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American Ballads and Folk Songs
version; the rest of the lines make up the song as I first learned it.
"Once when I sang the song in the open air auditorium at the University of Arkansas, a lady from the 'Magic Valley' [the lower Rio Grande district of Texas] arose and denounced the maker of the song as a slanderer."
The text of "Hell in Texas" printed in Cowboy Songs came from the proprietor of the Buckhorn Saloon in San Antonio, Texas, a famous resort for the thirsty, yet operated as a soft-drink place. When he handed me the printed broadside, the proprietor of the Buck-horn told me that he had given away more than 100,000 printed copies. John R. Steele, of the United States Signal Corps, stationed at Brownsville in early frontier days, is said to have written the song. Others claimed it. General W. T. Sherman, once stationed in Texas, was suggested as the author by a Texas newspaper. The claim grew out of a report that Sherman had said that if he owned both Texas and hell he would rent out Texas and live in hell. Whereupon a Texan is said to have retorted: "Well, damn a man who won't stand up for his own country."
"Hell in Texas" had a forerunner or follower in Arizona, where the keeper of a gambling saloon in Tucson was moved to write what follows. "Arizona," said a fervid orator, "needs only water and climate to make it a Paradise." "Yes," retorted an unsympathetic hearer. "That's all hell needs."
How It Was Made and Who Made It The Devil was given permission one day To select him a land for his own special swayj So he hunted around for a month or more, And fussed and fumed and terribly swore, But at last was delighted a country to view Where the prickly pear and the mesquite grew. With a survey brief, without further excuse, He stood on the bank of the Santa Cruz, [401 ]