Homespun Poems

by Samuel Murrell Harris (1858-1944)

picture of Sam Harris family
Mr. Sam Harris and family, Harveyville, Kansas, about 1900.
(Click the picture for a hi-res version)

Back row:
Carrie, Frank and Lynn.


Middle row:
May, Sarah, Maud and Sam.


Zora is between the rows,
with her mother's arm around her


Front row:
Dick, Verda and Vida.




This interesting collection of poems was received by Maude and Paul Youngman in November of 1992. It had been sent by Lawrence Youngman, who had in turn received it from Mrs. Florence Harris Walker of Manhattan, Kansas.

Mrs. Walker is the youngest daughter of Mr. Sam Harris and had apparently transcribed the writings from longhand into a typed form.

Due to conditions under which the typing was done considerable effort was required to bring the writings to their present state of legibility.

That was a pleasant task for us as we were friends of the Harris family many years and we also think the poems are very well conceived and are descriptive of those times and places.

We have duplicated Florence’s booklet and copies will be sent to persons that we think will find them of interest.

Maude and Paul Youngman

The booklet was seen in Harveyville, Kansas, at the home of George and Virginia Spencer, by Bob and Becky Sander-Cederlof in June of 1997. Later a copy was made and sent to them in Dallas. The contents have been re-typed to improve legibility, and some corrections have been made.

Samuel Murrell Harris

Samuel Murrell Harris was born on a farm on the east side of Dragoon Creek between Harveyville and Bradford. The family called it “the 1855 farm,” as that was the year they located on it.

The Youngmans and the Harrises were close friends though the Youngmans did not arrive in Harveyville until about 1901.

For some years Grandma Harris’s cane walking-stick stood in the umbrellas rack in the Youngman front room. It was made of small squares of leather on a metal rod. Quite unique. Many years later Sam said the first thing he remembers distinctly about the farm was sitting in the door of the house with his older sister, Margaret, and she was teaching him the word “cow”.

He married a member of the Thackrey family who also lived in that community.

They had nine children, so to make it convenient for the children to get a college education they moved to Manhattan and all but one graduated from Kansas State Agricultural College. The first Mrs. Sam Harris passed away but he married her sister and they spent some time on the farm on Dragoon Creek before moving permanently to the large stone house on West Anderson Street in Manhattan.

Mr. Harris was a self-sufficient person and relied much on his own ability and that of his friends and neighbors. His solution to the task of getting his two milk cows from Harveyville to Manhattan was simply to walk and lead them, which required an overnight stop at a friendly farm house one night on the journey.

The walk from Manhattan to Harveyville was made without an overnight stop enroute. But he arrived at the home of his sister, Margaret Carter, after she had gone to bed so he lay down on the front porch to sleep. His sister saw him lying on her porch and because she did not know who it was she called the town marshal. When that official came to investigate he and Sam exchanged friendly greetings and the problem was solved.

Harris Park in Harveyville was a gift of the Harris family as evidence of their appreciation of having been long-time residents of the community.

The Youngmans visited in the Harris home in Manhattan many times and the Youngman brothers boarded at the Harris home while attending college at Manhattan and also while being employed in that area.

We had not known about the Sam Harris poetry until in 1992 his youngest daughter, Florence Walker, mailed the collection to Lawrence Young in Omaha and it was forwarded to Mr. and Mrs. Paul Youngman, McMinnville, Oregon.

Paul Youngman, December 1992

July 23, 1997

Bob and Becky Sander-Cederlof
2533 Beechmont Drive
Dallas, Texas 75228

George and Virginia Spencer shared your communications with me as I was the person that compiled the book in the Harveyville Library of our town’s history. We have had some interesting people reside here.

They told me about your meeting them in the cemetery and being introduced to the history book. I too, felt it was an act of God bringing you together so you could see Samuel Harris’s poems.

I received the original book of poems from Paul Youngman, 900 NW Hill Rd #491, McMinnville, Oregon 97128. I honored his request to put them in the Harveyville Library. I write for the Harveyville and it is published in the Flint Hills Independent of Eskridge and the Osage Chronicle of Burlingame.

Paul reads my articles and he started writing to me and sending me history facts which I add to the book. Paul is the son of our former country doctor., Dr. C. L. Youngman, who practiced from 1901 to his retirement. He died in 1973. Paul still corresponds with local people.

I am sending you a copy of the book as you requested. I also put the information that you sent to the Spencers in the book in the library. Thank you very much for adding to the history.

If I can be of further service, please write of call me.


Dorothy M. Masters.
RR#1 Box 79A
Harveyville, Kansas 66431-9742
(785) 589-2552

900 N. W. Hill Rd #491
McMinnville, OR 97128
Jan 5, 1997

Mrs. Dorothy Masters
Harveyville, KS

Dear Dorothy,

It is our opinion that this collection of poems written by Samuel Harris should be in the Harveyville City Library.

This is the same Mr. Harris who gave Harris Park to Harveyville.

Our reason for sending it to you is that you perhaps will give it some publicity so that it will be checked out and read by interested persons. The poems tell much about the Harveyville area.

We still correspond with the youngest daughter of Mr. Harris:
    Florence Walker
    2121 Meadowbrook Road Apt 4
    Manhattan, KS 66502

We hope the poems come in handy when you need fodder for your grist mill.

Yours truly,
Paul Youngman

The Children on the Hill

There are many happy faces on this jolly world of ours;
There are many pleasant places where we’ve spent some happy hours,
But there’s flowers along our pathway of every tint and hue
We overlook for others more enchanting to our view.
When the steeple of the M. E. Church casts its shade across the street
And you hear the merry patter of the children’s playful feet;
Then the sight to me most pleasing in the town of Harveyville
Is to see the happy faces of the children on the hill.

When the evening shadows lengthen and the dew begins to fall,
You may see the happy children with their doll, their bat and ball.
You may hear the shouts and laughter, down the street from end to end;
Some times the voice of crying with the other voices blend.
You may have your little troubles and your feelings wounded some
But your feelings heal more quickly than the cuts upon your thumb.
But with all the strife and trouble that you sometimes have, you still
Have a jolly good time playing with the children on the hill.

These are happy days of childhood, but their pleasure cannot last;
Like the warblers in the wildwood they are swiftly flitting past.
Young womanhood and manhood steals on you unawares,
Then upon your youthful shoulders comes the burdens and the cares.
Oh! Remember thy Creator now when in the days of youth,
And adhere to paths of virtue; nor forsake the ways of truth.
Then when old and looking backward your memory will fill
With the fondest recollections of the children on the hill.

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The Juryman

Yes, Ma, I’ve been to Alma a courtin’ it is true,
But not the kind of courtin’ us young folks used to do.
I did not have a sofa to sit on by your side,
And talk about our prospects when you should be my bride.

Twelve big stout men they try a case -- that is they do the tryin’
To guess which witness tells the truth and which one does the lyin’.
Then when the evidence is in, they lock us up together;
And we talk politics and crops, finances and the weather.
At last when we have all agreed we then prepare for fury,
Well knowing that the other side will surely cuss the jury.

Good board? Er -- yes, the Commercial House has got things nice and neat,
And I allus managed somehow to get enough to eat;
But ‘taint like sittin’ down to home with a child to left and right
And sort o’ gauge my appetite to what there is in sight.

It’s all right though after dinner when the young folks they begin
To thump the old pianner and to pick the mandolin;
Some chimes they sort o’ mind me of the old camp meetin’ hymns
And others have a tendency to rejuvenate my limbs.

I kind o’ like to meet the boys and have a chat or joke,
But I don’t like to have to take their second handed smoke.

And them divorces: pshaw! it is a burning shame
Some men are called a husband that don’t deserve the name.
Old Adam didn’t take to drink and pack his grip and leave
When he got into trouble, brought on by Mother Eve;
But they just stayed together and shared their mutual woe,
And the record doesn’t tell us that he said “I told you so”.

When a husband goes to gettin’ drunk and gamblin’ all the night
Then I don’t blame a woman for puttin’ up a fight.
Such things gets folks in trouble clear up around their necks,
And the consequences generally is matrimonial wrecks.

We’ve drove our matrimonial cart for more than twenty years
We’ve shared the cares and pleasures, together shed our tears;
We’ve had some rocky road I know, but in the main we’re thrivin’;
And you’ll agree its all because you’ve mostly did the drivin’.
We judge the future by the past, there’s pleasure yet in store
If the Good Lord lets us jog along for forty summers more.

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La Grippe

Oh! This rumbling and this grumbling
And this boring and this roaring
Like a dozen mill dams pouring
Thru the cavern of my head.
Oh!! The quaking and the shaking
And the turning and the burning
Till I’m truly almost yearning
To be numbered with the dead.

Oh! The winking and the blinking
And the flowing and the blowing
Till my poor nose now is growing
Like a toper’s -- thick and red.
Oh! The thumping and the bumping
And the moaning and the groaning
Every sigh and sound detoning
As I toss upon my bed.

First to larboard then to starboard
Ever rifting always drifting,
As the pains go shooting, shifting
Thru my shoulder, loins and hip.
Oh! The lunging, and the plunging
Ever racking, changing, tacking,
Hawking, spitting, coughing, hacking,
Surely now I have the Grippe.

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August in Kansas

’Tis August in Kansas -- my own native land
The hum of the mower is heard in the land;
The long windrows drop from the rattling rake
And the long-toothed “Go-devil” comes in its wake.
Huge hay-ricks grow up on the rolling lea,
Looming up like ships on the billowy sea.

        Dame Nature kind
        With generous mind
    Gave us this virgin sod;
        For which we praise
        In tuneful lays
    The great Creator -- God.

The long drooping ears of the tall yellow corn
Shake off their bright dews in the breeze of the morn
And bow thru the fence to the big lazy steers
Who perhaps will next winter be eating these ears.
With the hay and the corn, the salt and the water
They will grow very fat and prepare for their slaughter.

        They heed not the future
        Nor care for the butcher,
    No thought for this world and its strife.
        But a poor sinful human,
        A man or a woman,
    Has hope for a far better life.

By the road-side and hedges grow the stately sun-flowers
And sway in the wind thru the long summer hours;
With the hemp and the horse weed they bow and they nod
To their more humble neighbors the bright goldenrod.
The tall graceful sorghum lifts its plume to the sky
And smiles at the kafir corn growing close by.

        The big red tomatoes
        Grow near the potatoes;
    From the orchard the ripened fruits fall.
        With these we are able
        To furnish our table,
    And we thank the Kind Giver of all.

The kingfisher eyes the bright fish in the streams;
Above soar the hawk with its shrill piercing screams.
The locust and katydid trill out their weird song.
In the late afternoon when the shadows are long,
The thrush, lark and robin with the doves mournful lays
Blend sweetly together in one hymn of praise.

        The red setting sun
        When day is just done
    Glimmers on pool and river;
        And when over all
        The deep shadows fall
    We praise the bounteous Giver.

I love sunny Kansas that first gave me breath,
’Neath her virgin sod let my bones rest in death.
But we seek a country more bright and more fair,
That Jesus our Savior has gone to prepare;
With many bright mansions and one endless day,
There God wipes the sorrows and tears all away.

        Where friends shall not sever
        For ever and ever
    We are free from trouble and strife;
        Where golden harps ring
        And bright angels sing
    ’Neath the trees by the River of Life.

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I Want to be a Granger

I want to be a granger
And with the grangers stand;
A brawny-fisted farmer
With a hay-stack in my hand.

Beneath the tall tomato tree
I’d swing my glittering hoe,
And smite the wild potato bug
As he skips o’er the snow.

I’d buy myself a Durham ram,
a Gray alpaca cow,
A lock-stitch Osage orange hedge
And a patent leather plow.

I’d raise some bantam horses
Famous for skin and bone,
And hatch my Clydesdale chickens
With a rural telephone.

I’d harvest all my onion crop
With an O. K. Deering binder,
And milk my Duroc Jersey cow
Whenever I could find her.

I’d separate my sheep and goats
With a Sharpless separator
And shuck my big red pumpkins
With a Peerless incubator.

I’d surely have the finest farm
From Dragoon to Wakarusa;
I’d show the farmer how to farm
And name my farm Jerusha.

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All Hail! Pioneers

All hail! Ye hardy pioneers,
Who braved the dangers and the fears
Of Kansas life in by-gone years,
    To you let honors be.

Brave hearts and noble in each breast,
Disdaining comfort, spurning rest,
Until you made the boundless west
    The homestead of the free.

And ye your prime of manhood gave
To make a state where ne’er a slave
Should trample o’er a freeman’s grave
    To break his peaceful rest.

Ye to the shades of heathen world
The giant curse of slavery hurled,
And freedom’s banner wide unfurled
    O’er the prairies of the west.

Nor did you from your labors stay,
But humbly toiling day by day,
The firm foundations deeply lay
    On which our state arose.

You builded and you planted. Yes,
That your posterity might bless,
And make the howling wilderness
    To blossom as the rose.

Nor rested still; but took the brunt
Amid the ballots battle’s front
You made the demon rum to hunt
    The deepest shade.

The pioneers now left are few;
Yet building better than we knew,
The state of Kansas now we view
    Which they have made.

A state whose plains earth’s garner fills,
Whose orchards shade the trickling rills,
With cattle on a thousand hills
    And valleys filled with corn.

A state in which we point with pride
To church and school-house side by side
That truth and learning doth provide
    For children yet unborn.

When souls were tried you stood the test;
Thru want and sickness did your best;
Your tottering footsteps soon shall rest
    Beneath the dew and sod.

Your valiant deeds, your loving word
The noble aims and impulse stirred,
Shall never die, but still be heard
    When you are with your God.

And shall not we, their sons, aspire
To thrill each heart with true desire,
To lift life’s moral standard higher
    As our fathers have begun?

’Til universal peace and love
Shall every word and action move
And we prepare for Heaven above
    Until Thy will be done.

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Down in Arkansaw

I done been down to Arkansaw
    And got a little home;
I’ll settle down upon my farm,
    And never more will roam.

I’ll build down there one cabin small,
    With fireplace wide and deep;
I’ll lean my chair again the wall,
    And smoke and nod and sleep.

I’ll raise a heap of garden sall,
    And if I have good luck,
I’ll raise a mighty sight of corn,
    And a power of other truck.

I’ll raise some yeller pumpkins, too,
    Big as a man can roll;
I’ll slice them pumpkins round and round
    And dry them on a pole.

I reckon I can keep the folks,
    And if I have enough,
I’ll chew some flat tobaccer,
    And buy my woman snuff.

I’ll get a long-eared bawling hound,
    All covered o’er with fleas;
He’ll trail the possums o’er the ground,
    And run them up the trees.

I’ll ketch my possums when they’re fat
    And save up all the grease,
To shorten biscuits and pie crust,
    Then live and die in peace.

I’ll get a big old native sow
    And raise a dozen shoats;
They’ll get their living in the woods,
    And save my corn and oats.

I’ll smile to see that long-nosed sow,
    For when her back humps,
She’ll plow up all my garden ground,
    And rub out all my stumps.

And when her days on earth shall fail,
    And vanished all her fears,
I’ll make an ox whip from her tail
    And saddle from her ears.

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Down Thar in Arkansaw

You all up thar in Kansas,
    The editors and folks,
Do seem to have a heap o’ fun
    A crackin’ of yer jokes;
And tryin’ hard to find some fault,
    Or pick a leetle flaw
About our gals a usin’ snuff,
    And, the hogs, in Arkansaw.

What if they are rather slim
    And sometimes purty shy?
They have to climb ’round o’er the hills
    And, roothog, thar, or die.
What if the gals thar do take snuff,
    And sometimes take a chaw?
Thar’s gals in Kansas just as tough
    As them in Arkansaw.

I “seed” a gal in meetin’ once
    A floppin’ of her jaw
As hard as any gal I ever seed
    Down thar in Arkansaw.
The preacher made this sly remark;
    “Thar ain’t no gum in...” Well,
I won’t say whar; If you can’t guess
    Get someone else to tell.

Now I ain’t boomin’ Arkansaw
    And callin’ it Paradise,
But think the site is purty fair,
    And the climate mighty nice.
And you kin chaw gum all you please
    And exercise your jaw,
For sweet gum grows on big tall trees
    Down thar in Arkansaw.

Up thar sometimes that comes along,
    Them shriekin’ howlin’ blizzards
That chills the marrer in yer bones
    And penetrates yer gizzard;
Then if you hunt a warmer clime
    To find a place to thaw,
And limber up you fris up joints,
    Come down to Arkansaw.

And when you get all kivered o’er
    With mud from heel to jaw,
Jist pack yer grip and pull yer freight
    To southwest Arkansaw.
Whar sandy silt precludes the mud
    And snows skeerce ever fall;
Whar boltin’ winds and ragin’ storms
    Are checked by forests tall.

Good land’s cheap in Arkansaw
    As any place that’s known,
And a lot of Kansas renters
    Could make good homes of their own
And set beneath their own grape vine
    And peach tree’s coolin’ shade,
Whar the landlord couldn’t fire ’em
    Nor the sheriff make afraid.

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Going Home

I’m going to leave the big wheat fields
    Of Dickinson’s dry plain,
I’m going to leave the old machine
    A standing in the lane.
I’m going to tell the boys farewell,
    With dew drops in my eye,
For when tomorrow’s sun shall rise
    I’m going to say goodbye.

I’m going to Wabaunsee now,
    the place where I was born;
They write me that they’ve lots of rain
    And are going to raise some corn.
We’ll hit the trail for that fair land,
    My partner here, and I.
For when the boss forks up the dough
    We’re going to say goodbye.

I’ve had a first rate, jolly time
    And earned a little cash
Along the turbid Smoky Hill
    While helping people thrash.
But now I’m going to old Dragoon
    And there I hope to find
My old and gray-haired mother,
    And the girl I left behind.

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In the early morn when the sun’s first beam
Lights up the East with its golden gleam,
When the opening eyelid gladly views
The verdant meadows, wet with dews
Like sparkling gems of varied hues,
Then the day brings forth an added charm
If the grass is ours, and we own the farm.

’Tis sweet to rest at the noontide hour
In a hammock swung ’neath a leafy bower
’Mid the song of birds and the hum of bees
When the brow is fanned by the passing breeze
As it sings a lullaby thru the trees;
But it’s sweeter still if you’ve a deed to the land
And the trees have been planted with one’s own hand.

But still I think the day is best
When our work is o’er and we come to rest
Amid the daylight’s parting hours
With the sweet perfume of buds and flowers
And vines that grace the trysting bowers
When fireflies glint the deepening gloam
Then we praise the Lord and call it HOME.

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The Old-Fashioned Skillet

How dear to my heart are the scenes of my boyhood
As pictures of memory are thrown on the screen;
I oft wonder how such infinite joy could
Be cast by my mind’s moving picture machine.
I see the old cabin, the cottonwood near it;
The old locust still stands where it did.
The wide and deep fireplace -- I fancy I hear it,
As the coals rattle down on the skillet and lid.
The old-fashioned skillet, the long-handled skillet,
The three-legged skillet, the skillet and lid.

I can see the big backlog rolled in, in the morning;
A green one would last for many a day --
I hear me again the oft renewed warning
For a certain small boy to get out of the way.
The old-fashioned fire-dogs were made of cast iron,
The long-handled shovel with a know at the end;
The gun barrel poker -- what memories environ --
Now loom up before me like the face of a friend,
And the old-fashioned skillet, the skillet and lid.

Again by the hearth stone I linger a trifle
And gaze at the dog tracks on the old attic floor;
On the gun rack there hangs the buffalo rifle
Of abnormal length and tremendous bore;
The squirrel gun and bowie knife hang just below it --
The tin candle moulds, the trundle bed and --
The old-fashioned skillet, the cast iron skillet,
The grimy old skillet, the skillet and lid.

The scenes come to mind perhaps in confusion
Since fifty long years into history have rolled;
But who would resent the peaceful intrusion
Of pictures our childish young memories hold?
But nearest my heart in those days of existence,
And near to the heart of each fast growing kid,
That comes up before me with bulldog persistence
Is the savory smell of the things that were hid
In the old-fashioned skillet, the long-handled skillet,
The three-legged skillet, the skillet and lid.

There were quail, prairie chicken, wild turkey and venison,
And once in a while a buffalo bone
For tribute was laid on each prairie denizen
To act as a sandwich twixt doger and pone.
It was corn bread for breakfast, for dinner the same,
For supper ’twas mush and some more of the same;
But still I remember we sometimes were treated
To flat cake or biscuit when company came.
Oh, the old-fashioned skilled, the useful old skillet,
The long-handled skillet, the skillet and lid.

The years have gone by -- how quickly the glided --
The ox team and stage coach have passed from the scene;
They served well their day; in their place is provided
The automobile and the flying machine.
Time ever speeds on and brings many changes
In the way that we do things and the way that we did;
Now gasoline stoves, coal stoves, and gas ranges
For our favors and dollars most temptingly bid.
But I loved the old skillet, the long-handled skillet,
The three-legged skillet, the skillet and lid.

Think not that those days were devoid of all pleasure;
Think not that those lives were sordid nor mean,
For naught but Omnipotence ever can measure
The great hearts of those who lived ’mid the scene.
So be it with me when earth’s scenes I am leaving;
Let friends gather ’round my casket and say
With hope and with joy, without sorrow and grieving,
“He faithfully served his time and his day.”
Like the old-fashioned skillet, the cast iron skillet,
The three-legged skillet, the skillet and lid.

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Come Daisy, come Topsy, come Jenny and Bess;
Come Brindle, come Susie and Jess.
SO!!! Back up your leg and be still with your tail
While I transfer the milk from udder to pail.
No mysterious compound of tallow and lard
But an article worth the lays of a bard.

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Violinists and Fiddlers

Backward, turn backward, O Time in your flight;
And make me a boy again, just for one night.
Some fiddlers come back from the echoless shore
And give me a taste of real music once more.
These late violinists in claw-hammer coat
May be quite artistic in sounding each note.
But then, as for me, I wish they were gone
When they wail their weird notes with the tremole on.
It causes a drowsiness o’er me to creep,
Then soon bye and bye I nod off to sleep,
And then as I slumber, I snooze and I snore --
And dream of the jolly old fiddlers of yore.
With coat on his chair and one gallus down,
Like the old pied piper of Hamlin town,
He gathered the people from far and from near
Intent on his wonderful music to hear.
Then turn backward, turn backward O Time on the wing,
And give me a quadrille, a march, or a fling;
Give me a schottische, a jig or a reel
To put iron in my blood and spring in my heel.

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James Whitcomb Riley

Friend Jim has crossed the River in the Twilight dim and gray:
A soul intensely human has passed from us away.
As the grim and silent boatman with his precious load departs,
The oar-stroke meets our ear drums -- the spray falls on our hearts.

Jim had his human weaknesses but bravely played his part,
And showed by word and action his great, big human heart.
Thru all his varied writings in their quaint and rustic dress
He sang the hearts emotions, we feel but can’t express.

Jim sang his simple ditty to his neighbors and his friends,
But that simple rustic music with its chorus never ends.
As over hill and valley the mighty anthem rolls,
Awaking vibrant echoes in ten thousand kindred souls.

So let me love and labor thru life’s declining years,
And with my friend and neighbor share mutual joys and tears;
Lest my hopes and aspirations get their final, fatal knock
And the frost gets on my pumpkin ’ere my fodder’s in the shock.

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To Walt Mason, after reading “Keep Off”

Dear Uncle Walt: I sympathize
with you forlorn, sad city guys
Shut up in shop or den;
Who long for stream and verdant field
Yet still compelled to stay and wield
A Jack plane or a pen.

Someday jump in your gas cart gay
And to the northward hie away,
Perhaps some thirty miles,        [Walt Mason must have lived in Emporia]
Then eastward turn and you will soon
Come to the banks of old Dragoon
Where man and nature smiles.

Now stop your car most any place,
Put on a cheerful smiling face,
And call for Uncle Sam.
The neighbors all are very kind
And will inform you where to find
Or show you where I am.

Therewith our fishing lines and poles,
Two strangers, yet two kindred souls,
We’ll seek the shaded stream
There on Dragoon creek’s muddy bank;
Amid the nettles tall and rank
We’ll seat ourselves and dream.

Or talk of all our bygone years,
Our hopes, our prospects and our fears
In good old days of yore.
Or peer into the coming days
To scheme and plan our future ways
And strangers be no more.

The fishing’s fine, we will not fail
To catch a bullhead or a whale,
A crawdad or a sprat.
Because of bumblebees and ants
You’d better wear your leather pants
Or they’ll find where you’re at.

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A Prayer

We thank Thee Lord for sun and rain
Whose magic pencils paint the plain
In waving fields of golden grain.

We thank Thee too for sunset skies
On which to feast our longing eyes,
Like jeweled gates of Paradise.

In this world’s sad and grim turmoil
Remember those who sweat and toil
To bring forth fruits from fertile soil.

From all our sins give us release
And may Thy mercies never cease
We ask in the name of the Prince of Peace.

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To the Sunflower Correspondent

Oh, yes ’tis sweet in lovely spring,
When the chickens cackle and the birdies sing
When cautiously peeping the flowers are seen,
And tawny hills are tinged with green.

But today the blue jay and crow have fled,
And we fear that the fruit buds all are dead;
And the shrieking, howling winds now blow
As we chase the fool hens out of the snow.

And on, how it ruffles a fellow’s ire,
To tangle up in a bit of wire;
And fall with a dull and sickening thud,
And leave your impression in snow and mud.

As we slowly rise from our downy lair,
The wild winds tossing our raving hair,
With the posies and piets we all sing dool,
For Spring has played us an April fool!
            (April 6, 1904)

Evidently the Sunflower Correspondent replied thusly in her column:
“After waiting all these long weary - um, er, after a tiresome wait - we have actually had a real live poet inscribe an effusion to us. Our joy is unbounded. We read it to our family and canned it, committed it to memory and finally set it to music and sing it about our work.”

Hello Sunflower
How nice ’twould be if I could croon
The mellow cadence of your tune;
    I’m sure it is a dandy.
That I may learn both time and tune,
Please sing it to me o’er the phone
    Whenever it comes handy.

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She sat on a box upon a chair
And on her elbow leaned.
She sat with a dull and vacant stare
And grinned like Dante’s fiend.

The grin grew broad -- from ear to ear,
And then she giggled -- laughed.
Until me thought with sudden fear
The silly thing was daft.

Is she demented? Crazy? Mad?
An intellectual wreck?
Oh no, She’s on the Rural Hello line
And she’s a “rubberneck”.

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Dear Friends

How sweet to have friends in deed and in truth
Who have proved themselves friends from the days of my youth;
Whose kindness now cheers me and drives away care
As I rock to and fro in the arms of this chair.

When labors and cares of our day’s work is o’er,
I will rest as I ponder on bright days of yore
And read from the pages of memory there
Of those who presented this dear rocking chair.

When weary, discouraged, disheartened, and blue,
How sweet to reflect on the friends that are true.
’Tis then, O ’tis then I will quickly repair
To the wide open arms of this dear rocking chair.

There resting and rocking and thinking forsooth
Of neighbors and friends of my boyhood and youth
’Til cares have all vanished and trouble all ends
Embraced, so to speak, in the arms of my friends.

When memory’s page has grown faded and dim,
And I stand face to face with the monster so grim,
This act will I read in bold letters of love
With hopes for my final redemption above.

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“A Toast”

Here’s to our wives, our sisters, our mothers,
Our Aunts and our nieces, our cousins and others.
Here’s to all women; to Eve’s every daughter
We drink to your health this cup of cold water.

And when I say women, I do not intend
In the least to annoy, insult or offend,
For milliners and dressmakers make ladies so fine
But the making of women is not in their line.

The making of women: pure, noble, and true,
Is a work that none but the Almighty can do.
Then here’s to all women who play well their parts,
And find through their stomach’s the way to men’s hearts.

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I dwell amid the pastured hills,
And when it rains the purling rills
And sweet alfalfa meadows,
Where every passing summer breeze
Sings softly thru the apple trees
And chase the cloudy shadows.

My home is humble, not the best
But where I eat and take my rest;
And near to Aggie college,
Where men and maidens of the state
May come and fill each empty pate
With stores of useful knowledge.

’Tis here I hear the college bell
Whose clanging echoes ebb and swell
Melodiously and sprightly.
I also see the different rags
They call the U. S. weather flags
That sometimes guess rightly.

In all my rambles to and fro
Upon this earth I do not know
A lovelier place that this is.
When evening’s sun is sinking low
A thousand windows all aglow
Return his goodnight kisses.

Here I may herd my lowing kine
And write my poetry sublime
And sell milk in the city.
The various kinds of sights and sounds
With which this neighborhood abounds
Inspires my tuneful ditty.

There’s just one thing to mar my joys;
There comes at times a fearful noise
That troubles and appalls me.
A gruesome sight that so afrights
I fear to be out late at nights
Lest danger dire befalls me.

As if a hundred wild coyotes
Were practicing their upper notes
In some nocturnal chorus,
Accompanied by the hoots and howls
Of forty-seven kinds of owls
And bull frogs, deep, sonorous.

From out some deep and shady lair
It floats upon the evening air,
It gyrates, rolls and curves;
And when I think it almost gone
It comes again and falls upon
My auditory nerves.

Then comes a vicious, vibrant roar
As if some monstrous furnace door
With clang and bang and creak
Were opened ’mid that awful din
To cast some tough old sinner in
To roast and howl and shriek.

But hark again! O blissful boom!
I hear a joyful rag-time tune;
It does me good to hear it.
Delightful music -- now it serves
To soothe my agitated nerves
And calm my troubled spirit.

Here comes a high-browed sophomore
With book of scientific lore,
And glasses on his nose;
No doubt but he can quickly tell
And all my doubts and fears dispel
And banish all my woes.

“I see, my friend, in youthful days
You chose to walk in wisdom’s ways
By going to the college.
Where you may fill your plastic mind
With quantities of various kinds
Of good and useful knowledge.

In my young days, I did neglect
To cultivate my intellect,
But hoed my corn and onions.
So now I’m as you see today --
My eyes are dim, my hair is gray,
My brains have corns and bunions.

And tell me friend the whence and why,
These fearful sounds that rend the sky,
Disturbing all creation?
This wild, this weird and woeful wail
Borne in upon the evening gale,
This doleful lamentation?

Has this world got so beastly bum
The day of judgement has to come
To settle our estate?
And poor deluded mortals call
Upon the rocks and hills to fall
And hide them from their fate?

Or has some bloomin’ gas well drill
Bored down into the earth until
It reached the lake of fire
And waked the demons, ghosts and ghouls
And sinful unrepented souls
And raised old Hornie’s ire?

And then has Satan in his wrath
Gone out upon his old warpath
To people earth with demons?
Is this the Turco-Dago war
That echoes across the ocean, or
Have I delirium tremens?”

The sophomore looked wondrous wise
And cast one squint up to the skies
While thinking of the name.
Then as he slowly scratched his head,
He winked the other eye and said,
“Yes, that’s the foot-ball game.”

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Camp Funston

Hammer, hammer, clamor,
Creak, crack, crash!
We are tearing Camp Funston
To smithereens and smash.

Where once the busy builders built,
With hammer and with saw,
Now reckless wreckers, wracking are,
With wrecking bar and claw.

The bath house and the barracks,
The arcade and the hall,
The stables, and the tables,
We are wrecking one and all.

We are loading them and goading them
On wagon, truck and train,
And clattering and scattering
To city, hill and plain.

Wherever Funston rambles,
Wherever Funston roams,
We are building useful buildings
To occupy as homes.

The wall that once re-echoed
The brazen bugle’s blare
Will soon take up the peaceful strains
Of thankfulness and prayer.

We are wishing, hoping, praying
That cruel wars shall cease,
And earth shall soon take up the songs
Of love, good will, and peace.

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George Fisher

George Fisher is a ladies’ man,
And also is polite.
But he didn’t come to this school house
One week ago tonight.

For George was tired and sleepy too,
And so upon his bed
He sprawled himself to take a nap
And to his sister said:

“I sparked last night my sister dear,
With that sweet girl of mine.
Tonight to our school house we’ll go
As soon as stars may shine.”

“So I will just lie down a while
And take a little snooze.
Please wake me up at six o’clock,
Dear Sister, don’t refuse.”

“For all the happy couples
That will at the school house be,
There will be none so happy
As my lovely girl and me.”

“For we are the biggest couple
Than can anywhere be found
If you go through Riley County
Or Wabaunsee, to Chalk Mound.”

“You well know I’m rather heavy,
For I weigh two-ninety-four,
And I think my sweetest Daisy
Weighs a leetle trifle more.”

Then upon his bed he rested,
As the little clock struck four,
And stretched his mouth ten inches wide,
And then began to snore.

So when the time to go had come
When six o’clock came ’round
His sister found her brother
Was sleeping very sound.

And then she cried out loudly, “George,
’Tis after six o’clock,”
But George could not be roused
By the loudest earthquake shock.

Dear little George still slumbered on,
Nor heeded her kind warning.
His sister says he did not wake
Till ten o’clock next morning.

And his harnessed mules stood shaking
To the “Fisher” wagon fast
And still it seemed to them, poor mules,
Night would forever last.

And when he waked his mind was filled
With terror, fear, and wonder;
He swore “By Golly, and By Jove,
By Gingo, and By Thunder.”

I’ll catch it if the College boys
Find out about this blunder
And once again poor George yelled
“G Whittikers, and Thunder.”

His fair girl waited patiently
Until the hour of eight.
And wondered why her darling one
Should be so very late.

She thought the chap who loosed his team
Had killed her darling lover,
And then she saw his spirit near
In mid-air, just above her.

She was so frightened at his ghost
She fainted quite away,
And did not rally from the scare
Until sometime next day.

Now all ye lads of gay Zeandale
Be warned by this mishap,
And when you’re going to see the girls
Don’t take a little nap.

[ Zeandale is an unincorporated town, centered in Zeandale Township, 8 miles east of Manhattan, in Riley County, Kansas. ]

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A New Yankee Doodle

The ship of state is tossed about
    Upon the troubled waters
Until we fear the future fate
    Of all ours sons and daughters.
We jump into our fighting clothes,
    And don our battle axes,
To fight against the rising tide
    Of democratic taxes.

Our vexing troubles may be great,
    But simple of solution:
Don’t spend a dime until it’s ours,
    Stick to the constitution.
The good old constitution, Sir,
    We never will abandon,
But navigate the ship of state
    With Cap’n Alf M. Landon.

We’ll steer the ship with common sense
    For F. D.’s schemes are shoddy
Like, shelter belt, the ship canal,
    And the high tides of Quaddy.
We surely then will make the shore
    With solid earth to stand on,
And rally to the standard of
    Our tried and trusted Landon.


Come all ye valiant citizens;
Come all ye bold and hearty,
We’ll whet our steel to fight the Deal
And the Democratic party.

[ Alfred Mossman "Alf" Landon (1887-1987), popular Governor of Kansas 1933-1937. He ran for President in 1936, but lost to FDR’s landslide victory.]

[The "high tides of Quaddy" refers to the Passamaquoddy Bay Tidal Power Project in Maine. This was an attempt to harness the amazingly high tides in the area to generate electricity. The project has never been completed, due to politics, impact on fishing and environment, and the high cost to finish.]

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Remodeling at Christmas

Written for the Family Chain Letter at the time the home on Anderson Ave. was being remodeled.

’Tis the night before Christmas
And all thru the shack
Is a jumble of colors
Of blue, brown and black.
There’s a medley of mortar, of shavings and paint,
That would make the most stout hearted housekeeper faint.
There’s the whir of the sander, the swish of the saw,
A tattoo of hammers and such things -- but pshaw!
It’s almost 9:30 and time for my bed,
And the fool silly jingles won’t grow in my head.

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The Man with the Hoe

I am the man with the hoe.
I am the lawful consort of the goddesses
Flora, Pomona, and Ceres.
The faithful co-worker with health.
I draw sustenance from the bosom of Mother earth,
And give sustenance to man and beast.
I search the ends of the earth for plants
That may be used as food for humanity.

I am the man with the hoe.
I take from the land of nature,
And adapt it to human use.
I hybridize, I select, I discard,
I bud, I graft, I cultivate,
I change, I transform,
Thus forming a partnership with the Creator.

I am the man with the hoe.
I take the briar and the bramble
And transform them into fruit and flower.
The weeds of the woodland and roadside,
And make them things of beauty.
I bring to your homes
The beauties of distant lands,
And fill the air with the odors of mountain and valley.

I am the man with the hoe.
I imprison the snows of mountains,
And lead the streams into the desert.
I make the habitat of the horned toad and the rattler
To yield nectar,
And replace the cactus and sagebrush
With the fruit tree and the vine.
I clothe valleys with fruitfulness
And hills with verdure.

I am the man with the hoe.
I take the land of the antelope and the bison
And make it to grow the best wheat in the world.
I fill the hungry world with bread
And send my meat to distant lands.
I bring to your door the merchandise of distant lands,
And clothe your daughter with silks and jewels.

I am the man with the hoe.
Neglect me and your fields wither,
Your trees cast their untimely fruits.
The bloom fades from the cheeks of childhood
And sickness and want invade the land and crime increases.
Oppress me and thrones tremble,
Dynasties are shaken and kingdoms fall.

I am the man with the hoe.
Companion with me and I will lead you
Into ways of pleasantness and abundance
And your shelves with dainties.
Home shall spring up in the land
And be as the bowers of Eden.
I am the man with the hoe.

[ Perhaps Sam Harris wrote this poem in response to the poem by the same name written by Edwin Markham and published in 1899. Markham’s poem was both widely acclaimed and widely criticised. Critics said Markham defamed the farmer and laborer, and other poets wrote responses by the same title. Markham’s The Man with the Hoe.

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