Letters: Cowboy poetry songs

When the Work’s All Done This Fall, The Baggage Coach Ahead and the Boston Burglar

| February 2011

  • Carl T. Sprague, 1925
    Carl T. Sprague, 1925
  • Cowboy Poetry by DJ O'Malley

  • D.J. O’Malley, 1896
    D.J. O’Malley, 1896

  • Carl T. Sprague, 1925
  • Cowboy Poetry by DJ O'Malley
  • D.J. O’Malley, 1896

In response to a letter from Eugene Smith in the January 2011 issue of Farm Collector: “When The Work’s All Done This Fall” was written by D.J. O’Malley, Miles City, Mont., as “After the Roundup” in 1886 and was one of the first printed cowboy poetry pieces published in an American newspaper. In the 1920s it was recorded by Carl T. Sprague and sold nearly 1 million 78 rpm records. It is still popular today, still quite often recorded and easy to find on the Internet. My favorite version is by Ken Overcast, Chinook, Mont.: www.kenovercast.com.

I recorded it years ago on my “Singing Cowboys” album. It was one of the first songs I learned as a boy in eastern Montana.  

The last song you asked about is “The Baggage Coach Ahead.” It has been recorded many times and should be easy to find just by Googling it. I have heard the “Boston Burglar” song but am not very familiar with it.

Stan Howe, Helena, Mont. 


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