Dancin' in Anson: A History of the Texas Cowboys' Christmas Ball

Overview

Celebrating the celebration of the Old West
 
In the 1880s, there wasn't much in Anson, Texas, in the way of entertainment for the area’s cowhands. But Star Hotel operator M. G. Rhodes changed that when he hosted a Grand Ball the weekend before Christmas. A restless traveling salesman, rancher, and poet from New York named William Lawrence Chittenden, a guest at the Star Hotel, was so impressed with the ...

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Overview

Celebrating the celebration of the Old West
 
In the 1880s, there wasn't much in Anson, Texas, in the way of entertainment for the area’s cowhands. But Star Hotel operator M. G. Rhodes changed that when he hosted a Grand Ball the weekend before Christmas. A restless traveling salesman, rancher, and poet from New York named William Lawrence Chittenden, a guest at the Star Hotel, was so impressed with the soiree that he penned his observances in the poem “The Cowboys’ Christmas Ball.”
      Reenacted annually since 1934 based on Chittenden’s poem, the contemporary dances attract people from coast to coast, from Canada, and from across Europe and elsewhere. Since 1993 Grammy Award-winning musical artist Michael Martin Murphey has played at the popular event. 
      Far more than a history of the Jones County dance, Paul Carlson analyzes the long poem, defining the many people and events mentioned and explaining the Jones County landscape Chittenden lays out in his celebrated work. The book covers the evolution of cowboy poetry and places Chittenden and his poem chronologically within the ever-changing western genre.
       Dancin’ in Anson: A History of the Texas Cowboys' Christmas Ball is a novel but refreshing look at a cowboy poet, his poem, and a joyous Christmas-time family event that traces its roots back nearly 130 years.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Whether read by lantern light in a horse camp or in an easy chair, you’ll enjoy this adventure into a genuine, nineteenth-century cowboy dance that now boasts an international reputation. In the folksy vernacular of cowpunchers captured by Larry Chittenden as he spoke of Windy Bill Wilkerson, the original dance-caller at the Ball: “Oh, Bill I won’t forget yer, and I’ll oftimes recall / that lively-gaited sworray—the Cowboys’ Christmas Ball.”
Michael Martin Murphey, from the foreword
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Product Details

Meet the Author

Paul H. Carlson is emeritus professor of history at Texas Tech University. He has published numerous books and articles, is a member of the Texas Institute of Letters and the Philosophical Society of Texas, and a Fellow of the Texas State Historical Association and the West Texas Historical Association.  He lives with his wife Ellen in Lubbock County.

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