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SHSND Home > Archives > Archives Holdings > Archives & Manuscripts > Family/Local History > 11243
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Manuscripts by Subject - Family/Local History - #11243

Title: Ray Schnell        

Dates: 1898-2000

Collection Number: MSS 11243

Quantity: 5.5 ft. (including oversize)

Abstract: Consists of papers that document the personal, political and business  life of Ray Schnell (Richardton and Dickinson, N.D.). Papers include correspondence, biographical and genealogical information, speeches, political material, documentation of awards received by Schnell and his philanthropic endeavors, records from Schnell's ranch and livestock business, newspaper clippings, publications, broadsides and posters.

Schnell served six terms in the North Dakota legislature and was elected Lieutenant Governor in 1950, serving with Governor Norman Brunsdale. A rancher and auctioneer, Schnell was a founder of the Dickinson Livestock Sales Company, which became the Schnell Livestock Auction market. The family expanded their auction markets and ranching interests into Montana and South Dakota. Schnell was instrumental in founding the Home on the Range for Boys at Sentinel Butte and active in the founding of the National Cowboy Hall of Fame in Oklahoma City. He helped make the "Match of Champions" Rodeo in Dickinson and the "Champions' Ride" Rodeo at Home on the Range into successful annual events.

Provenance: The Ray Schnell collection was donated to the State Historical Society of North Dakota by Gary Schnell and Linda Boehm, Schnell's grandchildren, in December 2014. 

Property rights: The State Historical Society of North Dakota owns the property rights to the collection.

Copyrights: Copyrights to materials in this collection remain with the donor, publisher, author, or author's heirs.  Researchers should consult the 1976 Copyright Act, Public Law 94-553, Title 17, U.S. Code and an archivist at this repository if clarification of copyright requirements is needed.  Permission to use any radio or television broadcast portions of the collection must be sought from the creator.

Access: This collection is open under the rules and regulations of the State Historical Society of North Dakota.

Citation: Researchers are requested to cite the collection title, collection number, and the State Historical Society of North Dakota in all footnote and bibliographic references.

Related Collections:           
MSS 11035 Clarence Norman Brunsdale


Ray Schnell was born at Richardton (N.D.) on May 24, 1893. He was the youngest of twelve children of Frank and Marianna (Engel) Schnell, who immigrated from Russia in September 1892. Ray grew up on his parents' farm and horse ranch just southeast of Richardton, and, following his father's death in 1915, he took over the ranch. In 1918 Ray married Clara Kittleson, a 21 year old schoolteacher from Pelican Rapids (Minn.), whose parents had immigrated to this country from Norway.

In 1924 Ray attended the Jones School of Auctioneering in Chicago, and subsequently began to sell farm sales and cattle sales, in addition to his ranching. In 1925 he and his family moved to a farm and ranch just southeast of Dickinson, and on this place raised their family. Thirteen children were born to Ray and Clara: Lucille, Luella (died in infancy), Viola, Oral, Raymond, Howard, Willard, Robert, LaVerne, Shirlene, Wayne, Jerry and Gordon.

The Schnell ranching operation consisted of the raising of registered and commercial cattle, and also a smaller number of horses. From his earliest years in ranching Ray was always actively interested in the improvement of the quality of livestock, and as he grew older his contributions to the betterment of the livestock industry made him one of the best known livestock men in North Dakota and very well respected throughout the United States.

During the hard times of the 1930s, the Schnells went into the dairy business in order to help make ends meet, and the seven oldest children all became involved in the operation - starting with the milking of the cows, then bottling the milk and delivering it in town before and after school.

In 1937, Schnell and his brother Pete and another partner purchased the old Stark County Fairgrounds and started the Dickinson Livestock Sales Company. In 1950 Ray and his four oldest sons bought out the other partners and expanded the market, later changing its name to Schnell Livestock Auction Market. Four of the sons followed their father's footsteps and became auctioneers, and another son followed into auction market and ranch management.

Expansion continued with the family taking over the operation of auction markets in Miles City, Montana and Lemmon, South Dakota for a number of years. In 1942 Ray expanded his family's ranching interests with the purchase of his brother Peter's ranch near Lemmon, and this ranch was later purchased by his son Robert. In 1957 Ray Schnell and his son Raymond purchased a ranch on the Knife River north of Richardton, a ranch later owned by Raymond. In 1958 Ray bought out his brother Steve's ranch just east of Richardton, and this ranch was acquired later by sons Jerry and Gordon. The home place at Dickinson was purchased and operated by son Willard.

As Ray's sons grew up and became more involved in the business, Ray started devoting a considerable amount of time to civic and charitable activities. He served six terms in the North Dakota Legislature, and in 1950 was elected Lieutenant Governor. He was instrumental in founding the Home on the Range for Boys at Sentinel Butte and was also quite active in the establishment of the National Cowboy Hall of Fame in Oklahoma City. Schnell was also instrumental in the construction of a rodeo arena near the Schnell Auction Market at Dickinson in the late 1940s, and he helped make the "Match of Champions" Rodeo in Dickinson and the "Champions' Ride" Rodeo at Home on the Range into successful annual events.

Through these years Ray continued as an auctioneer and cattle judge and a promoter of improvement in the quality of livestock and became a well-known "salesman" for the livestock industry and for the State of North Dakota. Ray Schnell passed away on April 5, 1970, at the age of 76. Clara passed away November 22, 1978.  

Source: "The Ray Schnell Family." Ray Schnell Papers, MSS 11243, Box 1, Folder 10.


Box 1:
1 Correspondence n.d.
2 Correspondence 1930-1939
3 Correspondence 1940-1949
4 Correspondence 1950-1955
5 Correspondence 1956
6 Correspondence 1957-1959
7 Correspondence 1960-1967
8 Correspondence 1968-1970
9 Correspondence, Clara Schnell     n.d.
10 Biographical information and Schnell family material ca. 1950s-1970
11 Genealogical records    n.d.
12 Ray Schnell funeral, service and memorial tributes 1970
13 Political speeches ca. 1930s-1950s
14 Campaign material   ca. 1930s-1950s
15 North Dakota politics 1930-1939
16 North Dakota politics 1940-1949
17 North Dakota politics 1950-1959
18 North Dakota politics 1960-1969
19 Miscellaneous political material  n.d.
20 Miscellaneous histories: first Republican Women's Convention, North Dakota Agricultural College, "Heroes of North Dakota," and the Ellis flood ca. 1950s-1960s
21 Awards received by Ray Schnell 1955-1970
22 Awards received by other Schnell family members  ca. 1963
23 Speeches ca. 1950-1970
24 Speeches ca. 1950-1970
25 Jokes, speeches and stories n.d.
26 Jokes, speeches and stories n.d.
27 Membership cards         ca. 1930-1954
28 American Automobile Association  n.d.
29 Dickinson (N.D.) Chamber of Commerce   ca. 1948-1970
30 Home on the Range 1951-1965
31 Knights of Columbus 1952-1967
32 Missouri Slope Livestock Breeders Association  n.d.
33 National Father of the Year  1959
34 North Dakota Agriculture Advisory Council 1943
35 North Dakota Agricultural College (NDAC)/North Dakota State University (NDSU) 1957-1966
36 North Dakota Council for Agricultural Education and Research n.d.
37 North Dakota Cowboy Hall of Fame (and Oklahoma Cowboy Hall of Fame) ca. 1970-1974
38 North Dakota Junior Stockmen's Association 1967
39 North Dakota Hereford Association 1946-1955
40 North Dakota People to People Agricultural Leaders Goodwill Delegation 1967
41 North Dakota Saddle and Sirloin Club         1957-1963
42 North Dakota Society for Crippled Children and Adults 1955-1958
43 North Dakota Stockmen's Association        1957-1968
44 Rotary Club 1967
45 Schnell Livestock Auction 1957-1987
46 Livestock: bought, sold, registered, brands 1952-1999
47 Rodeo programs and background information 1952-1999
48 Miscellaneous auction and livestock information 1939-1969

Box 2:
1 Farm: cattle and dairy ca. 1930s-1950s
2 Farm: grain  ca. 1930s-1940s
3 Farm: equipment and financial 1950s-1960s
4 Farm: miscellaneous ca. 1930s-1940s
5 Peter and Franz Schnell homestead application and records  1898
6 Section 9 records  ca. 1898-1910s
7 Farm: lagoon  ca. 1957
8 Farm: oil and gas lease    1957
9 O. A. Brown  1920s-1930s
10 Dix home 1940s-1950s
11 Farm land: miscellaneous ca. 1920s-1950s
12 Farm land: miscellaneous ca. 1920s-1950s
13 Stark County (N.D.) records 1910s-1950s
14 Publications: The Banker-Farmer (January 1926), The Shorthorn World and Farm Magazine (July 1928), Annual Reports of the State of North Dakota Stallion Registration Board (1940 and 1941), The American Hereford Journal (July 1946) and Bar North (North Dakota Stockmen's Association, July 1959)

Box 3:
1 St. Patrick's Church (Dickinson, N.D.)   1923-1948
2 Newspaper clippings        1920-1949
3 Newspaper clippings        1950
4 Newspaper clippings        1951
5 Newspaper clippings        1952
6 Newspaper clippings        1953
7 Newspaper clippings        1954
8 Newspaper clippings        1955
9 Newspaper clippings        1956
10 Newspaper clippings     1956
11 Newspaper clippings     1956
12 Newspaper clippings     1957
13 Newspaper clippings     1958
14 Newspaper clippings     1959
15 Newspaper clippings     1960
16 Newspaper clippings     1961
17 Newspaper clippings     1962-1965
18 Newspaper clippings     1966-1967
19 Newspaper clippings     1968
20 Newspaper clippings     1969-1970
21 Newspaper clippings     1978
22 Newspaper clippings     n.d.


Broadside: Re-elect Ray Schnell Lieutenant Governor
Broadside: Ray Schnell Republication Candidate for Governor
Broadside: Dairy Cattle Dispersal, Bismarck (N.D.), March 14, 1942
Broadside: Auction Sale, Dickinson (N.D.), November 26, 1935
Broadside: Public Auction Sale, west of Hebron (N.D.), n.d.
Poster: 44th Annual Home on the Range Champions Ride Invitational Rodeo, 2000

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