Frank P. Keogh

Pre-1940 Ranching

Inducted 1999

Frank P. Keogh was born on July 18, 1877, in Benson, Minnesota, one of several children of Patrick and Catherine (Keliher) Keogh.

The family moved west in 1882 when Patrick was transferred with the Northern Pacific Railroad to present-day Hebron. The family later started ranching operations on the Little Knife River. In 1901 Frank and his brother, Jack, struck out on their own, ending their search in McKenzie County near Keene where they started their own ranch.

In 1905, when James Phelan took over Webb Arnett’s leasing operation on 225,000 acres of Fort Berthold Indian Reservation rangeland, Frank was sought as an experienced cattleman to head the operation. He became the ranch foreman, running up to 10,000 head of cattle and 1,000 head of horses.

When Phelan’s lease ran out in 1910, Frank bought out his brother’s interest in their jointly-owned operation and remained on that ranch, at the southern foot of Table Butte, for the rest of his career. His ranch included about 20,000 acres of reservation land, where he ran about 800 head of cattle, plus the 100 head of horses he ran on his own land.

In 1912, Frank married Elizabeth (Lillian) Carney, who was a teacher and the postmistress for White Earth. They had two children–Brooks who stayed on the ranch until his death and Betty who married Ed Grantier of Minot.

Frank was a founder and president of the McKenzie County Grazing Association, a founder and president of the North Dakota Stockmen’s Association and a member of the executive committee of the American National Livestock Association.

He placed a high value on education and helped establish the first school in the area, known as the Keogh School. He also contributed to the Home on the Range at Sentinel Butte and worked with the Department of the Interior to write soil conservation legislation.

Though modest, Frank’s impact on western North Dakota was truly significant. He witnessed the changes in ranching from the wide open range to the modern, closely run and managed commercial ranch of today.

Frank Keogh died in 1955.