Smith County Pioneer in 1873.">
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"Home on the Range"

History of an American folk song


"Home on the Range" (purchase/download) was adapted from a poem by Dr. Brewster M. Higley (formerly a physician, who had moved to Kansas after the Homestead Act of 1862) called "My Western Home," first published in the Smith County Pioneer in 1873. The melody was written by Higley's friend Daniel E. Kelley. Considering its content, the song quickly became popular with cowboys and frontiersmen, and its popularity grew as it was passed around. Now, it's the state song of Kansas.

"Home on the Range" Lyrics

As is true of so many folk songs, the lyrics have evolved a bit through the years, as cowboys and homesteaders moved around and took the song with them, adding or changing verses to fit their place in the world.

By the time John Lomax collected the song in 1910, there was a verse about placing Native Americans on reservations that had not been included in Higley's original, and other verses had been moved to later in the song.

The red man was pressed from this part of the West
He's likely no more to return,
To the banks of Red River where seldom if ever
Their flickering camp-fires burn.

However, the main chorus had maintained its original integrity:

Home, home on the range,
Where the deer and the antelope play;
Where seldom is heard a discouraging word
And the skies are not cloudy all day.

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