Quilt features brands from BadlandsA quilt depicting a collection of Badlands ranchers’ livestock brands has been donated to the Badlands Ministries 31st annual Fall Event auction.
By: Linda Sailer, The Dickinson Press
A quilt depicting a collection of Badlands ranchers’ livestock brands has been donated to the Badlands Ministries 31st annual Fall Event auction.
The quilt was designed and made for the Bible camp benefit, but it’s also about the Bible camp, said its creator, Carol Thompson of Bismarck.
“It includes brands of almost every owner of the historic Custer Trail Ranch, where the Bible camp is located,” she said.
“It’s an amazing gift for us,” said Program Director Brent Seaks. “The fact that she faithfully researched all of this and made it accurate makes it more special.”
The Fall Event begins with a worship service at 11 a.m. today in the Medora Community Center. It will be followed by a barbecued chicken dinner with all the trimmings.
The afternoon activities include an old-fashioned auction featuring a variety of handmade quilts, pottery and items donated by friends of the Badlands Ministries.
Specialty items include an antique quilt, a hand-crafted three-piece Montana lodgepole bedroom set, tickets to the Dickinson Area Concert Association and two nights lodging in the Badlands Ministries’ new retreat center.
Lefse will be made and sold throughout the afternoon.
Thompson was reared on the Sloping Bottom Ranch south of Medora. She is a retired English teacher and also worked for the Theodore Roosevelt Medora Foundation for more than 20 summers.
Describing herself as a procrastinator, she envisioned a quilt with brands 28 years ago.
“Because my life took different turns, I put the fabric in a box,” she said. “Last fall, I needed a project, so I started.”
The quilt is centered with a cross, in keeping with her daughter’s favorite Bible Camp memory of climbing the hill to the cross.
“I used to be a member of the Belfield Lutheran Church ladies and we had so much fun making quilts each year,” she said.
Thompson relied on information from the 1937 North Dakota Livestock Brand Record for her research. She also studied records at the North Dakota Heritage Center.
Retired brand inspector, George Wolf, assisted with the research, putting the brands on index cards. The brands were narrowed down to 137, with personal favorites belonging to her father, her husband, the Marquis de Mores and businessman Harold Schafer, who restored Medora.
She learned the Custer Trail Ranch was established in the 1880s by Howard Eaton and Brothers and Wallace Huidekoper. Another Badlands ranch having a bellows band, was described as the first ranch established in western North Dakota.
“Livestock brands are to Dakota ranchers what a coat of arms is to an aristocrat,” she said. “If you go to the Medora cemetery, you’ll see a whole bunch of tombstones with their names, dates and livestock brands.”
All the brands depicted on the quilt are from the Little Missouri Badlands, from Dakota Territory days through present time.
“It’s a random collection of brands,” she said.
Including the research and stitching, she estimates spending more than 500 hours on the project.
She didn’t complete the quilting alone, but relied on help from friends.
“I wanted the quilting to be done by hand with many hands on it,” she said. “So a dozen ladies came in by ones, twos and threes to quilt a little bit.”
While quilting, she would meditate on the lives of the ranchers that she knew or who had died before she was born. She’d listen to Montana rancher Bob Petermann’s cowboy gospel music and his reference to the ranchers, “Who are now riding where the grass grows green all year long.”
Green is just one of the colors depicted on the quilt — there are 18 colors in total.
“Another friend, Marilyn Oyhus, helped arrange the color pattern,” said Thompson. “She’s the one who put the cross where it is.”
As completed, the quilt is king-sized, 110 -by-110 inches. The quilting began in November and the final stitch was made on Aug. 29, she said.
The Fall Event is the Badlands Ministries biggest fundraiser for the year, said Seaks.
“It’s like a big family reunion — we have a worship service, lunch and auction,” he said. “It’s a chance for people to get together and have fellowship.”
Proceeds from the Fall Event will help with the camp’s operational expenses and clean-up after the spring flood of the camp grounds.
For more information, call 701-623-4332 or visit the website at www.badlandsmini