Cowboy Songs And Other Frontier Ballads

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Collector's Note-
The profession of cow-punching, not yet a lost art in a group of big western states, reached its greatest prominence during the first two decades succeeding the Civil War. In Texas, for example, immense tracts of open range, covered with luxuriant grass, encouraged the raising of cattle. One person in many instances owned thousands. To care for the cattle during the winter season, to round them up in the spring and mark and brand the yearlings, and later to drive from Texas to Fort Dodge, Kansas, those ready for market, required large forces of men. The drive from Texas to Kansas came to be known as " going up the trail," for the cattle really made permanent, deep-cut trails across the otherwise track­less hills and plains of the long way. It also be­came the custom to take large herds of young steers from Texas as far north as Montana, where grass at certain seasons grew more luxuriant than in the south. Texas was the best breeding ground, while the climate and grass of Montana developed young cattle for the market.
A trip up the trail made a distinct break in the monotonous life of the big ranches, often situated hundreds of miles from where the conventions of society were observed. The ranch community con­sisted usually of the boss, the straw-boss, the cowboys proper, the horse wrangler, and the cook — often a negro. These men lived on terms of practical equality. Except in the case of the boss, there was little difference in the amounts paid each for his

E-Book - An Annotated Compendium of Old Time American Songs by James Alverson III