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Estancia (New Mexico) July


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July, 2006
Old Timer's DayEstancia, New Mexico

report by Rex Rideout with photos by John and Joyce Stauffer


There was quite a gathering to recognize the work of Jack Thorp in Estancia, New Mexico. The day was July 29, 2006, and the event was Old Timer's Day, a celebration of the heritage of the town. But the focus was on Jack Thorp, the collector and writer of the first book of cowboy songs and Phillip A. Speckmann who ran the Estancia News Print Shop that printed the book, Songs of the Cowboys, in 1908. Estancia historian Bobby Nealy was there telling about Thorp and
Speckmann and the print shop.

Mark Gardner and Rex Rideout performing the songs of Jack Thorp

Mark Gardner and Rex Rideout performed Thorp's songs on stage. They and cowboy illustrator Ronald Kil later signed copies of their new book/CD, Jack Thorp's Songs of the Cowboys. If that were not enough, Sharon Berman, manager of the Statewide Museum Outreach and Tom Leech, manager of the Palace Press at the Palace of the Governors and creator of the new book were there with an exhibition of the work of Speckmann. This was displayed in the Van of Enchantment, the Museum of New Mexico's traveling museum on wheels. 

The Van of Enchantment, from the Museum of New Mexico

There were original playbills and flyers from the Estancia News Print Shop on display as well as an original copy of Thorp's
first book. While not onstage, Mark and Rex were performing Thorp's songs in the van as well. 

Mark and Rex performing in the van, with some of Speckmann's printing on display

There was a gathering of the relatives of Thorp and Speckmann who offered many stories of the song collector and the printer. A surprise came when it was revealed that the building that housed Speckmann's print shop was still standing. 

Following the events of the day, many headed across town to see this building. The good news is that the town of Estancia recently purchased the building and is intending to put it to use as a museum so the combined work of Thorp and Speckmann will not be forgotten.

Artist Ronald Kil, Rex Rideout, and Mark Gardner in front of the old Estancia News Print Shop

For more about this event, see the photos and listen to audio selections 
at John and Joyce Stauffer's site here:

photo by Scott O'Malley
Mark Gardner and Rex Rideout


For more about Rex Rideout and Mark Gardner, and to keep abreast of news about the 2008 centennial of Jack Thorp's Songs of the Cowboys, visit their web sites:

Rex Rideout:

Mark Gardner:

For more about Jack Thorp's Songs of the Cowboys:


  See our feature here about the 2005  Jack Thorp's Songs of the Cowboys:

Jack Thorp's Songs of the Cowboys (Museum of New Mexico Press, 2005), is a tribute to the man who was cowboy music's first collector; a significant contribution to western music history; and an enlightening and entertaining experience for readers and listeners. The book is edited and introduced by western historian and musician Mark L. Gardner, with illustrations by noted western artist and cowboy Ronald Kil, and accompanied by a CD recording performed by Mark L. Gardner and Rex Rideout.

"Jack" Thorp (N. Howard Thorp, 1867-1940) collected cowboy songs and poems across the west for nearly 20 years, starting in the late 1800's. He first published them in 1908, in a small book called Songs of the Cowboys.

Jack Thorp's Songs of the Cowboys includes songs and poems from Thorp's original book and an  expanded 1921 edition, and also a previously uncollected song found in a Thorp manuscript ("Ti Ri Youdy"). On the accompanying CD, Mark Gardner and Rex Rideout play the songs on vintage instruments in the style they would have been heard in Thorp's time. 

The book also includes Gardner's extensive introductory essay, "A Tribute to Jack Thorp"; a generous number of original illustrations by Ronald Kil; vintage photos, many courtesy of Jack Thorp's nephew, John Stauffer; a glossary; and references for suggested reading. 

We're pleased to feature excerpts and more in our feature here.


  See our feature here about the 1921 edition of Songs of the Cowboys:

 The 1921 edition of Songs of the Cowboys, published in 1921, was greatly expanded from the 1908 edition. It included over a hundred songs and poems, including 25 pieces written Thorp and a detailed introduction by Alice Corbin Henderson.  

See the growing list of works posted from the 1921 book, the book's introduction, and more in our feature here.



The BAR-D Roundup is a compilation of contemporary recordings of some of today's best classic and contemporary cowboy poetry. It includes  “What’s Become of the Punchers?” by Jack Thorp, recited by Mark L. Gardner, from Jack Thorp's Songs of the Cowboys, courtesy of the Museum of New Mexico Press, 2005.


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