Robert Fletcher (poet)

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Robert H. "Bob" Fletcher (1885–1972) is the originally-uncredited writer of many of the lyrics to Cole Porter's "Don't Fence Me In."

Fletcher was born on March 13, 1885 in Clear Lake, Iowa to Henry Clay and Delia Ann (née Camp) Fletcher.[1] After graduating with a degree in mining engineering he moved to Montana where he found work in mining camps and as a surveyor. Prior to his service in World War I, he married Virginia Toole Kennett in 1914.[2] He then moved to Helena, Montana in 1923 to work for the Montana Highway Department to promote tourism in Montana. In about 1935 he was instrumental in the creation of ports of entry at major highways entering Montana, where visitors were provided with information about Montana's history and points of interest.

He became a student of Montana history, and with that background he wrote the text for a series of historical markers displayed throughout Montana in the mid-1930s. Several compilations of those markers have been published.

In the 1950s he was commissioned by the Montana Cattlemen's Association to write a history of the cattle industry in Montana titled "Free Grass to Fences."

He was an early "cowboy poet" and published a book of verse titled "Corral Dust." He also composed songs for the entertainment of friends.

For $250 Cole Porter purchased Fletcher's poem that later became "Don't Fence Me In," intended for a movie that was not made. Several years later Cole Porter's revision of the song, especially the version sung by Kate Smith, became popular nationwide. Fletcher eventually negotiated with Cole porter's estate to receive co-writing credit and a share of the royalties from the song.

Fletcher left his employment with the State of Montana and moved to Butte to take a job in public relations with the Montana Power Company, where he worked until his retirement. He eventually moved to Rancho Bernardo, California, where he died.


  1. ^ U.S., Sons of the American Revolution Membership Applications, 1889-1970 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2011. Original data: Sons of the American Revolution Membership Applications, 1889-1970. Louisville, Kentucky: National Society of the Sons of the American Revolution. Microfilm, 508 rolls.
  2. ^ Montana, County Marriages, 1865-1950 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2014. Original data: Montana, County Marriages, 1865-1950. Salt Lake City, Utah: FamilySearch, 2013.

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