English Dialects | German Dialects | Links | Searchable Database | Home

The speaker is a 79-year-old White man with a college education from Smith Center, Kansas;
he was recorded in 1967.

County: Smith
State: KS

In this segment the informant tells of a poem entitled "The Western Home," written in 1873 by Dr. Brewster Higley, who lived in Smith County, in north central Kansas. The poem was given by its author to a neighbor, Daniel E. Kelley, a carpenter by trade and a composer and member of the Harlan Brothers Orchestra, together with his brothers-in-law. Kelley arranged the verses into a song that became "Home on the Range," which became the state song of Kansas in 1947.
Inf: Yes, Mr. Cook. I'd like to visit with you about something that happened in our county quite a number of years ago, in fact about 1872. A Dr. Higley uh, who was a medical doctor, come to our county, and homestead that year. And uh, he was a rather an eccentric, or a rather an interesting character. Did uh, prac-, he practiced uh, his profession among the early settlers of this county. One of his hobbies was writing poems, and among those poems that he wrote was uh, a poem with approximately five verses. And it was first called uh, "The Western Home."

He uh, let this poem lay around his house for a number of months, but took it down to his neighbor as he called him, his buddy, uh, Dan Kelley. And said, "Dan, eh, what do you think of this as a poem?" And uh, Mr. Kelley, who was an old bandmaster in the Civil War, read it over a number of times, hummed it, and he said, "Well, Doc, I believe I can uh, turn this poem into a song." And he did.

And he uh, took the poem home with him and uh, on a foolscap he wrote it out in the uh, notes. And uh, worked it over a number of times. And uh, his brother-in-law, uh, his two brother-in-laws, uh, Gene uh, Harlan and uh, Cal Harlan, had what they call an orchestra they played at uh, country dances. An' they took this uh, we might call it a piece of paper, foolscap, as we call it those times, and to a country dance. And it's first played in Keystone, uh, Township in Osborne County. It was just, county just south of Smith County. And it was quite popular at that time.

Back to US English Map
back to American Languages home