Archive for the ‘Prairie Life’ Category

True Blue

November 26, 2012

Image from Going on 80

True Blue
The farmer may have whiskers, but
He is no Bolshevik,
The Reds they cannot fool him with
A propaganda trick,
He’ll never be a Socialist,
Or join the Trotzky clan;
He will remain just what he is,
A good American.

They’ve tried to win him over to
Defy his country’s law,
But farmer man just shakes his head
And firmly sets his jaw.
By heck, they cannot make him budge,
He is not built that way,
He’s a good and solid backer,
Of the old U.S.A.

They cannot get him out on strike
To plow and hoe the sticks;
He is agin’ all Anarchists,
All Reds and Bolsheviks.
So here is to the Farmer Man
With hayseed in his hair;
As true and good American
As you’ll find anywhere.

— Brooklyn Standard-Union.

Olean Evening Times (Olean, New York) Nov 18, 1919

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After Many Days

November 10, 2012

Image from VisualizeUs

AFTER MANY DAYS.

The hills were burned with autumn’s tan,
Between them slow the river ran.
The woods were purpled haze;
Now black the line of hills, and sere,
And locked the stream — but you are here,
Now, after many days.

The fields where once the furrows lay
Have learned the touch of yesterday
Along their crumbling ways;
And you shall find them white with snow,
Brown though they were in long ago —
Now, after many days.

The thickets where the cat-bird called
The meadows by green hedges walled,
And stretch of briery maze,
Have passed and vanished, fled and gone,
Melted like starlight into dawn,
Now, after many days.

Full many a sign and sense of change
That seasons brings of new and strange
Will come to meet your gaze;
Bleak paths where once the violet sprang,
Dead branches where the robins sang,
Now, after many days.

But steadfast as the Northern star,
Whatever changes be or are,
Howe’er the season sways,
You know the love that rules my heart
Is yours, though long our hands apart,
Now, after many days.

— Ernest McGaffey in Woman’s Home Companion.

Lima News (Lima, Ohio) Oct 31, 1898

Image from dreamstime

The Useful Plow

October 24, 2012

THE USEFUL PLOW

A country life is sweet!
In moderate cold and heat,
To walk in the air how pleasant and fair!
In every field of wheat,
The fairest of flowers adorning the bowers,
And every meadow’s brow;
So that I say, to courtier may
Compare with them who clothe in gray
And follow the useful plow.

They rise with the morning lark,
And labor till almost dark,
Then, folding their sheep, they hasten to sleep
While every pleasant park
Next morning is ringing with birds that are singing
On each green tender bough.
With what content and merriment,
Their days are spent, whose minds are bent
To follow the useful plow.

— Unknown.

Corpus Christi Times (Corpus Crispi, Texas) Nov 17, 1930

Will Carleton – The World Rides on Without You

October 16, 2012

“When the hill of toil was steepest;
When the forest-frown was deepest,
Poor, but young, you hastened here;
Came where solid hope was cheapest—
Came—a pioneer.
Made the Western jungles view
Civilization’s charms;
Snatched a home for yours and you,
From the lean tree-arms.
Toil had never cause to doubt you—
Progress’ path you helped to clear;
But to-day forgets about you,
And the world rides on without you—
Sleep, old pioneer.

WILL CARLETON.

Title: Silhouettes from Life on the Prairie, in the Backwoods
Author: Anson Uriel Hancock
Publisher: Charles H. Kerr & Company, 1893

(Google Book Link)

Image of the Poor House and poem from Hillsdale County Community Center

OVER THE HILL TO THE POOR HOUSE

By Will Carleton

Over the hill to the poor-house I’m trudgin’ my weary way—
I, a woman of seventy, and only a trifle gray—
I, who am smart an’ chipper, for all the years I’ve told,
As many another woman that’s only half as old.

Over the hill to the poor-house—I can’t quite make it clear!
Over the hill to the poor-house—it seems so horrid queer!
Many a step I’ve taken a-toilin’ to and fro,
But this is a sort of journey I never thought to go.

What is the use of heapin’ on me a pauper’s shame?
Am I lazy or crazy? Am I blind or lame?
True, I am not so supple, nor yet so awful stout:
But charity ain’t no favor, if one can live without.

I am willin’ and anxious an’ ready any day
To work for a decent livin’, an’ pay my honest way;
For I can earn my victuals, an’ more too, I’ll be bound,
If any body only is willin’ to have me round.

Once I was young an’ han’some—I was, upon my soul—
Once my cheeks was roses, my eyes as black as coal;
An I can’t remember, in them days, of hearin’ people say,
For any kind of reason, that I was in their way.

‘Tain’t no use of boastin’, or talkin’ over free,
But many a house an’ home was open then to me
Many a han’some offer I had from likely men,
And nobody ever hinted that I was a burden then.

An when to John I was married, sure he was good and smart,
But he and all the neighbors would own I done my part;
For life was all before me, an’ I was young an’ strong,
And I worked the best that I could in tryin’ to get along.

An so we worked together; and life was hard, but gay,
With now and then a baby for to cheer us on our way;
Till we had half a dozen, an’ all growed clean an’ neat,
An’ went to school like other, an’ had enough to eat.

So we worked for the child’rn, and raised ‘em every one;
Worked for ‘em summer and winter, just as we ought to ’ve done;
Only perhaps we humored ‘em, which some good folks condemn.
But every couple’s child’rn’s a heap the best to them.

Strange how much we think of our blessed little ones!—
I’d have died for my daughters, I’d have died for my sons;
And God he made that rule of love; but when we’re old and gray,
I’ve noticed it sometimes somehow fails to work the other way.

Strange, another thing: when our boys an’ girls was grown,
An when, exceptin’ Charley, they’d left us there alone;
When John he nearer an’ nearer come, an’ dearer seemed to be,
The Lord of Hosts he come one day an’ took him away from me.

Still I was bound to struggle, an’ never to cringe or fall—
Still I worked for Charley, for Charley was now my all;
And Charley was pretty good to me, with scarce a word or frown,
Till at last he went a-courtin’, and brought a wife from town.

She was somewhat dressy, an’ hadn’t a pleasant smile—
She was quite conceity, and carried a heap o’ style;
But if ever I tried to be friends, I did with her, I know;
But she was hard and proud, an’ I couldn’t make it go.

She had an edication, an’ that was good for her;
But when she twitted me on mine, ‘twas carryin’ things too fur;
An’ IL told her once, ‘fore company (an’it almost made her sick),
That I never swallowed a grammar,or ‘et ‘rithmetic.

So ‘twas only a few days before the thing was done—
They was a family of themselves, and I another one;
And a very little cottage one family will do,
But I never have seen a house that was big enough for two.

An’ I never could speak to suit her, never could please her eye,
An’ it made me independent, and then I didn’t try;
But I was terribly staggered, an’ felt it like a blow,
When Charley turned ag’in me, an’ told me I could go.

I went to live with Susan, but Susan’s house was small,
And she was always a-hintin’ how snug it was for us all;
And what with her husband’s sister, and what with child’rn three,
‘Twas easy to discover that there wasn’t room for me.

An’ then I went to Thomas, the oldest son I’ve got,
For Thomas’s buildings’d cover the half of an acre lot;
But all the child’rn was on me—I couldn’t stand their sauce—
And Thomas said I needn’t think I was comin’ there to boss.

An’ then I wrote to Rebecca, my girl who lives out West,
And to Isaac, not far from her—some twenty miles at best;
And one of’em said’twas too warm there for any one so old,
And t’other had an opinion the climate was too cold.

So they have shirked and slighted me,an’ shifted me about-
So they have well-nigh soured me,an’ wore my old heart out;
But still I’ve borne up pretty well, an’ wasn’t much put down,
Till Charley went to the poor-master, an’ put me on the town.

Over the hill to the poor-house–my chil’rn dear, good-by!
Many a night I’ve watched you when only God was nigh;
And God ‘ll judge between us; but I will al’ays pray
That you shall never suffer the half I do to-day.

“People Count Themselves to Death in This Life”

September 24, 2012

Image from Today in Literature

Superior Sagas

By INEZ ROBB

This country has run plumb out of frontier. But despite the laments of the pessimists, it has not run out of the bold, freewheeling pioneer spirit before which the frontier vanished.

That, says an expert (borrowing from Freud) is the reason we Americans are crazy about westerns; We read ’em by the thousands to sublimate our intense yearning to pack up the covered-wagon and git for the great open spaces.

And that goes for President Eisenhower, too, who is one of the most consecrated devotees of western fiction in the country.
So says Louis L’Amour (his square name), walking encyclopedia of the Old West and author of “Hondo” and other superior sagas of the wild and woolly.

“The American is still a tough hombre, rough and ready, no matter what sociologists say about the debilitating effects of central heating, can openers and air-conditioned autos,” said L’Amour when I cornered him for luncheon the other day.

*     *     *

Product of West

A product of the Old West and the descendant of pioneers, at least one of whom lost his hair to the Sioux, the author bases this heartening appraisal of his fellow citizens in part on his experience with them in a tank destroyer unit in Europe during World War II.

“It may take a jolt to waken that tough, rough and ready streak in him, but he’s got it, even here in the effete East,” says L’Amour.

Born in North Dakota, this is one western author who spent his childhood playing cowboy and Indians with real cowboys and bona fide Indians. There he began to collect, subconsciously, the extraordinary range of western lore that makes the background of his western as authentic and factual as a history of the period.

“I’ve got no time for this Hopalong Cassidy stuff,” said L’Amour, who looks as big and rough hewn as any of his heroes. Having committed heresy, he went on to say that his hero gets the girl, if any, and doesn’t have to go around kissing horses in the sunset.

Even though the Indians scalped his great-grandfather, the author has affection and respect for the noble Redskin and treats him as a man with problems, mainly the pale face, in his fiction.

Not only is L’Amour recognized as a real long-hair student of the Old West as pertains to the pioneers but as an expert on the American Indian, his life and hard times. The two fields mesh and L’Amour is toying with the idea of writing a dictionary or encyclopedia on both.

Most Americans today, he pointed out, don’t even know such elementary facts as why the pioneer used oxen rather than horses or mules on the trek west, or how much goods and gear a covered wagon held.

*     *     *

Lot More Tasty

Fully loaded, the wagon would tote 2500 pounds. And nature provided the oxen with large hoofs which didn’t sink into sand or sod as did the dainty hoofs of horses and mules. And, in addition, oxen were a lot more tasty in the stew pot if worse came to worst and an animal had to be killed for food.

L’Amour always intended to be an author, but never of westerns. His first novels were about the East Indies, on which he is also an expert. In fact, this inexhaustible man is a student and expert on a dizzying number of subjects, Indian archeology and the 12th Century, to name two.

He recently signed a contract to do two novels on the 12th Century theme. But in the intermin, he has a number of novels on the fire for Americans who long for a home where the buffalo roam and who, when they settle down with a good book, begin to hum “Don’t Fence Me In.”

Albuquerque Tribune (Alburquerque, New Mexico) Aug 12, 1954

This Writer’s Life Better Than Stories

By HAL DOYLE

NEW YORK (AP) — “People count themselves to death in this life,” said Louis L’Amour, declining to give his age.

With L’Amour, one of America’s  most prolific adventure writers, keeping his age to himself isn’t a matter of vanity. It’s a philosophy.

“It isn’t the number of years you’ve lived that’s important,” he said, “It’s a mistake to measure living in terms of years. It’s how you’ve spent the years that puts real meaning into existence.”

Judged by most standards, L’Amour has had enough experiences to last the ordinary man through several reincarnations.

The average adventure writer is a swivel chair dreamer who would think twice before picking a quarrel with his dentist.  L’Amour not only looks like the adventure heroes he writes about — he probably could whip one of his own heroes in a fight with either fist or gun.

The big 6-foot-1 inch author weighs 200 and is a judo expert as well as an authority on desert or jungle survival. He has been a sailor, a miner, a hobo, a professional boxer — he won 54 bouts, lost 5 — and an antitank combat officer in World War II.

At 15 he left his home in Jamestown, N.D., and joined a circus as the first step in a search for adventure that has carried him to almost every place in the world.

“Even then I knew I wanted to write,” he recalled. “But I figured I could learn more out of school than in it. I felt I had to see life before I could write about it.”

“I had 200 stories rejected before I sold my first one for $10,” he recalled.

His career has now reached the jackpot stage. He has published more than 400 short stories, turned out half a dozen adventure novels, including “Hondo,” made into a movie starring John Wayne, to whom he bears a strong physical resemblance. Recently he sold a magazine serial for $15,000, sat down and wrote another book, “We Shape the Land,” in 55 hours at the typewriter in 5 days.

L’Amour, whose own experiences have proved a fruitful gold mine, has no patience with people who think of adventure as something limited to the glamerous past.

“It isn’t,” he said soberly. “There is more adventure alive in the world today than there ever was, plenty of unexplored places. Adventure is there waiting for any man with the courage to go and find it. But you’ll never discover it by looking at the calendar — and counting yourself to death.”

Abilene Reporter News (Abilene, Texas) Apr 25, 1955

*     *     *

Proving, once again,  that “going to school” is not the same thing as “receiving an education”:

Anderson Daily Bulletin (Anderson, Indiana) Sep 16, 1954

*     *     *

Panaman City News (Panama City, Florida) Jul 16, 1969

*     *     *

One of several Louis L’Amour books made into a movie:

Hammond Times (Hammond, Indiana) Sep 27, 1956

*     *     *

A real “corker” of a quote:

The Daily Intelligencer (Doylestown, Pennsylvania) Dec 27, 1955

Till the Air with Smoke is Blue

September 18, 2012

Image from mt.gov — More about: Montana Governor William Elmer Holt

POEM FOR GOVERNOR IS WRITTEN BY ‘POKE

Governor Elmer Holt has been asked to be godfather to a baby to be born in Germany in May, has been asked to find a wife for a California soldier with a bonus, and now he has invoked the poetic genius of a Colorado cowboy who wants to dedicate a poem to him.

The governor received a letter yesterday from Victor Rylatt of Maybell, Colorado, who some years ago “spent a happy summer” in Montana.

Enclosed in the letter was a bit of western verse which the poet wondered “could be dedicated to you?”

Here it is:

Let a broke, but handsome cowboy on the trail
Meet a rancher’s daughter going for the mail.
Let her tell him how some bad men
Plan to rob and kill her dad, when
He takes his herd of cattle down for sale.
Let the cowboy saddle up at early dawn,
And salute the rising sun with saddle horn.
Then behind a butte take shelter,
For some hours to smoke and swelter
Till the air with smoke is blue, travel worn.

When the wildly riding rustlers all attack,
And the bullets all around him go ‘kersmack,’
Let him wipe out all the crew
Til the air with smoke is blue.
Then gather up their weapons in a sack.
Let us finish with a chapter that encharms
‘Twill be pleasing change from war’s alarm;
As beneath his huge sombrero,
Our deadly shooting hero
Takes the shy, but willing maiden in his arms.

The Helena Independent (Helena, Montana) Mar 3, 1936

Note: Victor Rylatt was born in 1884, England. He migrated first to Canada (not sure when) then came to the United States by way of Michigan in 1913.  His planned destination on his border crossing document was Milwaukee, WI. In 1920 he was on a farm in Nebraska, and in 1930 Colorado. It doesn’t appear he ever found his “rancher’s daughter,”  as he is listed as single on the census records as well as his naturalization record.

Teacher is Born in a Wagon Train

September 7, 2012

PACIFIC GROVE, Aug. 25. —  Mrs. Alice Ede Gamman, Former high school teacher in this state and in Nevada, and now a resident of this city, is another “covered wagon baby.” She was born near the Platte river in June, 1862, while her parents, Mr. and Mrs. Stephen Ede, were on their way west in a wagon train from Waukesha, Wisconsin.

Mrs. Gamman’s parents settled in Summit, now Chilkoot, Plumas county, where her brothers engaged in the cattle business. In 1875 the family moved to Reno, Nev. Mrs. Gamman was educated in the public schools of Nevada and California, and graduated from the old Napa college in 1883. Afterward she taught in grammar and high schools of Nevada and California for nearly 30 years.

In 1905 she married Robert W. Gamman, son of another pioneer family. He died in 1918.

Oakland Tribune (Oakland, California) Aug 25, 1925

Nevada State Journal (Reno, Nevada) Feb 9, 1915

Image from Find-A-Grave

Mrs. Alice Gamman Dies in California

Mrs. Alice Ede Gamman, former resident of Nevada, died Friday at her home at Pacific Grove, Calif., friends in Reno were informed yesterday. She was the eldest daughter of the late Stephen Ede, old-time resident.

Mrs. Gamman left here several years ago to reside on the coast. She was an aunt of Mrs. Harry J. Frost of Reno and leaves other relatives in western Nevada and Sierra valley,

Funeral services will be held in Oakland Tuesday at 11 a.m. followed by cremation. The ashes will be accompanied to Reno for burial in Mountain View cemetery.

Nevada State Journal (Reno, Nevada) Apr 21, 1935

Nevada State Journal (Reno, Nevada) Apr 30, 1935

Beans with Honey

August 8, 2012

Image from Old Picture of the Day

Cowboy poetry:

He mixed his beans with honey,
He’d done it all his life.
Not because he like it,
But to keep them on his knife.

Amarillo Globe (Amarillo, Texas) Oct 7, 1925

Shocking Murder — Seven Persons Butchered and Burnt in the Night

June 11, 2012

Shocking Murder — Seven Persons Butchered and Burnt in the Night.

ST. JOSEPH, May 22, 1856.

Last night one of the most diabolical and terrible murders occurred within four miles of this city, that ever shocked a community or outraged humanity.

Mr. Jacob Friend, with his wife and five children, resided in a neat cabin, embowered by ancient forests, upon the border of the beautiful lake which lies just below our town, and cultivated, in a quiet, but profitable way, a piece of land which he had reclaimed from the wilderness. — The banks of the lake are dotted with these simple habitations, and neighbors were all around him, but his house was not visible to any in consequence of the intervening foliage. The hall of a man or the barking of a dog, could, however, be distinctly heard.

Young Barada was there last evening, and left them all in the enjoyment of health and happiness. This morning a young lady was passing, and found the house and its inhabitants in ashes.

The news spread like wild-fire, and in a few hours many from our city and neighborhood were on the spot. The natural question with every one was, how so many persons could have been burned in one room.

The cabin contained but one room, about sixteen feet square, with two doors, a window and a fire-place. The window and the fire place were in the opposite ends, and the two doors in the opposite sides. One either side of the window, with their feet towards the doors, had stood the beds in which the family slept. From where the beds stood, egress was easy and convenient through the window and doors.

It was hardly possible, then, that seven persons — a man of forty-five, a woman of forty, a young man of eighteen, a girl of sixteen, and three small children, could have been burnt from fire originating in the fire-place. There were too many ways of escaping. Nor for the same reason could they be burned to death, if the fire had been communited to any part of the building. The conclusion, then, before any examination, was, that murder, most foul and unnatural, had been busy with his bloody knife, before the fire was ignited.

This conclusion was confirmed by silent evidences which lay around. There in the corner, near the fire-place, was a skeleton, and there, just in front of the fire-place, was another; and where the beds had stood, were all the others — a large one with the smallest clasped in its arms, and the rest clustered near. These were evidently the mother and children. Those near the fire-place, the father and the son. By one of the latter was a large knife; and by the other, a three pronged pitchfork, with points extremely sharpened and in front of the house a revolver was found.

The jury of inquest are now sitting. — They have arrived at no further conclusion, as yet, than that it was a horrible murder. They will take measures — indeed are doing so already, by examination of witnesses and the weapons found — to trace the murderers. God grant that they may be found and brought to justice. This is the sentiment and prayer of every good men in our country.

No event has ever given our community so serious a shock. Our people have been always noted for their liberality, and personal security. It has been unusual to fasten the doors at night, and sometimes in summer, even to close them. — There are not five houses in a hundred with locks upon them. They, nearly all, have the strings always hanging out. — This horrible midnight assassination, therefore, has been more startling than an earthquake, and the whole country are aroused. There must have been more than one engaged in this fiendish work.– They will be traced, I have no doubt. If “murder will out,” then this must certainly be soon developed. I will inform you of further discoveries. Mr. Friend was a good, industrious and prosperous man. —

As I was told to-day by a neighbor, his excellent character and upright deportment made him enemies among the reckless and dissipated. It is said he had a dispute with one of this class, a short time since, about a hog. It was also thought that he had several hundred dollars in gold saved up. What induced the murder, therefore, must have been jealousy, hatred or cupidity; or, perhaps, all.

Allen County Democrat (Lima, Ohio) Jun 7, 1856

A Sharp’s Rifle Sermon

June 10, 2012

Image from NPS – Firearms Used At Fort Smith

A Sharp’s Rifle Sermon.

The Albany Statesman has the following letter from the “Rev. Dr. Screecher” to his friend and brother, “Horace Steely,” dated at the “Parsonage of Church of Holy Rifles.”

Horace Greeley image from Mr. Lincoln and New York

MY DEAR BROTHER: — I preached last Sunday, with great acceptance, from the text “Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.” The house was full, and I had a good time. Much additional interest was thrown around the service from the fact that a large company of freedom-shriekers, on their way to Kanzas, were present. I combatted the old fashioned notions, and, I think, successfully, that the religion of the New Testament was to bring peace on earth and good will to men. I showed the fallacy of all those teachings of the Apostles which speak of rendering unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s — of being subject to the higher powers, because they were ordained of God, &c., &c. I admitted that there was a time when these injunctions were imperative and binding; but I proved, and, I think, clearly, that theology, like all other sciences, is progressive, and that steam engines and Sharp’s rifles are now the true Evangels. In conformity with this position, I assume that the word translated “preach” should be rendered “shoot,” so that the text, as in my version, would read: “Go ye into all the world and shoot the gospel (from Sharp’s rifles) at every creature.” The more I reflect upon the subject the more I am persuaded that this is the true mode of gospel propagandism.

With Sharp’s rifles, and the bible for wadding, scripture truth can be sent directly home to the hearts of the people, and be inwardly digested by them.

Brother Kill’em (glorious name, how I love it!) has sent one of these missionaries to Kanzas, and many others among the meek and lowly disciples are following his example. The thing takes wonderfully, and it is a capital hit for the Screecher family. My dear brother, it would have done your heart good to have witnessed those Kanzasians listening to the truth as it is in Screecher. With many of them you are acquainted. They have passed through all the phases of Fourierism, Socialism and Free-Loveism up to the sublime heights of Rifleism. —

With their long hair, slouched hats and blouses, they were the true-ideals of the Tribune office. But it is not alone for propagaing the gospel in Kanzas that my people are becoming distinguished. I notice that one member of my church has bet one thousand dollars that he will find and kill the man who three vitriol on his child’s dress for a few days since. —

Thus the work goes on: Let us persevere, and the time will soon come when rifles and bowie-knives will supercede the necessity for Bible truth and Gospel preaching.

Fraternally yours,

W.H. SCHREECHER.

Allen County Democrat (Lima, Ohio) May 24, 1856

From United States History — Bleeding Kansas:

The abolitionist preacher, Henry Ward Beecher, collected funds to arm like-minded settlers (the precision rifles were known as “Beecher’s Bibles”). Fewer Southerners showed interest in settling in Kansas, but proslavery communities were formed at Leavenworth and Atchison.