BILL’S IN TROUBLE by James Barton Adams (1843-1918)

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BILL’S IN TROUBLE
by James Barton Adams (1843-1918)

I’ve got a letter, parson,
from my son away out West,
An’ my ol’ heart is heavy
as an anvil in my breast,
To think the boy whose future
I had once so proudly planned
Should wander from the path of right
an’ come to such an end!
I told him when he left his home,
not three short years ago,
He’d find himself a plowin’
in a mighty crooked row—
He’d miss his father’s counsel,
an’ his mother’s prayers, too;
But he said the farm was hateful,
an’ he guessed he’d have to go.

I know thar’s big temptation
for a youngster in the West,
But I believed our Billy
had the courage to resist,
An’ when he left I warned him
o’ the ever waitin’ snares
That lie like hidden sarpints
in life’s pathway everywheres.
But Bill he promised faithful
to be keerful, an’ allowed
He’d build a reputation
that’d make us mighty proud;
But it seems as how my counsel
sort o’ faded from his mind,
An’ now the boy’s in trouble
o’ the very wustest kind!

His letters came so seldom
that I somehow sort o’ knowed
That Billy was a trampling
on a mighty rocky road,
But never once imagined
he would bow my head in shame,
An’ in the dust’d waller
his ol’ daddy’s honored name.
He writes from out in Denver,
an’ the story’s mighty short;
I just can’t tell his mother,
it’ll crush her poor ol’ heart!
An’ so I reckoned, parson,
you might break the news to her—
Bill’s in the legislatur’,
but he doesn’t say what fur.

…by James Barton Adams
This poem seems to never lose its relevance.

James Barton Adams worked as a cowboy on Captain Jack Crawford’s New Mexico ranch, 1890-92. He became a newspaper columnist, and wrote poems still recited (and put to music) today, including “The Cowboy’s Dance Song” (also known as “The High-Toned Dance”). It was recently determined that he was the author of “The Gol Darn Wheel.”

The late Hal Swift recited the poem on The BAR-D Roundup: Volume Three.

The poem appears in Adams’ 1899 book, Breezy Western Verse. Adams, as told in a 1968 publication of the Socorro County (New Mexico) Historical Society, “…lived and worked in the rugged San Andres mountains of central New Mexico on a ranch owned by Captain Jack Crawford, famous Indian Scout and Poet…Many of his poems were probably drawn from his life and experiences during this period in New Mexico. Adams wrote the foreword to Capt. Jack’s book ‘Whar the Hand O’ God is Seen,’ published in 1913.”

Scott E. Lusby shared photos of James Barton Adams, his great great grandfather, and Captain Jack Crawford in a 2008 Picture the West at CowboyPoetry.com.

Find more about James Barton Adams and more of his poetry at CowboyPoetry.com.

This 1924 photo by Harris & Ewing is from The Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division. It is described, “Tex Austin, of Las Vegas, New Mex., calls on Pres. Coolidge to ask the good offices of the Amer. gov’t officials in London for the 100 Amer. cowboys and cowgirls who go to the Brit. Empire exposition to compete in the championship contests in the Imperial Stadium for the International championship titles, Trophies, and $75,000 in purses. Tex Austin will manage the contest…”

(This poem and photo are in the public domain.)

A COWBOY TOAST by James Barton Adams (1843-1918)

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A COWBOY TOAST
by James Barton Adams (1843-1918)

Here’s to the passing cowboy, the plowman’s pioneer;
His home, the boundless mesa, he of any man the peer;
Around his wide sombrero was stretched the rattler’s hide,
His bridle sporting conchos, his lasso at his side.
All day he roamed the prairies, at night he, with the stars,
Kept vigil o’er thousands held by neither posts nor bars;
With never a diversion in all the lonesome land,
But cattle, cattle, cattle, and the sun and sage and sand.

Sometimes the hoot-owl hailed him, when scudding through the flat;
And prairie dogs would sauce him, as at their doors they sat;
The rattler hissed its warning when near its haunts he trod
Some Texas steer pursuing o’er the pathless waste of sod.
With lasso, quirt, and ‘colter the cowboy knew his skill;
They pass with him to history and naught their place can fill;
While he, bold broncho rider, ne’er conned a lesson page,—
But cattle, cattle, cattle, and sun and sand and sage.

And oh! the long night watches, with terror in the skies!
When lightning played and mocked him till blinded were his eyes;
When raged the storm around him, and fear was in his heart
Lest panic-stricken leaders might make the whole herd start.
That meant a death for many, perhaps a wild stampede,
When none could stem the fury of the cattle in the lead;
Ah, then life seemed so little and death so very near,—
With cattle, cattle, cattle, and darkness everywhere.

Then quaff with me a bumper of water, clear and pure,
To the memory of the cowboy whose fame must e’er endure
From the Llano Estacado to Dakota’s distant sands,
Where were herded countless thousands in the days of fenceless lands.
Let us rear for him an altar in the Temple of the Brave,
And weave of Texas grasses a garland for his grave;
And offer him a guerdon for the work that he has done
With cattle, cattle, cattle, and sage and sand and sun.

….James Barton Adams

 

James Barton Adams worked as a cowboy on Captain Jack Crawford’s New Mexico ranch, 1890-92. He became a newspaper columnist, and wrote poems still recited (and put to music) today, including “The Cowboy’s Dance Song” (also known as “The High-Toned Dance”). It was recently determined that he was the author of “The Gol Darn Wheel.”

The poem appears in Adams’ 1899 book, Breezy Western Verse. Adams, as told in a 1968 publication of the Socorro County (New Mexico) Historical Society, “…lived and worked in the rugged San Andres mountains of central New Mexico on a ranch owned by Captain Jack Crawford, famous Indian Scout and Poet…Many of his poems were probably drawn from his life and experiences during this period in New Mexico. Adams wrote the foreword to Capt. Jack’s book, Whar the Hand O’ God is Seen, published in 1913.”

Scott E. Lusby shared this photo and others of James Barton Adams, his great great grandfather, and Captain Jack Crawford in a 2008 Picture the West at CowboyPoetry.com.

Find more about James Barton Adams and more of his poetry at CowboyPoetry.com.

 

A COWBOY TOAST by James Barton Adams (1843-1918)

CapatainJackandJBA2sel.jpg

 

A COWBOY TOAST
by James Barton Adams (1843-1918)

Here’s to the passing cowboy, the plowman’s pioneer;
His home, the boundless mesa, he of any man the peer;
Around his wide sombrero was stretched the rattler’s hide,
His bridle sporting conchos, his lasso at his side.
All day he roamed the prairies, at night he, with the stars,
Kept vigil o’er thousands held by neither posts nor bars;
With never a diversion in all the lonesome land,
But cattle, cattle, cattle, and the sun and sage and sand.

Sometimes the hoot-owl hailed him, when scudding through the flat;
And prairie dogs would sauce him, as at their doors they sat;
The rattler hissed its warning when near its haunts he trod
Some Texas steer pursuing o’er the pathless waste of sod.
With lasso, quirt, and ‘colter the cowboy knew his skill;
They pass with him to history and naught their place can fill;
While he, bold broncho rider, ne’er conned a lesson page,—
But cattle, cattle, cattle, and sun and sand and sage.

And oh! the long night watches, with terror in the skies!
When lightning played and mocked him till blinded were his eyes;
When raged the storm around him, and fear was in his heart
Lest panic-stricken leaders might make the whole herd start.
That meant a death for many, perhaps a wild stampede,
When none could stem the fury of the cattle in the lead;
Ah, then life seemed so little and death so very near,—
With cattle, cattle, cattle, and darkness everywhere.

Then quaff with me a bumper of water, clear and pure,
To the memory of the cowboy whose fame must e’er endure
From the Llano Estacado to Dakota’s distant sands,
Where were herded countless thousands in the days of fenceless lands.
Let us rear for him an altar in the Temple of the Brave,
And weave of Texas grasses a garland for his grave;
And offer him a guerdon for the work that he has done
With cattle, cattle, cattle, and sage and sand and sun.

….James Barton Adams

James Barton Adams worked as a cowboy on Captain Jack Crawford’s New Mexico ranch, 1890-92. He became a newspaper columnist, and wrote poems still recited (and put to music) today, including “The Cowboy’s Dance Song” (also known as “The High-Toned Dance”). It was recently determined that he was the author of “The Gol Darn Wheel.”

The poem appears in Adams’ 1899 book, Breezy Western Verse. Adams, as told in a 1968 publication of the Socorro County (New Mexico) Historical Society, “…lived and worked in the rugged San Andres mountains of central New Mexico on a ranch owned by Captain Jack Crawford, famous Indian Scout and Poet…Many of his poems were probably drawn from his life and experiences during this period in New Mexico. Adams wrote the foreword to Capt. Jack’s book, Whar the Hand O’ God is Seen, published in 1913.”

Scott E. Lusby shared this photo and others of James Barton Adams, his great great grandfather, and Captain Jack Crawford in a 2008 Picture the West at CowboyPoetry.com. Find the photos here.

Find more about James Barton Adams and more of his poetry at CowboyPoetry.com.