The Ranch's "first family," Ida and Louis Butt

The Ranch's "first family," Ida and Louis Butt

The Ranch's "first family," Ida and Louis Butt

In 1952, a group of remarkable women at a small country church in rural North Dakota were concerned about the number of boys who were "out on their own." Boys as young as 9 or 10 were in the workforce, particularly as farm labor, because their families did not have the means to support them. Many were "half-orphans," whose fathers had died in WWII, or whose mothers had died in childbirth or of illness. These children were in survival straits, just trying to make it from day to day.

The church women thought childhood could be different. They enlisted their own families and pastors and anyone who would listen to develop an idea they called "host families," what we today would call foster families. They searched out Christian homes across the area who could provide safety, security, and most of all - a childhood - for each young boy.

One such family was the Butt family of Tolley, ND. Ida and Louis were themselves childless and had a large rambling home on the family's ranch. They offered to host six boys, then eight, then added onto their house and hosted 10. And, Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch was born. In time, the Butt's donated their ranch. It was later sold to purchase land outside of Minot, ND, for the home of the first "campus."

Not long ago, a former neighbor of Ida and Louis gave the Ranch a book of poems written by Ida. In addition to the heart of gold she opened to the young boys in her care, Ida had a gift for verse. She often gave personal poems to friends as birthday or anniversary gifts. Below are two stanzas of one of her untitled works. Her goodness and compassion shine through.

"Teach God's Bible every day
In child language, clearly
For your meals take time to pray
Thanking God sincerely.
Gathered daily round His word
Pray for one another
Then, to practice what you heart
Prompt and help each other.

Love each other in the Lord.
Show each child affection.
Gentleness and praise accord
Though he needs correction
As you see our Father do
With forbearance chasten.
Should some failure harass you
To God's mercy hasten."

Ida and Louis Butt dedicated their lives to ensure the young boys in their care knew the depth of their love and of Christ's love. Because of that dedication, hundreds of children have healed at Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch.

In His love,

Joy Ryan, President/CEO
Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch

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