Larry Chittenden
"That Lively Gaited Sworray"
POEM
"The Texas Cowboys' Christmas Ball"
'Way out in Western Texas,
  where the Clear Fork's water flows,
Where the cattle are "a-browsin',"
  an' the Spanish ponies grow;
Where the Northers "come a-whistlin',"
  from beyond the Neutral strip;
And the prairie dogs are sneezin',
  as if they had "The Grip";
Where the coyotes come a-howlin'
  round the ranches after dark.
And the mockingbirds are singin'
  to the lovely medder lark" ;
Where the 'possum and the badger,
  and the rattlesnake abound,
And the monstrous stars are winkin'
  o'er a wilderness profound;
Where the lonesone, tawny prairies
  melt into airy streams,
While the Double Mountains slumber,
  in heavenly kinds of dreams;
Where the antelope is grazin'
  and lonely plovers call-
It was there that I attended
"The Cowboys' Christmas Ball."

The town was Anson City,
  old Jones' county seat,
Where they raise Polled Angus cattle,
  and waving whiskered wheat;
Where the air is soft and "bammy",
  an' dry an' full of health,
And the prairies is explodin'
  with agricultural wealth;
Where they print the Texas Western,
  that Hec Mc Cann supplies,
With news and yarns and stories,
  uv most amazin' size;
Where Frank Smith "pulls the badger",
  on knowin' tenderfeet,
And Democracy's triumphant,
  and mighty hard to beat;
Where lives that good old hunter,
  John Milsap from Lamar,
Who "used to be the Sheriff,
  back East in Paris, Suh."
'Twas there, I say, at Anson,
  with the lively "Wider Wall,"
That I went to that reception,
"The Cowboys' Christmas Ball."
by Larry Chittenden
The entire poem was put to music and published in the John and Alan Lomax classic book
"Cowboy Songs and Other Ballads" ( 1910 ) . It is also the acknowledged genesis for Michael Martin Murphey's annual "Cowboy Christmas" concert  tour  throughout the West. Cowboy singer Murphey and his Rio Grande Band have been playing at the Ball for the past 18 years.
The boys had left the ranches
  and come to town in piles;
The ladies- "kinder scatterin"
  had gathered in for miles,
And yet the place was crowded,
  as I remember well,
'Twas got for the occasion,
  at "The Morning Star Hotel."
The music was fiddle,
  an' a lively tamborine,
And a "viol come Imported"
  by the stage from Abilene.
The room was togged out gorgeous-
  with mistletoe and shawls,
And the candles flickered frescoes,
  around the airy walls.
And "wimmin folks" looked lovely-
  the boys looked kinder treed,
Till their leader commenced yellin':
  "Woah !  Fellers, let's stampeed."
And the music sighin',
  an' a-wailin' through  the hall,
As a kind of introduction to
  "The Cowboys' Christmas Ball."

# 3.
# 1.
# .2
The leader was a feller
  that came from Swenson's Ranch,
They called him "Windy Billy,"
   from "little Deadman's Branch."
His rig was "kinder keerless,"
  big spurs and high-heeled boots;
He had the reputation
  that comes when "fellers shoots,"
His vioce was like a bugle
  upon the mountain's heights;
His feet were animated,
  an'  MIGHTY MOVIN' SIGHT.
When he commenced to holler,
  "Neow fellers, stake her pen !"
"Lock horns ter all them heifers,
  an' russel 'em like men."
"Saloot yer  lovely critters:
  neow swing  an' let 'em go,
Climb the grape vine 'round 'em-
  all hands do-ce-do !"
"You Mavericks, jine the round-up-
  jest skip her waterfall,"
Huh, Hit was gettin' happy,
  " The Cowboys' Christmas Ball !"
# 4.
The boys were tolerable skittish,
  the ladies powerful neat,
The old bass viol's music
  JUST GOT THERE WITH BOTH FEET !
That wailin', frisky fiddle,
  I never shall forget;
And Windy kept a-singin'-
  I think I hear him yet-
"O Yes, chase your squirrels,
  an' cut 'em to one side,
"Spur Treadwell to the center,
  with Cross P. Charley's bride,
"Doc Hollis down the middle,
  an' twine the ladies chain,
"Varn Andrews pen the fillies
  in big T- Diamond's train.
"All pull yer freight together,
  neow, swallow fork an' change,
"Big Boston' lead the trail herd,
  through Little Pitchfork's range.
"Purr round yer gentle pussies,
  neow rope 'em ! Balance all !
Huh! Hit was gettin' active -
  "The Cowboys' Christmas Ball."

Click photos
to enlarge .
#  5.
The dust riz fast an' furious,
  we all just galloped 'round,
Till the scenery got so giddy,
  that Z Bar Dick was downed.
We buckled on our partners,
  an' tole 'em to hold on,
Then shook our hoofs like lightening,
  until the early dawn,
Don't tell me 'bout cotillions,
  or germans, No sir'ree  !
That whirl at Anson City
  just takes the cake with me.
I'm sick of lazy shufflin's,
  of them I've had my fill,
Give me a frontier break-down,
  backed up by Windy Bill.
McAllister ain't nowhar !
  when Windy leads the show,
I've seen 'em both in harness,
  and so I sorter know.
Oh, Bill, I shan't forget yer,
  and I'll oftentimes recall,
That lively gaited sworray-
  "The Cowboys' Christmas Ball."

#  6.
Click  photos to enlarge.
The 1885 rules remain in effect requiring ladies to wear dresses on the dance floor, and gentlemen to check their hats and spurs.