Featured at the Bar-D Ranch


photograph by
 Jan Herzog

Back on Home

The Latest
     What's New
     Newsletter
        Subscribe (free!)

Be a Part of it All 
     About the BAR-D
     Join us!

The BAR-D Roundup

Cowboy Poetry Collection
     Folks' poems
     Honored Guests
     Index of poems

Poetry Submissions  
    Guidelines
    Current Lariat Laureate

Events Calendar

Cowboy Poetry Week

Featured Topics
    Classic Cowboy Poetry
    Newest Features
        Poets and musicians
        Cowboy poetry topics
        Programs of  interest
        Gathering reports
        In memory
   Who Knows?

Cowboy Life and Links
    Western Memories
    Books about Cowboy Poetry  

The Big Roundup

Link to us!
Give us a holler

Subscribe!

line.GIF (1552 bytes)

We're pleased to bring you a series of selections from Jeff Streeby's monumental work-in-progress, Sunday Creek, a collection of about one hundred "posthumous monologues," spanning about 150 years. 

Jeff Streeby describes his work:  

Sunday Creek is a little river in Montana that runs through Miles City. It was the staging grounds for the big district roundups in the area. The town of Sunday Creek is fictitious, but all of these incidents and characters are based on figures from the historical record. By creating this fictional location, I was able to use incidents and personalities from all over the state and gather them under one cover. The names are purposely altered.  Some other manipulations of fact and location are present as well.

 Selections from the collection start below.

An updated, limited proof edition of Sunday Creek, with 72 pieces with character notes and illustrations, 211 pages, is available for $25 postpaid from:  

Jeff Streeby
35497 Ivy Street
Yucaipa, California, 92399  
(909)797-6296

 

About the Author

Praise for Sunday Creek

Selections

Jeff Streeby asks for "readers' reactions to any/all aspects of Sunday Creek. Contact him by email.

 

 


Praise for Sunday Creek

 

Paul Zarzyski, poet and writer, winner of the Western Writers of America Spur Award ("Wolf Tracks on the Welcome Mat"; Oreana Books, 2003) and winner of the Western Heritage Award for Poetry from the National Cowboy and Western Museum("All This Way for the Short Ride"; Museum of New Mexico Press, 1996):

I notice right out of the chute that this is a collection of significant work, a voice long overdue, one that will ring long and true and be received with great enthusiasm from those with the keenest western sensibilities.


Rachel Barenblat; Executive Director, Inkberry  

I've been tempted, at times, to claim that Jeff Streeby's Sunday Creek transcends the label "cowboy poetry." Outside the cowboy poetry community, awareness of the genre is limited -- and Streeby's collection is so strong and so compelling that I want to say it's more than just good cowboy poetry, it's good poetry, period.

But to claim that Sunday Creek is too good to be genre poetry is to do a disservice to the book and to its readers, not to mention to the genre. Yes, Streeby's collection is cowboy poetry, and if that's not a genre you read yet, it should be.

Within these pages you'll find a dazzling array of narrative voices, the entire population of the town of Sunday Creek speaking from beyond the grave. Here are ranchers and rustlers, judges and prostitutes, Native Americans and Irish immigrants. Here are women and men, young and old, those who love the West and those who didn't intend to stay. To speak for every member of a dead town -- to span generations, communities, life-experiences -- and to do so genuinely is a tall order, but it's one Streeby's more than able to fill.

Streeby manages to convey dozens of different voices, each distinctive and unique; each poem stands both apart from, and connected with, its brothers. These poems are funny, poignant, and sad. Streeby grounds the book's voices in historical details -- and somehow manages to make every poem ring true. If this is your first encounter with cowboy poetry, with Jeff Streeby, or with Sunday Creek, you're in for a treat-and if you've been here before and are returning for a second or third or tenth reading, welcome back. Sunday Creek's been waiting for you.


Virginia Bennett, poet and writer:

Jeff Streeby is definitely one of the best writers out there today.  His style and imagery are unique and individual. It's truly amazing how he assumes the persona of a fictitious character of long ago and creates a literary personality, a voice, a human quality and descriptive experience that all take on a sense of reality, thereby giving the reader a deeper understanding of history. He is one of a kind.

I wish him all the best with this new book. It is quite an accomplishment, in addition to all of his other fine work


Stephen Lodge, author of Nickel-Plated Dream and other novels and screenplays:

Jeff Streeby has just gained another fan.  I finished Sunday Creek last night with my usual "Wow!" after the "Six Black Horses" epilogue, just as I'd finished with a "Wow!" each and every chapter (story) throughout the entire book. It is magnificent -- like reading a detailed, historical novel and viewing a multi-part mini-series at the same time.  I must admit that when he handed me my copy at the Phoenix Book Festival, I wasn't sure if I'd be able to get into it.  But when I got home, I picked it up and gave it a quick scan, reading the opening and a few more chapters.  Well, I got hooked--and hooked immediately, I might add.  I settle back and read before sleeping every night, and it's been Sunday Creek on a regular basis for the past month.   I most certainly am looking forward to reading his next endeavor


Singer, songwriter, cowboy entertainer Michael Martin Murphey:  

Jeff Streeby, you have done what no poet has done in cowboy poetry.  Sunday Creek is a masterpiece.


Jane Morton, poet and writer:

I've read it all, and I love it!  What an undertaking.  His characters are so well drawn, and the threads that connect them to each other make it feel something like a novel. I can't wait to see the rest of it.


Ken Overcast, award-winning musician, poet, storyteller, writer, and host of The Cowboy Show:

Jeff Streeby is truly a gifted poetic biographer, and Sunday Creek is an amazing piece of work. The world more than likely contains men with comparable poetic wit, and with Jeff's command of late 19th century language. There are certainly historians that have their heads full of an equivalent number of cold hard facts. There probably many socio-psychologist types that have studied frontier thought patterns, and then there are just
plain old cowboys that know which end of a horse to put the hay in. Jeff is the first man I've ever encountered that is equally comfortable in all of these circles. A man of letters, and a man of latigos.

I once asked him how an educated scholar with his command of the English language could justify using the word "smushed" in one of his poems. His answer: "I'm bilingual. I speak both English and cowboy."

Personally, I feel one of the most fascinating aspects of the stories in Sunday Creek is the way Jeff has been able to articulate the diverse voices and personalities of the varied characters. I felt myself being drawn
back into their world and feeling their pain.

To label Sunday Creek as cowboy poetry, really might be too limiting. In my opinion, it transcends the genre and takes it to an entirely new level.


  Rod Miller, poet and writer:

Sometimes, if a poet gets lucky, he can crank out a couple of remarkable poems over the years. Jeff Streeby seems to be the exception. The pages of Sunday Creek contain more notable poems than any one writer has a right to. The remarkable poems are surrounded and supported by others nearly as noteworthy. The differences are slight, and readers will disagree which selections deserve the higher praise.

Being something of a Western history buff, I am impressed with the scope of Jeff's coverage -- the inclusion of representatives from all walks of life, the depiction of prototypical frontier events from multiple viewpoints, the subtle passage of time and the change it triggers.

But this is poetry. So, despite the success of all that other stuff, if the poems ain't poetic then any claim of success for Sunday Creek would be misplaced. Here's where Jeff really shines. His use of words and language is fascinating. He utilizes period lingo effectively and believably. Literary allusions are brought to bear powerfully. Mundane events intrigue with lyrical presentation, while incredible happenings sneak up on you with subtle words then shock you into a realization of what you have read.

Sunday Creek is an amazing piece of work, even in this interim form, and will be enjoyed by all who admire what words can accomplish when properly wrangled. My only gripe about it is that it's a damn shame I'll never write anything this good.


Charles Williams, Executive Vice President Academy of Western Artists and past-President, Texas Cowboy Poets Association:

Sunday Creek is a major work, not only for cowboy poetry but for American poetry in general.  The imagery is wonderful, with vivid recreations of a vast spectrum of Western types.  It represents the best in Cowboy Poetry, with solid historical scholarship wrapped in captivating verse..


Debra Coppinger Hill, Academy of Western Artists Female Poet of the Year, 2003:

Many people write about the past. Jeff Streeby understands it. His interpretations of the lives of those whose character, strength and determination settled the West stand head and shoulders above anything ever written before. The research and structure behind each piece reinforces the sacrifices made by those persons on which his characters are based. Sunday Creek-- a mythical place? I think not. It is every pioneer's story. It is every Westerner's history. And it should be every American's pride that the West was built by such people as those who inhabited Sunday Creek. Jeff Streeby-- just a writer? No. He is a Storyteller in the finest sense of the word and the Spirits of the West speak to him. How very fortunate for us that he chooses to share what they say. 


Charlie Camden, storyteller, poet, and musician:

In all my years of reading about, and living the Western lifestyle, I have never come across a writer who is so in tune with Western History as Jeff Streeby. In the years when we were partners and lived relatively close together, I realized that he was an excellent Cowboy Poet and a prolific writer, but I don't think I realized the depth of his ability.  I suppose I took those abilities for granted. Now, I look at Sunday Creek, his newest work-in-progress, and I see stories that parallel actual historical figures and events.  All of these exist within the correct time frame.  It's as if a person were entering history from a different doorway, encountering these figures and events, being and happening, slightly differently than history dictates.  In many cases, the lives and events portrayed are enriched by Jeff's versions.  It is a great collection of Western Writings. I feel that Jeff is far and away the best writer of both historical and fictional Western Literature in the world today.  Jeff writes in contemporary, classic, and just plain down-to-earth fashion.  Words common to the time, expressions, the way his characters speak, rationale of the time period, knowledge of horses and a way of life-- all these come together to allow the reader to readily enter a time gone by.  It is easy for the reader to sit back in a quiet spot and allow themselves the luxury of drifting back to another time to smell the smoke, to hear the battles, to feel the pain and exhilaration that accompany each of his stories. I highly recommend any of Jeff's writings to anyone who has an interest in the Old West.


Margo Metegrano, editor of CowboyPoetry.com:

Jeff Streeby masterfully creates the world of Sunday Creek, a place vividly populated by Native Americans, mountain men, miners, highwaymen, homesteaders, cowboys, slatterns and orators -- saints and sinners from all walks of life. As in Edgar Lee Master's classic Spoon River Anthology, the story of the place unfolds through epitaphs spoken in verse by the town's residents. But this provocative work is an original, a daring work in form and substance. From the gritty days of settlement and for another hundred and fifty years, these tales -- many inspired by actual events and real people -- reveal the interwoven relationships among the townspeople and a community emerges, reflective of the complex histories of those who populated the American West. With Streeby's careful scholarship and skillful storytelling, the chorus of voices sings with authenticity and the reader becomes a traveler to a place not soon forgotten.

 

 

The selections, changed and updated periodically, are presented in a rough chronological order; the dates are ordered by date of death, to help show the blending of the generations and the evolution of the community's values.  

Contents:

Current selections, both "*core pieces" and new pieces, are hyperlinked
Complete Character Notes for many pieces are
below


Foreword
Prologue:  Six Black Horses
*
  White Cloud Woman (1812-1834)
  Elijah Webster (1801-1845)
   Mehitable Springer (1838-1849)
  Cora Hamilton (1831-1852)
  Luath Glencairn (1828-1860)
  "French Charlie" Crevecouer (1799-1861)
Robert Ames (1832-1864)
Seamus MacLeod (1811-1864)

  Star of Montana (1848-1865)
Captain Sidney Silas Weatherford (1838-1866)
Bugler Corporal Adolph Isengar(1846-1866)
George Ides (1831-1866)
Sheriff Henry Palmer
(1828-1866)
  Jim Smith (1828-1866)
Patrick Thomas Culhaine (1823-1867)
Elihu Cooper
(1842-1873)
Jake Steinhoff (1832-1874) 
Perry Doland (1847-1875)
Lieutenant Herrick (1847-1876)
Isaiah Porter (Speaks Twice) (1841-1876)
Arlen Culpepper (1851-1878)
Everett Hooker (1849-1880)
*  
Edna Mae Fahrquar (1860- 1881)
Little Bill, the Flunky (1871-1882)
*
Huge Murphy (1844-1883)
 
Skinner Bill Tattershal 1839-1884)
Jack Rutledge (1854-1884)
*
Mary Forrest Granville (1863-1886) 
*
Father Henri Des Plaines, SJ (1817-1887)

Wiley Rawlins (1867-1889)
*
Yellow Bear (1852-1890)
Mary Victoria Fitz-Allen (1874-1890)
Tall Bird (1832-1891)
Cowboy Jennie (1859-1892)
Four Wolves (1835-1895)
Kid Falk (1870-1895)
Maude Hensen (1871-1896)  
Willie Blevins (1879-1896)  
Etor Demosti (1870-1897)
Tommy O'Neil (1874-1898) 
George Rogers Danforth (1824-1899)
James Eduard Arthur Fitz-Allen (1848-1904)
Ranny Byrd (1854-1908)
*
Phelim "Scratch" Brady (1853-1909)
*
Robert Ephraim Steele (1849-1910)
*
Judge Emerson Avory Thompson (1830-1911)
Jack Fu (1847-1913)
Sergeant-Major Allen Rafferty  (1854-1914)
Tingvald "Swede" Larsen
(1877-1915)
Mother Grimm (1855-1916)
Sister Mary Clare (1844-1917)
Thomas Algernon Danforth (1898-1918)
Black Tom (1859?-1919)
Father Michael Fenris (1840- 1919)
LeRoi Evans (1894-1920)
Hatchet Mary Vanderupp (1862-1921)
John "Twister" McBride (1855-1922)
*
John Wesley VanDerlager (1852-1924)
James Dixon Saddler (1845-1926)
Prudence Bradford (1850-1926)
*
Everret Ware (1873-1927)
Isabella Blanchefleur Danforth (1872-1928)
Spanish Jack Fallworth (1848-1929)
Ferris Orr (1865-1930)
Chapman Randolph Burr, III (1842- 1931)
Charles Charon Gordon (1864-1934) 
Horace Pratt (1846-1935)
Priscilla Darnay Fuller (1849-1936)
Runs-His-Horses (1850-1939)
 Ed Henson (1887-1940)

D. J. O'Riley (1867-1943)
*
Emerson Avory Darnay (1868-1945)
John Burke (JB) Fu (1890-1957)
Whitney Danforth (1870-1958)
Myrna St. Croix (Coral Alice Dudermeyer) (
1896- 1959)
Pearl Chatelaine (1863-1969)
Epilogue: Six Black Horses- Part II 
*

Notes on the Characters

*"core" pieces

illustrations are  from the bound issues of Harper's Young People, 1884. New York.
Harper and Brothers, Publishers; Franklin Square.


  

Jeff Streeby asks for "readers' reactions to any/all aspects of Sunday Creek." Contact him by email.

 

Six Black Horses

We see six black horses wearing six black plumes
          draw the long, black  hearse to grave and tomb.
We see six white clouds in a wide blue sky
         hide the sun from sight as the hearse rolls by.
We see six cold bells in their steeples tall,
         and they solemnly toll the doom of all.

We see six black collars with silver hames 
         worn by six black horses with six black names.
We see the black hooves rise. The black hooves fall.
         A bitter wind stirs the funeral pall.
We see six black horses, as black as night.
         Double trees groan as the tugs draw tight.

We see six plumes waving as black hooves crash, 
         sweeping hope to dust, grinding dreams to ash.
We see six black horses, all in their places,
         striking their sure and steady paces.
We see six black horses. The black wheels roll.
        The trace chains jingle, and the church bells toll.

We see six black horses, smell deep-delved loam, 
         hear black wheels rattle, find the last, long home.
We see cowboy, statesman, trull, and maid
         ride ribbons in the dust black wheels have laid.
When they say God's mansion has many rooms,
         we see six black horses wearing six black plumes.

© 2001, Jeff Streeby, All Rights Reserved

Seamus MacLeod 
(1811-1864)

I fell upon the shortgrass plain,
George Ides's ax head through my brain,
and with my death I set in train
a quaint Transubstantiation.

Whose bright wings fanned my body cold?
Whose black eye glittered, wise and old,
and saw my obsequies unfold?
The magpie.  Oh, the magpie.
 
Who from on high did notice take
and linger for my humble sake?
Who kept my lonely prairie Wake?
The buzzard.  And the magpie.
 
Whose ululating voice extolled
my virtues great and manifold?
Whose Mass consumed and yet consoled?
The gray wolf.  And the magpie.
 
Who spread the pall for the deceased?
Who, black and white, pleated and creased,
held the service, acted the priest?
The blowfly.  And the magpie.
 
Who sang the mournful passing song?
Who chastised and hurried along
laggards in my funeral throng?
The coyote.  And the magpie.
 
Who sat at the funeral feast
to eat the most and mourn the least?
What grave and solemn bird and beast?
The maggot.  And the magpie.
 
Whose ebon beak, whose ebon claw
arranged my cerements?  Who saw
me to and passed me through Death's maw?
The magpie.  Oh, the magpie.
 
With the all rites at last complete,
when there was nothing left of meat,
who sat upon my judgment seat?
The magpie.  Oh, the magpie.
 
Who is executor and heir?
Who keeps my legacy and where?
In bone and blood, feather and hair.
The carrion congregation.

© 2006, Jeff Streeby, All Rights Reserved

Notes on Seamus MacLeod (pending)

Everett Hooker
(1849-1880)

Up in the
Breaks
things is
dif
ferent.

Dis
tances ex
pand
and shrink
and
shift.
Sou
nd
hides it
self
in
the ground
or o
pens
itself
up
ward into the air like a canonade.

A prodi
gal sun
squan
ders its light
sud
denly
down the coulees
and shadow
ri
pens
here
and there
like buf
falo ber
ries al
most unnot
iced.
I hid a
way
a band of
800 head
of sto
len horses
from Danforth and Fitz-Allen's man
McBride
for two weeks
not a quar

ter mile
from his camp
and him
none the wi
ser.

Then just like that somehow there they was and I was caught. McBride didn't have sand enough in his gizzard for to hang me outright so back we went to Danforth's there by Sunday Creek where after he had tallied the herd, Old Man Danforth wrapped the knot hisself-- an eight-turn California necktie-- and snugged her up under my left ear. He muttered some kind of self-righteous made­up Bible mumbo-jumbo and swatted the horse and left me a-dangle here on this cottonwood forever. By God, I reckon it's still a damn sight 'til Judgment Day. Already ain't nothin' left of me but my good Sonora spurs rustin' away 'mongst the tree roots and the weeds.

© 2006, Jeff Streeby, All Rights Reserved

Notes on Everett Hooker

 

Little Bill, the Flunky 
(1871- 1882)

I was ten I guess.
When I first went up the trail.
They reckon the cook's louse ought to work a sight.
Help Sallie pack up the chuck wagon.
Load the bed rolls.
Harness and hitch the teams.
Drive some. Maybe the bed wagon.
Maybe the calf wagon if there ain't no Little Mary.
Gather wood or white flats or brown rounds.
Anyhow, keep the cuna full.
They reckon it ought to be did right, too,
or they reckon it's worth a cuff or a kick;
or a slew of private cuss words
fit to scorch grass from here to sundown an' then some.
 
Dig the fire holes.
Build the fires maybe.
Maybe set the irons.
Clean the dishes in the wreck pan.
Run for the coosie a-doin' this an' that.
An' be quick about it.
An' keep your tongue dallied off.
An' stay out the way.
An' keep out the chuck box.
An' don't git interested in what ain't your business.
An' no, nobody ain't got a last name unless they tell you.
 
I was 'leven then,
when I found where cookie hid the whiskey bottle.
I sneaked off with it one afternoon
an' drank up maybe half of it
an fell off'n the bed wagon
an it runned me right over.
I reckon I had it comin'.
 
They reckoned all I had comin'
was this little pile of rocks
by the ford under Sunday Butte
an' it no more than two-three days back to Sunday Creek
an' a proper cemetery.
 
They reckon a good fence will last three years,
and a good dog, three fences.
A good horse will last three dogs.
And a man, three horses.
If that's true, well,
I reckon I come up short maybe two horses and then some.

© 2005, Jeff Streeby, All Rights Reserved

Notes on Little Bill, the Flunky

Huge Murphy 
(1844-1883)

Here's to the Spike, the mighty nail!
Drink to the Spike that holds the rail!
And here's to the sleepers, ties that bind
from coast to coast all of mankind!
To the giant stitch from East to West
from Plymouth Rock through the Rockies' crest!
Here's to the tunnels in solid rock
where we made a way for the rolling stock!
Here's to the culverts! Here's to the bridges!
Here's to the trestles between the ridges!
To the railroad bed from end to source!
To the the health of the mighty Iron Horse!
Here's to Villard and all the bosses!
Large be their profit and small their losses!
To the grand success of the whole damn scheme!
Now drink to the Age of Steam!

Here's to the Workers! Here's to the tools!
To every hitch of Missouri mules
that dragged a scraper or hauled a load!
To men that died as we built the road!
To the Irish lads with their sweating backs!
And here's to the whores at end-of-tracks!
Here's to the coolie with braided mane!
Here's to the goddam railroad train!
Here's to the country's Iron Spine!
Drink to the goddam railroad line!
Fill your glass and drink it down!
Now drink to a railroad man in town!

Drink to Murph on a happy howl
in Sunday Creek where he ran afoul
of a drunken cowboy in a saloon!
Drink to the piper! Pay for the tune!
For a little while I sent him to school
where the Marquis of Queensbury wrote the rule!
On the umpteenth time he hit the floor
he skinned a cut-off forty-four
and loaded me up with a freight of lead!
When I woke up, By God, I was dead!
 
So drink to Murph and his empty stool!
A drop of the keider for the absent fool!
Drink to the work of his mighty hand!
To the iron rails across the land!
To Wood!  To Coal!  To Water! Steam!
To the rattle of cars!  To the whistle's scream!
To Bearing! Axle! Piston! Gear!
To Fireman! Oiler!  To Engineer!
To Brakeman!  Switchman!  Gandydancer!
Call for a toast and all will answer!
The future's here! There's no way back!
Now, drink to the goddam railroad track!
Here's to the Line! Our Holy Grail!
Here's to the Spike, the mighty nail!

© 2006, Jeff Streeby, All Rights Reserved

Notes on Huge Murphy

Jack Rutledge
(1854-1884)

The brockle face steer was just another-
My carve horse nosed him out
and we run him toward my outfit's cut--
He headed off and we turned back to whittle out one more-
The second one was tougher
and working him hard I did not see death breaking back on us,
racing like a thunderstorm-

As we swung the second out
on a sudden we were falling
my big roan gelding squealing like a scalded cat-

I heard my legs breaking under the swells,
a sound like thunder in the blood,
and my hips turning to water-
Then darkness-

When I awoke the pain was rich and full-
Still I had the time and sense to make dispensation-
pistol, saddle, bedroll, wages-
and to appoint for notice to my Texas kin-

The wagon board that marked this spot has been gone,
every splinter, these hundred-odd years.

© 2002, Jeff Streeby, All Rights Reserved

Notes on Jack Rutledge 

 

Mary Forrest Granville 
(1863- 1887)

I sat my last Montana winter out, chin in hand, by the parlor window

--as the fire in the grate,
stoked with the trees' memory of summer,
crackled a mockery of good cheer against the nightmare wind
howling like wolves under the eaves

--as the suffering herds,
bunched in the coulees at the base of Sunday Butte,
froze dead in sight of the house,
their long black horns crowning the indifferent drifts like great, strange thorns,
no menace now to the riot of vermin that scavenged among our dreams

--as Mr. Granville,
smiling a mockery of good cheer
through wolf-like fangs of ice that hung from his lavish mustachios,
his words vanishing like smoke down the wind,
waved to the parlor window and went off in spite of all my earnest pleading
to chop holes in the river ice for the last gaunt remnant of the caballado
 (I watched the pitiable stick-like horses follow listlessly after him)

--as I,
against his safe return,
offered up to Providence my desperate prayers,
which went unanswered

--as, eventually,
 the flour ran out,
and the salt pork,
and the dried apples,
and the oil for the lamp

-- as the wood ran out
and the last fragments of Grandmother's furniture,
rescued from General Sherman's rapacious Yankee horde
and brought all the way from Milledgeville,
blistered and blackened in the shrinking fire
(all, all, save only the rocker by the parlor window)

--as the choking sobs of the infant at my breast grew more insistent,
grew more anguished
and his backbreaking cough grew worse and worse
and then grew silent

--as the deep indifferent drift of this silence, so cold and irrevocable,
grew heavy in my arms,
and dark, strange thorns, each a dream of him
in dogwood and magnolia summers that could never come,
 wreathed my vacant heart
(my heart that still beat out its mockery of hope
against the wild, Montana wind howling under the eaves)

-- as the sun went down

--as the last fire went out

--as the wolves, perfect and unremarkable,
(I could hear their mingled voices rising, falling)
ran riot in the winter wrack of the snow-choked coulees, no menace now

--as the moon white as the drifted snow, rose full over the dark mass of the butte

--as an ancient, eloquent sadness, complete and unremarkable,
rose with the cloud of my breath,
perfecting itself upon the windowpanes in delicate moonlit traceries of frost.


While the indifferent ice, pendant from the eaves,
snarled above the parlor window
and the wind with the voice of perfect wolves rattled the glass,
I went to sleep.

Though the Chinooks finally came,
I had nothing left to dream.

© Jeff Streeby, All Rights Reserved

Notes on Mary Forrest Granville

 

Wiley Rawlins
(1867-1889)

I pulled my weight like all the rest--
rode the outside circle on the roundup in the broken country east of Sunday Creek--
did rough service for my outfit in the breaking pen
twisting the wild out of snuffy broncs--
stood my turn at guard under Montana stars thick as snowflakes--
and no complaint--
rode a freight train to Chicago once when Nedringhaus shipped steers--
At 22, I'd had my share of fun--
And then topping a rise one bright August afternoon
wondering at the length of shadow that we, man and horse, cast down the hillside,
the world went white and hot at once
and I, my last flash of wit caught in the like instant when flint strikes steel,
tried to say

"By God. Lightning."

Who'd have thought?

© 2002, Jeff Streeby, All Rights Reserved

Notes on Wiley Rawlins

Ranny Byrd
(1854-1908)

A rimfire Meanea hard seat, square-skirted,
marked the center of my domain
whose horizon, ever changeable, was always of a size to suit me well,
the sky the limit
and my sudden reach plainly marked in all directions
by sixty feet of Maguey and a Henry .44-40.

My little prairie-bred horses,
coarse, jugheaded, tough as buffalo horn,
carried me, king-like, at the hub and heart of the world from youth to age.

Then the towns intruded and the nesters and the wire
broke Heaven and Earth in pieces like an egg.

At the end I rassled pots at the cook-wagon of the Bearpaw Pool,
The campfire and the mule team and the wagon seat
Rounding off enough the raw edge of an old horseman's empire
Without shrinking it a whit.

And then at the Cottonwood Camp on Sunday Creek one bright spring afternoon,
A pouting, snot-nosed, whining boy, our Little Mary,
Scolded roundly for tying the nighthawk's horse to the wagon wheel,
Put a pistol ball in my face.

My friends pursued and Billy Wade, deliverer and witness of summary justice,
shot the murderer's horse beneath him as he swam the Yellowstone in spate
and, following at a trot along the bank,
watched, redeemed and satisfied, as the culprit drowned.

Time and circumstance set us, each and all, a limit;
and within that range and span of Heaven's grace,
we make a life grand or small.

And there an end.

© 2002, Jeff Streeby, All Rights Reserved

Notes on Ranny Byrd

Phelim "Scratch" Brady 
(1853-1909)

One more jump, by God.
One more jump.
Ifn I had a-just stuck him one more jump.
Ifn I had a-just stuck him one more jump, I by God had a-rode him down.
Ifn I had a-just stuck him one more jump and a-rode him down,
well, then,
this a-here by God hole would be full of somebody else!

© 2005, Jeff Streeby, All Rights Reserved

Notes on Phelim "Scratch" Brady

Robert Ephraim Steele 
(1849-1910)

Texas.

That's where I's born at.

It ain't no big plantation like they gots back in Georgia or Mississippi but
only a little ol' hide an' tallow outfit down in the brushy country. 01'
Masta Josiah he only gots jus' the two slaves-- me an my momma. He ain't
gots him no wife no more but he gots them two boys older than me, Travis
that he call after Colonel Travis from the Alamo fight an' James Robert that
he call Jim Bob an' he call me jus' N----r Bob, I reckon, so's we'd all of
us know which one o' the Bobs he's a-hollerin' at.

Masta Josiah his own self taught me to ride when I's a button. When I's
eight he give me a ol' Dragoon pistol that I can hardly hold up with both
hands an' put me to guardin' the remuda at night when they's a full moon.
That's when them injuns would come try to steal 'em. I kilt me one by the
time I's ten. An' he taught me to track like a injun, an' to fight with a
knife, an' to swim, an' which holes gots the biggest fish, an' to shoot a
long gun, an' to put the trip on a cow, an' to find water in the malpais, an'
to hang an' rattle on a ol' broncy horse, an' to find my way 'round in the
night. An' oh, I was good, yessir.

So, when him an' the two boys goes off to fight in the War of the Rebellion,
he leaves me back to keep care of the place an' I run it along like always
for a spell. I put in the corn an' a house garden for Momma. Then Momma git
sick an' die an I's buryin' her a li'l ways off from the house. Then them
cussed injuns run off all the hosses. I tracked 'em an' kilt two but only
brung back 'bout half the horse herd-- nineteen head. I kep' care o' the
place still, but with Momma gone, I now an' then goes on to the neighbors to
help out some so's I don't pisen myself with my own cookin' you know an'
snapped some broncs out for a couple outfits dose by an' put a new roof on'
Masta Josiah's house with my wages.

The ol' Masta an' them boys, they gone a long ol' time an' then ol' Masta,
he the only one comes on back home. He tol' me then we's done lost the War
an' all the slaves, they's 'Mancipated so I ain't a slave no more an' I can
jus' go on off an' do what I fancies but I ain't gots no place to go off to
so I stays on there an' we gatheren us up a bunch o' them ol' mossy horned
devils, some with that map of Mexico burnt on 'em, an' throwed in with a
couple other ii'! outfits an' we headen up north to Sedalia with 'em.

My, my, that was surely a trial, no matter I's a-gittin' $25 a month. Them
border outlaws kilt 01' Masta in Missouri an' whupped me with willow
branches 'til I's 'bout half dead an' they tooken the whole herd. So I's not
got a single tailfeather left an' so I's driften on back down the trail an'
at the fork I hires on with a outfit headed up through the Injun Country.

All told, I made me fifteen drives of cattle up them different big trails-- 
the Shawnee, the Chisolm, the Western, the Goodnight-Loving-- from the
Brazos to the Mussellshell-- an' the last four I's the trail boss. That last
time, in '82, we's brung us up some more of them Texas cactus boomers,
contract beef for the Fort there at Sunday Creek an' for the injun agent out
on the Rez. Me an' Big Mose Richardson we jus' stays on.

Me an' Mose we go to work for Mistah Nedringhouse. I works for 'long 'bout
two years there an' in the spring of '85 an ol' sour bronc boil over with me
an' I gits dusted an' that knock me down in the shoulder for good an' all. I's
too boogered up for cowboyin' then so I go to swampin' at the Gray Mule
Saloon, that ol' bucket of blood there 'cross from Dyer's, an' Mistah
English he give me a room in the back to stay in, too. After a little spell,
Mistah English go off somewhere an' don't come back no more an' I gots all
that money saved up an' I buys the place from the bank.

N----r Bob's Saloon. I reckon Masta Josiah, if he a-lookin' down from
Heaven, he be proud of his little ol' n----r boy fit to bust his buttons. An'
I give Mistah Dyer a run for his money. All the cowboys, they likes 01'
N----r Bob pretty good. I jus' kep' on sleepin' in the back room there jus'
like before. After a while I hears 'bout how Big Mose cash in on the roundup
an' I seen his pretty little ol' wife come back to town with young Emerson
an' the baby. I fancies her well an' figures maybe I could cut a rusty with
her but she quite the top-rail lady. Too good for the likes of 01'  N----r
Bob. I hear tell she can read an' cipher. I talked to Miss Pearl an' she
took Miss Priscilla down at her Teahouse.

Even after the Big Die-up, things they's good then for a long ol' time. I
bought me a player piano an' a snooker table for the place an' a fancy tin
ceiling an' a new carved cherrywood bar looked like that one in the Irma
Hotel over in Cody. That one what Buffalo Bill got from Queen Victoria. Some
of Pearl's girls would come by on Saturday nights to keep things lively for
the railroad boys an' the miners.

Then one night I throwed that ol' Democrat Henry Kelly out of my place. He
sure don't like a black man ownin' nothin' anyhow, an' he ain't nobody gonna
bark at a knot, so a week later, 'long 'bout three o'clock in the morning,
the Dead Man's Hour, he snuck in the back door an' knock me in the head with
his big ol' thumb buster an' burnt my saloon down all around me.

Notes on Robert Ephraim Steele

John "Twister" McBride 
(1855-1922)

I ain't got nothin' to say for myself.
All I got to do is remember.
An' like enough, that's more than you got
no matter how long you talk.

Most days.
Groan of rusty gate hinge. Noises of the wild bunch. Nicker, snort or wild call of the prairie ranges.
Scrape of hide against post. Crack of hoof against fence or shoulder or canon. Clatter and creak
and crack of  fence rails.

Most days.
In the breaking corral, colt or stallion or filly or mare, bay or sorrel or gray or buckskin. Head
ketch this one? Maybe the forefeet. Hooley-ann loop settling.  Taking up slack. Chestnut or black
or grulla or brown.  Rank bearbait.  Squall and squeal like a pig.  Buck or skitter or dodge.  Grass
rope sizzling my glove.  Calico or claybank, trigueno or blue roan.

Most days
all the fear and fight and wild that can fit under a horse hide.  Ears laid flat.  Wild eyes wide.  
Lightning there.  Whistle and hiss of hind foot striking.  And there too.  Scrape of hooves unshod
scrambling thunder. Sometimes a mare pissing on the run.  Watch it there!  Steady,you.  Red roan
or cremello, raven or zebra dun.

Most days.
Snubbing post.  Sometimes one rearing, climbing the air.  Sometimes falling backwards.  Head
flailing against the riata.  Lungs working like bellows. Feet braced, stiff-legged, his neck stretched
out.  All his weight on the twine.  Palousie or mesteno or fuzztail or ringy owlhead.
Pinching the soft muzzle.
His hind quarters shaking.
Down he goes.  Sit on his head. Hold him!
Rope halter and sidelining the nearside hind.  Then the blinkers and let him up.  Shakes and
blows, jigs sideways, stamps a forefoot, once, twice. Listening.  Ears come up.  Then the shell.  No
blanket for this ride. Flinches, blows.   The best for this that old Cogshall hull.  Grunts, sucks
back.  Sometimes the saddle down in the dirt under him or maybe skinned knuckles or broken or
maybe the black eye or just a bloody nose.

Most days
screw it down good an' tight.  Cow kick, bite or strike, maybe fall down. He humps up.  Cheek
him, fork him and raise up the blinds.

Most days
on the prod.  Scratch him! Powder River!  Let 'er buck!  Frogwalk or sunfish or casuey, squeal and
squall and cloud hunt or damn him! a pinwheel.  Bawl and bellow maybe every jump. Buck and 
run, honest pitch or showboat, galves carving the 111's deep showing him just what's what.  
Sometimes the ribs or the collarbone cracked or maybe broken, maybe a concussion or just the
dislocated shoulder. Maybe a broken leg. Stove up good sometimes.

Most days.
yellow dust in the air, big blue sky, sun, long shadows falling or maybe
none.

Most days
smell of dust and leather, horse s--t and sweat, and blood, mine and his.

Most days
riding them rainbows too damn close to the Big Jump.
Getting high enough to see clear over the edge.

Four saddles and call 'em broke.

Most days
until 1909.
Horses.  That's all.  The rest ain't nothin' to speak of anyhow.


© 2005, Jeff Streeby, All Rights Reserved

 

Notes on John "Twister" McBride

 

Prudence Bradford 
(1850-1926)

Reading. Writing. 'Rithmetic. Generations.
After one, another and then another.
Chalk and slates and rote recitation. Recess.
Thus did I teach them.

Plutarch's Lives. McGuffey's and Aesop. Shakespeare.
Edwards. Taylor. Mallory. Wordsworth. Irving.
Parsing verbs. Our history. Sums and ciphers.
These did I teach them.

Happy they are who may, with timely sureness, sift from fancy truth unadorned. Plain, simple Truth and 
Beauty luminous, these are sisters. This did I teach them.

Happy they are who, as once Eve knew Adam, know each other truly in mind and spirit. Deadly serpents 
twine in fair Eden's bowers. This did I teach them.

Cautious, prudent, chaste in both mind and body, yes, I learned life's lesson late, plain and simple:
that a spinster's sheets are too stiff and brittle.

0, how narrow, cold and dark this Garden
wherein no magic, lawless serpents glide!
I thus did teach my heart to be for Death's
pale worms a virginal and worthy bride.

© 2004, Jeff Streeby, All Rights Reserved

Notes on Prudence Bradford

Ed Henson
(1887-1940)
 

I should have been in hunting camp.
It was opening day.
And I had that big old tanglehorn bull spotted, too.
All summer I followed that forest of tines.
A Boone and Crockett record atypical for certain.
Knew where he'd be at sunup.
Knew where he would hide his harem.
Knew where he went to water and when.
Knew his every move.
Knew his bugle from every other.
Knew right where I had to be to take him.

But Old Mrs. Johnson
at the old Granville place out on the Bench Road,
she had sent word I was to call on her
because she had questions about the new crop insurance.

So no hunt.
So I had my foot clear into the throttle of my new Hudson coupe.
So I hit eighty-five miles an hour when I come over the rise
and started the little downgrade under Caprock.
So that big bull should have never been there.
There hadn't been an elk seen around there in thirty years at least.
 
And ass-first here he come, right through the windshield.
 
When they found us he was still sitting in my lap.
Over 400 B&C typical!
My trophy right enough,
and hanging in the hardware store, too,
right there alongside Ware's Wolf,
but the points went in as a found rack,
sheds,
for I had not shot him.
 
Fat lot of difference it made to me!

© 2006, Jeff Streeby, All Rights Reserved

Notes on Ed Henson are pending

D. J. O'Riley
(1867-1943)

I left the N-N ranges in '03 as the wire moved west--
With the grand landscapes surveyed, cut in squares, pirated away from us
by German nesters, the railroad men, the politicians, the other boosters,
 I could no longer stay--
I had watched the country open wide and close like a flower--

Those like me,
large of spirit, clear-eyed, robust, rough-edged,
raw and hearty in work or pleasure
and ruthlessly stern and unfailing in judgment of right and wrong upon the instant
gave way before soulless little men in town coats with their writs and summonses and contracts
and no more sand in all their craws than would fill an old cow track--

I went east to Eau Claire and prospered,
married, raised my girls, enjoyed some local celebrity--
The newspapers printed what I wrote of the old days-
To little school children, I told my stories of how it was,
my memories of Fort Keogh, the troopers,
the grand old chiefs that sent Custer into legend,
of horse and rope, dust and heat and cattle and good men and wind and snow and sun
in a beautiful country wide and empty and mysterious as the moon--

They sang my songs on the radio--
and my little girls dozed on my lap before the fireplace--

In '43, while the world blazed and the cavalry dismounted forever
I died, an old man with a little box of trinkets, in a nursing home--
surely not the fate that I'd expected nor one that many earned--
Elisha, in mourning weeds, brought me home to Sunday Creek on the train--
When it mattered, I was here--
I had it all--
I wrote it down, much as I could--
I lie here now under the only sky big enough to roof the histories of men like me--
Content.

© 2002, Jeff Streeby, All Rights Reserved

 

Notes on D. J. O'Riley

 

Epilogue

One:              We are your own, your unexalted dead.
                    These, but the echoes of our voices.

All:                This, our chorus.

One:              We are here.

All:                We are here.

One:              We see six black collars with silver hames
                    worn by six black horses with six black names.

All:                We see six black horses, as black as night.
                     Double trees groan as the tugs draw tight.

One:              We see black hooves rise. The black hooves fall.
                     A bitter wind stirs the funeral pall.

All:                 We see six black horses. The black wheels roll.
                     The trace-chains jingle and the church bells toll.

One:               We have seen.

All:                 We have seen.

One:               We were children fair in the eyes of God,
                      making bright the path where these horses trod.

Male voices:     We were lawdogs grim, aiming long black Colts,
                      passing on with lightnings and thunderbolts.
                      We were wild young cowboys, mounted well,
                      chousing after them all, and we went like Hell.
                      We were gallant troopers with our sabers drawn
                      riding at the gallop where the rest had gone.
                      We were pious preachers on spotted mules.
                      We prayed God's mercy on sinners and fools.

One:                We were gamblers all, drawing eights and aces,
                      and we bowed to death wearing poker faces.

Female voices:   We were lovely maidens, all dressed in white,
                       following along, and our hearts were light.
                       We were painted jades, all dressed in red,
                       weeping, and our hearts were heavy with dread.
                       We were old, old women, all dressed in black,
                       following a road with no way back.

All:                   We see six black horses, all in their places,
                       striking their sure and steady paces.

One:                 With what voice will you speak
                        the story of your own genuine and eternal moment?

All:                   We are waiting.

One:                 We are waiting.

All:                   We will see.

© 2002, Jeff Streeby, All Rights Reserved

 

 

Notes on the Characters

Below are character notes for many pieces. 
Some references refer to poems' contents; poem selections are changed periodically

 

White Cloud Woman (1812-1834)

She is suggested by the historical figure of Rosalie Menard Leonais, the “First Bride” of a non-Native American in the area that would become Sioux City, Iowa. In 1 938, she was memorialized in a monument on a hill overlooking the Missouri River at Sioux City. She is developed here as a simple woman with innocent and wholesome desires and realistic expectations as a contrast to the portrait which closes the book “Pearl Chatelaine” whose character is much more complex. The refrain “I see him...” is adapted from the Ghost Dance chant “The Father is Coming” which is in the historical record. For more information on Rosalie Menard Leonais see http://www.siouxcityhistory.org?People/RosalieMenardLeonais.html

Contents list


Elijah Webster (1801-1845)

He is a fictional character. Louis Vinery, luis venarii, or syphilis, was treatable only by the painful and marginally efficacious Mercury treatment. Because of their early and friendly contact with the European Americans, syphilis was epidemic among the Flathead and other friendly tribes by the end of the Fur Trade Era.

Contents list  


Mehitable Springer (1838-1849)

She is a fictional character suggested by an incident recorded in the book, Woman on the American Frontier, by William W. Fowler, S. S .Scranton and Co., Hartford, 1882, pp. 162-166.

Contents list


Cora Hamilton (1831-1852)

Source for this character comes from the story of the ordeal of the Hays family as recounted in Here Rolled the Covered Wagons: A Historic Tour of the Northwest by Albert and Jane Salisbury (p.5 8), 1948, Bonanza Books, Division of Crown Publishers. For archaic word forms and usages, see "How to Speak 19th Century" by Eric Ferguson. 

Contents list


Luath Glencairn (1826-1860)

Primary source for historical details and incidents concerning the Fourth and Fifth handcart companies of 1856 is Handcarts to Zion by Leroy R. and Ann W. Hafen, University of Nebraska Press, Lincoln and London, in association with The Arthur H. Clark Company, Spokane, Washington, 1 992; especially the chapter entitled “Tragedy Stalks the Trail,” pp. 91-117. Other sources include I Walked to Zion: True Stories of Young Pioneers on the Mormon Trail by Susan Arrington Madsen, Deseret Book Company, Salt Lake City, 1994 and Journey to Zion: Voices from the Mormon Trail, Carol Cornwall Madsen, Deseret Book Company, Salt Lake City, 1997. Primary source for the Scot’s dialect in which the character’s speech patterns are couched is Robert Burns: Poems and Songs, The Harvard Classics, 1 909-14: Glossary at http://www.bartleby.com/6/1002.html

Contents list


"French Charlie" Crevecouer (1799-1861)

Image, Source: b&w film copy neg.

"French Charlie" is a fictional character based on the stereotype of the French-Canadian mountain man and inspired by the speech patterns of "Sundown LeClaire," a character created by Frederick Remington. His speech is intended to be rich with interference from French and spiced with expressions drawn from the Chinook Trade Dialect.

Approximate translations of the Chinook jargon phrases are as follows:

"Okoke itswoot, big skookum Siam." This bear, he is a big strong grizzly.
"sandelie" roan horse
"siskiyou" bob-tailed horse/pony
"Eyeh" yes
"Boston" American
"klaska" personal possessive pronoun meaning "their"
"moosmoos" cattle
"King Chautsch" English
"chickamin" metal money
"dolla" dollar
"kinnikinnik" tobacco/smoking mixture
"le peep" the pipe
"Pasiooks" Frenchman
"oleman" old man
"Cayuse" Nez Perce or other tribes closely associated
"Nika klootchman kwahnesum" my woman always
"Palouse country" the region around Pullman, Washington and Moscow,
     Idaho. This area is still famous for its (a)Palous(a) horses.
"Okoke otswoot, nika Siam" This bear, he is my grizzly.
"callipeen" rifle or musket
"Adedah!" an exclamation of surprise
"Abba" well then
"Wake otelagh tamolla." There will be no sun tomorrow
"lekye" spotted/spotted horse

Contents list


Robert Ames  (1832-1864)

This fictional character is inspired largely by the personal account of Edward Gould Buffam as presented through excerpts in the Time-Life Books series The Old West in the volume entitled The Fortyniners (see especially pp 79-80).

"To see the elephant" was a gold miner's expression roughly equivalent to "eureka!" says W.W. Johnson in his text for The Fortyniners: "It was said to originate in an old story about a farmer who had heard of elephants but had never seen one, and longed to do so. When a circus, complete with elephant, came to a nearby town, he loaded his wagon with eggs and vegetables and started for the market there. En route he met the circus parade led by the elephant. The farmer was enchanted but his horses were terrified. They bucked, pitched, overturned the wagon, and ran away, scattering broken eggs and bruised eggs over the countryside. 'I don't give a hang,' said the farmer. 'I have seen the elephant'" (pp 79-80).

Contents list


Seamus MacLeod (1811-1864)

 

Notes pending. See George Ides and Sherriff Henry Palmer.

 

Contents list


Star of Montana (1848-1865)

This character is based on Miss Nellie Paget, Star of Bannack. The story of her experience in Sunday Creek and the circumstances of her death are here drawn from the traditional folklore of Bannack, Montana. She is also a representation of a type of frontier prostitute. For a discussion of these types, see the entry under “Cowboy Jennie.” An addendum to the “Star” story, according to my sources, originates in the late 1920’s or early 1930’s. This addition to the story says that about that time a very old man driving a new car arrived in town and made inquiries concerning the whereabouts of Star’s gravesite. He drove up to the old cemetery and spent most of the afternoon there. He drove away about dusk and was never seen again. Those to whom he spoke that day put it about that this old man, a retired doctor from Chicago, had been Star’s fiancé.

Contents list


Captain Sidney Silas Weatherford (1838-1866)

Image, Source: b&w film copy neg.

For references, see entry under “Bugler Corporal Adolph Isengar.”

Contents list


Bugler Corporal Adolph Isengar (1846- 1866)

The event is based on the massacre of the command of Captain William Judd Fetterman by Sioux and Northern Cheyenne warriors near Fort Phil Kearney in the winter of 1866. Corporal Isengar was suggested by accounts of the extraordinary courage displayed by Corporal Adolph Metzger, Bugler, C Troop, 2nd US Cavalry. 

For casualty list of the Fetterman command, see http://www.rootsweb.com/~wysherid/forts/fetterma.htm

For a brief account of the heroism of Metzger, see
http://www.philkearny.vcn.com/fpk-tallbull.htm

For a brief account of the events described in lsengar’s fictional family history see (for his grandfather Wulfgar) the source at http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/war/waterloo/waterloo3.shtml and see (for his father Waelfwulf) http://www.simonides.org/users/bibliotheca/links/wars/wars-1800/1848-3years/3years.html/
as well as http://www.sirgarnet.com/armyguide/Army_Denmark_1864.html

Contents list


George Ides (1831- 1866)

"George Ides" is based on the historical figure of George Ives, who, reputedly was one among a gang of thieves and highwaymen known as the Innocents (see "Sheriff Henry Palmer") and who was among the
first to be hanged by the Montana Vigilantes (See entry under "James Dixon Saddler"). The incident of the robbery of the Peabody coach in October of 1863, which resulted in the capture and execution of lves and his confederate Frank Parrish, was reported in an essay by British immigrant Professor Thomas J. Dimmesdale, editor of the first Montana newspaper, The Montana Post. In 1996, Dimmesdale's essay was reprinted in Big Sky Stories, Number 8, Choteau, Montana.

“Jehu” (yahoo?) is a common name for the stagecoach driver, after the reckless charioteers of King Jehu (see references Kings 2, 9.20).

Contents list


Sheriff Henry Palmer (1828-1866)

This character is based on Henry Plummer, Sheriff of Bannack, Montana.  Allegedly, he was the leader of an outlaw band called the Innocents active in the area of Bannack and Virginia City, Montana. Recent scholarship has been unable to confirm the existence of such an organization. Rather, current sources claim that virtually all early victims of the Montana Vigilantes were hanged because they were Copperheads or Confederate sympathizers.

Contents list


Jim Smith (1828-1866)

A fictional character, he is based on the historical figure of John White, the discoverer of the gold deposits at Alder Gulch (Virginia City, Montana), the largest placer deposit ever found. The miner’s slang which peppers his speech is based on “Cariboo,” a goldfield dialect which appears to flower around 1 863 in the northern goldfield, though it owes much to the slang of the California Gold Rush period. For more information, visit at http://www.goldrushbc.com/./slang.htm and “Dictionary of the Cariboo Literary Institute” at http://www.barkerville.ca/barkerville/GLOSSARY/glossary.html.

Contents list


Patrick Thomas Culhaine (1823- 1867)

Image, Source: b&w film copy neg.

The historical figure who serves as a model for this character is Thomas Francis Meagher (pronounced mahr). Meagher, a highly educated Irish patriot and an orator of some renown, was sentenced to death in England for his anti-British activities on behalf of Irish independence, but Queen Victoria commuted his sentence to transportation. He was sent to Tasmania but, after a short period, escaped to New York in time for the American Civil War. Among other accomplishments, he raised the famous Irish Brigade and displayed personal valor on several battlefields as a Brigadier General.  Because of his meritorious service, he was appointed Secretary to Montana Territory and later appointed Acting Governor. On July 1, 1 867, he fell from the deck of a steamboat and drowned in the Missouri River at Fort Benton. He had been drinking. His body was not recovered. The involvement of the Vigilantes in his death is a pure fiction.  Meagher’s own speeches and several of his official gubernatorial messages contribute to the voice of Patrick Thomas Culhaine, especially “The St. Patrick’s Day Lecture” of 1866 at The People’s Theater in Virginia City (the catalog of geographical features of Ireland, the indictment of the “marrowless bigots,” the passage in italics regarding “The O’Donohue”) as recorded in Lectures of Governor Thomas Francis Meagher in Montana, pp. 21-31, Bruce and Wright, Virginia City, Montana, 1867, these rare references courtesy of the Montana Historical Society.

Contents list


Elihu Cooper  (1842- 1873)

The source which inspired Cooper is found in F. F. Crevecoueur's Old Settlers' Tales on pages 4 and 5.  http://www.ukans.edu/carrie/kancoll/books/crevecoeur/ost01.htm

Burroughs and Furman’s comical but near-tragic experience is recounted. Phrasing and language is based on information found in "How to Speak 19th Century" by Eric Ferguson: http://www.celticfringe.net/vocab.htm

Contents list


Jake Steinhoff (1839 - 1874)

His is a fictional character. The piece was suggested by two Montana barns near Great Falls, Montana--one, a fabulous Victorian stone barn near Sun River (wherein may be found carved the initials of Charles Marion Russell, the cowboy artist) and a vast ruin of a wood and stone barn on an abandoned ranch near Geraldine.

Contents list


Perry Doland (1847-1875)

Image, Source: b&w film copy neg. post-1992

A fictional character. Holly Springs, Mississippi, “The Athens of the South,” was birthplace of 13 Confederate Generals.  It was U.S. Grant’s staging area for the assault on Vicksburg during the Civil War. General Earl Van Dorn, a Holly Springs native, mounted a daring cavalry assault on this Union strong point and delayed Grant’s Vicksburg campaign by two months.

For accounts of Van Dorn’s raid see the following:
http://www.civilwaralbum.com/vicksburg/hollysprings.htm
http://www.civilwarfamilyhistory.com.new_page_128.htm
http://civilwarhome.com/vicksburg.htm
http://www.milleralbum.com/EarlVanDorn.htm
and/or
http://civilwarlandscapes.org/cwla/per/soldier/union/bhg/bhgf.htm

For the entire text of the James Russell Lowell poem “Ode recited at Harvard Commencement” (July 21, 1865) see http://www.readbookonline.net/read0nLifle/1169

For an interesting sidelight on the history of the Del-Monico’s restaurant (The name DelMonico’s was often used commercially without authorization by the Del Monico family.) see http://steakperfection/delmonico/History.html  

Contents list


Lieutenant Herrick  (1847- 1876)

This character is a fictional participant in a fictional battle at based on the Battle of the Little Bighorn (called the Battle of the Greasy Grass among Native Americans). The specific incident is based on Lakota history, a summary of which follows:

“He was riding a gray horse. He had escaped. We could not catch him. He shot himself.” This comes from a manuscript which I encountered at the Montana Historical Society’s library in Helena during research for the publication of selected writings by D. J. O’Malley. Since this particular manuscript was not selected for inclusion in the published book, I did not record its precise location within the O’Malley collection. The source was among, I believe, part of recollections of the experiences of Black Wolf, Two Moons, Fire Crow, Wolf Voice and others as told to D.J. O’Malley. I cannot verify this source at present. Several sources confirm the fact that many soldiers committed suicide rather than fall into the hands of their Indian enemies.  

Contents list


Isaiah Porter (1841-1876)

This character is based on the historical figure of Isaiah Dorman, an African American adventurer who died with Custer at the Battle of the Little Big Horn in the Valley Fight while serving under the immediate command of Major Marcus Reno. Dorman was a Scout and interpreter. Local folklore says that Dorman had family members among the Sioux and was known to many of the Sioux combatants, including Sitting Bull. Some personal accounts tell that Sitting Bull visited at length with Dorman as he lay mortally wounded on the battlefield. http://pages.prodigy.com/custer/dorman.htm

Contents list


Arlen Culpepper (1851- 1878)

Arlen Culpepper is a fictional character created to dramatize the great Locust Plague of 1 874- 1 878 which devastated farmers and ranchers from Manitoba to Kansas and Oklahoma. Primary source for historical information about this event came from “Pharaoh Had It Easy” by Senator Warren Magnuson, in Great Adventures of the Old West, pp. 283- 295, published by American Heritage Press, New York, 1969. Senator Magnuson’s article first appeared in American Heritage: The Magazine of American History in 1960.

Contents list


Everett Hooker (1849-1880)

Hooker is a fictional character based loosely on the stories of Sam Kelly, the Saskatchewan horse thief who, with his accomplices, hid out in the Missouri Breaks in an enlarged wolf den http://www.vitualsk.com/current_ssue/sam_kelly.html and a Scotts­Cree horsethief named MacKenzie who was lynched in the Breaks area at Wilder after stealing a local prospetor’s mare http://www.rootsweb.com/~mtfergus/homestead/wilder01.htm and of Kid Wade as told to Harold J. Moss by Frank Faith in American Life Histories: Manuscripts from the Federal Writers’ Project, April, 1 939. The hanging of the professional horsethief Kid Wade at “The Forks” (now Burwell, Nebraska) demonstrates an instance of the summary justice.  http://memory.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/D?wpa

Contents list


Edna Mae Fahrquar (1860-1881)

She is a fictional character inspired by coroner’s inquest reports of the following suicides by poisoning in the period 1864 to 1911: George Anderson, 1907 (Paris Green and aconite); Elizabeth Hannah (Lizzie) Bacon, 1890 (unspecified agent); J.B. Frederick Buckett, 1878 (“morphia”); Emma Harrison, 1911 (unspecified agent); Ellen Leonard, 1864 (strychnine); Eliza McKnight, 1867 (laudenum); Christian Ritchie, 1882 (unspecified agent); S.M. Rolliston, 1860 (strychnine); James Russell, 1881 (Paris Green); Mrs. Margaret Shepard, 1892 (carbolic acid); Jane Stinson, 1869 (oil of cedar). http://www.pema.ca/inquest_list.htm

Arsenic was an active ingredient in Victorian-era flypapers. Paris Green is an arsenic­-based compound widely used until the turn of the Twentieth Century as a fixative agent for pigments in paint and wall paper. Paris Green wallpaper in damp environments was determined to be the cause of death of over 1000 Italian infants and toddlers in a two-year period at the end of the 19th century. Moisture in the air reacts with Paris Green to produce arsine gas which then collects near the floors of affected rooms.

Aconite is a deadly vegetable alkaloid, a derivative of the wolfsbane, the monkshood, and the larkspur plants, among other sources. It is a deadly poison but has also pharmacological purposes.  

Contents list


Little Bill, the Flunky (1871-1882)

He is a fictional character. According to Ramon F. Adams’ book Western Words: A Dictionary of the Old West, the cook’s helper was called variously “the cook’s louse,” “the flunky,” or “the swamper.” For information on chuckwagon history see http://meatnplace/chuckwagon.html

Contents list


Huge Murphy (1844-1883)

Murphy is a fiction built up from folklore’s stereotypes of early railroad men.

Contents list


Skinner Bill Tattershall (1839-1884)  

Image, Source: intermediary roll film

The freighter is based on details of the experiences of David Wood, a large-scale freight operator of the Telluride and Ouray, Colorado, mining districts, as told by his daughters Frances and Dorothy Wood in their book I Hauled These Mountains in Here (currently out-of-print) and quoted or paraphrased (pp 84, 88, and 90) in Horses in Harness by C.P. Fox (Reiman Associates, Inc., 1987). The list of goods and report of tonnage in “Skinner Bill Tattershall” is drawn from the freighting records of Woods in 1884. Trauma from horse and mule kicks was a frequently reported cause of serious injury and death in this period

Contents list


Jack Rutledge (1854 - 1884)

“Jack Rutledge” is based on the description of the death of Charlie Rutledge given by D. J. O’Malley in his poem “The Death of Charlie Rutledge” which appears in his book Reminiscences and Poems of Early Montana and the Cattle Range as published in From Texas to Montana: Collection 2, (Dallywelter Press, 1 996). This tale seems to be the basis for O’Malley’s later poem “After the Roundup” also known as “When the Work’s All Done This Fall” which was set to music by John White and others and became a popular song.  

Contents list


Mary Forrest Granville (1863- 1887)

This fictional character illustrates the hardships faced by women on the Western frontier. This piece was also designed to dramatize the winter of 1886-87 (The Winter of the Blue Snow” when “The Big Die-up” occurred. Nearly 85% of the millions of longhorns on the northern ranges perished in record-setting cold and snow. For a description see pp. 363-367 in The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt by Edmund Morris, Modern Library Editions Division of Random House, New York, 2001, The first published work by C. M. Russell, who would later become the world-famous “Cowboy Artist,” commemorated this event. A pencil sketch entitled “Waiting on a Chinook, or The Last of 5000” depicted a lone winter-enfeebled steer surrounded by wolves (p. 364, lbid).

Contents list


Father Henri Des Plaines, SJ (1817-1887)

This characterization is based loosely on the lives and accomplishments of Frs. Pierre Jean DeSmett and Anthony Ravalli, early Jesuit (Black Robe) missionaries to the Montana and Idaho territories and founders of several Catholic missions that survive today. For more information on Father Pierre Jean DeSmet, SJ, see
http://www.olden-times.com!OldtimeNebraska/n­csnyder/nbstory/storyl9.html

For more information on Father Anthony Ravalli, SJ, see http://www.xavierfoundation.net/news13 .htm

Also contributing substantially to this characterization is the lecture “Flannery O’Connor, Gerard Manley Hopkins and Silence” by Hank T. Edmondson, Milledgeville, Georgia, Georgia College and State University, Department of Government, delivered in July, 2003, in Monasteravin, Ireland, at the Gerard Manley Hopkins Summer School. To read the transcript of the lecture in its entirety, see http://www.gerardmanleyhopkins.org!lectures2003/flannery_oconnor.html

In his early poem “The Habit of Perfection,” Gerard Manley Hopkins employs the motif of “the stilled senses.” To read this poem in its entirety, see http://www.bartleby.com/l 22/3.html

Contents list


Yellow Bear (1832-1888)

Yellow Bear is a composite character combining historical and traditional aspects of both Red Cloud and Crazy Horse, especially as they contribute to “The Weatherford Fight” (The Fetterman Massacre) and “The Grass River Fight” (The Battle at the Little Bighorn).

Contents list


Wiley Rawlins  (1867-1889)

“Wiley Rawlins” is based on the description of the death of Wiley Collins given by D.J. O’Malley in his poem”To the Memory of Wiley Collins” which appears in his book Reminiscences and Poems of Early Montana and the Cattle Range as published in From Texas to Montana: Collection 2, (Dallywelter Press, 1996).

Contents list


Mary Victoria Fitz-Allen (1874-1890)  

See note for “Kid Falk.”

Contents list


Four Wolves (1835-1891)  

Image, Source: b&w film copy neg.

The vision of Four Wolves is adopted and adapted slightly from the historical record and from the oral tradition of the Sioux and Northern Cheyenne concerning the Sun Dance ceremony and the vision of Sitting Bull immediately prior to the Battle of the Greasy Grass as recounted in the Time-Life Books series The Old West in the volume entitled The Great Chiefs, p. 203. The vision of the meadow lark is referred to on p. 220 of the same volume.

Contents list


Tall Bird (1832- 1891)

Tall Bird’s character is based on Kicking Bear, the Sioux mystic who brought the Ghost Dance Religion to the Sioux tribes from the Southwestern United States. (Kicking Bear also introduced the Ghost Shirt which came to be worn by the ritual’s practitioners during the ceremonial dances. The cult eventually developed the belief that these shirts were proof against bullets.) and upon White Antelope, a war leader killed in the slaughter at Wounded Knee. “Nothing lives long, except the earth and the mountains” is according to William Brandon in his book Indians (American Heritage Library: Division of Forbes, 1961 p. 343) and to tradition the Death Song of White Antelope. Tall Bird is treated here as a “failed prophet” and is developed as a character parallel to the Irish-American Patrick Thomas Culhaine.

Contents list


Cowboy Jennie (1859- 1892)

Although the character of Cowboy Jennie was suggested by the lives of working women like Cowboy Annie and Squirrel Tooth Alice, she was created to display a particular type of frontier prostitute. Current scholarship on the subject suggests that there were at least four identifiable general categories of prostitutes who plied their trade in the developing West-- the Fallen Woman (“Cowboy Jennie”), the Libertine (“Star”), The Career Criminal (“Mother Grimm”), and the Entrepreneur (“Pearl Chatelaine”)-- although individual prostitutes displayed, by their actions and habits of mind, considerable overlapping of the qualities attributed to each of the types. (See discussion Speaking Ill of the Dead: Jerks in Montana History, Falcon Press, 2000. Generally speaking, the life of a frontier prostitute was brutal and short.

Contents list


Kid Falk (1870-1895)

The story of Kid Falk is built around several sources from folklore and the historical record. The death of Mary Victoria Fitz-Allen depicts a type of accident which occurred frequently in the 19th Century.  The passing reference to the Kentucky Derby-winning race horse concerns the Montana-bred stallion Spokane, who won the Derby in 1889, the year Montana achieved statehood (See reference: Nardinger, Susan R., Spirit Horse of the Rockies, Falcon Press, Helena, Montana, 1988.). The horse was lost for several years after his victory but late in his life, he was recognized and recovered. The robbery of Brother V and the NP train references a folk tale about Kid Curry and the famous Methodist circuit preacher Brother William Wesley Van Orsdel (See note under “Brother John Wesley Van Der Jagt.”) For interpretation of the colloquial speech of Kid Falk, see reference Western Words: A Dictionary of the Old West, Adams, Ramon F., University of Oklahoma Press. Reprinted, 1998, Hippocrene Books, Inc., New York.  

Contents list


Maude Hensen  (1864-1896)

See notes for Willie Blevins below.

Contents list


Willie Blevins (1876-1896)

“Willie Blevins” is based on an incident that occurred in Forsyth, Montana, in April of 1 91 2, which was reported by D. J. O'Malley in a manuscript now housed in the archives of the Montana Historical Society. On April 1 5, Henry Hoefer, a young itinerant New Yorker and a casual employee of William Merrill, a local rancher, murdered Maude Merrill, the rancher’s wife, in a botched robbery and shot the woman’s nine-year-old son as he returned home from school. Although wounded, the nine-year­old summoned a nearby railroad crew who came to his aid and raised the countryside. Hoefer was apprehended the same day, incarcerated, and lynched on April 18, 1912, much in the way described.

Contents list


Etor Demosti (1870-1897)

This character is in service to the myth of sheepman/cattleman animosity. For one concise reference to the sometimes sharp conflicts between these groups, see The Handbook of Texas Online: “Sheep Wars,” at www.tsha.utexas.edu/handbook/online/articles/view/SS/azs1.html

For an entertaining fictional account of one of these struggles see Sundown Slim by Henry Herbert Knibbs, Grosset and Dunlap, 1936.

Other sources demonstrate that the cowboy and the sheep herder were often on good terms, sharing companionship and a campfire readily.

The nature and classification of the Basque arborglyphs found throughout the West are discussed by Joxe Mallea-Olaetxe in “Carving Out History: The Basque Aspens,” an article in the Spring/Fall, 2001, issue of Forest History Today. Another article by Jose Mallea from The Basque Studies Program Newsletter, Issue 43, 1 991, contains additional information including translations and descriptions of some of the more interesting inscriptions. This is available at http://www.basque.unr.edu/09/9.3.43t/9.3.43.03.carvings.htm

Translations of Basque proverbs (below) come from The Basque Page: Esaera Zaharrak,  http://www.buber.net/Basque/Euskara/proverb.html

Alferkeria, askoren ondamendia "Laziness leads many people astray" p. 3, #12,

Mendiak merkea, behar ez du,baina gizonak gizona bai! "Mountains don't need other mountains, but people do need other people." p. 32, #194

Otso gosea, ibiltari. "A hungry wolf does not stay long in one place." p.39, #238

Arrotz-herri, otso-herri. "A land of foreigners is a land of wolves." p. 5, #25  

Contents list


Tommy O'Neil  (1874-1898)

This character, a “gentleman ranker,” was suggested by the historical figure of Bucky O’Neil of New Mexico, a Rough Rider killed during the assault of Kettle Hill in Cuba during the Spanish American War. Sources for the details of the Battle of Las Guasimas are The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt by Edmund Morris, especially the chapter entitled “The Wolf Rising in the Heart,” pp. 661- 694, and The Rough Riders by Theodore Roosevelt in the chapter entitled “General Young’s Fight at Las Guasimas” www.bartleby.com/51/3.html.

“Tommy O’Neil” is, in this work, part of a triptych of characters, the other two of which are “Isabella Blanchefleur Danforth” and “Whitney Danforth.” The piece opens with a contrasting echo of Swinburne’s “By the North Sea” and closes with the paraphrase of the line “through her eyes a dream did pass,” a reference to Swinburne’s “Queen Yseult” and “Tristram of Lyonesse.” The Shakespearean lines quoted or paraphrased as part of the character’s internal landscape are from A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Henry IV Part I, Romeo and Juliet, and “The Lover’s Complaint.”

Contents list


George Rogers Danforth (1824-1899)

The Patriarch of the fictional Danforth clan, he is representative of the “Cattle Baron” classes and has many historical referents. He is also a blend of the patriarchal figure from John Wayne’s film Red River and of the character of John Chisum, another John Wayne character. In this version of the character, he is intelligent, acquisitive, aggressive, opportunistic, ruthless, physically robust and hardy, quick to anger and to react with deadly force, and self-interested and therefore very wealthy. He is an Anglo-Saxon Protestant racist, an anti-Catholic, an anti-Semite, and a xenophobe.

Contents list


James Eduard Arthur Fitz-Allen (1848-1904)

See note on Kid Falk.

Contents list


Ranny Byrd (1854-1908)

Although the character is fictional, the story is based on the inscription on a tombstone in the Chinook, Montana, cemetery and on the details of a turn-of-the-century murder investigation, which is still open, in Big Sandy, Montana. For the details that are available, see “Murder at the Bearpaw Wagon,” pp. 175-178 in Yesterday’s Yarns by Ken Overcast, Bear Valley Press, Chinook, Montana, 1997- 2002, ISBNO-971 8481-0-6 or Ken’s website at see http://www.kenovercast.com.

Contents list


Phelim "Scratch" Brady (1853-1909)

This character has an autobiographical source. On the day I got back from Ireland, August 3, 2005, I got on a well-started two-year-old filly at a friend’s ranch in Oklahoma to go for a little ride. The little filly saddled fresh and she sure showed me the elephant. I made the buzzer about once and a half before she found me the slick spot in that saddle. It was only about a 64-point ride (which isnot a bad score for an old fat guy), but witnesses tacked on four additional style points for the elegant dismount. I decided to include a reference to it here in the instant when I discovered that the Bounce Factor for the 20-year-old bronc rider is purt near inversely proportional to the Crater Creating Coefficient of the 56-year-old ex-bull rider. lf’n I’da stuck her just one more jump though, I had a-rode her down...

Contents list


Robert Ephraim Steele (1849-1910)

This character is based loosely on the available details of the life of Bob Leavitt, generally known in the cattle country as "N----r Bob," an African-American former slave, cowboy, and saloon owner in Forsyth, Montana, and on Bill Hill, a former slave and horse breaker for the Comanche Pool in Comanche County, Kansas. For a photo and brief biography, see http://www.rootsweb.com/~kscomanc/hill_bill.html

Also contributing to this characterization are the slave narratives of Sam Forge and John Bowdry http://search.ancestry.com/cgi-bin/sse.dll?db=slavnarr&tiv=0&prox=&gs=black+cowboys&s...

Contents list


Judge Emerson Avory Thompson (1830-1911)

Judge Emerson Avory Thompson is a fictional character developed through the remarks of other characters.

Contents list


Sergeant-Major Allen Rafferty  (1854-1914)

 

This is a fictional character.  His age makes him a Civil War combatant at eleven years of age.  Of 2,700,000 Federal soldiers in the Civil War, 300 were regulars under 13 years of age.  25 were younger than ten years of age.  There are frequent stories of drummer boys and buglers too small to mount their horses unaided but who rode into saber and pistol melees with their squadrons.  Johnny Clem (The Drummer Boy of Shiloh) was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for conspicuous gallantry in the face of the enemy for his efforts to rescue his wounded comrades under heavy musket fire.

http://www.civilwarhome.com/boysinwar.htm http://www.eyewitnesstohistory.com/shiloh.htm

http://www.nps.gov/gett/gettkidz/music.htm

The non-commissioned officer corps is the back-bone of every combat arm of the Armed Forces.  My favorite story is of Sergeant-Major Daniel Daly’s heroism in the Boxer Rebellion.

http://www.usmcmuseum.org/Education_Marine_daly.asp

 

Contents list


Tingvald "Swede" Larsen (1877 - 1915)

The source which inspired Larsen is found in F. F. Crevecoueur’s Old Settlers’ Tales on page 4, Part 1 5 and recounts a farming accident. Which killed Florent Theys, a Belgian immigrant from Wisconsin who came to Kansas in 1866. http://www.ukans.edu/carrie/kancoll/books/crevecoeur/ostl 5.htm  

Contents list


Sister Mary Clare (1844-1917)

Image, Source: b&w film copy neg.

The Sisters of Providence have a long and important ministerial history in Montana among the Native Peoples. They are also important founders of medical and hospital facilities in the state. For background and information see http://www.providence.org/phs/archives/History Online/chronol.htm and http://www.companysj.com/vl84/acrosstherockies.htm

The style and content of this piece are directly and heavily influenced by the work of Gerard Manley Hopkins, SJ (1844-1889), an important English Victorian poet whose first significant collection was published thirty years after his death. His was an important stylistic influence on the Modernist poets of the early Twentieth Century. For more information, see http://www.gerardmanleyhopkins

The following definitions for the Latin phrases found in the work are taken from A Dictionary of Latin Words and Phrases, edited by James Morwood, 1998, Oxford University Press, New York. ISBN 0-19-860109-3.

Ilias malorum-  literally, 'an Iliad of evils," i.e. a sea of troubles.

hinc iliac Iacrimae- "hence these tears," i.e. there is the true grievance.

nisi Dominus, frustra- unless the Lord (build the house), it is in vain (to build it). The beginning of Psalm 127. The motto of the city of Edinburgh, Scotland.

Kyrie eleison- 'Lord, have mercy." Latinized version of the Greek words occurring in the Greek text of the Gospel of St. Matthew (xv.22 & xvii. 15) and elsewhere in the Bible. These are the words of a short petition used in various offices of the Eastern and Roman churches, especially at the beginning of the Mass. Musical settings of the words are frequent, especially as the first movement of the Mass.

felix culpa-literally, 'happy fault, "referring to the Fall of Man or the sin of Adam as resulting in the blessedness of the Redemption; thus an apparent error or tragedy which has happy consequences.

Contents list


Mother Grimm (1855-1916)

The historical figure who provided the basis for this character is Mary Glieson Gliem, famous Madame of Missoula, Montana. Her story is told in detail in Speaking Ill of the Dead: Jerks in Montana History, Falcon Press, 2000. Some circumstances of her life are here intentionally distorted to recreate her as a particular stereotype of the frontier prostitute. For further discussion of the frontier prostitute, see the entry under “Cowboy Jennie.”

Contents list


Thomas Algernon Danforth  (1898-1918)

A fictional character, he completes the Danforth family history.

Contents list


Black Tom (1839 - 1918)

This character is entirely fictional. He is portrayed as a victim of racial prejudice, but he was intentionally conceived as a character with profound personal weaknesses, too. The direct inspiration is a brief reference to a similar character, the swamper in the poem “The Old Gray Mule Saloon” by D.J. O’Malley which appears in his book Reminiscences and Poems of Early Montana and the Cattle Range as published in From Texas to Montana Collection 2, (Dallywelter Press, 1 996). Black Tom is intended as a plausible link between the periods of Sunday Creek’s history. He also contributes a contrast to the obviously more positive and substantial African American characters of Robert Ephraim Steele and Priscilla Darnay Fuller.

Contents list


Father Michael Fenris  (1840-1919)

This character is fictional. The “priest-as-wolf” image was suggested by the short story “The Lame Priest” by S. Carleton, Atlantic Monthly #88, December, 1 901. The entire text of this story is available at University of Virginia Library’s Electronic Text Center. He is designed primarily as a contrast to Father Henri Des Plaines, SJ and to Brother John Wesley Van Der Jagt and to reinforce or complement Mother Grimm, George Rogers Danforth, Yellow Bear, Cowboy Jenny and Pearl Chatelaine. He and the character Albert Bedford are designed to reflect institutional corruption of all types notable in the period.

Latin translations:

ab initio  from the beginning
ad liiteram to the letter
ad captandum vulgus  in order to win over the masses
alieni generis  of a different kind
arcanum arcanorum  secret of secrets
asinus asinum fricat  the ass rubs the ass
0, praeclarum custodem ovium lupum  An excellent protector of sheep, the wolf! Cicero
Etiam atque etiam   again and again
Vita brevis life is short
Bis vivit qui bene vivit  he lives twice who lives well
causus foederis  an occasion for treaty
cessante causa cessat et effectus  when the cause ceases so does the effect
Tempus fugit  time flies
...a tergo lupi  behind are wolves
Abyssu abyssum invocat  Hell calls to hell
dixi  I have spoken

Contents list


LeRoi Evans (1894-1920)

This character is based on the capsule biographies of several World War I Fighter Aces, especially Captain William Carpenter Lambert, an American who flew for the Royal Flying Corps and the Royal Air Force and on Edward Corringham "Mick" Mannock, a British Ace killed in action July 26, 1918, near Lestrem, France.  http://www.theaerodrome.com/aces/usa/lambert.html http://www.theaerodrome.com/aces/england/mannock.html
The "Austro-Hungarian Ace" is based on Godwin Brumowski and on the Prussian Ace Joachim von Bertrab. Von Bertrab was shot down by Mannock August 12, 1917.
http://www.theaerodrome.com/aces/germany/bertrab.html

Aircraft
SE 5a "Scout Experimental 5"-The SE 5a entered service in 1917.  Many pilots preferred it to the dangerous Sopwith Camel.
http://www.theaerodrome.com/aircraft/gbritain/raf_se5.html
Hannover-The Hannover CLIIIa entered German service in early 1918.
http://www.theaerodrome.com/aircraft/germany/hannover_cliiia.html
SSD "Siemans-Shuckert DIII and DIV"- The SSD was considered superior to the Fokker DVII.
http://www.theaerodrome.com/aircraft/germany/siemens_div.html
LVG C II- Luft-Verkehrs Gesellschaft Type II, a two-seater fighter, entered service in 1915 replacing the Type CI.  In November of 1916, an LVG CII dropped six 22-lb. bombs on Victoria Staion in London.
http://www.theaerodrome.com/aircraft/germany/lvg_cii.html
Pfalz DIII-  The Pfalz DIII was first deployed in August 1917.  It was employed primarily against observation balloons.
http://www.theaerodrome.com/aircraft/germany/pfalz_diii.html
Fokker DVII-  Generally regarded as the best German airplane of the war, this aircraft entered service in the spring of 1918.  One of the first pilots to fly the DVII in combat was Hermann Goering.
http://www.theaerodrome.com/aircraft/germany/fokker_dvii.html
Albatross DII-  This plane entered service in January, 1917.  Manfred von Richtofen was among the first to be issued this aircraft.
http://www.theaerodrome.com/aircraft/germany/albatros_diii.html
Hansa-Brandenburg DI-  This aircraft was designed by Ernst Heinkel.  This was the preferred aircraft of Austro-Hungarian Ace Godwin Brumowski.
http://www.theaerodrome.com/aircraft/austrhun/hansa_di.html

Military Decorations of Great Britain-
MM-The Military Medal-
http://www.theaerodrome.com/medals/gbritain/mm.php
MC-The Military Cross-
http://www.theaerodrome.com/medals/gbritain/mc.php
DSO-The Distinguished Service Order--
http://www.theaerodrome.com/medals/gbritain/dso.php
DFC-- The Distinguished Flying Cross-
http://www.theaerodrome.com/medals/gbritain/dfc.php
The Victoria Cross (Equivalent to the US Congressional Medal of Honor)
http://www.theaerodrome.com/medals/gbritain/vc.php

"the FAI ticket"--  "The certificate issued by the Federation Aeronautique Internationale (FAI). The FAI certificate was known universally as the 'ticket.'"
http://www.theaerodrome.com/forum/showthread.php?t=23225

Contents list


“Hatchet Mary” Vanderupp (1862-1921)  

Image, Source: b&w film copy neg.

“Hatchet Mary” is entirely a fictional character designed to display the active role women on the frontier played in shaping social and political conditions in the West. Hatchet Mary Vanderupp’s white ribbon is worn as a sign of her membership in the WCTU. Founded in 1874, the WCTU (Woman’s Christian Temperance Union) was once the nation’s largest organization of women. Although the WCTU energetically promoted the cause of Prohibition, it was never a single-issue organization and continues today to promote causes of interest and benefit to women. The Anti-Saloon League was formed in Ohio in 1 893 and after a shaky beginning, under the skillful and stable leadership of Mr. Purley Baker, it became the most vocal and effective of the organizations supporting Prohibition. The American Patriot and The American Issue were the two most familiar and influential of its national publications. By 1917, Montana was a dry state, thanks primarily to the efforts of women like Mary.

Contents list


John "Twister" McBride (1855-1922)

This character is based, in part, on the oral histories of several early-day ranch hands found in the WPA Life Stories and Folklore at the Library of Congress’ Internet site “American Memory” and on the text and photo essay featuring bronc snapper Lee Warren, pp. 98- 103, The Old West: The Cowboys, 1 973, text by Win. H. Forbis, edited by Ezra Bowen, Time-Life Books, New York.

Contents list


Brother John Wesley Van der Jagt (1852-1924)

This character is based on the life and adventures of the early Montana Methodist “circuit preacher” William Wesley Van Orsdel, “Brother Van,” (1 847- 1 91 9) known as “the best-loved man in Montana” His history is recounted in Brother Van by Alson Jesse Smith, Abingdon, Cokesbury Press, New York, 1948, and in The Last of the Old West by George Mecklenberg,, The Capital Book Company, Washington, D.C., 1927. The chorus quoted in the piece is from “A Diamond in the Rough,” Brother Van’s trademark hymn. Also quoted are Brother Van’s last words: “I have no enemies. Only friends. Tell the people of Montana that I love them.”

Contents list


James Dixon Saddler (1845-1926)

This character was initially suggested by the life of “X” Biedler, prominent figure among the Montana Vigilantes; however, Saddler developed primarily as a character to contrast with the integrity of Patrick Thomas Culhaine and as a vehicle to display the prejudices and unsavory attitudes of native-born Americans of the day as described by Thomas Frances Meagher in his 1 866 St. Patrick’s Day speech in Virginia City, Montana. Also, Saddler is a device to mitigate the romance of the myths surrounding the Vigilantes and the notorious Henry Plummer Gang, the Innocents.

Contents list


Prudence Bradford (1850-1926)

She is an entirely fictional character loosely based on my own personal interviews conducted in the 1970’s with early day teachers from South Dakota and Nebraska. The life of a teacher in the mid-19th century was strictly circumscribed by draconian policies enforced by local school officials.

 Contents list


Everett Ware (1873-1927)

This character is fictional. The wolf is based on reports and descriptions in the public record and on popular folk tales concerning the depredations of the White Wolf of Stanford, Montana. The description of the wolf attack on the calf is based on an eyewitness account of such an attack which has been reported in the poem “Six Minutes and Forty-five Seconds” by Don Kennington published in From Texas to Montana: Collection 2, (Dallywelter Press, 1996).

Contents list


Isabella Blanchefleur Danforth  (1872- 1928)

See note under Tommy O'Neil.

Contents list


Spanish Jack Fallworth  (1848- 1929)

This character is based on Portugee Phillips and his 260-mile ride to bring a relief column to Fort Phil Kearney immediately following the Fetterman Massacre. He rode the horse Gray Eagle, which horse was the personal mount of the fort’s commanding officer, Colonel Carrington.

Phillips was hotly pursued through a blizzard by warriors of Red Cloud who had effected the surprise and defeat of the Army unit under Captain Fetterman. Phillips managed to change horses at least twice en route, and Gray Eagle survived the ordeal; however, the horse which ran the last leg of the journey died in the stables a Fort Laramie. There are monuments to commemorate this heroic effort, both at the site where the ride began at Fort Phil Kearney and at Fort Laramie where it ended.

Contents list


Ferris Orr (1865-1930)

Orr is a fictional character. One of the most interesting background sources which I located while developing him was The Online Blacksmith Museum at http://www.geocities.com/Heartland/Village/5222/index.html

Contents list


Chapman Randolph Burr (1842- 1931)

For references, see entry under  "Star of Montana."

Contents list


Charles "Charlie" Charon Gordon (1864-1934)

The West produced and continues to produce traditional artists of note. Charlie Gordon is of course based on the two dominant western artists of the period, Charles Marion Russell and Frederick Remington. The C. M. Russell Museum in Great Falls, Montana, preserves the world's largest collection of Russell works and artifacts and preserves both the artist's home and his studio on the museum grounds.  For more information, see
http://www.cmrussell.org/meet.html. To see the C. M. Russell image "Brother Van Shooting Buffalo," see http://65.40.245.240/GALLERY/BRVANBF1.htm
(a commercial site). The Frederic Remington Art Museum is located in Ogdensburg, New York. For more information, see http://www.fredericremington.org/frederic.html.

Contents list


Horace Pratt (1846-1935)

Horace Pratt is a fictional newspaperman who offers one of the theme statements of the book.

Contents list


Priscilla Anne Darnay Amboy Richardson Fuller (1859- 1936)

This character is based loosely on the life and accomplishments of Sarah Gammon Bickford, 1855-1931, a black woman known as “Montana’s First Career Woman.” The Birthplace of Montana-- Field Trip” pamphlet, by Jeffrey J. Smith, p. 7, The Virginia City Preservation Alliance, P0 Box 55, Virginia City, Montana 59755.  

Contents list


Runs-His-Horses (1850- 1939)

Image, Source: b&w film copy neg.

This is a fictional character.  His purpose here is twofold: 1) to complete the context of Sidney Silas Weatherford, Bugler Corporal Adolph Isengar, Spanish Jack Fallworth, Yellow Bear, Four Wolves, Tall Bird, Lieutenant Herrick, Isaiah Porter, and Everett Ware and 2) to summarize the transition of the great Native American nomadic horse cultures from their traditional way of life to a strictly circumscribed, settled and agriculture-based lifestyle of the reservation.   For a description of the fundamental religious and moral principles of the Native Americans of the Great Plains, see The Soul of the Indian, Charles Alexander Eastman (Ohiyesa), University of Nebraska Press, Lincoln, Nebraska , 1911.  For views opposed to the manner of portrayal of this character and which challenge both the accuracy of this  representation of Lakhota culture and Eastman’s description and analysis, inquire at www.Lakhota.com.  Address questions to the membership under the heading of the New Board.

Contents list


Ed Henson (1887-1940)

(Notes are pending)

Contents list


D. J. O'Riley  (1867-1943)

This character is based on the life of D. J. O'Malley, cowboy for the N-N ranch. This outfit was owned by Nedringhaus whose ranch headquarters and ranges lay along Little Dry Creek near Miles City, Montana. When he was ten years old, O’MaIley came to the Territory by covered wagon from Fort Caspar in Wyoming with the Cavalry unit that opened Fort Keough near Miles City, his step-father being attached to that unit. After completing the Eighth grade in 1 881, at the age of 14, he began work as a wrangler. He became a trusted and respected personality in the area. He also served for a short time, on two separate occasions, as a prison guard at Deerlodge. Eventually, after the closing of the open range, he left Montana for Eau Claire, Wisconsin, where he married and raised a family. He is buried in the Range Riders Cemetery at Miles City. Primary source for biographical details was the capsule biography provided by the Montana Historical Society.

Contents list


Emerson Avory Darnay (1868- 1945)

This character is based on the historical figure of Taylor Gordon, African American native of White Sulfur Springs, Montana. At 1 7, he left Montana in the employ of the Ringling Circus and eventually his fine singing voice led him to a career in entertainment. He participated in the Harlem Renaissance of the 1 920’s. His brilliant career was cut short by mental illness and after many years of treatment, he retired to Montana where he lived with his older sister until his death in 1971. For more information on Gordon, see www.montanahereicome.com/famous.htm  

Contents list


Whitney Danforth  (1899-1957)

See note under Tommy O'Neil.

Contents list


Myrna St. Croix (Coral Alice Dudermeyer) (1896- 1959)

Image, Source: b&w film copy neg.

This character was inspired by the beautiful and talented Montana-born actress and legend Myrna Loy.
http://freespace.virgin.net/donna.inoore/myrna.htm

Texas legend Lottie Deno, the gambling Southern Belle with icewater in her veins, was the basis for the character Miss Kitty in the television series Gunsmoke. http://www.tsha.utexas.edu/handbook/online/articles/DD/fde59.html

The first full-length Technicolor feature, The Toll of the Sea, was based on Madame Butterfly and was released in 1922.
http://www.widescreenmuseum.com/oldcolor/technicolorl.htm

Contents list


Pearl Chatelaine (1863-1960)

This character was suggested by the colorful folklore surrounding Great Falls, Montana’s Club Cigar. Pearl represents the fourth type of frontier prostitute. For further discussion , see note under “Cowboy Jennie.”

 Contents list

A limited proof edition of Sunday Creek, with 72 pieces with character notes and illustrations, 211 pages, is available for $25 postpaid from:  

Jeff Streeby
35497 Ivy Street
Yucaipa, California, 92399  
(909)797-6296

 

About the Author

Jeff Streeby grew up in Sioux City, Iowa, an historic terminal market for Western beef, and worked for Waitt Cattle Company while he attended college. Later, he went to Minnesota and Florida where he worked as a groom and stableman for dressage and A-Circuit hunter-jumper trainers. He has worked on the thoroughbred racetracks of Nebraska and Montana as both a groom and an assistant trainer. After several years of teaching in El Paso, Texas, working a few odd seasonal jobs on several ranches near Sierra Blanca, and boarding horses at his little New Mexico place, Jeff and his family now reside in Yucaipa, California. Jeff teaches at Perris High School in Perris, California.    

Streeby is formerly the editor/compiler of the From Texas to Montana series of books published by Great Falls High School's Dallywelter Press. He is a charter member and past-president of the Charley Russell Western Heritage Association and an active member of Western Writers of America. His work has been published in Western Horseman, Cowboy Gazette, Rope Burns, and Countryline magazines and Cattlecall, Cowboy Poetry Corral, American Western Magazine, and Cowboypoetry.com. Jeff performs at cowboy poetry gatherings around the state.

Read more of Jeff Streeby's poetry here at the BAR-D.

Jeff Streeby asks for "readers' reactions to any/all aspects of Sunday Creek." Contact him by email.

 


Jeff Streeby, photograph by Jan Herzog

 

 

 

www.cowboypoetry.com

 

HOME

 What's New | Poems

 Features | Events  

The BAR-D Roundup | Cowboy Poetry Week

Poetry Submissions 

Subscribe | Newsletter | Contact Us

  Join Us!

 

Authors retain copyright to their work; obtain an author's
permission before using a poem in any form.

 

CowboyPoetry.com is a project of the Center for Western and Cowboy Poetry, Inc., a Federal and California tax-exempt non-profit 501 (c) (3) organization.  

 

CowboyPoetry.com
PO Box 330444
San Francisco, CA 94133

Site copyright information