In 1870, sixteen-year-old Frank Maynard left his home in Iowa and arrived in Towanda, Kansas, where he soon took a job helping to trail a small herd of cattle from Missouri to Colorado. Thus began his adventures as an open-range cowboy, a ten-year career that coincided with the peak of the great trail-drive era.
Among the highlights of Maynard's time on the range were brushes with outlaws and encounters with famous lawmen, such as Bill Tilghman and Bat and Ed Masterson (he was in Dodge City when Ed was shot). On one drive Maynard was set upon and chased by irate German homesteaders; on another he narrowly escaped being killed by a man known as Slusher while driving horses from Kansas to Texas.
But Maynard's most enduring contribution sprang from overhearing a version of an old Irish ballad in 1876 and reworking it as "The Cowboy's Lament," the standard most recognize today as "The Streets of Laredo." His role in adapting the song and his other colorful experiences on the trail have come to light with the recent discovery of his unpublished memoir. Now, alongside the frontier recollections of Charlie Siringo and Charles Colchord, Maynard's personal account offers a rare and revealing glimpse of the true Old West.
"[Jim Hoy] packs the house and gets great applause for his wonderful presentations on cowboys and cowboy music. His books are lively and compelling--well researched but never boring history lessons." --Michael Martin Murphey
"Nobody knows cowboys past or present better than Jim Hoy. In this volume he wrangles the memoir of Frank Maynard, a Kansas cowpuncher whose recollections of the range and trail during the heyday of the western cattle trade are as fresh and crisp as new saddle leather." --B. Byron Price, director, Charles M. Russell Center for the Study of Art of the American West
Following his early experiences on the range, Frank Maynard (1853-1926) married in 1881 and moved to Colorado to settle down as a carpenter. Achieving some renown as a cowboy poet, he published a small book of verse in 1911.
Jim Hoy, director of the Center for Great Plains Studies at Emporia State University, was reared on a Flint Hills ranch near Cassoday, Kansas. He is the author of Flint Hills Cowboys: Tales of the Tallgrass Prairie and has lectured on the American cowboy in Germany, England, New Zealand, and Australia. A past president of the Kansas State Historical Society and past chair of the board of trustees of the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress, Hoy was inducted into the Kansas Cowboy Hall of Fame in 2004.
David Stanley is professor emeritus of English, Westminster College, Salt Lake City. He is the co-editor of Cowboy Poets & Cowboy Poetry and the producer of the Smithsonian Folkways recording Cowboys Poetry Classics.