Frank H. Maynard

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Francis Henry "Frank" Maynard
Born(1853-12-16)December 16, 1853
Iowa City, Johnson County
Iowa, USA
DiedMarch 28, 1926(1926-03-28) (aged 72)
Colorado Springs, Colorado
Old-time cowboy author
ResidenceColorado Springs
GenreAmerican West
SpouseFlora V. Longstreth Maynard (married, 1881–1926, his death)

Francis Henry Maynard, known as Frank H. Maynard (December 16, 1853 – March 28, 1926[1]), was an old-time cowboy of the American West who claimed authorship of the revised version of the well-known ballad "The Streets of Laredo". After a decade of roaming the West, Maynard settled down with his wife, the former Flora V. Longstreth (1860–1931), to work as a highly successful carpenter and building contractor in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Yet, his interest remained in reminiscences of his time as a cowboy and the desire to tell his special story for posterity.

Early years[edit]

Maynard was born in Iowa City in Johnson County in eastern Iowa, the second of five children of Horace Maynard (1822–1890), no relation to a Tennessee politician of the same name, and Georgiana Maynard (born 1829; date of death unknown). At the age of sixteen, Maynard left home to look for adventure, first along the Platte River. He lived for a time in Towanda in Butler County, Kansas, with a widowed maternal aunt. The other Maynard family members soon moved to Butler County, and for a time young Maynard and his father hauled freight from Emporia to Wichita, Kansas. In 1870, Maynard went on his first buffalo hunt in Kingman County, Kansas.[2]

In the spring of 1872 at the age of eighteen, Maynard was "officially" a cowboy, a livelihood that he maintained until his marriage in 1881. In the spring and summer of 1872, he helped to drive a herd of horses, which had been wintered in Kansas to Jacksboro in Jack County in north central Texas. On the return to Kansas, he joined other drovers on a cattle drive. One of the cowhands on the drive was Rube Arp, a native Texan and former Confederate who befriended the young northerner and son of a veteran of the Union Army from threats by others on the drive. Maynard clashed with a former Confederate from Arkansas known only as "Slusher" because of Slusher's practice of downing large quantities of rotgut whisky. After several clashes, Maynard left the drive after he was informed of a plot to kill him. He took refuge at Fort Richardson near Jacksboro, became ill, and was treated for two weeks by an Indian family before he could resume his trip north to Kansas.[3] Maynard was later reconciled with "Slusher."[4]

Life in Colorado Springs[edit]

After nine years as a cowboy, Maynard married and began work as a carpenter. It is unclear how he learned the trade, but he was financially successful in his career. As his business grew, so did his social and professional contacts. He joined the Pikes Peak Chapter of the Modern Woodmen of America and was the treasurer of the organization by 1890. He became a partner in a speculative venture, the Buckeye Gold Mining and Milling Company located near Cripple Creek, Colorado.[5]

The Maynards belonged to the Trinity Methodist Church in Colorado Springs though Flora's brother-in-law, Forrest Rose, was the pastor of a smaller Methodist church a couple of miles closer to them. Flora's desire to attend a large congregation was an irritation to her sister, Blanche, Forrest's wife. Flora was sensitive about family complaints when she had married Maynard because of his past as a roaming cowboy who might not make the transition to a sedentary life-style. Maynard was said to have lived a "good Christian life but without outward religious forms; he didn't have any pious posturing."[6]

Flora Maynard was vocal, not diplomatic, about her demands in the household. While Frank preferred outdoor events, Flora was partial to indoor social affairs. She rejected Frank's interest in camping. There are two surviving photographs of a group of women on a mountain trail up Pikes Peak and another at Steamboat Spring. Family members over the year recall having seen Frank's camping wagon parked and falling apart. Despite the differences, Flora seemed to have real affection for Frank. In a letter she expresses loneliness while Frank was away on a construction project in Grand Junction in western Colorado.[7]

Interest in writing[edit]

Maynard began writing articles and poems about his western experience, particularly by 1911. He put new words to what became "Cowboy's Lament" as early as 1876. Maynard sang one of his poems over the grave of his friend, Ed Masterson, Marshal of Dodge City and brother of Bat Masterson. Marshal Ed Masterson was killed in a gunfight on April 9, 1878, in Dodge City, Kansas.[8] Maynard wrote the author Jack London, who urged him to write short articles for magazines before trying to produce a book-length manuscript of Maynard's days in the Old West. In 1911, Maynard produced Rhymes of the Range and Trail, copyrighted and self-published, probably in few copies.[9]

Gerald Rose, Maynard's nephew, spent much time with his uncle because of their shared interest in the outdoors and in the West itself. Maynard is believed to have spent much of his time in retirement either in his workshop or visiting with friends to reminisce about the past. It was during this later time that he met by chance Elmo Scott Watson, who offered him advice not unlike that of Jack London in putting Maynard's ideas on paper.[10]

In 1923, while attending the Pikes Peak or Bust Rodeo in Colorado Springs, Maynard met the Illinois journalist Elmo Scott Watson, a former reporter for the Colorado Springs Gazette and Telegraph. Watson learned that Maynard claimed credit for having revised the composition of "Cowboy's' Lament", a western poem and song better known as "Streets of Laredo". Maynard was working as a nightwatchman at the rodeo, not for extra wages, but to be near the cowboy culture of his youth.[11][12]

Watson's article about Maynard, published in January 1924, brought national attention to both men. Watson, then a professor at the University of Illinois soon to switch to Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, took the view that while Maynard did not write the lyrics to "Cowboy's Lament", he nevertheless adapted it from an Irish ballad. "The matter of authorship of a ballad is a perplexing one ... In a sense the ballad represents the contribution of a succession of bards, rather than the work of a single poet," explained Watson.[13] Yet, it is plausible that Maynard adjusted the poem so that the mentioned "ranger," a reference to the cowboy on the prairie, rather than a lawman, became the central character of the poem.[14]

A few months after Watson's article on Maynard appeared, E. D. Baker of McGill, Nevada, began writing to Maynard to share their past experiences on the trail, including the sharing of songs and poems.[15] At the time Maynard wrote his articles and poems, old-time cowboys with interesting stories were plentiful to the point of annoying. A century later such accounts are rare. Maynard's memoir hence allows people in the 21st century to "vicariously experience" the events that Maynard recorded.[16]

In his memoir, Maynard relates about many events of the West, including stampedes, grasshopper pestilences, how to kill buffalo with a single shot, white outlaws posing as Indians, instances of genuine friendship on the plains, mistaken hangings, and his acquaintance with prominent western figures, such as Bill Tilghman, Wyatt Earp, and Buffalo Bill Cody.[17]

Maynard was ill for much of the last year of his life, apparently a victim of cardiovascular disease and other ailments. The Maynards are interred at Evergreen Cemetery in Colorado Springs.[18]

Maynard left a memoir that was discovered, edited, and published in 2010 under the title Cowboy's Lament: A Life on the Open Range, by Jim Hoy of the Center for Great Plains Studies at Emporia State University in Emporia, Kansas.


  1. ^ Frank Maynard obituary, Denver Post, March 31, 1926
  2. ^ Maynard, Cowboy's Lament, p. 3
  3. ^ Maynard, Cowboy's Lament, p. 5
  4. ^ Maynard, Cowboy's Lament, p. 201
  5. ^ Maynard, Cowboy's Lament, p. 12
  6. ^ Maynard, "Cowboy's Lament," p. 17
  7. ^ Maynard, Cowboy's Lament, pp. 18–19
  8. ^ Maynard, "Cowboy's Lament, p. 25
  9. ^ Maynard, Cowboy's Lament, p. 26
  10. ^ Maynard, Cowboy's Lament, pp. 28–29
  11. ^ Frank H. Maynard, Cowboy's Lament: A Life on the Open Range (Lubbock, Texas: Texas Tech University Press, 2010), p. 29, ISBN 978-0-89672-705-2
  12. ^ David Stanley wrote the foreword of Cowboy's Lament; Jim Hoy of the Center for Great Plains Studies, wrote the introduction and edited Maynard's memoir.
  13. ^ Maynard, Cowboy's Lament, p. 137
  14. ^ Maynard, Cowboy's Lament, p. 137
  15. ^ Maynard, Cowboy's Lament, pp. 34–37
  16. ^ Maynard, Cowboy's Lament, p. 43
  17. ^ Maynard, Cowboy's Lament, pp. xxix −216
  18. ^ Maynard, Cowboy's Lament, pp. xxviii–xxix