Backwoods to Border Page: 1
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A BUFFALO HUNTER AND HIS SONG
By J. FRANK DOBIE
One of the outstanding folk songs of America is "The
Buffalo Skinners." John A. Lomax, who had procured it
from a stove-up cowpuncher named J. E. McCauley
farming near Seymour, Texas, published it, in 1910, in
his Cowboy Songs and Other Frontier Ballads. The re-
vised and enlarged edition of that book (1938) contains
a note citing what "seem to be forerunners" of the song,
Not a great while after he first published it, Lomax
taught the words and the tune to his friend Carl Sand-
burg, and Sandburg in his haunting voice sang it all
over America. Including it in his collection, The Amer-
ican Songbag (1927), he calls it a "magnificent find, . . .
the framework of a big, sweeping novel of real life con-
densed into a few stanzas, . . . its blunt, direct, odorous,
plain and made-to-hand words having the sound to some
American ears that the Greek language of Homer had
for the Greeks of that time."
It is a buffalo skinner's reminiscent tale of how he
hired out to a man by the name of Crego to spend one
summer "pleasantly" on the range of the buffalo; how,
after getting out on the range, the hunters found the
water as salty as hell-fire, "iron wedge bread" for food,
fleas and graybacks in their beds, Indians lying in wait
to pick them off, the work of skinning the stinking dead
buffalos anything but pleasant; and how then, the hunt
being over and time having come for a settlement, old
Crego declared his hands had been "extravagant" and
were in debt to him.
We coaxed him and we begged him and still it was no go-
We left old Crego's bones to bleach on the range of the
Here’s what’s next.
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Backwoods to Border (Book)
Book about folklore in Texas, including folk songs, ghost stories, Mexican animal tales, anecdotes about lawyers, folklore about Texas plants, riddles and miscellaneous legends. The index begins on page 225.
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Dobie, J. Frank (James Frank), 1888-1964. Backwoods to Border, book, 1943; Dallas, Texas. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc38306/m1/15/: accessed June 18, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Press.