Brown Ranch

since 1944

Some History:

The 3-Seven Ranch (777) was the original ranch on this site in extreme southwestern North Dakota. It was settled by Henry S. Boice in 1885. Boice trail-herded his Texas cattle to North Dakota in 1885 for the Berry-Boice Cattle Company. Berry financed Boice in the cattle business. The Berry-Boice Cattle Company was in business for 14 years. Boice became the biggest shipper of grass-fed steers through the famous Chicago commission firm of Clay, Robinson, and Co. Boice bought 25,000 steers per year. Henry Boice got to know Theodore Roosevelt quite well and was also a friend of Pierre Wibaux. (from: Cowman's Country, Fifty Frontier Ranches in the Texas Panhandle, 1876-1887, by Pauline Durrett Robinson and R.L. Robertson)

Brown Ranch was originally owned by Murt Buckley and family. Murt filed his claim to 160 acres on the old 777 Bottom only hours ahead of two other men at the Land Office in Dickinson, North Dakota in July, 1909. His brother-in-law John Schwerdtfeger filed on an adjoining homestead and they erected a frame four-room house, log horse-barn, cattle shed, chicken coop, and blacksmith shop that first year. They chose the brand Open A Lazy T for their 150 head of cattle. A frame cowshed and very good pole corrals were added between 1913 and 1916. The beautiful round-roof barn was built in the summer of 1918. Murt drew all the plans for these fine buildings.



Acreage and improvements were added to the Buckley ranch through the years. Water from one of the first seven artesian wells was piped into the kitchen in 1914. 140 acres belonging to Paul Nitcy (Clyde Brown's brother-in-law) south of the ranch was also acquired in 1914, and the 360 acre Jack O'Bannon river-bottom hay meadow was purchased in 1917 with the money accumulated from the sale of heavy Percheron draft horses to the French government to be used as artillery horses in France toward the end of World War I.

The Dirty Thirties were hard on the Buckleys the same as for everyone else, but they cut down their herds to a mere 50 head, many fine registered Herefords dying by the wayside as they were being trailed to Marmarth to be sold to the government. There were still plenty of hay stacks on the O'Bannon meadow but the Little Missouri was completely dry and there were grasshoppers by the millions. Little by little with foresight and good management, the white-faced Herefords were once again accumulated and 500 head were turned over to the Brown brothers in 1944. The Buckleys moved in to Baker, Montana where they enjoyed retirement. In one of Murt's books the following note was found following his death of a heart attack on May 1, 1962: "The old boys and old times ought to be remembered. I often say that I don't regret my age in the least, for I was born early enough to enjoy a sort of freedom that no American will ever know again." JMB (Buckley history taken from Slope Saga, copyright 1976.

the Buckley Schoolhouse

As no other school-age children lived nearby, Mrs. Buckley got the necessary textbooks and taught her children their first years of grade school. By 1915 three other young children had moved close enough so an 8th grade graduate was secured to teach the Buckley children. "The smallest high school in the state of North Dakota is located in Slope County. This is the Buckley School, located on the Little Missouri River in the heart of the Badlands. The school is built of logs, about 10 by 16 feet, and here are taught five high school pupils and one grade school boy. The diminutive high school is built into the side of a hill, yet the Public Health Nurse who visited the school last week along with County Superintendent Myra Willis says the sanitary conditions of the school are very good. The students are very fortunate to be under the able guidance of a fine 60-year old college graduate, Mrs. Alton Ashburner." (from the Slope County News, October 1, 1920.)

Four Generations of Browns

Bud, Clyde O. and ?(hired man)

Bud 2002

John 2002 Vern & Rachel 2001

Clyde O. Brown purchased the ranch from Murt Buckley at Medora on a handshake agreement in 1944. Mrs. Clyde Brown recorded every detail of the sale in a pocket notebook--in pencil! Clyde had owned a 300-section ranch on the Powder River in Montana until World War II, when he was forced to sell because of the shortage of men to help work on the ranch. Clyde V. "Bud" Brown and his brother Harold ran the ranch until 1959, when Bud and Mary Lee bought Harold out. Bud's son John came home in 1975, and Vern, John's son, in 2000. Bud and Mary Lee also have two daughters, Kathy and family and Cindy and family. Bud passed away August 19, 2002. We all miss him very much. Mary Lee still lives on the "home-place". John, Nikki, Vern, and Nicholas raise commercial Hereford cattle and some first-cross Angus/Hereford calves on the first-calf heifers. Vern was married to Rachel in 2001 and built a new home across the river from the "home place". Erin was married to Roy in 1999 and lives on a ranch in Eastern Montana between Baker and Wibaux, Montana. They had their first child, our first granchild, Ashlyn in 2004.

.Ashlyn Kate


We bought an Aviat Husky in 2003 and is it ever a handy tool! We use it to check cattle almost every day. John flies to get Vern when the river is too high to drive across. John learned to fly in Dickinson, North Dakota.

I'll bet you didn't know:

Our ranch is about half privately owned and half government owned. Did you know that when you hold a U.S. Forest Service lease on government land, the Forest Service also controls the use of your private land? Yes, the leases cost quite a bit less than a private lease, but the private lease usually includes the maintenance and often the care of the cattle. With the government lease, all of the maintenance is up to the lessee. Maybe Murt's note was true.......

E-mail if you would like to contact us.

Thursday August 26, 2004 8:23 AM