Taylor ranch is a finalist
The North Dakota Cowboy Hall of Fame announced on Feb. 27 that the Taylor Ranch of Towner was one of two finalists put forward in the hall’s ranch division for possible induction. Trustees will vote to induct one nominee on June 27 in Medora.
The Taylor Ranch nomination highlights a 107 year history of ranching in the sandhills of McHenry County, south of the “cattle capital” of Towner. It represents two characteristics important to the history of North Dakota ranching—humble homestead origins and the great strength of ranch women in keeping the ranch intact through tragic times.
Ranches get bought and sold all the time, but for one family to consistently own a ranch for 107 years is remarkable. Especially considering that early in the ranch’s history, Mary Taylor lost her husband and her two ranching sons, her only two children, to a tragic string of events in just over a year’s time in the early 1920’s. A heartbroken widow and mother, she was left with her widowed and pregnant daughter-in-law and her two infant grandsons. But these two women refused to sell the ranch and its livestock, keeping it through those sad times and through the Great Depression for the ranching generations yet to come.
The Taylor Ranch began when four brothers came to North Dakota from Montgomery County, Indiana, around 1900. The first homestead claim on the present day Taylor Ranch was made by Alfred Taylor in 1903. His brother, Harvey Taylor, filed his claim to a quarter adjoining Alfred on the east in 1905. Other brothers from Thomas and Matilda Taylor’s Indiana family of 13 siblings who came west were Alexander Taylor who homesteaded four miles east of Towner in 1900, and Thomas Hunter “T.H.” Taylor who homesteaded and pre-empted land east of Towner with his son and in-laws.