THE OLD PROSPECTOR by Charles Badger Clark, Jr. (1883-1957)

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THE OLD PROSPECTOR
by Charles Badger Clark, Jr. (1883-1957)

There’s a song in the canyon below me
And a song in the pines overhead,
As the sunlight crawls down from the snowline
And rustles the deer from his bed.
With mountains of green all around me
And mountains of white up above
And mountains of blue down the sky-line,
I follow the trail that I love.

My hands they are hard from the shovel,
My leg is rheumatic by streaks
And my face it is wrinkled from squintin’
At the glint of the sun on the peaks.
You pity the prospector sometimes
As if he was out of your grade.
Why, you are all prospectors, bless you!
I’m only a branch of the trade.
You prospect for wealth and for wisdom,
You prospect for love and for fame;
Our work don’t just match as to details,
But the principle’s mostly the same.

While I swing a pick in the mountains
You slave in the dust and the heat
And scratch with your pens for a color
And assay the float of the street.

You wail that your wisdom is salted,
That fame never pays for the mill,
That wealth hasn’t half enough value
To pay you for climbin’ the hill.
You even say love’s El Dorado,
A pipe dream that never endures—
Well, my luck ain’t all that I want it,
But I never envied you yours.
You’re welcome to what the town gives you,
To prizes of laurel and rose,
But leave me the song in the pine tops,
The breath of a wind from the snows.
With mountains of green all around me
And mountains of white up above
And mountains of blue down the sky-line,
I’ll follow the trail that I love.

by Charles Badger Clark, Jr. from Sun and Saddle Leather
Charles Badger Clark Jr.’s book, Sun and Saddle Leather, has been in print for over 100 years.

Clark got his cowboying experience in Arizona. He became the Poet Laureate of South Dakota, where he was born and lived for most of his life. He wrote many lasting poems, and others also found their way into song (including “Spanish is a Loving Tongue” and “To Her”). Find poetry and more in our features about Badger Clark.

The South Dakota Historical Society Foundation now holds Badger Clark’s papers and offers his books for sale. See more at the SDHSF web site.

Top reciter Jerry Brooks recorded “The Old Prospector” for her recent Shoulder to Shoulder CD, and that recording is also included on The BAR-R Roundup: Volume Six.

You can listen to her perform the poem ten years ago at the Western Folklife Center’s 2006 National Cowboy Poetry Gathering, where it is introduced, “A master reciter of classic verse, Jerry Brooks worked underground in the coal mines of Utah for 26 years before taking to the cowboy poetry stage.” She returns to the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering in 2017. Find more about Jerry Brooks at CowboyPoetry.com.

This c. 1903 photograph is by C.D. Nichols, from The Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division. Find more about it here.

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

SUMMER STORM by Bruce Kiskaddon (1878-1950

 

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THE SUMMER STORM
by Bruce Kiskaddon (1878-1950)

The clouds are a comin’ down over the flat,
The lightnin’ is startin’ to flicker.
It is time fer a cow boy to pull down his hat
And git buttoned up in his slicker.

The lightnin’ is shootin’ jest flash after flash,
The wind is a howlin’ and roarin’,
The thunder it shakes the whole earth with a crash
And the rain it comes down jest a pourin’.

The cattle have started to runnin’, the brutes,
Jest hark to ’em rattle their hocks.
The water comes in at the tops of yore boots,
You can feel it a soakin’ yore socks.

The boys is all busy and goin’ full speed,
They are tryin’ to git the steers millin’.
They git to the front and keep bendin’ the lead
To hold the whole shipment from spillin’.

…by Bruce Kiskaddon, 1936

This poem, illustrated by Katherine Field (1908-1951), first appeared in 1936 in the Western Livestock Journal and on the Los Angeles Union Stock Yards calendar.

As Bill Siems writes in his landmark book, Open Range, a monumental collection of Kiskaddon’s poetry, “Western Livestock Journal was one of several interacting businesses clustered around the Los Angeles Union Stock Yards, all engaged in the raising, marketing, and processing of livestock. Almost as soon as the Journal started publishing illustrated poems, the Los Angeles Union Stock Yards began issuing its own series, featuring an illustrated poem and calendar printed on five by ten inch card stock, enclosed with its Monthly Livestock Letter. Beginning with January 1933, these monthly calendars continued in an unbroken series through 1959, using reissued poems after the deaths of Kiskaddon and Field.”

Kiskaddon and Katherine Field never met in person.

Much of what is known about Kiskaddon and his work comes from Open Range. Bill Siems also collected Bruce Kiskaddon’s short stories in a book called Shorty’s Yarns. Find more in the Kiskaddon features at CowboyPoetry.com.

This poem is in the public domain.

Events: August

Find links to all months here.

• August 3-5, 2017
20th National Cowboy Poetry Rodeo Abilene, Kansas
more

ncprbanner07 Visit our Sponsor supporters: National Cowboy Poetry Rodeo

•••

• August 5, 2017
Scofield’s Cowboy Campfire at Red Mule Ranch Fiddletown, California

• August 5, 2017
Pike’s Peak Cowboy Gathering  Florissant, Colorado

• August 10-13, 2017 
Edmonton Folk Festival 
Edmonton, Alberta

•••

August 10-17, 2017
30th Annual Arizona Cowboy Poets Gathering  Prescott, Arizona

Cowboy silhouette Visit our sponsor supporters:  Arizona Cowboy Poets Gathering

•••

 August 10-14, 2017
84th annual Omak Stampede and World Famous Suicide Race 
Omak, Washington

• August 12, 2017
Scofield’s Cowboy Campfire at Red Mule Ranch 
Fiddletown, California

• August 11-13, 2017
Great Lakes Folk Festival  East Lansing, Michigan

• August 13-25, 2017
Roots on the Rails “West of the West”  Los Angeles, New Orleans, Chicago, St. Louis, Kansas City, New Mexico, Los Angeles

• Dates not yet received for 2017
Sunny Hancock/Leon Flick Memorial Cowboy Show  Paisley, Oregon

August 17-20, 2017
32nd Annual Montana Cowboy Poetry Gathering  Lewistown, Montana

• August 18-19, 2017
37th Annual Texas Ranch Roundup Wichita Falls, Texas

• August 18-20, 2017
25th Annual Stony Plain Cowboy Gathering  Stony Plain, Alberta

• Dates not yet received for 2017
Vaquero Heritage Days  San Juan Bautista, California

• August  19, 2017 
Scofield’s Cowboy Campfire at Red Mule Ranch
  Fiddletown, California

• Dates not yet received for 2017
Pagosa Peak Cowboy Poetry Gathering  Pagosa Springs, Colorado

• August 24-26, 2017
19th Annual Western Legends Roundup  Kanab, Utah

• August 25-27, 2017
Cimarron Cowboy Music & Poetry Gathering  Cimarron, New Mexico

• August 25-27, 2017
American Folk Festival  Bangor, Maine

• August  26, 2017 
Scofield’s Cowboy Campfire at Red Mule Ranch
 
Fiddletown, California

• August 27, 2017
15th Annual Farm Concert Berthoud, Colorado

• August 31 through September 4, 2017
60th Annual Wagon Days Sun Valley, Idaho

• Dates not yet received for 2017
River City Roots Festival
  Missoula, Montana

• Dates not yet received for 2017
10th Annual Ride A Horse Feed A Cowboy  Hulett, Wyoming

 

 

NOT WAITIN’ ON SOMEDAY by Ken Cook

 

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NOT WAITIN’ ON SOMEDAY
by Ken Cook

“Someday Daddy” is all she said,
One precious want surged ’round her head.
Tiny hands caressed my saddle,
Big blue eyes cried out it’s time for cattle.

You’re gonna make a hand Kasey,
Not waitin’ on someday.
Nothin’s lived by watchin’,
We’re gonna ride today.

From that day on we rode through life,
Ranch work, a man, our dance, his wife.
Now her first born craves cowboy ways,
And I will ride inside her days.

She’s gonna make a hand that girl,
Not waitin’ on someday.
No cowgirl lags back at the house,
We’re gonna ride today.

Memories explode, her Mom and I,
Swallowed hard and felt her anxious eye.
“Someday Grandpa” she clearly said,
I’ll catch her horse…for what lies ahead.

You’re gonna make a hand Shyanne,
Not waitin’ on someday.
Nothin’s lived by watchin’,
We’re gonna ride today.

© 2010, Ken Cook, used with permission

Ken Cook comes from a long line of respected South Dakota cowboys and has perpetuated that line with his and Nancy Cook’s offspring. He wrote this poem for his daughter, Kasey Jo Dawson, and her daughter, Shyanne. They appear on Ken’s recording of the poem on The BAR-D Roundup: Volume Nine.

The poem was also inspired in part by an Art Spur at CowboyPoetry.com that featured the late, notable artist Joelle Smith’s painting,”She’s a Hand.” See the art, the poem, and other poems from the Art Spur here.

The photo above of another of Kasey Jo’s daughters, three-year-old Syerra Marie Dawson, was taken shortly before she was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL) in May. She’s undergoing treatment and her prognosis is good. She’s tough. She has responded well to treatments so far, but still has some difficult procedures ahead. Follow her journey at her Caring Bridge site and help support the family through this GoFundMe page.

The photos below are of Syerra and her grandmother Nancy Cook and of Syerra and her two sisters.

Find more about Ken Cook and more of his poetry at CowboyPoetry.com.

(Please respect copyright. You can share this poem and photo with this post, but please request permission for any other uses.)

The BAR-D Roundup: Volume Ten

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The BAR-D Roundup: Volume Ten (2016) is a double CD compilation of vintage and contemporary recordings of some of the best cowboy poetry. Find more complete information for all ten volumes at CowboyPoetry.com.

Cowboy poetry records the heartbeat of the working West, a tradition—stories of cowboys, ranchers, and Western writers—that spans three centuries. Its enduring popularity is celebrated at today’s cowboy poetry gatherings and at CowboyPoetry.com, a program of the non-profit Center for Western and Cowboy Poetry.

This tenth and final edition of The BAR-D Roundup collects the most popular classic and contemporary poetry tracks from the past volumes, including those from early volumes that are long out of print. You’ll find the authentic voices of National Endowment for the Arts Heritage Fellows (Buck Ramsey, Wallace McRae, Joel Nelson); of past Texas State Poet Laureate Red Steagall; of classic poets in their own voices (Gail I. Gardner, Robert Service, Charles Badger Clark, Jr.); and of many other men and women, respected poets and reciters who are cowboys, ranchers, and Western writers.

The Center’s Cowboy Poetry Week celebration—recognized by unanimous U.S. Senate resolution—is held each April during National Poetry Month. Each year, The BAR-D Roundup CD and the celebration’s poster (by respected cowboy and artist Gary Morton in 2016) are offered to libraries in the Center’s Rural Library Program. The outreach program is a part of the Center’s commitment to serve rural communities and to preserve and promote our Western heritage.

The CD is dedicated to all those who proudly carry on the ranching tradition.

DISC 1

LOOKING BACK (Bruce Kiskaddon, 1878-1950) from “Looking Backward” Randy Rieman … 0:33
from Where the Ponies Come to Drink (2000); cowboypoetry.com/randyrieman.htm V6

WAITIN’ ON THE DRIVE Larry McWhorter (1957-2003) … 5:49
from The Poetry of Larry McWhorter (2010); jeanprescott.com V5

THE MEDICINE KEEPERS J.B. Allen (1938-2005) …. 1:30
from The Medicine Keepers (1998); cowboypoetry.com/jballen.htm V6

A COWBOYIN’ DAY Gary McMahan … 6:42
from A Cowboyin’ Day (1992); singingcowboy.com  V7

COWBOY COUNT YER BLESSINGS (Larry McWhorter, 1947-2003) Larry McWhorter and Waddie Mitchell … 3:15
from The Poetry of Larry McWhorter (2010); Prescott Music, PO Box 194, Ovalo, TX 79541, jeanprescott.comwaddiemitchell.com V6

COWBOY POETRY IN MOTION Paul Bliss … 2:53
from Pure Bliss (2013); cowboypoetry.com/paulbliss.htm V9

THE BREAKER IN THE PEN Joel Nelson … 5:37
from The Breaker in the Pen (2000); cowboypoetry.com/joelnelson.htm V2

SADDLIN’ UP TIME (Andy Wilkinson) Jerry A. Brooks … 2:43
from Shoulder to Shoulder (2010);  cowboypoetry.com/brooksie.htm V7

THE HORSE TRADE Sunny Hancock (1931-2003) … 4:54
from Sunny (2005); cowboypoetry.com/sunnyhancock.htm V2

HOSSES vs. HORSES (S. Omar Barker, 1894-1985) Paul Zarzyski … 2:04
from Spurrin’ the Words (2005); montana.edu; paulzarzyski.com V2

MY FATHER’S HORSES DW Groethe … 1:56
courtesy of the Western Folklife Center, recorded at the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering (2007), westernfolklife.org;cowboypoetry.com/dwgroethe.htm

WHERE THE PONIES COME TO DRINK (Henry Herbert Knibbs, 1874-1945) Randy Rieman … 2:38
from Where the Ponies Come to Drink (2000); cowboypoetry.com/randyrieman.htm V3

FORGOTTEN (Bruce Kiskaddon, 1878-1950) Jesse Smith … 1:29
recorded for The BAR-D Roundup (2011); V6

OF HORSES AND MEN Jay Snider … 1:32
from Of Horses and Men (2006); jaysnider.net V4

A COWBOY SEASON Jo Lynne Kirkwood … 5:20
recorded for The BAR-D Roundup (2007); jokirkwood.com V2

THE CONVERSATION Ken Cook … 2:14
from Cowboys Are Like That (2009); kencookcowboypoet.com V4

BORN TO THIS LAND Red Steagall … 2:58
recorded for The BAR-D Roundup (2006); redsteagall.com V1

DAD WAS LIKE A COLT Virginia Bennett … 0:31
from Canyon of the Forgotten (1998); cowboypoetry.com/vibennett.htm V1

HORSESHOES AND HEAVEN Kent Rollins … 2:55
from Kent Rollins: Live in Branson (2006); kentrollins.com V2

THE OLD CROCKETT SPURS Andy Nelson … 1:02
recorded for The BAR-D Roundup (2008); cowpokepoet.com V3

THE GOOD OLD COWBOY DAYS (Luther A. Lawhon 1861-1922) Jay Snider … 4:25
recorded for The BAR-D Roundup (2008); jaysnider.net V3

TO BE A TOP HAND Georgie Sicking … 1:18
from To Be a Top Hand (2007); cowboypoetry.com/sicking.htm V3

HEADIN’ OUT Diane Tribitt … 1:32
recorded for The BAR-D Roundup (2010); cowboypoetry.com/dianetribitt.htm V5

ADVICE Deanna Dickinson McCall … 1:00
from Hot Iron (2005); deannadickinsonmccall.com V3

BONES Doris Daley … 0:56
from Good for What Ails You (2006); dorisdaley.com V3

PAYIN’ ATTENTION Carole Jarvis … 2:29
recorded for The BAR-D Roundup (2012); cowboypoetry.com/carolejarvis.htm V7

HE TALKED ABOUT MONTANA Elizabeth Ebert … 3:00
from Live from Thunderhawk (2002); cowboypoetry.com/elizabethebert.htm  V2

MICHAEL BIA Chris Isaacs … 1:30
from Most Requested Poems (2001); chrisisaacs.com  V5

DEATH OF THE LAST COWHAND Linda M. Hasselstrom … 2:52
from Bitter Creek Junction (2000); windbreakhouse.com V6

DISC TWO

THE MEN WHO RIDE NO MORE Joel Nelson … 3:26
from The Breaker in the Pen (1999); cowboypoetry.com/joelnelson V4

FOUR LITTLE WORDS Jay Snider … 2:52
from Cowboyin’, Horses, and Friends (2000); jaysnider.net  V7

ALONE (Bruce Kiskaddon, 1878-1950) Trey Allen … 1:01
from Cowpoke (2002); trey-allen-amigos.com  V1

ANTHEM Buck Ramsey … 4:33
from Buck Ramsey’s Grass (2005); Texas Tech University Press, www.ttupress.org; www.cowboypoetry.com/buckramsey1.htm V1

I’D LIKE TO BE IN TEXAS (traditional) J.B. Allen (1938-2005) … 2:34
courtesy of the Western Folklife Center, recorded at the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering (1993), westernfolklife.org;cowboypoetry.com/jballen.htm V4

WHEN THEY’VE FINISHED SHIPPING CATTLE IN THE FALL (Bruce Kiskaddon, 1878-1950) Randy Rieman … 5:07
from Old Favorites (2003); cowboypoetry.com/randyrieman.htm V2

THE SIERRY PETES (or, TYING KNOTS IN THE DEVIL’S TAIL) Gail I. Gardner (1892-1988) … 3:45
from a family recording (1986); cowboypoetry.com/gardner.htm V4

REINCARNATION Wallace McRae ….1:54
courtesy of the Western Folklife Center, recorded at the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering (2012), westernfolklife.org;
cowboypoetry.com/mcrae.htm V7

YEP Rod Nichols (1942-2007) … 1:46
from Yep, A Little Bit More of Texas (2003); cowboypoetry.com/rn.htm  V1

COWBOY BANKER Pat Richardson (1935-2016) … 1:24
from B. Y. O. S. (Bring Your Own Sheep) (2002); cowboypoetry.com/patrichardson.htm V1

WHAT WOULD MARTHA DO? Yvonne Hollenbeck … 2:31
from Where the Buffalo Rhyme (2003); yvonnehollenbeck.com V1

COWBOY LAUNDRY Rodney Nelson … 3:20
from Where the Buffalo Rhyme (2003); cowboypoetry.com/rodneynelson.htm V4

YOO-HOO Jane Morton … 2:45
from Turning to Face the Wind (2004); cowboypoetry.com/janemorton.htm  V1

TOMBOY Dee Strickland Johnson (“Buckshot Dot”) … 2:32
from Cowman’s Wife (1996); buckshotdot.com V5

MAGGIE (Wallace McRae) Brigid Reedy … 0:21
recorded for The BAR-D Roundup (2014); brigidreedy.com V9

PST the III (DW Groethe) Linda Kirkpatrick … 1:51
recorded for The BAR-D Roundup (2014); lindakirkpatrick.net V9

SOME COWBOY BRAG TALK (traditional) Harry Jackson (1924-2011) …. 1:35
from The Cowboy: His Songs, Ballads, and Brag Talk, FW05723, courtesy of Smithsonian Folkways © 1959. Used by permission,folkways.si.edu; harryjacksonstudios.com V5

THE LEGEND OF BOASTFUL BILL (Charles Badger Clark, Jr. 1883-1957) Jerry A. Brooks … 3:44
recorded by Hal Cannon and Taki Telonidis (2009), courtesy of the Western Folklife Center, westernfolklife.org;cowboypoetry.com/brooksie.htm  V5

BIGFOOT Pat Richardson (1935-2016) … 3:14
from Pat Richardson Strikes Again (2007); cowboypoetry.com/patrichardson.htm V3

BILL’S IN TROUBLE (James Barton Adams 1843-1918) Hal Swift … 1:55
recorded for The BAR-D Roundup (2008); cowboypoetry.com/halswift.htm V3

THE CREMATION OF SAM McGEE Robert Service (1874-1958) … 9:27
from Robert Service in Person (2004), Norlynn Audio Visual Services, reason-for-hope.com V3

CATTLEMAN’S PRAYER (traditional) Dick Morton … 1:32
from Cowboy Classics (2006); cowboypoetry.com/dickmorton.htm  V4

A COWBOY’S PRAYER Charles Badger Clark, Jr. (1883-1957) … 1:36
from Dakota Voices (1956) courtesy of the Badger Clark Memorial Society; badgerclark.org  V5

HAIL AND FAREWELL (Delia Gist Gardner, 1900-1990) Gail Steiger … 2:11
from The Romance of Western Life (2007); gailsteigermusic.com V2

HOME ON THE RANGE (Brewster Higley, 1823-1911) James Richardson … 2:26
recorded by Ruby T. and John Avery Lomax (1939); courtesy of the American Folklife Center, Library of Congress,loc.gov/item/lomaxbib000482 V9

CENTER FOR WESTERN AND COWBOY POETRY RADIO PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT (PSA) … 0:30
by Baxter Black, top cowboy poet and philosopher (recorded 2009), www.baxterblack.com V4

CowboyPoetry.com includes most of these poems and more information about the poems and poets.

All rights are reserved by the artists and owners of the included tracks.

The BAR-D Roundup: Volume Nine is produced by the Center for Western and Cowboy Poetry with generous  funding support from Laura and Edmund Wattis Littlefield, Jr., Margaret T. Morris Foundation, and sustaining donors.

Special thanks to Bette Ramsey; the estate of S. Omar Barker; Margaret Allen; Andrea McWhorter Waitley; Jean Prescott; the Gardner and Steiger families; Judith Nichols; Jeff Hancock; Steve Green and the Western Folklife Center; Todd Kesner and Montana 4-H Center; the late Jessie Sundstrom; Stuart Spani; Matthew Jackson; Smithsonian Folkways Recordings; Todd Harvey and the American Folklife Center, Library of Congress; Andy Wilkinson and Texas Tech University Press; Walter Workman; Sylvia and Joel Nelson; Totsie Slover; Jarle Kvale; Francie Ganje; Charley Engel, Waynetta Ausmus, Graham Lees; Alf Bilton; Chris Waddell; Jim Nelson; Andy Nelson, engineer and co-producer (with Margo Metegrano); and all of the poets, reciters, families, publishers, and organizations for poetry and permissions.

 

The BAR-D Roundup: Volume Ten (2016), a double CD, is available, postpaid, for a $25 donation.

Proceeds from The BAR-D Roundup support the Center. CowboyPoetry.com is a project of the Center.

You can order by mail using the form here or send $25 (check or money order in U.S. funds) per copy to:

CowboyPoetry.com
PO Box 1107
Lexington, VA 24450

Postage is included for the U.S. Add $10 US for Canada and other countries.

You can also pay by a secure, on-line credit card payment (a Paypal account is not required):

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CowboyPoetry.com is a project of the Center for Western and Cowboy Poetry, Inc. a non-profit, tax-exempt organization under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Service Act. Contributions are fully deductible for federal income tax purposes. The BAR-D Roundup fair market value is $15 and no amount of the $25 donation for its postpaid delivery is tax deductible as a charitable contribution.

Find special offers and more about all of the CDs here at CowboyPoetry.com.

MUD by Amy Hale Auker

 

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MUD
by Amy Hale Auker

Give me mud,
heavy black fragrant,
goldfish harbor
at the bottom of a trough.

Give me cows,
bawling cumbersome social,
daughters and sons and families of cows.

Give me light,
flickering non-electric intimate,
creating a circle of us.

Give me solitude
days of books and truth and pages
when the story is the thing.

Give me weather
wind and storms and bright hot
on unprotected skin.

Give me simple
and wet
and real
an abundance of time.

Keep your diamonds,
your malls,
your exhaust fumes,
your schedules,
your busy-ness,
your prescriptions,
your clean.

Give me mud,
heavy black fragrant,
goldfish harbor
at the bottom of a trough.

© 2011, Amy Hale Auker, used with permission
This poem may not be reposted without the author’s permission.

Amy Hale Auker describes herself in a biography at her web site, “I write and ride on a ranch in Arizona where I am having a love affair with rock, mountains, the piňon and juniper forest, and the weather.”

She is the author of three acclaimed books, two novels and an essay collection. Another essay collection, Ordinary Skin, is undergoing final editing.

Find much more about her at CowboyPoetry.com, at AmyHaleAuker.com, and on Facebook.

wobsae156 aarightfulplace ahastory156

 

National Day of the Cowboy: 2016 Cowboy Keepers

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The National Day of the Cowboy organization announces its 2016 Cowboy Keeper Awards:

We’re Inspired by Cowboy Keepers

Each year, with its Cowboy Keeper Award©, the National Day of the Cowboy nonprofit organization has the great privilege of recognizing individuals, organizations, and projects that make or have made a significant contribution to the preservation of pioneer heritage and the promotion of cowboy culture. In 2016, those who have inspired such recognition are Glenn Ohrlin, Donnalyn Quintana, Cotton and Karin Rosser, John Prather, Joseph “Jo” Mora, and the Chisholm Trail Heritage Center.

Glenn Ohrlin
Born in 1926, in Minnesota, Glenn Ohrlin heard cowboy songs on the radio and from friends and family as a boy. By age 5, he was singing himself and at 10, he learned to play guitar. He left home at 16 to work as a cowboy. He eventually lived in a stone house he built in Arkansas, where he also operated his own cattle ranch. A sold out auditorium for “The Legacy of Glenn Ohrlin,” tribute at the 32nd National Cowboy Poetry Gathering in 2016, was a moving testament to his extensive influence on cowboy culture. The late cowboy Glenn Ohrlin was revered by all who knew him as a man who lived at the heart of the cowboy tradition. He was known to be a genuine one-of-kind cowboy who shared his music with all. He was fondest of performing old time novelty tunes, but he had a deep appreciation for all types of songs and loved to be around young people to pass his knowledge and love for music along to them. His repertoire ranged from traditional ballads, poetry, bawdy songs, hobo ditties and Spanish tunes from the period 1875 to 1925, to country and western, and folk songs. Over his years of cowboying, riding in rodeos, and collecting cowboy music, Ohrlin wrote The Hell-Bound Train, published by the University of Illinois Press in 1973. It contained 100 of his favorite cowboy songs and poems, as well as the people and stories behind them. He released an album of the same name. He was named an NEA Heritage Fellow in 1985.

For two years, Ohrlin was host and performer with The Cowboy Tour, on which he traveled 30,000 miles sharing cowboy music. During that time, he worked with other western folklorists who organized the successful Cowboy Poetry Gathering in Elko, Nevada. A remarkable man with an especially dry sense of humor, Ohrlin liked to say, “The crowd might like me or they might not, but I’ll get paid anyway.” He theorized that cowboys sing because of the isolated life they lead. His legacy from a long happy life of 88 years includes stories, songs, humor, and poetry, but most importantly it includes those who have been inspired by him to carry on the cowboy music and poetry tradition. Singer Randy Rieman summed up Ohrlin and his influence beautifully with this heartfelt compliment during the tribute show, “In the 31 years of the poetry gathering, we needed to see Glenn. You just didn’t want to miss one of Glenn’s shows.”

Donnalyn Quintana
Donnalyn Quintana established her nonprofit organization, “Western Wishes,” in 1994, out of a desire to make a difference in a child’s life by “celebrating the determination and courage of those facing adversity who love the western way of life.” She recognized there are kids who dream of being a sheriff, riding a reining horse, learning to rope a steer, ride in the rodeo or simply long to be a cowboy or cowgirl in some way. Twenty-two years later, Ms. Quintana’s program continues to grow and reward kids for their fighting spirit while also communicating the stories of their determination to get back in the saddle. The Western Wishes program puts inspiring kids in the spotlight, even if just for a moment, and encourages them to reach for the stars and see their dreams come true. She has worked tirelessly to enlist the help of celebrities such as Tuf Cooper, George Strait, Stran Smith, Taylor Swift and Reba McEntire, to light up a child’s life. Over the years, Donnalyn has worked to bring life to the western wishes of hundreds of young buckaroos with life changing illness or injury, whether mentally or physically challenged. Through her kindness, she has been touching lives and healing the hearts of young people facing potentially life-threatening adversities.

Ms. Quintana’s personal mission is to leave a legacy of goodwill the cowboy way. To that end, she reaches outside her arena as well, such as taking the time to attend the hearing at the Texas Legislature on behalf of the National Day of the Cowboy bill, where she invited her friend, rodeo legend Larry Mahan to testify to the hearing committee on our behalf. Her organization is also launching a College Rodeo Challenge, spearheaded by a college intern, to encourage other college rodeo teams to “pay it forward” by finding deserving kids, executing their wish and sharing their story. After helping to make more than 600 western wishes come true, Donnalyn still views her work as blessing for her, noting, “Every time I come away from granting a wish, my life is changed for the better. I feel that this was put into my heart for a reason.” A woman who radiates warmth and kindness, Donnalyn Quintana emphasizes that ultimately the aim is to use the Western Wishes stories to inspire other children battling similar adversities.

Cotton & Karin Rosser
Cotton Rosser says the seeds of showmanship were planted in his blood as a boy, by heroes like Will James, Hoppy, Gene, and Roy. Growing up in California, he was always on the lookout for opportunities to spend time with cowboys. Following high school, he attended Cal Poly, where he served as captain of the rodeo team. He competed in Madison Square Garden in New York in 1950. Rosser won the saddle bronc riding at the Reno Rodeo in 1950. His highlight was winning the all-around title at the 1951 Grand National Rodeo in San Francisco, but a ranch accident broke both of his legs, putting him out of rodeo competition and into business as a stock contractor and producer. To this day, he delights in new ways to entertain and wow the crowds, whether with Roman Chariot Races, Bull Poker or Bull Teeter-Totter! Cotton Rosser isn’t all about the pageantry, however. He sincerely cares about the integrity of rodeo. He takes great pains to ensure that the Flying U has the very best livestock. An aficionado of bucking horses and longhorn cattle, he attends to every detail himself. He is a legendary stock contractor and rodeo event producer who has supplied bulls to the PBR during its entire history. He was inducted into the ProRodeo Hall of Fame in 1995. In 2009, he was inducted into the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum Rodeo Hall of Fame in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.

In 2014 the Reno Rodeo honored him with “Cotton Rosser Night.” It couldn’t go to a more deserving person,” said Bob Tallman, longtime voice of the Reno Rodeo. “In the past 50 years, Cotton’s changed the face of rodeo five times. He’s been so far ahead of the curve people have flown to his events just so they could steal from them and do the same things.” Speaking at California Polytechnic State University, where he had once served as rodeo team captain Rosser told the graduates, “The motto, ‘learn by doing,’ has worked for me all my life.” And, all his life Cotton Rosser has shared his knowledge and experience while inspiring generations of cowboys and entertaining millions of people.

Karin Allred Rosser
PRCA Gold Card Member, Karin Allred Rosser, has spent her life excelling in fields related to Western Heritage. Early in life she was introduced to livestock and horses, riding Shetland Ponies as a toddler and Quarter Horses as she grew. Summers were spent at flat tracks as a hot walker and pony girl, while winter afternoons involved chariot races in NM and UT, and appearances at State and World Championship meets. Her teenage years found her in the horse show arena where she excelled in Western and English Riding and served as first President of the Utah Jr. Quarter Horse Association. Her competitive spirit resulted in numerous awards from the Utah, Intermountain and American Quarter Horse Associations. Competing as a barrel racer and queen contestant in amateur rodeo turned Karin’s attention to the rodeo arena. At 19 she was crowned Ogden Pioneer Days Rodeo Queen, launching her into professional rodeo. Later that year, having earned the title Miss Rodeo Utah, she was 1St Runner-up to Miss Rodeo America. The MRA scholarship money helped pay for a Fashion Merchandising degree from Weber State University. During her year-long reign she participated in western apparel markets, celebrations, and radio and TV spots, representing professional rodeo.

Rodeo also introduced Karin to her husband of 38 years, Cotton Rosser, stock contractor for the Pioneer Days Rodeo and other PRCA rodeos. Karin and Cotton were married in 1978. They moved to the Flying U Ranch in Marysville, CA, which offered them more opportunities to promote Western heritage. Her education equipped her to manage “Cotton’s Cowboy Corral,” the western retail store Cotton and Karin own and operate in Marysville. She was also introduced to rodeo production and soon received her PRCA Timer Card and Secretary Card. Karin mastered music and spotlights at some of the largest indoor arenas in the West. During the nine years the Flying U presented the opening ceremonies at the National Finals Rodeo, Karin cued spotlights and music, washed horses, and helped with wardrobe and flag presentation practices. While Cotton occupies center stage, Karin works behind the scenes as a rodeo secretary or timer, greeting dignitaries, planning events, organizing tack trailers, saddling horses, and feeding livestock. Then, they drive down the road together to the next rodeo where she may do it all again. She is a member of the women’s group HANDS, which offers moral support and financial assistance to rodeo people in need. Karin is affiliated with the Cowboy Reunion group which raises money to benefit both the Pro Rodeo Hall of Champions and the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum. She is known to be a poised professional woman of character and compassion who has made a lasting impression as a wife, mother, businesswoman and friend. She is recognized as a woman of principle who works tirelessly to benefit family, rodeo, ranching, and Western heritage.

Karin and Cotton have hosted school children on ranch tours and supported FFA, 4H and High School Rodeo clubs and teams. Since 2005, the Flying U Rodeo Company has participated in California Ag Day at the Capitol, where Karin and Cotton distribute copies of the Pro Rodeo Sports News, PRCA rule books, animal welfare brochures, answer questions from legislators, media, and the general public and provide information about pro rodeo. Together and individually, Karin and Cotton Rosser exemplify the essential spirit of those who work to promote and preserve the best of our Western Heritage.

Joseph “Jo” Mora
Throughout his lifetime, Joseph “Jo” Jacinto Mora embraced the rich history of the American West. From the time he wrote and illustrated stories about cowboys and Indians as a young child, to his last written and illustrated book about the history of the Vaqueros at the end of his life, Mora depicted the western lifestyle through his varied artistic abilities and by living it himself. As an accomplished illustrator, painter, sculptor, printmaker, cartographer, cartoonist, photographer, and cowboy, Jo was able to express his deep love of western history through numerous channels of creativity. His knowledge of history came from travel by horse and wagon in the early 1900s as he explored California’s missions, Yosemite, the state’s ranches, and eventually the culture of the Hopi and Navajo in Arizona. His observations throughout this time found their way into his writings and his art. Mora’s vast body of work ranges from a California 49er on a half-dollar minted by the U.S. government in celebration of California’s Diamond Anniversary, to four majestic bronzes on display at Oklahoma’s Woolaroc Museum, featuring figures prominent in Oklahoma history and the 101 Ranch of George Miller. The Levi Strauss Company chose Mora’s artwork for an extensive advertising campaign.

It is no surprise that a person of Mora’s vast western legacy would be intertwined with other honored westerners. Upon seeing Jo’s art, Frederick Remington encouraged Jo by telling him, “Son, you’re doing fine. Just stay with it.” Author Zane Grey featured Jo’s drawings in his Western Magazine. Jo’s western drawings sit perfectly alongside the work of Ed Borein and Charlie Russell. The writing of Jo Mora continues to ring just as true sixty years later as the work of Will James and Frank Dobie. Mora himself crafted a 13-scene diorama depicting the life of Will Rogers (at the Will Rogers Memorial Museum in Claremore, OK), as well as one featuring the arrival of John Fremont at Sutter’s Fort in Sacramento, California.

He wrote and illustrated Trail Dust and Saddle Leather about the American cowboy and Californios about the Vaqueros; both continue to be well respected accounts of their subjects. He worked with his father to create the decorative elements on the Native Sons of the Golden West Building in San Francisco, depicting various aspects of California’s history. Mora created memorial sculptural work in honor of Bret Harte and the decorative elements on the Monterey County Courthouse in Salinas, California. His iconic work, “Sweetheart of the Rodeo” was featured on the 2011 National Day of the Cowboy commemorative poster. Mora was a member of the prestigious National Sculpture Society. He was a prolific creator and his incredible and varied works of art can be found in museums, libraries, private collections and public places all around the country.  Jo Mora is one of only eight persons included in each issue of Who’s Who in America since the publication’s inception. One of the rare artists able to make his living by his craft, Mora was a gifted artist, and an amazing person able to accomplish anything he set his mind to. While his list of accomplishments and accolades seems nearly endless, Jo Mora was the consummate husband and father who listed his family at the top of his life’s achievements.

John Prather
In this fast moving world where technology emphasizes forward strides, we sometimes lose touch with historical milestones that form the foundation on which we stand today. New Mexico rancher, John Prather, serves as one of those milestones. Although he died in 1965, Prather and his story still resonate as an example of the cowboy ethics and principles of a man willing to stand up for what he believed was right. Born in Van Zandt County, Texas, in 1874, nine year old John and his family were one of the pioneer families moving to the territory of New Mexico in 1883. John started breaking horses when he was 12, charging a dollar per year of the horse; thus a two year old colt cost $2.00 to break. He saved his money, eventually married, and with his bride, homesteaded on the unsettled grasslands of the Otero Mesa where they lived in a tent until they could get a home built. Working behind a team of mules pulling a fresno scraper, they constructed dirt tanks and made water where there was no water. During World Wars I and II John gained fame as the Mule King, having one of the largest Army mule breeding programs in the country. Afterwards he ran a successful cattle ranching business introducing the first Angus cattle to the area. John became widely known so it was not uncommon to see an interesting roster of people at the ranch looking to purchase from his renowned stock. Visitors and clients included Tom Mix, Gene Autry and Dizzy Dean. He enjoyed going into town to do the shopping and often would stop for someone on the road who seemed to be in a tough situation and ask if he could help. Some of the old timers in Alamogordo still tell of times as a young child when they remember John buying expectant mothers a basket of baby clothes or an older person a new set of dentures. Most recipients of his acts of kindness were strangers to him, but he always said there is no excuse not to help someone one when you can. Although always a gentleman John could push boundaries when needed. During war time he often had only lady cowhands working for him because he felt they could use the income and satisfaction of providing for their families while their men were away. The ladies with children were even invited to bring the youngsters to the ranch so he could teach them about life outdoors.

The Cold War turned the attention of the U.S. military to the southern part of New Mexico where expansion of the McGregor Missile Range was seen as a necessity in the race against the Soviets. Buyouts of ranchers with the threat of condemnation worked well in acquiring 99% of the land, with one exception…John Prather. Even though he was 82, Prather refused to be cowed or intimidated and stayed firm in his resolve to keep his ranch. Understanding the need to prime our military’s force he offered to lease it to the Army for $1.00 a year, indemnity free. His offer was rebuffed and legal proceedings were initiated. Negotiations continued for a year with John graciously meeting several generals and inviting them to his place to see the fine beef he was raising to feed the boys in uniform. He was civil, but resolute in his stand to preserve what he had built with years of sweat and tears. Eventually the threat of force was employed and sheriffs’ deputies were sent to arrest the old rancher. Again, John was gracious but firm, saying he understood their job and hoped they understood his. He would not be moved unless it was forcibly. Two days passed ending with three deputies driving back to town with an empty back seat. Newspaper coverage from Alaska to Germany lauded the old cowboy. The Today Show quipped that the Army might want to use John Prather to negotiate with the Soviets on their behalf. The writer, Edward Abbey, penned the book Fire on the Mountain based on John’s determination to keep his land. The book became a made-for-TV film, starring Buddy Ebsen and Ron Howard. Within the year, juke boxes across the country were spinning “The Ballad of John Prather,” by Calvin Boles. John threatened to live to be 100 but passed away at 91. He is buried there where he took a stand for what he felt was right. His ranch is now part of the McGregor Missile Range, but they didn’t take it until a month after his death. He continued to work his ranch until the day he died. He held no grudges and often invited passing soldiers to the house for brisket, beans, and a dip in the cool waters of the steel tank. He was a class act until the very end. John Prather proved by example that being a cowboy is about far more than working with livestock. It is also about strength of character, integrity and true grit.

Chisholm Trail Heritage Center
In the early 1990s a group of citizens from Duncan and southwest Oklahoma, and northern Texas, formed a partnership to increase the quality of life in their region, help educate people on the courage, struggles and successes of settlement in the area, and provide an information stop on the route of present day explorers of the historic Chisholm Trail. From the beginning, the Chisholm Trail Heritage Center in Duncan, Oklahoma, hosted visitors with the highest quality educators and exhibits to celebrate the men and women who rode the Trail, settled the area, or were indigenous peoples forced to alter their lifestyles due to the encroachment of travelers and settlers. The Center’s mission is, “To celebrate and perpetuate the history, art and culture of the Chisholm Trail, the American Cowboy and the American West.” As a nonprofit, world class museum inside and out, the Center enriches its community as a renowned destination that brings alive the heritage of the American West, inspiring and educating present and future generations.

The museum serves the United States and International communities as well. The staff estimates fully ¼ of visitors are international. Past, present and future museum exhibits are as diverse as those who traveled the trail, including The Long Ride Home – The African American (cowboy) Experience in America” a photographic exhibition by Ron Tarver, a Grand Ole Opry tribute, a comic book artist’s exhibit, a chuck wagon exhibit, the art of Donna Howell Sickles, and even a vintage apron exhibition. Art lovers will delight in the Garis Gallery of the American West where they can view prized works of George Catlin, Frederic Remington and Charles Russell. Cowgirl artists in the Garis Gallery include KW Whitley and Marjorie Reed. Local and regional artists are also on display, including the work of Gay Faulkenberry and Oklahoma notables Paul Moore and Harold T. Holden.

The Chisholm Trail Center’s annual National Day of the Cowboy celebration continues to thrive and grow each year, bringing hundreds of excited attendees to celebrate and honor the role of the cowgirl and cowboy in the American West. They strive to include activities for young folks as well as adults, including educational programming and artist exhibits. At their always exceptional NDOC celebration you can rope a Longhorn, ride a buckin’ bronc, create your own brand, and watch the cattle stampede in the 4D Theater while you cool off during a summer thunderstorm on the Oklahoma prairie. At the Campfire Theater you can listen to Jesse Chisholm and Tex share campfire tales in spite of a ruckus in the wagon as cowboys try to get comfortable for the night.

The Chisholm Trail Heritage Center has received numerous awards as a result of the quality of its exhibits and programs, including in 2014 “Great Expectations Model School” certification (the only non-profit to hold this title consecutively for eight years). In 2005, the “American Cowboy Culture Award” for Western Museums from the National Cowboy Symposium in Lubbock, Texas and in 2003, the “Community Improvement Award” from the Duncan Chamber of Commerce and Industry. The Chisholm Trail Heritage Center is one of three organizations working to create national involvement in celebration of the 150th Anniversary of the Chisholm Trail in 2017.

 

Cowboy Keeper Awards are always unique because each year a different artist or photographer contributes the artwork for the award. Renowned Prix de West and multiple award winning artist, Scott Tallman Powers, graciously provided the NDOC with his gentle image of “The Wyoming Storyteller,” for the 2016 Cowboy Keeper Awards.

The National Day of the Cowboy tips its hat to Glenn Ohrlin, Donnalyn Quintana, Cotton and Karin Rosser, John Prather, Joseph “Jo” Mora, and the Chisholm Trail Heritage Center, our 2016 Cowboy Keeper Award honorees. These esteemed recipients have not only made a substantial contribution to the preservation of our pioneer heritage and cowboy culture, they have inspired untold others to do the same.