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Guide to Life and Literature
of the Southwest

Range Life: Cowboys, Cattle, Sheep

THE COWBOY ORIGINATED in Texas. The Texas cowboy, along with the Texas cowman, was an evolvement from and a blend of the riding, shooting, frontier-formed southerner, the Mexican-Indian horseback worker with livestock (the vaquero), and the Spanish open-range rancher. The blend was not in blood, but in occupational techniques. I have traced this genesis with more detail in The Longhorns. Compared with evolution in species, evolution in human affairs is meteor-swift. The driving of millions of cattle and horses from Texas to stock the whole plains area of North America while, following the Civil War, it was being denuded of buffaloes and secured from Indian domination, enabled the Texas cowboy to set his impress upon the whole ranching industry. The cowboy became the best-known occupational type that America has given the world. He exists still and will long exist, though much changed from the original. His fame derives from the past.

Romance, both genuine and spurious, has obscured the realities of range and trail. The realities themselves have, however, been such that few riders really belonging to the range wished to lead any other existence. Only by force of circumstances have they changed "the grass beneath and the sky above" for a more settled, more confining, and more materially remunerative way of life. Some of the old-time cowboys were little more adaptable to change than the Plains Indians; few were less reluctant to plow or work in houses. Heaven in their dreams was a range better watered than the one they knew, with grass never stricken by drought, plenty of fat cattle, the best horses and comrades of their experience, more of women than they talked about in public, and nothing at all of golden streets, golden harps, angel wings, and thrones; it was a mere extension, somewhat improved, of the present. Bankers, manufacturers, merchants, and mechanics seldom so idealize their own occupations; they work fifty weeks a year to go free the other two.

For every hired man on horseback there have been hundreds of plowmen in America, and tens of millions of acres of rangelands have been plowed under, but who can cite a single autobiography of a laborer in the fields of cotton, of corn, of wheat? Or do coal miners, steelmongers, workers in oil refineries, factory hands of any kind of factory, the employees of chain stores and department stores ever write autobiographies? Many scores of autobiographies have been written by range men, perhaps half of them by cowboys who never became owners at all. A high percentage of the autobiographies are in pamphlet form; many that were written have not been published. The trail drivers of open range days, nearly all dead now, felt the urge to record experiences more strongly than their successors. They realized that they had been a part of an epic life.

The fact that the hired man on horseback has been as good a man as the owner and, on the average, has been a more spirited and eager man than the hand on foot may afford some explanation of the validity and vitality of his chroniclings, no matter how crude they be. On the other hand, the fact that the rich owner and the college-educated aspirant to be a cowboy soon learned, if they stayed on the range, that a man's a man for a' that may to some extent account for a certain generous amplitude of character inherent in their most representative reminiscences. Sympathy for the life biases my judgment; that judgment, nevertheless, is that some of the strongest and raciest autobiographic writing produced by America has been by range men.

This is not to say that these chronicles are of a high literary order. Their writers have generally lacked the maturity of mind, the reflective wisdom, and the power of observation found in personal narratives of the highest order. No man who camped with a chuck wagon has written anything remotely comparable to Charles M. Doughty's Arabia Deserta, a chronicle at once personal and impersonal, restrainedly subjective and widely objective, of his life with nomadic Bedouins. Perspective is a concomitant of civilization. The chronicles of the range that show perspective have come mostly from educated New Englanders, Englishmen, and Scots. The great majority of the chronicles are limited in subject matter to physical activities. They make few concessions to "the desire of the moth for the star"; they hardly enter the complexities of life, including those of sex. In one section of the West at one time the outstanding differences among range men were between owners of sheep and owners of cattle, the ambition of both being to hog the whole country. On another area of the range at another time, the outstanding difference was between little ranchers, many of whom were stealing, and big ranchers, plenty of whom had stolen. Such differences are not exponents of the kind of individualism that burns itself into great human documents.

Seldom deeper than the chronicles does range fiction go below physical surface into reflection, broodings, hungers -- the smolderings deep down in a cowman oppressed by drought and mortgage sitting in a rocking chair on a ranch gallery looking at the dust devils and hoping for a cloud; the goings-on inside a silent cowboy riding away alone from an empty pen to which he will never return; the streams of consciousness in a silent man and a silent woman bedded together in a wind-lashed frame house away out on the lone prairie. The wide range of human interests leaves ample room for downright, straightaway narratives of the careers of strong men. If the literature of the range ever matures, however, it will include keener searchings for meanings and harder struggles for human truths by writers who strive in "the craft so long to lerne." For three-quarters of a century the output of fiction on the cowboy has been tremendous, and it shows little diminution. Mass production inundating the masses of readers has made it difficult for serious fictionists writing about range people to get a hearing.

The code of the West was concentrated into the code of the range -- and not all of it by any means depended upon the six-shooter. No one can comprehend this code without knowing something about the code of the Old South, whence the Texas cowboy came.

Mexican goats make the best eating in Mexico and mohair has made good money for many ranchers of the Southwest. Goats, goat herders, goatskins, and wine in goatskins figure in the literature of Spain as prominently as six-shooters in Blazing Frontier fiction -- and far more pleasantly. Read George Borrow's The Bible in Spain, one of the most delectable of travel books. Beyond a few notices of Mexican goat herders, there is on the subject of goats next to nothing readable in American writings. Where there is no competition, supremacy is small distinction; so I should offend no taste by saying that "The Man of Goats" in my own Tongues of the Monte is about the best there is so far as goats go.

Although sheep are among the most salient facts of range life, they have, as compared with cattle and horses, been a dim item in the range tradition. Yet, of less than a dozen books on sheep and sheepmen, more than half of them are better written than hundreds of books concerning cowboy life. Mary Austin's The Flock is subtle and beautiful; Archer B. Gilfillan's Sheep is literature in addition to having much information; Hughie Call's Golden Fleece is delightful; Winifred Kupper's The Golden Hoof and Texas Sheepman have charm -- a rare quality in most books on cows and cow people. Among furnishings in the cabin of Robert Maudslay, "the Texas Sheepman," were a set of Sir Walter Scott's works, Shakespeare, and a file of the Illustrated London News. "A man who read Shakespeare and the Illustrated London News had little to contribute to Come a ti yi yoopee Ti yi ya!"

O. Henry's ranch experiences in Texas were largely confined to a sheep ranch. The setting of his "Last of the Troubadours" is a sheep ranch. I nominate it as the best range story in American fiction.

"Cowboy Songs" and "Horses" are separate chapters following this. The literature cited in them is mostly range literature, although precious little in all the songs rises to the status of poetry. A considerable part of the literature listed under "Texas Rangers" and "The Bad Man Tradition" bears on range life.


We Pointed Them North, New York, 1939. Abbott, better known as Teddy Blue, used to give his address as Three Duce Ranch, Gilt Edge, Montana. Helena Huntington Smith, who actually wrote and arranged his reminiscences, instead of currying him down and putting a checkrein on him, spurred him in the flanks and told him to swaller his head. He did. This book is franker about the women a rollicky cowboy was likely to meet in town than all the other range books put together. The fact that Teddy Blue's wife was a half-breed Indian, daughter of Granville Stuart, and that Indian women do not object to the truth about sex life may account in part for his frankness. The book is mighty good reading. OP.


The Log of a Cowboy (1903). In 1882, at the age of twenty-three, Andy Adams came to Texas from Indiana. For about ten years he traded horses and drove them up the trail. He knew cattle people and their ranges from Brownsville to Caldwell, Kansas. After mining for another decade, he began to write. If all other books on trail driving were destroyed, a reader could still get a just and authentic conception of trail men, trail work, range cattle, cow horses, and the cow country in general from The Log of a Cowboy. It is a novel without a plot, a woman, character development, or sustained dramatic incidents; yet it is the classic of the occupation. It is a simple, straightaway narrative that takes a trail herd from the Rio Grande to the Canadian line, the hands talking as naturally as cows chew cuds, every page illuminated by an easy intimacy with the life. Adams wrote six other books. The Outlet, A Texas Matchmaker, Cattle Brands, and Reed Anthony, Cowman all make good reading. Wells Brothers and The Ranch on the Beaver are stories for boys. I read them with pleasure long after I was grown. All but The Log of a Cowboy are OP, published by Houghton Mifflin, Boston.


Cowboy Lingo, Boston, 1936. A dictionary of cowboy words, figures of speech, picturesque phraseology, slang, etc., with explanations of many factors peculiar to range life. OP. Western Words, University of Oklahoma Press, 1944. A companion book. Come an' Get It, University of Oklahoma Press, Norman, 1952. Informal exposition of chuck wagon cooks.


Ranch Notes, London, 1884. Aldridge, an educated Englishman, got into the cattle business before, in the late eighties, it boomed itself flat. His book is not important, but it is maybe a shade better than Ranch Life in Southern Kansas and the Indian Territory by Benjamin S. Miller, New York, 1896. Aldridge and Miller were partners, and each writes kindly about the other.


Southwest, Lippincott, Philadelphia, 1952. A chemical compound of highly impressionistic autobiographic nonfiction and highly romantic fiction and folk tales. The setting is a ranch of Mexican tradition in the lower border country of Texas, also saloons and bawdy houses of border towns. Vaqueros and their work in the brush are intensely vivid. The author has a passion for superlatives and for "a joyous cruelty, a good cruelty, a young cruelty."


Hot Irons, Macmillan, New York, 1940. Technique and lore of cattle brands. OP.


The Flock, Boston, 1906, OP. Mary Austin saw the meanings of things; she was a creator. Very quietly she sublimated life into the literature of pictures and emotions.

BARNARD, EVAN G. ("Parson")

A Rider of the Cherokee Strip, Houghton Mifflin, Boston, 1936. Savory with little incidents and cowboy humor. OP.


Tales from the X-Bar Horse Camp, Chicago, 1920. OP. Good simple narratives. Apaches and Longhorns, Los Angeles, 1941. Autobiography. OP. Western Grazing Grounds and Forest Ranges, Chicago, 1913. OP. Governmentally factual. Barnes was in the U.S. Forest Service and was informed.


Ubet, Caldwell, Idaho, 1934. Excellent on Northwest; autobiographical. OP.


Tales of the Old Timers, New York, 1924. Vivid, economical stories of "The Warriors of the Pecos" (Billy the Kid and the troubles on John Chisum's ranch-empire), of Butch Cassidy and his Wild Bunch in their Wyoming hide-outs, of the way frontier Texans fought Mexicans and Comanches over the open ranges. Research clogs the style of many historians; perhaps it is just as well that Bechdolt did not search more extensively into the arcana of footnotes. OP.


Tall Tales from Texas Cow Camps, Dallas, 1934. The tales are tall all right and true to cows that never saw a milk bucket. OP. Reprinted 1946 by Haldeman-Julius, Girard, Kansas.


Etchings of the West, edited by Edward S. Spaulding, Santa Barbara, California, 1950. OP. A very handsome folio; primarily a reproduction of sketches, many of which are on range subjects. Ed Borein tells more in them than hundreds of windbags have told in tens of thousands of pages. They are beautiful and authentic, even if they are what post-impressionists call "documentary." Believers in the True Faith say now that Leonardo da Vinci is documentary in his painting of the Lord's Supper. Ed Borein was a great friend of Charlie Russell's but not an imitator. Etchings of the West will soon be among the rarities of Western books.


Chip of the Flying U, New York, 1904. Charles Russell illustrated this and three other Bower novels. Contrary to his denial, he is supposed to have been the prototype for Chip. A long time ago I read Chit of the Flying U and The Lure of the Dim Trails and thought them as good as Eugene Manlove Rhodes's stories. That they have faded almost completely out of memory is a commentary on my memory; just the same, a character as well named as Chip should, if he have substance beyond his name, leave an impression even on weak memories. B. M. Bower was a woman, Bower being the name of her first husband. A Montana cowpuncher named "Fiddle Back" Sinclair was her second, and Robert Ellsworth Cowan became the third. Under the name of Bud Cowan he published a book of reminiscences entitled Range Rider (Garden City, N. Y., 1930). B. M. Bower wrote a slight introduction to it; neither he nor she says anything about being married to the other. In the best of her fiction she is truer to life than he is in a good part of his nonfiction. Her chaste English is partly explained in an autobiographic note contributed to Adventure magazine, December 10, 1924. Her restless father had moved the family from Minnesota to Montana. There, she wrote, he "taught me music and how to draw plans of houses (he was an architect among other things) and to read Paradise Lost and Dante and H. Rider Haggard and the Bible and the Constitution -- and my taste has been extremely catholic ever since."


The Cowboy and His Interpreters, New York, 1926. Useful bibliography on range matters, and excellent criticism of two kinds of fiction writers. OP.


Trails of Yesterday, Chicago, 1921. John Bratt, twenty-two years old, came to America from England in 1864, went west, and by 1870 was ranching on the Platte. He became a big operator, but his reminiscences, beautifully printed, are stronger on camp cooks and other hired hands than on cattle "kings." Nobody ever heard a cowman call himself or another cowman a king. "Cattle king" is journalese.


The Beef Bonanza; or, How to Get Rich on the Plains, Philadelphia, 1881. One of several books of its decade designed to appeal to eastern and European interest in ranching as an investment. Figureless and with more human interest is Prairie Experiences in Handling Cattle and Sheep, by Major W. Shepherd (of England), London? 1884.


Cowboy Life on the Western Plains, Chicago, 1910. The Red Blooded, Chicago, 1910. Freewheeling nonfiction.


Memoirs, Gardendale, California, 1939. The book never was published; it was merely printed to satisfy the senescent vanity of a property-worshiping, cliche-parroting reactionary who made money ranching before he became governor of Wyoming. He tells a few good anecdotes of range days. Numerous better books pertaining to the range are NOT listed here; this mediocrity represents a particular type.


A Pecos Pioneer, University of New Mexico Press, Albuquerque, 1943. Superior to numerous better-known books. See comment under "Women Pioneers."


Trail Driving Days, Scribner's, New York, 1952. Primarily a pictorial record, more on the side of action than of realism, except for post-trailing period. Excellent bibliography.


A History of the J A Ranch, Austin, 1928. Facts about one of the greatest ranches of Texas and its founder, Charles Goodnight. OP.


Golden Fleece, Boston, 1942. Hughie married a sheepman, and after mothering the range as well as children with him for a quarter of a century, concluded that Montana is still rather masculine. Especially good on domestic life and on sheepherders. OP.


Frontier Trails, edited by E. E. Dale, Boston, 1930. OP. Good on tough hombres.


My Life on the Range, privately printed, Chicago, 1924. OP. John Clay, an educated Scot, came to Canada in 1879 and in time managed some of the largest British-owned ranches of North America. His book is the best of all sources on British-owned ranches. It is just as good on cowboys and sheepherders. Clay was a fine gentleman in addition to being a canny businessman in the realm of cattle and land. He appreciated the beautiful and had a sense of style.


The Cattle on a Thousand Hills, Huntington Library, San Marino, California, 1941 (revised, 1951). Scholarly work on Spanish-Mexican ranching in California.


No Life for a Lady, Houghton Mifflin, Boston, 1941. Best book on range life from a woman's point of view ever published. The setting is New Mexico; humor and humanity prevail.


The 101 Ranch, University of Oklahoma Press, Norman, 1937. The 101 Ranch was far more than a ranch; it was a unique institution. The 101 Ranch Wild West Show is emphasized in this book. OP.


The Indians' Last Fight or the Dull Knife Raid, Press of the Appeal to Reason, Girard, Kansas, n.d. Nearly half of this very scarce book deals autobiographically with frontier range life. Realistic, strong, written from the perspective of a man who "wanted something to read" in camp.


Warpath and Cattle Trail, New York, 1928. The pageant of trail life as it passed by a stage stand in Oklahoma; autobiographical. Beautifully printed and illustrated. Far better than numerous other out-of-print books that bring much higher prices in the second-hand market.

CONN, WILLIAM (translator)

Cow-Boys and Colonels: Narrative of a Journey across the Prairie and over the Black Hills of Dakota, London, 1887; New York (1888?). More of a curiosity than an illuminator, the book is a sparsely annotated translation of Dans les Montagnes Rocheuses, by Le Baron E. de Mandat-Grancey, Paris, October, 1884. (The only copy I have examined is of 1889 printing.) It is a gossipy account of an excursion made in 1883-84; cowboys and ranching are viewed pretty much as a sophisticated Parisian views a zoo. The author must have felt more at home with the fantastic Marquis de Mores of Medora, North Dakota. The book appeared at a time when European capital was being invested in western ranches. It was followed by La Breche aux Buffles: Un Ranch Francais dans le Dakota, Paris, 1889. Not translated so far as I know.


Fifty Years on the Old Frontier, 1923. Cook came to Texas soon after the close of the Civil War and became a brush popper on the Frio River. Nothing better on cow work in the brush country and trail driving in the seventies has appeared. OP. A good deal of the same material was put into Cook's Longhorn Cowboy (Putnam's, 1942), to which the pushing Mr. Howard R. Driggs attached his name.


Texas Cowboys, 1937. Thin, but genuine. Arizona Cowboys, 1938. Old California Cowboys, 1939. All well illustrated by photographs and all OP.


The Cattle Industry of Texas and Adjacent Territory, St. Louis, 1895. Contains many important biographies and much good history. In 1928 I traded a pair of store-bought boots to my uncle Neville Dobie for his copy of this book. A man would have to throw in a young Santa Gertrudis bull now to get a copy.


Ranching with lords and Commons, Toronto, 1903. During the great boom of the early 1880'S in the range business, Craig promoted a cattle company in London and then managed a ranch in western Canada. His book is good on mismanaged range business and it is good on people, especially lords, and the land. He attributes to De Quincey a Latin quotation that properly, I think, belongs to Thackeray. He quotes Hamlin Garland: "The trail is poetry; a wagon road is prose; the railroad, arithmetic." He was probably not so good at ranching as at writing. His book supplements From Home to Home, by Alex. Staveley Hill, New York, 1885. Hill was a major investor in the Oxley Ranch, and was, I judge, the pompous cheat and scoundrel that Craig said he was.


Rekindling Camp Fires: The Exploits of Ben Arnold (Connor), Bismarck, North Dakota, 1926. OP. The skill of Lewis F. Crawford of the North Dakota Historical Society made this a richer autobiography than if Arnold had been unaided. He was squaw man, scout, trapper, soldier, deserter, prospector, and actor in other occupations as well as cowboy. He had a fierce sense of justice that extended to Indians. His outlook was wider than that of the average ranch hand. Badlands and Broncho Trails, Bismarck, 1922, is a slight book of simple narratives that catches the tune of the Badlands life. OP. Ranching Days in Dakota, Wirth Brothers, Baltimore, 1950, is good on horse-raising and the terrible winter of 1886-87.


Cattle, Horses, and Men, Los Angeles, 1940. Much about the noted Bell Ranch of New Mexico. Especially good on horses. Culley was educated at Oxford. When I visited him in California, he had on his table a presentation copy of a book by Walter Pater. His book has the luminosity that comes from cultivated intelligence. OP.


Four Centuries of Florida Ranching, St. Louis, 1940. OP. In Crooked Trails, Frederic Remington has a chapter (illustrated) on "Cracker Cowboys of Florida," and Lake Okeechobee, by A. J. Hanna and Kathryn Abbey, Indianapolis, 1948, treats of modern ranching in Florida, but the range people of that state have been too lethargic-minded to write about themselves and no Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings has settled in their midst to interpret them.


The Range Cattle Industry, Norman, Oklahoma, 1930. Economic aspects. Bibliography. Cow Country, Norman, Oklahoma, 1942. Bully tales and easy history. Both books are OP.


Two Years Before the Mast, 1841. This transcript of reality has been reprinted many times. It is the classic of the hide and tallow trade of California.


Malcolm Campbell, Sheriff, Casper, Wyoming, 1932. Much of the "Johnson County War" between cowmen and thieving nesters. OP.


Dakota Days. Privately printed by the author at Clifton Springs, New York, 1937 -- three hundred copies only. Dayton was more sheepman than cowman. He had a spiritual content. His very use of the word intellectual on the second page of his book; his estimate of Milton and Gladstone, adjacent to talk about a frontier saloon; his consciousness of his own inner growth -- something no extravert cowboy ever noticed, usually because he did not have it; his quotation to express harmony with nature: I have some kinship to the bee, I am boon brother with the tree; The breathing earth is part of me -- all indicate a refinement that any gambler could safely bet originated in the East and not in Texas or the South.


A Vaquero of the Brush Country, 1929. Much on border troubles over cattle, the "skinning war," running wild cattle in the brush, mustanging, trail driving; John Young's narrative, told in the first person, against range backgrounds. The Longhorns, illustrated by Tom Lea, 1941. History of the Longhorn breed, psychology of stampedes; days of maverickers and mavericks; stories of individual lead steers and outlaws of the range; stories about rawhide and many other related subjects. The book attempts to reveal the blend made by man, beast, and range. Both books published by Little, Brown, Boston. The Mustangs, 1952. See under "Horses."


Texas Cattle Brands, Dallas, 1936. A catalogue of brands. OP.


Some Recollections of a Western Ranchman, London, 1927. A civilized Englishman remembers. OP.


The Trail Boss, Boston, 1937. Faithful fiction, with a steer that Charlie Russell should have painted. OP.


Frontier Justice, University of Oklahoma Press, Norman, 1949. This book could be classified under "The Bad Man Tradition," but it has authentic chapters on fence-cutting, the so-called "Johnson County Cattlemen's War" of Wyoming, and other range "difficulties." Clearly written from an equable point of view. Useful bibliography of range books.

GIBSON, J. W. (Watt)

Recollections of a Pioneer, St. Joseph, Missouri (about 1912). Like many another book concerned only incidentally with range life, this contains essential information on the subject. Here it is trailing cattle from Missouri to California in the 1840's and 1850's. Cattle driving from the East to California was not economically important. The outstanding account on the subject is A Log of the Texas-California Cattle Trail, 1854, by James G. Bell, edited by J. Evetts Haley, published in the Southwestern Historical Quarterly, 1932 (Vols. XXXV and XXXVI). Also reprinted as a separate.


Sheep, Boston, 1929. With humor and grace, this sheepherder, who collected books on Samuel Pepys, tells more about sheep dogs, sheep nature, and sheepherder life than any other writer I know. OP.


Fabulous Empire, Houghton Mifflin, Boston, 1946. Biography of Zack Miller of the 101 Ranch and 101 Wild West Show.


Life on the King Ranch, Crowell, New York, 1951. The author was reared on the King Ranch. He is especially refreshing on the vaqueros, their techniques and tales.


Pioneer Adventures, 1948, and Pioneering in Southwest Texas, 1949, both printed by the author, Copperas Cove, Texas. These books are listed because the author has the perspective of a civilized gentleman and integrates home life on frontier ranches with range work.


Bois d'Arc to Barbed Wire, Dallas, 1936. Outstanding horse lore. OP.


Roosevelt in the Bad Lands, Boston, 1921. A better book than Roosevelt's own Ranch Life and the Hunting Trail. OP.


The XIT Ranch of Texas, Chicago, 1929. As county and town afford the basis for historical treatment of many areas, ranches have afforded bases for various range country histories. Of such this is tops. A lawsuit for libel brought by one or more individuals mentioned in the book put a stop to the selling of copies by the publishers and made it very "rare." Charles Goodnight, Cowman and Plainsman, Boston, 1936, reissued by University of Oklahoma Press, Norman, 1949. Goodnight, powerful individual and extraordinary observer, summed up in himself the whole life of range and trail. Haley's book, packed with realities of incident and character, paints him against a mighty background. George W. Littlefield, Texan, University of Oklahoma Presss Norman, Okla., 1943, is a lesser biography of a lesser man.


Autobiography of a Cowman, in South Dakota Historical Collections, XIX (1938), 475-637. A first-rate narrative of life on the Dakota range.


Short Grass and Longhorns, Norman, Oklahoma, 1943. Sketches of Panhandle ranches and ranch people. OP.


My Reminiscences as a Cowboy, 1930. A blatant farrago of lies, included in this list because of its supreme worthlessness. However, some judges might regard the debilitated and puerile lying in The Autobiography of Frank Tarbeaux, as told to Donald H. Clarke, New York, 1930, as equally worthless.

HART, JOHN A., and Others

History of Pioneer Days in Texas and Oklahoma. No date or place of publication; no table of contents. This slight book was enlarged into Pioneer Days in the Southwest from 1850 to 1879, "Contributions by Charles Goodnight, Emanuel Dubbs, John A. Hart and Others," Guthrie, Oklahoma, 1909. Good on the way frontier ranch families lived. The writers show no sense of humor and no idea of being literary.


A Ranchman's Recollections, Chicago, 1921. OP. Hastings was urbane, which means he had perspective; "Old Gran'pa" is the most pulling cowhorse story I know.


Heart of the West. Interpretative stories of Texas range life, which O. Henry for a time lived. His range stories are scattered through several volumes. "The Last of the Troubadours" is a classic.


Our Great American Plains, New York, 1930. OP. An unworshipful, anti-Philistinic picture of Abilene, Kansas, when it was at the end of the Chisholm Trail. While not a primary range book, this is absolutely unique in its analysis of cow-town society, both citizens and drovers. Stuart Henry came to Abilene as a boy in 1868. His brother was the first mayor of the town. After graduating from the University of Kansas in 1881, he in time acquired "the habit of authorship." He had written a book on London and French Essays and Profiles and Hours with Famous Parisians before he returned to Kansas for a subject. Some of his non-complimentary characterizations of westerners aroused a mighty roar among panegyrists of the West. They did not try to refute his anecdote about the sign of the Bull Head Saloon. This sign showed the whole of a great red bull. The citizens of Abilene were used to seeing bulls driven through town and they could go out any day and see bulls with cows on the prairie. Nature might be good, but any art suggesting nature's virility was indecent. There was such an uprising of Victorian taste that what distinguishes a bull from a cow had to be painted out. A similar artistic operation had to be performed on the bull signifying Bull Durham tobacco -- once the range favorite for making cigarettes.


The End of the Cattle Trail, Long Beach, California [May, 1924]. Rare and meaty pamphlet.


Rollie Burns, Dallas, 1932. Biography of a Plains cowman. OP. The Spur Ranch, Boston, 1934. History of a great Texas ranch. OP.


Life of Tom Horn . . . Written by Himself, together with His Letters and Statements by His Friends, A Vindication. Published (for John C. Coble) by the Louthan Book Company, Denver, 1904. Who wrote the book has been somewhat in debate. John C. Coble's name is signed to the preface attributing full authorship to Horn. Of Pennsylvania background, wealthy and educated, he had employed Horn as a stock detective on his Wyoming ranch. He had the means and ability to see the book through the press. A letter from his wife to me, from Cheyenne, June 21,1926, says that Horn wrote the book. Charles H. Coe, who succeeded Horn as stock detective in Wyoming, says in Juggling a Rope (Pendleton, Oregon, 1927, P. 108), that Horn wrote it. I have a copy, bought from Fred Rosenstock of the Bargain Book Store in Denver, who got it from Hattie Horner Louthan, of Denver also. For years she taught English in the University of Denver, College of Commerce, and is the author of more than one textbook. The Louthan Book Company of Denver was owned by her family. This copy of Tom Horn contains her bookplate. On top of the first page of the preface is written in pencil: "I wrote this -- `Ghost wrote.' H. H. L." Then, penciled at the top of the first page of "Closing Word," is "I wrote this."

Glendolene Myrtle Kimmell was a schoolteacher in the country where Tom Horn operated. As her picture shows, she was lush and beautiful. Pages 287-309 print "Miss Kimmell's Statement." She did her best to keep Tom Horn from hanging. She frankly admired him and, it seems to me, loved him. Jay Monaghan, The Legend of Tom Horn, Last of the Bad Men, Indianapolis and New York, 1946, says (p. 267), without discussion or proof, that after Horn was hanged and buried Miss Kimmell was "writing a long manuscript about a Sir Galahad horseman who was `crushed between the grinding stones of two civilizations,' but she never found a publisher who thought her book would sell. It was entitled The True Life of Tom Horn."

The main debate has been over Horn himself. The books about him are not highly important, but they contribute to a spectacular and highly controversial phase of range history, the so-called Johnson County War of Wyoming. Mercer's Banditti of the Plains, Mokler's History of Natrona County, Wyoming, Canton's Frontier Trails, and David's Malcolm Campbell, Sheriff (all listed in this chapter) are primary sources on the subject.


The Story of the Cowboy, New York, 1897. Exposition not nearly so good as Philip Ashton Rollins' The Cowboy. North of 36, New York, 1923. Historical novel of the Chisholm Trail. The best character in it is Old Alamo, lead steer. A young woman owner of the herd trails with it. The success of the romance caused Emerson Hough to advise his friend Andy Adams to put a woman in a novel about trail driving -- so Andy Adams told me. Adams replied that a woman with a trail herd would be as useless as a fifth wheel on a wagon and that he would not violate reality by having her. For a devastation of Hough's use of history in North of 36 see the Appendix in Stuart Henry's Conquering Our Great American Plains. Yet the novel does have the right temper.


A Frontier Doctor, Boston, 1929. Texas Panhandle and New Mexico during Billy the Kid days. Reminiscences.


Cat Mossman: Last of the Great Cowmen, illustrated by Ross Santee, Hastings House, New York, 1951. Few full-length biographies of big operators among cowmen have been written. This reveals not only Cap Mossman's operations on enormous ranges, but the man.

HUNTER, J. MARVIN (compiler)

The Trail Drivers of Texas, two volumes, Bandera, Texas, 1920, 1923. Reprinted in one volume, 1925. All OP. George W. Saunders, founder of the Old Time Trail Drivers Association and for many years president, prevailed on hundreds of old-time range and trail men to write autobiographic sketches. He used to refer to Volume II as the "second edition"; just the same, he was not ignorant, and he had a passion for the history of his people. The chronicles, though chaotic in arrangement, comprise basic source material. An index to the one-volume edition of The Trail Drivers of Texas is printed as an appendix to The Chisholm Trail and Other Routes, by T. U. Taylor, San Antonio, 1936 -- a hodgepodge.


Cowboys North and South, New York, 1924. The Drifting Cowboy, 1925. Smoky -- a cowhorse story -- 1930. Several other books, mostly repetitious. Will James knew his frijoles, but burned them up before he died, in 1942. He illustrated all his books. The best one is his first, written before he became sophisticated with life -- without becoming in the right way more sophisticated in the arts of drawing and writing. Lone Cowboy: My Life Story (1930) is without a date or a geographical location less generalized than the space between Canada and Mexico.


Cowboy Life in Texas, Chicago, 1893. A genuine cowboy who became a genuine preacher and wrote a book of validity. This is the best of several books of reminiscences by cowboy preachers, some of whom are as lacking in the real thing as certain cowboy artists. Next to Cowboy Life in Texas, in its genre, might come From the Plains to the Pulpit, by J. W. Anderson, Houston, 1907. The second edition (reset) has six added chapters. The third, and final, edition, Goose Creek, Texas, 1922, again reset, has another added chapter. J. B. Cranfill was a trail driver from a rough range before he became a Baptist preacher and publisher. His bulky Chronicle, A Story of Life in Texas, 1916, is downright and concrete.


Maxwell Land Grant: A New Mexico Item, Santa Fe, 1942. The Maxwell grant of 1,714,764 acres on the Cimarron River was at one time perhaps the most famous tract of land in the West. This history brings in ranching only incidentally; it focuses on the land business, including grabs by Catron, Dorsey, and other affluent politicians. Perhaps stronger on characters involved during long litigation over the land, and containing more documentary evidence, is The Grant That Maxwell Bought, by F. Stanley, The World Press, Denver, 1952 (a folio of 256 pages in an edition of 250 copies at $15.00). Keleher is a lawyer; Stanley is a priest. Harvey Fergusson in his historical novel Grant of Kingdom, New York, 1950, vividly supplements both. Keleher's second book, The Fabulous Frontier, Rydal, Santa Fe, 1945, illuminates connections between ranch lands and politicians; principally it sketches the careers of A. B. Fall, John Chisum, Pat Garrett, Oliver Lee, Jack Thorp, Gene Rhodes, and other New Mexico notables.


Reminiscences of Outdoor Life, San Francisco, 1929. OP. This is far from being a straight-out range book. It is the easy talk of an urbane man associated with ranches and ranch people who was equally at home in a Chicago office and among fellow congressmen. He had a country-going nature and gusto for character.


Wranglin' the Past, Los Angeles, 1935. King went all the way from Texas to California, listening and looking. OP. His second book, Longhorn Trail Drivers (1940), is worthless. His Pioneer Western Empire Builders (1946) and Mavericks (1947) are no better. Most of the contents of these books appeared in Western Livestock Journal, Los Angeles.


The Golden Hoof, New York, 1945. Story of the sheep and sheep people of the Southwest. Facts, but, above that, truth that comes only through imagination and sympathy. OP. Texas Sheepman, University of Texas Press, Austin, 1951. The edited reminiscences of Robert Maudslay. He drove sheep all over the West, and lived up to the ideals of an honest Englishman in writing as well as in ranching. He had a sense of humor.


The Great Western Trail, New York, 1939. OP. In the upper bracket of autobiographic chronicles, by a sensitive man who never had the provincial point of view. Lampman contemplated as well as observed He felt the pathos of human destiny.


Ranching with Roosevelt, Philadelphia, 1926. Civilized. OP.


Wolfville (1897) and other Wolfville books. All OP. Sketches and rambling stories faithful to cattle backgrounds; flavor and humanity through fictionized anecdote. "The Old Cattleman," who tells all the Wolfville stories, is a substantial and flavorsome creation.


Arizona Characters, Los Angeles, 1928. Skilfully written biographies. OP.


Maverick Town, University of Oklahoma Press, 1946. Tascosa, Texas, on the Canadian River, with emphasis on the guns.


A Stove-up Cowboy's Story, with Introduction by John A. Lomas and Illustrations by Tom Lea, Austin, 1943. OP. "My parents be poor like Job's turkey," McCauley wrote. He was a common cowhand with uncommon saltiness of speech. He wrote as he talked. "God pity the wight for whom this vivid, honest story has no interest," John Lomax pronounced. It is one of several brief books of reminiscences brought out in small editions in the "Range Life Series," under the editorship of J. Frank Dobie, by the Texas Folklore Society. The two others worth having are A Tenderfoot Kid on Gyp Water, by Carl Peters Benedict (1943) and Ed Nichols Rode a Horse, as told to Ruby Nichols Cutbirth (1943).


Historic Sketches of the Cattle Trade of the West and Southwest, Kansas City, 1874. In 1867, McCoy established at Abilene, Kansas, terminus of the Chisholm Trail, the first market upon which Texas drovers could depend. He went broke and thereupon put his sense, information, and vinegar into the first of all range histories. It is a landmark. Of the several reprinted editions, the one preferred is that edited by Ralph P. Bieber, with an information-packed introduction and many illuminating notes, Glendale, California, 1940. This is Volume VIII in the "Southwest Historical Series," edited by Bieber, and the index to it is included in the general index to the whole series. Available is an edition published by Long's College Book Co., Columbus, Ohio. About the best of original sources on McCoy is Twenty Years of Kansas City's Live Stock and Traders, by Cuthbert Powell, Kansas City, 1893 -- one of the rarities.


Cow Range and Hunting Trail, New York, 1925. Among the best of civilized range books. Fresh observations and something besides ordinary narrative. OP. Illustrations by Russell.


See Conn, William.


Banditti of the Plains, or The Cattlemen's Invasion of Wyoming in 1892, Cheyenne, 1894; reprinted at Chicago in 1923 under title of Powder River Invasion, War on the Rustlers in 1892, "Rewritten by John Mercer Boots." Reprinted 1935, with Foreword by James Mitchell Clarke, by the Grabhorn Press, San Francisco. All editions OP. Bloody troubles between cowmen and nesters in Wyoming, the "Johnson County War." For more literature on the subject, consult the entry under Tom Horn in this chapter.


Saddles and Lariats, Boston, 1912. A fictional chronicle, based almost entirely on facts, of a trail herd that tried to get to California in the fifties. The author was a Texan. OP.


History of Natrona County, Wyoming, 1888-1922, Chicago, 1923. Contains some good material on the "Johnson County War." This book is listed as an illustration of many county histories of western states containing concrete information on ranching. Other examples of such county histories are S. D. Butcher's Pioneer History of Custer County (Nebraska), Broken Bow, Nebraska, 1901; History of Jack County (Texas), Jacksboro, Texas (about 1935); Historical Sketch of Parker County and Weatherford, Texas, St. Louis, 1877.


Trail Dust and Saddle Leather, Scribner's, New York, 1946. No better exposition anywhere, and here tellingly illustrated, of reatas, spurs, bits, saddles, and other gear. Californios, Doubleday, Garden City, N. Y., 1949. Profusely illustrated. Largely on vaquero techniques. Jo Mora knew the California vaquero, but did not know the range history of other regions and, therefore, judged as unique what was widespread.


The Range and Ranch Cattle Traffic in the Western States and Territories, Executive Document No. 267, House of Representatives, 48th Congress, 2nd Session, Washington, D. C., 1885. Printed also in one or more other government documents. A statistical record concerning grazing lands, trail driving, railroad shipping of cattle, markets, foreign investments in ranches, etc. This document is the outstanding example of factual material to be found in various government publications, Volume III of the Tenth Census of the United States (1880) being another. The Western Range: Letter from the Secretary of Agriculture, etc (a "letter" 620 pages long), United States Government Printing Office, Washington, 1936, lists many government publications both state and national.


Cattle Empire, Morrow, New York, 1949. History, largely political, of the XIT Ranch. Not so careful in documentation as Haley's XIT Ranch of Texas, and not so detailed on ranch operations, but thoroughly illuminative on the not-heroic side of big businessmen in big land deals. The two histories complement each other.


They Die But Once, New York, 1935. The biographical narrative of a Tejano who vigorously swings a very big loop; fine illustration of the fact that a man can lie authentically. OP.


The Day of the Cattleman, Minneapolis, 1929. Excellent history and excellent bibliography. Northwest. OP.


The Colorado Range Cattle Industry, Clark, Glendale, California, 1937. Dry on facts, but sound in scholarship. Bibliography.


The Cattlemen's Frontier, Clark, Glendale, California, 1936. Economic treatment, faithful but static. Bibliography.


A Lady's Experiences in the Wild West in 1883, London (1883?); second printing with a new preface, 1888. Rose Pender and two fellow-Englishmen went through Wyoming ranch country, stopping on ranches, and she, a very intelligent, spirited woman, saw realities that few other chroniclers suggest. This is a valuable bit of social history.


The Pinto Horse, Santa Barbara, California, 1927. The Phantom Bull, Boston, 1932. Fictional narratives of veracity; literature. OP.

PILGRIM, THOMAS (under pseudonym of Arthur Morecamp).

Live Boys; or Charley and Nasho in Texas, Boston, 1878. The chronicle, little fictionized, of a trail drive to Kansas. So far as I know, this is the first narrative printed on cattle trailing or cowboy life that is to be accounted authentic. The book is dated from Kerrville, Texas.


The Life of Tom Candy Ponting, Decatur, Illinois [1907], reprinted, with Notes and Introduction by Herbert O. Brayer, by Branding Iron Press, Evanston, Illinois, 1952. An account of buying cattle in Texas in 1853, driving them to Illinois, and later shipping some to New York. Accounts of trail driving before about 1870 have been few and obscurely printed. The stark diary kept by George C. Duffield of a drive from San Saba County, Texas, to southern Iowa in 1866 is as realistic -- often agonizing -- as anything extant on this much romanticized subject. It is published in Annals of Iowa, Des Moines, IV (April, 1924), 243-62.


Born in 1864, son of the noted fighting parson," Andrew Jackson Potter, Jack became a far-known trail boss and ranch manager. His first published piece, "Coming Down the Trail," appeared in The Trail Drivers of Texas, compiled by J. Marvin Hunter, and is about the livest thing in that monumental collection. Jack Potter wrote for various Western magazines and newspapers. He was more interested in cow nature than in gun fights; he had humor and imagination as well as mastery of facts and a tangy language, though small command over form. His privately printed booklets are: Lead Steer (with Introduction by J. Frank Dobie), Clayton, N. M., 1939; Cattle Trails of the Old West (with map), Clayton, N.M., 1935; Cattle Trails of the Old West (virtually a new booklet), Clayton, N. M., 1939. All OP.

Prose and Poetry of the Live Stock Industry

Prose and Poetry of the Live Stock Industry of the United States, Denver, 1905. Biographies of big cowmen and history based on genuine research. The richest in matter of all the hundred-dollar-and-up rare books in its field.


Cattle, Garden City, N. Y., 1930. A succinct and vivid focusing of much scattered history. OP.


A Cowman's Wife, Houghton Mifflin, Boston, 1934. Unglossed, impersonal realism about life on a small modern Arizona ranch. Mountain Cattle, 1936, and OP, is an extension of the first book.


Pony Tracks, New York, 1895 (now published by Long's College Book Co., Columbus, Ohio); Crooked Trails, New York, 1898. Sketches and pictures.


West Is West, Once in the Saddle, Good Men and True, Stepsons of Light, and other novels. "Gene" Rhodes had the "right tune." He achieved a style that can be called literary. The Hired Man on Horseback, by May D. Rhodes, is a biography of the writer. Perhaps "Paso Por Aqui" will endure as his masterpiece. Rhodes had an intense loyalty to his land and people; he was as gay, gallant, and witty as he was earnest. More than most Western writers, Rhodes was conscious of art. He had the common touch and also he was a writer for writing men. The elements of simplicity and the right kind of sophistication, always with generosity and with an unflagging zeal for the rights of human beings, were mixed in him. The reach of any ample-natured man exceeds his grasp. Rhodes was ample-natured, but he cannot be classed as great because his grasp was too often disproportionately short of the long reach. His fiction becomes increasingly dated.

The Best Novels and, Stories of Eugene Manlove Rhodes, edited by Frank V. Dearing, Houghton Mifflin, Boston, 1949, contains an introduction, with plenty of anecdotes and too much enthusiasm, by J. Frank Dobie.


A Tenderfoot Bride, Garden City, N. Y., 1920. The experiences of a ranchman's wife in Colorado. The telling has charm, warmth, and flexibility. In the way that art is always truer than a literal report, A Tenderfoot Bride brings out truths of life that the literalistic A Cowman's Wife by Mary Kidder Rak misses.


The Sea of Grass, Knopf, New York, 1937. A poetic portrait in fiction, with psychological values, of a big cowman and his wife.


50 Years in the Saddle, Sheridan, Wyoming, 1942. OP. A natural book with much interesting information. It contains the best account of trailing cattle from Oregon to Wyoming that I have seen.


The Chisholm Trail, 1926. Sam P. Ridings, a lawyer, published this book himself from Medford, Oklahoma. He had gone over the land, lived with range men, studied history. A noble book, rich in anecdote and character. The subtitle reads: "A History of the World's Greatest Cattle Trail, together with a Description of the Persons, a Narrative of the Events, and Reminiscences associated with the Same." OP.


A Ram in a Thicket, Abelard Press, New York, 1950. Robinson is the author of many Westerns, none of which I have read. This is an autobiography, here noted because it reveals a maturity of mind and an awareness of political economy and social evolution hardly suggested by other writers of Western fiction.


The Story of a Ranch, New York, 1885. Philip Ashton Rollins (no relation that I know of to Alice Wellington Rollins) went into Charlie Everitt's bookstore in New York one day and said, "I want every book with the word cowboy printed in it." The Story of a Ranch is listed here to illustrate how titles often have nothing to do with subject. It is without either story or ranch; it is about some dilettanteish people who go out to a Kansas sheep farm, talk Chopin, and wash their fingers in finger bowls.


The Cowboy, Scribner's, New York, 1924. Revised, 1936. A scientific exposition; full. Rollins wrote two Western novels, not important. A wealthy man with ranch experience, he collected one of the finest libraries of Western books ever assembled by any individual and presented it to Princeton University.


Pony Trails in Wyoming, Caldwell, Idaho, 1941. Not inspired and not indispensable, but honest autobiography. OP. Wyoming Cattle Trails, Caxton, Caldwell, Idaho, 1948. A more significant book than the autobiography. Good on trailing cattle from Oregon.


Ranch Life and the Hunting Trail, New York, 1888. Roosevelt understood the West. He became the peg upon which several range books were hung, Hagedorn's Roosevelt in the Bad Lands and Lang's Ranching with Roosevelt in particular. A good summing up, with bibliography, is Roosevelt and the Stockman's Association, by Ray H. Mattison, pamphlet issued by the State Historical Society of North Dakota, Bismarck, 1950.


The Open Range, Salt Lake City, 1930. Reprinted 1936 by Caxton, Caldwell, Idaho. A sensitive range man's response to natural things. The subtitle, Bunk House Philosophy, characterizes the book.


Trails Plowed Under, 1927, with introduction by Will Rogers. Russell was the greatest painter that ever painted a range man, a range cow, a range horse or a Plains Indian. He savvied the cow, the grass, the blizzard, the drought, the wolf, the young puncher in love with his own shadow, the old waddie remembering rides and thirsts of far away and long ago. He was a wonderful storyteller, and most of his pictures tell stories. He never generalized, painting "a man," "a horse," "a buffalo" in the abstract. His subjects are warm with life, whether awake or asleep, at a particular instant, under particular conditions. Trails Plowed Under, prodigally illustrated, is a collection of yarns and anecdotes saturated with humor and humanity. It incorporates the materials in two Rawhide Rawlins pamphlets. Good Medicine, published posthumously, is a collection of Russell's letters, illustrations saying more than written words.

Russell's illustrations have enriched numerous range books, B. M. Bower's novels, Malcolm S. Mackay's Cow Range and Hunting Trail, and Patrick T. Tucker's Riding the High Country being outstanding among them. Tucker's book, autobiography, has a bully chapter on Charlie Russell. Charles M. Russell, the Cowboy Artist: A Bibliography, by Karl Yost, Pasadena, California, 1948, is better composed than its companion biography, Charles M. Russell the Cowboy Artist, by Ramon F. Adams and Homer E. Britzman. (Both OP.) One of the most concrete pieces of writing on Russell is a chapter in In the Land of Chinook, by Al. J. Noyes, Helena, Montana, 1917. "Memories of Charlie Russell," in Memories of Old Montana, by Con Price, Hollywood, 1945, is also good. All right as far as it goes, about a rock's throw away, is "The Conservatism of Charles M. Russell," by J. Frank Dobie, in a portfolio reproduction of Seven Drawings by Charles M. Russell, with an Additional Drawing by Tom Lea, printed by Carl Hertzog, El Paso [1950].


Cowboy, 1928. OP. The plotless narrative, reading like autobiography, of a kid who ran away from a farm in East Texas to be a cowboy in Arizona. His cowpuncher teachers are the kind "who know what a cow is thinking of before she knows herself." Passages in Cowboy combine reality and elemental melody in a way that almost no other range writer excepting Charles M. Russell has achieved. Santee is a pen-and-ink artist also. Among his other books, Men and Horses is about the best.


North from Texas: Incidents in the Early Life of a Range Man in Texas, Dakota and Wyoming, 1852-1883, edited by Herbert O. Brayer. Branding Iron Press, Evanston, Illinois, 1952. Edition limited to 750 copies. I first met this honest autobiography by long quotations from it in Virginia Cole Trenholm's Footprints on the Frontier (Douglas, Wyoming, 1945), wherein I learned that Shaw's narrative had been privately printed in Cheyenne in 1931, in pamphlet form, for gifts to a few friends and members of the author's family. I tried to buy a copy but could find none for sale at any price. This reprint is in a format suitable to the economical prose, replete with telling incidents and homely details. It will soon be only a little less scarce than the original.


The Autobiography of Dennis Sheedy. Privately printed in Denver, 1922 or 1923. Sixty pages bound in leather and as scarce as psalm-singing in "fancy houses." The item is not very important in the realm of range literature but it exemplifies the successful businessman that the judicious cowman of open range days frequently became.


The Life and Times of Timothy Dwight Hobart, 1855-1935, Panhandle-Plains Historical Society, Canyon, Texas, 1950. Hobart was manager for the large J A Ranch, established by Charles Goodnight. He had a sense of history. This mature biography treats of important developments pertaining to ranching in the Texas Panhandle.


A Texas Cowboy, or Fifteen Years on the Hurricane Deck of a Spanish Cow Pony, 1885. The first in time of all cowboy autobiographies and first, also, in plain rollickiness. Siringo later told the same story with additions under the titles of A Lone Star Cowboy, A Cowboy Detective, etc., all out of print. Finally, there appeared his Riata and Spurs, Boston, 1927, a summation and extension of previous autobiographies. Because of a threatened lawsuit, half of it had to be cut and additional material provided for a "Revised Edition." No other cowboy ever talked about himself so much in print; few had more to talk about. I have said my full say on him in an introduction, which includes a bibliography, to A Texas Cowboy, published with Tom Lea illustrations by Sloane, New York, 1950. OP.


Life on the Texas Range, photographs by Smith and text by Haley, University of Texas Press, Austin, 1952. Erwin Smith yearned and studied to be a sculptor. Early in this century he went with camera to photograph the life of land, cattle, horses, and men on the big ranches of West Texas. In him feeling and perspective of artist were fused with technical mastership. "I don't mean," wrote Tom Lea, "that he made just the best photographs I ever saw on the subject. I mean the best pictures. That includes paintings, drawings, prints." On 9 by 12 pages of 100-pound antique finish paper, the photographs are superbly reproduced. Evetts Haley's introduction interprets as well as chronicles the life of a strange and tragic man. The book is easily the finest range book in the realm of the pictorial ever published.


Garden of the Sun, Los Angeles, 1939. OP. Despite the banal title, this is a scholarly work with first-rate chapters on California horses and ranching in the San Joaquin Valley.

SNYDER, A. B., as told to Nellie Snyder Yost.

Pinnacle Jake, Caxton, Caldwell, Idaho, 1951. The setting is Nebraska, Wyoming, and Montana from the 1880's on. Had Pinnacle Jake kept a diary, his accounts of range characters, especially camp cooks and range horses, with emphasis on night horses and outlaws, could not have been fresher or more precise in detail. Reading this book will not give a new interpretation of open range work with big outfits, but the aliveness of it in both narrative and sketch makes it among the best of old-time cowboy reminiscences.


Cowboys and Cattle Kings: Life on the Range Today, University of Oklahoma Press, Norman, 1950. An interviewer's findings without the historical criticism exemplified by Bernard DeVoto on the subject of federal-owned ranges (in essays in Harper's Magazine during the late 1940'S).

STANLEY, CLARK, "better known as the Rattlesnake King."

The Life and Adventures of the American Cow-Boy, published by the author at Providence, Rhode Island, 1897. This pamphlet of forty-one pages, plus about twenty pages of Snake Oil Liniment advertisements, is one of the curiosities of cowboy literature. It includes a collection of cowboy songs, the earliest I know of in time of printing, antedating by eleven years Jack Thorp's booklet of cowboy songs printed at Estancia, New Mexico, in 1908. Clark Stanley no doubt used the contents of his pamphlet in medicine show harangues, thus adding to the cowboy myth. As time went on, he added scraps of anecdotes and western history, along with testimonials, to the pamphlet, the latest edition I have seen being about 1906, printed in Worcester, Massachusetts.


Bucking the Sagebrush, New York, 1904. OP. Charming; much of nature. Illustrated by Russell.


Meet Mr. Grizzly, University of New Mexico Press, Albuquerque, 1943. Stevens, a Cambridge Englishman, ranched, hunted, and made deductions. See characterization under "Bears and Bear Hunters."


Prairie Trails and Cow Towns, Boston, 1936. OP. This brings together considerable information on Kansas cow towns. Primary books on the subject, besides those by Stuart Henry, McCoy, Vestal, and Wright herewith listed, are The Oklahoma Scout, by Theodore Baughman, Chicago, 1886; Midnight and Noonday, by G. D. Freeman, Caldwell, Kansas, 1892; biographies of Wild Bill Hickok, town marshal; Stuart N. Lake's biography of Wyatt Earp, another noted marshal; Hard Knocks, by Harry Young, Chicago, 1915, not too prudish to notice dance hall girls but too Victorian to say much. Many Texas trail drivers had trouble as well as fun in the cow towns. Life and Adventures of Ben Thompson, by W. M. Walton, 1884, reprinted at Bandera, Texas, 1926, gives samples. Thompson was more gambler than cowboy; various other men who rode from cow camps into town and found themselves in their element were gamblers and gunmen first and cowboys only in passing.


Forty Years on the Frontier, two volumes, Cleveland, 1925. Nothing better on the cowboy has ever been written than the chapter entitled "Cattle Business" in Volume II. A prime work throughout. OP.

THORP, JACK (N. Howard)

has a secure place in range literature because of his contribution in cowboy songs. (See entry under "Cowboy Songs and Other Ballads.") In 1926 he had printed at Santa Fe a paper-backed book of 123 pages entitled Tales of the Chuck Wagon, but "didn't sell more than two or three million copies." Some of the tales are in his posthumously published reminiscences, Pardner of the Wind (as told to Neil McCullough Clark, Caxton, Caldwell, Idaho, 1945) . This book is richest on range horses, and will be found listed in the section on "Horses."


Shepherd's Empire, University of Oklahoma Press, Norman, 1945. Not firsthand in the manner of Gilfillan's Sheep, nor charming and light in the manner of Kupper's The Golden Hoof, but an essayical history, based on research. The deference paid to Mary Austin's The Flock marks the author as civilized. Towne wrote the book; Wentworth supplied the information. Wentworth's own book, America's Sheep Trails, Iowa State College Press, Ames, 1948, is ponderous, amorphous, and in part, only a eulogistic "mugbook."


A Tenderfoot in Colorado, London, 1923; The Tenderfoot in New Mexico, 1924. Delightful as well as faithful. Literature by an Englishman who translated Tacitus under the spires of Oxford after he retired from the range.


The Cattle King, New York, 1931; reissued by Christopher, Boston. A strong biography of a very strong man -- Henry Miller of California.


Footprints on the Frontier, Douglas, Wyoming, 1945. OP. The best range material in this book is a reprint of parts of James C. Shaw's Pioneering in Texas and Wyoming, privately printed at Cheyenne in 1931.


On the Hoof in Nevada, Gehrett-Truett-Hall, Los Angeles, 1950. A 613-page album of cattle brands -- priced at $10.00. The introduction is one of the sparse items on Nevada ranching.


Riding the High Country, Caldwell, Idaho, 1933. A brave book with much of Charlie Russell in it. OP.

VESTAL, STANLEY (pen name for Walter S. Campbell).

Queen of Cow Towns, Dodge City, Harper, New York, 1952. "Bibulous Babylon," "Killing of Dora Hand," and "Marshals for Breakfast" are chapter titles suggesting the tenor of the book.

Vocabulario y Refranero Criollo,

text and illustrations by Tito Saudibet, Guillermo Kraft Ltda., Buenos Aires, 1945. North American ranges have called forth nothing to compare with this fully illustrated, thorough, magnificent history-dictionary of the gaucho world. It stands out in contrast to American slapdash, puerile-minded pretenses at dictionary treatises on cowboy life.

"He who knows only the history of his own country does not know it." The cowboy is not a singular type. He was no better rider than the Cossack of Asia. His counterpart in South America, developed also from Spanish cattle, Spanish horses, and Spanish techniques, is the gaucho. Literature on the gaucho is extensive, some of it of a high order. Primary is Martin Fierro, the epic by Jose Hernandez (published 1872-79). A translation by Walter Owen was published in the United States in 1936. No combination of knowledge, sympathy, imagination, and craftsmanship has produced stories and sketches about the cowboy equal to those on the gaucho by W. H. Hudson, especially in Tales of the Pampas and Far Away and Long Ago, and by R. B. Cunninghame Graham, whose writings are dispersed and difficult to come by.


The Great Plains, Ginn, Boston, 1931. While this landmark in historical interpretation of the West is by no means limited to the subject of grazing, it contains a long and penetrating chapter entitled "The Cattle Kingdom." The book is an analysis of land, climate, barbed wire, dry farming, wells and windmills, native animal life, etc. No other work on the plains country goes so meatily into causes and effects.


The Trampling Herd, Doubleday, Garden City, N. Y., 1939; reissued, 1951. An attempt to sum up the story of the cattle range in America.


Arizona Nights, 1902. "Rawhide," one of the stories in this excellent collection, utilizes folk motifs about rawhide with much skill.


Cowboys Out Our Way, with an Introduction by J. Frank Dobie, Scribner's, New York, 1951. An album reproducing about two hundred of the realistic, humorous, and human J. R. Williams syndicated cartoons. This book was preceded by Out Our Way, New York, 1943, and includes numerous cartoons therein printed. There was an earlier and less extensive collection. Modest Jim Williams has been progressively dissatisfied with all his cartoon books -- and with cartoons not in books. I like them and in my Introduction say why.


The Virginian, 1902. Wister was an outsider looking in. His hero, "The Virginian," is a cowboy without cows -- like the cowboys of Eugene Manlove Rhodes; but this hero does not even smell of cows, whereas Rhodes's men do. Nevertheless, the novel authentically realizes the code of the range, and it makes such absorbing reading that in fifty years (1902-52) it sold over 1,600,000 copies, not counting foreign translations and paper reprints.

Wister was an urbane Harvard man, of clubs and travels. In 1952 the University of Wyoming celebrated the fiftieth anniversary of the publication of The Virginian. To mark the event, Frances K. W. Stokes wrote My Father Owen Wister, a biographical pamphlet including "ten letters written to his mother during his trip to Wyoming in 1885" -- a trip that prepared him to write the novel. The pamphlet is published at Laramie, Wyoming, name of publisher not printed on it.

Charles M. Russell, in Owen Wister's
The Virginian (1916 edition)


A Three-Foot Stool, New York and London, 1909. Like several other Englishmen who went west, Wright had the perspective that enabled him to comprehend some aspects of ranch life more fully than many range men who knew nothing but their own environment and times. He compares the cowboy to the cowherd described by Queen Elizabeth's Spenser. Into exposition of ranching on the Gila, he interweaves talk on Arabian afreets, Stevenson's philosophy of adventure, and German imperialism.


Dodge City, Cowboy Capital, Wichita, Kansas, 1913; reprinted. Good on the most cowboyish of all the cow towns.


Pamphlets are an important source of knowledge in all fields. No first-class library is without them. Most of them become difficult to obtain, and some bring higher prices than whole sets of books. Of numerous pamphlets pertaining to the range, only a few are listed here. History of the Chisum War, or Life of Ike Fridge, by Ike Fridge, Electra, Texas (undated), is as compact as jerked beef and as laconic as conversation in alkali dust. James F. Hinkle, in his Early Days of a Cowboy on the Pecos, Roswell, New Mexico, 1937, says: "One noticeable characteristic of the cowpunchers was that they did not talk much." Some people don't have to talk to say plenty. Hinkle was one of them. At a reunion of trail drivers in San Antonio in October, 1928, Fred S. Millard showed me his laboriously written reminiscences. He wanted them printed. I introduced him to J. Marvin Hunter of Bandera, Texas, publisher of Frontier Times. I told Hunter not to ruin the English by trying to correct it, as he had processed many of the earth-born reminiscences in The Trail Drivers of Texas. He printed Millard's A Cowpuncher of the Pecos in pamphlet form shortly thereafter. It begins: "This is a piece I wrote for the Trail Drivers." They would understand some things on which he was not explicit.

About 1940, as he told me, Bob Beverly of Lovington, New Mexico, made a contract with the proprietor of the town's weekly newspaper to print his reminiscences. By the time the contractor had set eighty-seven pages of type he saw that he would lose money if he set any more. He gave Bob Beverly back more manuscript than he had used and stapled a pamphlet entitled Hobo of the Rangeland. The philosophy in it is more interesting to me than the incidents. "The cowboy of the old West worked in a land that seemed to be grieving over something -- a kind of sadness, loneliness in a deathly quiet. One not acquainted with the plains could not understand what effect it had on the mind. It produced a heartache and a sense of exile."

Crudely printed, but printed as the author talked, is The End of the Long Horn Trail, by A. P. (Ott) Black, Selfridge, North Dakota (August, 1939) . As I know from a letter from his compadre, Black was blind and sixty-nine years old when he dictated his memoirs to a college graduate who had sense enough to retain the flavor. Black's history is badly botched, but reading him is like listening. "It took two coons and an alligator to spend the summer on that cotton plantation. . . . Cowpunchers were superstitious about owls. One who rode into my camp one night had killed a man somewhere and was on the dodge. He was lying down by the side of the campfire when an owl flew over into some hackberry trees close by and started hooting. He got up from there right now, got his horse in, saddled up and rode off into the night."

John Alley is -- or was -- a teacher. His Memories of Roundup Days, University of Oklahoma Press, 1934 (just twenty small pages), is an appraisal of range men, a criticism of life seldom found in old-timers who look back. On the other hand, some pamphlets prized by collectors had as well not have been written. Here is the full title of an example: An Aged Wanderer, A Life Sketch of J. M. Parker, A Cowboy of the Western Plains in the Early Days. "Price 40 cents. Headquarters, Elkhorn Wagon Yard, San Angelo, Texas." It was printed about 1923. When Parker wrote it he was senile, and there is no evidence that he was ever possessed of intelligence. The itching to get into print does not guarantee that the itcher has anything worth printing.

Some of the best reminiscences have been pried out of range men. In 1914 the Wyoming Stock Growers Association resolved a Historical Commission into existence. A committee was appointed and, naturally, one man did the work. In 1923 a fifty-five-page pamphlet entitled Letters from Old Friends and Members of the Wyoming Stock Growers Association was printed at Cheyenne. It is made up of unusually informing and pungent recollections by intelligent cowmen.

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