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The Cowboy's Legacy

"The Cowboy's Legacy" is a collection of memories from life shared on the trail to the West and of a family who has continued to pioneer the ideals of a lifestyle.

In 1992 Donna Hatton was invited to take her program into the Colorado Springs School system through the Pikes Peak Library District and The Greater Pikes Peak Cowboy Poetry Gathering. The presentation was a hands on storytelling project showing the life style of the native Americans and the influence of the pioneers who began to move into the western territories. more...

Below you'll find:

Information About the  Program

Contact Information

Sara Jane is a composite of several women in a family who settled the West.  She tells of her adventures as a young girl who leaves Ireland in 1862 against her will, when she is kidnapped and sent to America.  The wrenching separation from all she had known, her curious mind, bravery and sheer will to survive is told in the lilting accent of the country she so dearly loved. Sara describes a country at war and of the people she meets as she traverses the land on her way to the western territories. Traveling with a wagon train, she encounters the war on a personal level when she meets a family escaping slavery and tells the story of the thousands of immigrants who took advantage of the Homestead Act that opened the doors to Western expansion during The Civil War.

Be with Sara when she meets her first cowboy J. M.  and see through her eyes a man who seems bigger than life and full of adventure. Listen with her as J. M.  tells of his life as a cowboy and of the first herds pushed into the West as the demand for beef helps to build the herds of cattle after the war.  J. M. and Sara tell their stories around the campfire sharing the hardships, laughter and tears with the music, stories and poetry of the people they meet along the way. more... 

Read some of Donna Hatton's poetry here and read about Tom and Donna Hatton's CD, Whispers of Voices, below.

whisperstdh.jpg (14002 bytes)

 


About the Program

 

Background

"The Cowboy's Legacy" Goes To a Poetry Gathering

"The Cowboy's Legacy" Goes to School

"'The Cowboy's Legacy," Materials for Teachers

"The Cowboy's Legacy," Sara Jane and The Rest of The Story


Tom and Donna Hatton

"The Cowboy's Legacy" is a collection of memories from life shared on the trail to the West and of a family who has continued to pioneer the ideals of a lifestyle.

In 1992 Donna Hatton was invited to take her program into the Colorado Springs School system through the Pikes Peak Library District and The Greater Pikes Peak Cowboy Poetry Gathering. The presentation was a hands-on storytelling project showing the life style of the native Americans and the influence of the pioneers who began to move into the western territories. Donna and another artist, Elizabeth Nichols, Grandmother Fluteplayer, teamed up and added traditional Navajo stories and Indian Flute music creating a story that evolved into "A Cowboy's Legacy" and "On The Trail To Colorado." It caught the attention of a group called "The Performing Arts For Youth Organization" or Payo, in Colorado Springs. Payo asked the two women to audition for them and since then they have been part of an organization that in the year 2002 presented performances to over 50,000 students.  That didn't include the adults!

To be a member of Payo means that a presenter has been auditioned by a jury of their peers, educators and board members who are representative of the Community in business and government of Colorado Springs.  The Performing Arts for Youth Organization is a nonprofit organization that carries professional performing arts experience into the public, private and independent schools, community and youth centers. A performer for Payo is specially selected for superior talent and exceptional ability to interact with children of all ages. Their programs are educationally sound and keyed to the school's curriculums.



"The Cowboy's Legacy" Goes To a Poetry Gathering

My family ranches in two counties in Colorado and has a rich history going back into the early days of the West.  I wanted to share that story with people of all ages, but specially with children.  I found the stories I gathered to be fascinating and as I listened to my father-in-law and the older timers I met, I realized that these stories were about to be lost if they were not recorded and retold...so I started putting the stories into poetry.

The best place to do that kind of poetry I was told was at a Cowboy Poetry Gathering and I found one in Colorado Springs, The Greater Pikes Peak Cowboy Poetry Gathering.  I didn't have a clue what I was into, but it was fun and I loved every one I met and everything I did.  My love affair with history created the open door into sharing "The Love of The West" with anyone who would listen! I was going to gatherings and then I suddenly was invited to schools.  Writing and presenting and being in front of an audience who would take what I said into the future with them!  That was a tremendous responsibility and suddenly I was scared that I didn't have the right tools to take on this new dimension called education.

Anyone who is about to take a presentation to school needs to give some thought to where this is going and work on a format.

 

"The Cowboy's Legacy" Goes to School

Being part of an organization is great for sharpening your skills and being auditioned humbles the ego when the jury is made up the best of the best. Making the cut does make you feel good, but knowing that you must meet the exacting standards and that your presentation will be critiqued by teachers and professional observers helps keeps that ego in check!  Meeting educational standards can be a state wide mandate, but meeting the individual schools and teachers requirements are a must if you want to be successful in any given classroom or school program. Repeat presentations
will be a yardstick for your program and having student participation is always the open door. 

If I have not been to the school before, I send a letter to the teacher or school, to find out if it is just a class or if it is a general assembly and tell a little about "The Cowboy's Legacy." Since "The Legacy" is a collection of stories, I list the stories and ask how much time they are giving me.  I have worksheets, reading lists, trivia facts and music for the teacher to use if they care to and I ask them if they want to pick students from their class to be part of the presentation. I leave time for guestions and for anyone to come and join us in camp if they want to.  Did I say camp? I have a traveling camp, complete with campfire, tripod with cook pot, coffee pot, lanterns, a trunk full of clothes, diaries, dolls, games and now I have the Cowboy too.

Cowboy Tom who likes to be called JM, is the newest addition and he tells about life from the back of a horse on the trail from Texas to Colorado. Wearing the cowboy accessories of hat, vest, chaps, spurs and glad rag and using a rope and branding irons to tell what his job was, has really gotten the boys more involved and balanced the story, giving it more depth. Children and teachers love to have interactive programs so we included them in the story, singing, dancing and helping set up the camp, gathering firewood and vegetables for the stew pot. It helps them feel for a moment what their counterparts might have felt as they traveled to a new home in the Great American West in the middle to late 1800's. 

 

"'The Cowboy's Legacy," Materials for Teachers

Building a story always has the same structure, beginning, middle and the end or who, what, where and when.  As you take the story into the schools settle on a time frame, 1800 to 1900 and have your promo pack ready to go, with photos, synopsis, credits, testimonials and CD if you have one.  Stay flexible, but script the story out and know just exactly how much time you will need.  Teachers are willing partners when they know you have a well structured program and when you include them in making the event as interesting and fun as you can.

Sample of Suggested Activities

Let's Make it Western

1. Dress up in western clothes

2. Give students a task for the program

a. bring a bundle of sticks or twigs for the Fake campfire
b. chose several students to help set up and take down camp
c. bring jerky, fruit leather, or dried fruit, pumpkin seeds, English
muffins with raisins in them.
d. pick students who are willing to learn a dance.
e. learn some games popular during the 1800's and 1900's.
f. learn verses to two or three songs that presenter suggests.

3. Write own history or about a favorite character of the West

4. Have poetry contest and have winners ready to share their work with the
class or school.

5. Find the facts or Trivia.

Samples:

1. Was there a Civil War battle fought in the West? Where?
2. Who was President in 1862?
3. Who were Goodnight and Loving?
4. Who were The Buffalo Soldiers?
5. Who were the first cowboy's?
6. When were the first cattle drives?
7. Where is the Little Big Horn and what made it famous?


Resources. These will not only aid the presenter, but will give the students incentive to read for themselves.  They also do not have to be tomes that only Superman can lift or a history professor enjoy.  I have found some enjoyable reading and insight from unlikely sources.

Sample reading:

1. Emmy E. Werner Pioneer children On The Journey West, Westview Press
2. Susan G. Butruille Women's Voices from the Western Frontier, Tamarack books
3. Russell Freedman Children of the Wild West, Clarion Books
4. Michele Morris The Cowboy Life Simon and Schuster
5. William Loren Katz The Black West, The Old West Series, Time Life Books
7. Mike Flanagan The Complete Idiots Guide to the Old West 

Childrens' Books

1. Hilda Stuhl Sadie Rose and the Cotton Creek Orphan, Crossway Books
2. Patricia MacLachlan Sarah, Plain and Tall, The Trumpet Club



1. Send a letter to the principal and teacher or teachers. Send a contract and all information needed to receive payment or to enable the school to apply for a grant.  If it is a volunteer situation, it is still a good idea to have them fill out a contract.  I ask that the students be on time and I make sure I am early and that there is supervision at all times.

2. Have programs designed for different age groups and keep the language and story appropriate to the age or ages to which you are presenting.

3. Where will the program be presented: classroom, multimedia room, gym or auditorium? Do they have a sound system or do you need to bring one?  Do you need a table, chair electrical outlets? Leave nothing to chance. 

4. State the educational criteria you have met: History, Math, Geography, Music, English, Languages, and so on.

Practice makes Perfect.

Have fun! Because you know your subject so well and love what you do, your audience will too.


"The Cowboy's Legacy," Sara Jane and The Rest of The Story

Sara Jane is a composite of several women in a family who settled the West.  She tells of her adventures as a young girl who leaves Ireland in 1862 against her will, when she is kidnapped and sent to America.  The wrenching separation from all she had known, her curious mind, bravery and sheer will to survive is told in the lilting accent of the country she so dearly loved. Sara describes a country at war and of the people she meets as she traverses the land on her way to the western territories. Traveling with a wagon train, she encounters the war on a personal level when she meets a family escaping slavery and tells the story of the thousands of immigrants who took advantage of the Homestead Act that opened the doors to Western expansion during The Civil War.

Be with Sara when she meets her first cowboy J. M.  and see through her eyes a man who seems bigger than life and full of adventure. Listen with her as J. M.  tells of his life as a cowboy and of the first herds pushed into the West as the demand for beef helps to build the herds of cattle after the
war.  J. M.  and Sara tell their stories around the campfire sharing the hardships, laughter and tears with the music, stories and poetry of the people they meet along the way. Experience the grit it took to establish a homestead and raise a family while living in a sod house, with no running water, dirt floors, miles from town and during Indian uprisings. Sara and her adventures are based on factual stories beginning in 1862 and continuing into the 21st century as her family carries on the cowboy traditions as cattle ranchers.  The story is enhanced with a campsite, complete with portable campfire and props, music with harmonica and guitar accompaniment.  The audience is encouraged to sing and share a dance as the wagon train settles down for the night.  "The Cowboy's Legacy" is a combination of storytelling, poetry and music neatly wrapped up in the mystery of history and the romance of the cowboy. Just in case you wondered, Donna and Elizabeth Nichols still present occasional concerts, but Elizabeth now lives in Kansas.


Whispers of Voices

Tom and Donna Hatton's compelling CD, Whispers of Voices, starts with a crack of lightning, followed by Donna Hatton's exquisite a cappella singing. You are held in its spell through beautifully haunting and moving tales and songs -- many based on Donna and Tom Hatton's family histories and their area's history -- "whispers of voices carried by the wandering winds of time."  Original and classic songs and poems performed by the Hattons with vocal and musical accompaniments of Jon Chandler and Ernie Martinez make for a truly unique listening experience. The work of co-producer Scott Martin and sound engineer Steve Avedis reflects the strong team behind this production. Joe Baker is right on target when he says, "Whispers of Voices will change your conception of cowboy poetry and western music forever."  

Contents:

Whispers (song)
Charlie's Old Friends (poem)
Dirt Road (song) lyrics by Debra Coppinger Hill
Old Times, Old Places, Old Friends (poem)
Stone in the Pasture (song/poem)
Sweet Promise (song)
Sweet Promise (poem)
Little Red Angel (poem)
Danny Boy (song)
Danny Boy (instrumental interlude)
Death on the Prairie (poem)
A Texas Cowboy  (song)
Lawman (poem)
Streets of Laredo (song)
Intro to Charlie's Song
Charlie's Song (song)
Whispers - reprise (song)

Additional vocals and accompaniment by Ernie Martinez and Jon Chandler

The CD is available for $16 postpaid from:

White Owl Productions
230 Ute Trail
Woodland Park, CO 80863 


Contact Information 

After one of our concerts I was asked if I would be interested in doing a seminar for students who were interested in learning how to put it all together from writing to performing. It is a wonderful opportunity to do more in-depth work and another way to teach young people and adults about our cowboy life and the code of The West! For more information on any materials, seminars or bookings please contact: 

Donna Hatton
White Owl Productions
230 Ute Trail
Woodland Park, Colorado 80863
(719) 687-2300
email tomhatton@aol.com

 

Read some of Donna Hatton's poetry here.

 

 

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