In the 1880s, there wasn't much in Anson, Texas, in the way of entertainment for the areaÆs 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 ôThe CowboysÆ Christmas Ball.ö
Reenacted annually since 1934 based on ChittendenÆs 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.
Paul Carlson defines the many people and events mentioned in ChittendenÆs poem and explains the Jones County landscape laid out in the celebrated work. The book covers the evolution of cowboy poetry and places Chittenden and his poem chronologically within the ever-changing western genre.
Far more than a history of the Jones County dance, DancinÆ 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.