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FOLK COLLECTION 11: The Skaggs Foundation Cowboy Poetry Collection

Date of Items: 1890-present
Register Prepared by: Randy Williams and Susan Gross, April 2004
Register Updated by: Randy Williams, 23 December 2009
Excel database transfered to MYSQL and uploaded (replacing PHP data): Colin Jackson, Fall 2010
MYSQL database updated: Randy Williams, January 2012
Linear Feet:20

Historical Note & Provenance

Folk Coll 11 is Utah State University's cowboy poetry collection. The collection, originally created by a generation donation by the L. J. and Mary Skaggs Foundation, includes books gathered during a fieldwork project in the early 1980s to document cowboy poetry in the U.S. west (see Folk Coll 11f). From this important fieldwork project came the impetus for the first Cowboy Poetry Gathering held in January 1985 in Elko, Nevada. Since that time, each January, the Fife Folklore Archives staff take the collection and Access database (that details each book, poem, author, first line and key words), to the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering for offsite use. Through University purchases and generation donations from poets and collectors, this collection continues to grow.

Scope and Content

The collection consists of 20 linear feet of books on cowboy poetry, including press and self published works. The collection can be accessed through USU Libraries online catalog.

As well, poem titles and keywords found in each book in the collection are included in the database below. To use, type in the search term. Tip: Try and use an uncommon word from the poem to ensure less "hits." For instance, if you enter "boots" you will get many hits; but if you enter "bones" you will most liley get fewer "hits" or poems and find the item you seek faster. To return to the search page, click "home" at the bottom of the page.


Poetry table.

First Previous Next Last
IDBook TitleComposerIndexPagesAuthorPoem TitleFirst LinesKeywords
23017 Cowboying FC 11 J-18 9 Billy James A Cowboy's Hat A cowboy's hat's a precious thing; It's always on his head, "cept when some wild bronc bucks him moff, Or when he goes to bed.
23018 Cowboying FC 11 J-18 13 Billy James Twenty-Nine I threw my saddle in the door and tried to snag a rung; I missed that car but caught the next, and in the door I swung.
23019 Cowboying FC 11 J-18 17 Billy James The Really Shortest Cowboy Poem I got To go; I shot My toe.
23020 Cowboying FC 11 J-18 19 Billy James Cowboy Dreams Breathe deep those beams of sunset While they blush so quick away; Then gaze on horses heart beats While they munch on their oat hay. Hold tight those shadows in your hands,
23021 On the Ranch FC 11 J-20 1 Billy James I Can't Make Horses I can't make horses, So, I guess, I can't get in the game. I stretched a fence from here to there; And when the north winds came.
23022 On the Ranch FC 11 J-20 3 Billy James Mending Fences You've got to dig them holes down deep So fence posts can stand tall. You need hard wood that's straight and straong So they won't lean or fall. You've got to stretch that wire real tight
23023 On the Ranch FC 11 J-20 5 Billy James Naming the Cows These cattle here before me, I like to give 'em names. Oh I don't call 'em John or George or Sam or Ralph or James.
23024 On the Ranch FC 11 J-20 7 Billy James Riding Fences I punched the holes and set the posts. With worn out gloves and pliers rusted I stretched the wire from here to there My job was good is what I trusted.
23025 On the Ranch FC 11 J-20 9 Billy James If You Need Somebody I am just a lonesome ol' cowpoke, A hired hand; And I know that you and your daddy Own this land. i punch cows and stretchout the fences For my pay.
23026 On the Ranch FC 11 J-20 11 Billy James Conversation With an Ant Me and the boys had gone one night Down into town, and was we tight! We drank so much of that town's booze I thought our way back home we'd lose. If my horse hadn't known the way, I surely would 'a had to stay.
23027 On the Ranch FC 11 J-20 15 Billy James Someday, Goodbye Someday, you're going to tell me goodbye; someday you're going to walk out that door; Someday, you're going to make me cry 'Cause I won't have your love anymore
23028 On the Ranch FC 11 J-20 17 Billy James That Little Bird It must have been that little bird, my son once said to me. I had to smile a little bit at him, he's only three. But we dismounted, grabbed our hats
23029 On the Ranch FC 11 J-20 19 Billy James Last Trip My last trip into town Was a bust all aroun' Because my ol' Ford pickup got stuck, So I saddled my horse; I was thinking, or course,
23030 On the Ranch FC 11 J-20 24 Billy James The Cows are Coming Home The cows are coming home, my son, and have been since that day I tied your shoes and made a vow: 'Til then that knot would stay.
23031 On the Trail FC 11 J-21 1 Billy James Where's the Wranglers Roundup time! But where's the wranglers? Look around, there's just a few. Send them out and call for others. There's plenty work for all to do. See them cows out there a grazin'.
23032 On the Trail FC 11 J-21 2 Billy James His Promise He promised he would come into our campif we would wait; But it's a getting' darker and it might be just too late. He said that he would hire us, give instructions for our ride;
23033 On the Trail FC 11 J-21 5 Billy James I Remember Mama Baking When cowboys go out on the trail, They think a lot, and without fail They think about what they left at home Like soap, or socks or brush and comb.
23034 On the Trail FC 11 J-21 7 Billy James A Cowboy Sunset Today the sun was sinking in the west; And as it sank, its beams spread out around The herd of cattle as they looked for rest. It peeked beneath the trees to spy the ground.
23035 On the Trail FC 11 J-21 8 Billy James Paper Trail When cowboys are out on the trail so long It helps 'em to carry some things there along, Now six-gun, his boots and his pants, shirt and hat Are part of his life,
23036 On the Trail FC 11 J-21 10 Billy James Snow See the snow! Watch if flow From on high to here below! All the world's a white pillow Made of snow, blanket snow.
23037 On the Trail FC 11 J-21 12 Billy James Who's There? As I was layin' out one night The stars were dim, the moon half bright, The herd was still, all bedded down, And breezes dancin' all aroun'
23038 On the Trail FC 11 J-21 12 Billy James Sunday on the Trail I pulled that bedroll up real snug and turned and shook a bit. The air is crips and sweet and clean as sunrays start to hit.
23039 On the Trail FC 11 J-21 22 Billy James Comanche Comanche was a horse I had When I was just a strapling lad And he was just ayoung colt, too; So me and him together grew, His coat was grey, with main dark black
23040 On the Trail FC 11 J-21 26 Billy James Riding Drag I got my kerchief pulled up snug That helps me quite a bit; My hat brim's bent down o'er my eyes; I wish some wind we'd git.
23041 On the Trail FC 11 J-21 29 Billy James A Tree on the Trail One day on the trail I looked at a tree That seemed to be somewhat a mystery. It stood there alone on what old cattle trail;