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Published June 27, 2009, 12:00 AM

Strap an accordion to the saddle and ride

The late George Fenton is among those who will be inducted into the North Dakota Cowboy Hall of Fame in Medora Saturday.

The late George Fenton is among those who will be inducted into the North Dakota Cowboy Hall of Fame in Medora Saturday.

Fenton, of Dunn County, was born in 1907 near Oakdale. When his father died, his mother moved upriver to live with her brother. After Fenton finished eighth grade, he hiked 25 miles from Killdeer to start a full-fledged ranching career at age of 13, working for his uncle, according to a press release.

He learned the benefits of good grazing distribution by observing livestock closely. Like his uncle, he bought land from settlers who were leaving the area. Eventually, the Diamond X Ranch spread over 10,000 acres of owned and leased land. Fenton built stock dams to complement the artesian wells and was careful not to overstock his herd or overgraze his pastures.

He was respected as a cattleman of the finest caliber. Fenton appreciated horses and used equine power for haying well into the 1970s. He belonged to the North Dakota Stockmen’s Association, 50 Years in the Saddle Club and National Cowboy Hall of Fame in Oklahoma, according to a press release.

As a young man, he’d strap an accordion onto his saddle, ride to a barn dance and play until sunrise. Fenton married Thelma Edwards in 1935, and they had four daughters. He died in 1993 and is buried at the Oakdale Cemetery.

Two ranchers, a saddle club, a horse whisperer, three bronc riders and a former governor are to be inducted in today’s ceremony. See Sunday’s Press for a story on the 2009 Legacy Award Division inductee, Willard Schnell.

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