, that a son was born to Frederick and Augusta, and they named him Frederick M. Scheel, after his father.
The Scheel family moved to Minnesota in 1900, where Mr. Scheel worked as a bricklayer in the tiny town of Sabin. Two years later, the German immigrant opened his Scheel’s Hardware store in Sabin, just five miles southeast of Moorhead.
The son, Fred M. Scheel, as he was known, got his education at the Sabin Public School and Dakota Business College of Fargo.
Fred worked for a bank and then took over his father’s hardware store in 1915, at age 23. After service in the Navy during World War I, Fred returned home, and married Mabel Benedict in 1919.
Scheel soon expanded his enterprise by purchasing the Moorhead Hardware Company in 1926. Several years later, in 1930, Mr. Scheel bought the Swanson Hardware Store in Fargo at 220 Broadway, and from this first Fargo store, the Scheel’s legacy in North Dakota really began.
Scheel expanded further in the 1940s, adding hardware stores in Casselton, Hillsboro, and Fairmount. Fred then took his son, Frederick B. Scheel into the family business in 1946, making it three-generations strong.
In the 1950s, the Scheel’s stores added more and more sporting goods to its product line as customers gained more leisure time for fishing, boating and camping, the stores growing far beyond the basic ‘nuts and bolts’ of its Sabin Hardware beginnings.
Fred M. Scheel lived to age 83, passing away in 1976, and what had begun as “Scheel’s Hardware” eventually grew through the efforts of Fred B. Scheel; grandson Steve D. Scheel; and great-grandson, Steve M. Scheel, to be a sporting-goods powerhouse in 11 states as “Scheels All Sports” stores. Five generations of Scheels have nurtured a marvelous Dakota business success story.
Dakota Datebook written by Dr. Steve Hoffbeck, MSU Moorhead History Department.
Sources: Birthdate, October 12, 1892, Fred M. Scheel, Clay County, MN, World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918, Ancestry.com, National Archives and Records Administration; “Store Chain Founder Fred Scheel Dies,” Fargo Forum, June 28, 1976, p. 1; North Dakota Public Death Index, “Scheel, Fred M., DOB: 10/12/1892.
“Businessman Scheel Dies,” Fergus Falls Daily Journal, June 28, 1976, p. 1.
“Moorhead Hardware Sale Completed,” Moorhead Daily News, December 18, 1926, p. 1.
“Fred [M.] Scheel Buys Swanson Hardware,” Moorhead Daily News, February 20, 1930, p. 4.
John Turner, C.K. Semling, A History of Clay and Norman Counties, Minnesota (Indianapolis: B.F. Bowen & Co., 1918), p. 141.
“Mabel Scheel,” obituary, Fargo Forum, February 27, 1985, Clay County Historical Society files.
Gerry Gilmour, “100 Years Of Success,” Fargo Forum, October 26, 2002, "http://www.inforum.com" www.inforum.com , accessed on September 12, 2015.
“Fred M. Scheel,” Moorhead, Clay County, MN, U.S. Census, 1940; U.S. Census, 1930; in Sabin, Elmwood Township, Clay County, MN, U.S. Census, 1920.
Frederick A. Scheel in Sabin, Elmwood Township, Clay County, MN, in U.S. Census, 1900; U.S. Census, 1910; in Moorhead, Clay County, MN, in U.S. Census, 1920; in Sabin, MN, in U.S. Census, 1930.
“Fred [A.] Scheel Of Moorhead Dies,” Fargo Forum, October 23, 1937, p. 1.
“Fred [A.] Scheel, Sr., Dies Here Today,” Moorhead Daily News, October 23, 1937, p. 1.