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Texas State Epic Poem

The Lengend of Old Stone Ranch by John Worth Cloud Adopted: August 7, 1969
Texas state epic poem
Texas state epic poem
The Legend of Old Stone Ranch

In June of 1969, the Texas Historical Survey Committee honored John Worth Cloud with the official state award for "Best Historical Publication of the Year on Local or Regional History," in recognition of his book, "The Legend of the Old Stone Ranch."

Introduced by Texas State Senator Bill Ratliff, Senate Concurrent Resolution No. 8 commended John Worth Cloud "for his distinguished accomplishment in delineating the glorious country that is Texas and interlacing romance and description with the charming legends of American Indians to make 'The Legend of Old Stone Ranch' a true Texas saga."

It also named "The Legend of Old Stone Ranch" the official epic poem of the State of Texas.

This became official when Governor Preston Earnest Smith signed Senate Concurrent Resolution No. 8 on August 7, 1969.

SENATE CONCURRENT RESOLUTION NO. 8

Whereas, The history of Texas and the men who made it, coupled with the legend and drama of the frontier, have been captured by John Worth Cloud in his saga of Texas borderlines, THE LEGEND OF OLD STONE RANCH; and

Whereas, An epic poem of Texas ranking with the famed KALEVALA, the national epic poem of Finland, THE LEGEND OF OLD STONE RANCH is a collection of colorful episodes from Texas history written in unrhymed alliterative eight-syllabled verse telling a story, like the KALEVALA, of a specific geographical area; and

Whereas, Mr. Cloud's poetic interpretation of 19th century life on the Texas frontier involves the reader in the fictional romance of Newton Givens and his beloved Lucinda against the backdrop of rugged grandeur that characterizes Shakelford County, where Comanche and buffalo can almost be seen today disappearing into the horizon; and

Whereas, When discussing the book, the poet said: "Newton Givens and Old Stone Ranch came alive (to me) following a delightful visit to Putnam Ranch and a tour of various sites pertinent to the story...; and

Whereas, While the main characters in the book are fiction, events surrounding their lives were very much a part of everyday life on the frontier, and the story was written only after diligent inquiry and investigation; and

Whereas, Mr. Cloud said that writing the legend in verse was an irresistible challenge, one that reached him while he was researching "Shackelford County Sketches," by Don Biggers, when the grave scene so impressed him that he wrote it in verse:

"... On a high hill overlooking
Old Stone Ranch, a cemetery
With a single grave stands vigil
Oversweeping, rugged grandeur
Of a land now roamed by cattle.

The discovery, inadvertent
Of the tomb was made by persons
Looking for long-buried treasure.
In the tiny hand-hewn casket
Was the body of an infant.

Rocks and hills hold fast the secret
Of the tender hands that placed it
In the hallowed earth to slumber.

Yet, to one's imagination
Comes the vision of a woman,
Bowed in grief by her bereavement,
Raising tear-dimmed eyes to heaven,

Asking God to grant her surcease
From the sorrow in her bosom..."; and

Whereas, On June 20, 1969, the Texas Historical Survey Committee gave to John Worth Cloud of Albany, Texas, the official state award for "Best Historical Publication of the Year on Local or Regional History," in recognition of his book, LEGEND OF OLD STONE RANCH; and

Whereas, It is appropriate for the 61st Legislature, 1st Called Session of the State of Texas commend John Worth Cloud for his distinguished accomplishment in delineating the glorious country that is Texas and interlacing romance and description with the charming legends of American Indians to make THE LEGEND OF OLD STONE RANCH a true Texas saga; now, therefore, be it

Resolved, By the Senate of the 61st Legislature, 1st Called Session, the House of Representatives concurring, that the Texas Legislature hereby congratulate John Worth Cloud on his momentous work, THE LEGEND OF OLD STONE RANCH, and with this Resolution officially designate the saga of the Texas frontier as the official epic poem of Texas; and, be it further

Resolved, That copies of this Resolution be prepared for John Worth Cloud of Albany, Texas, for the Texas State Historical Survey Committee, and for the Archives Division, Texas State Library, in expressing the will of the Texas Legislature that THE LEGEND OF OLD STONE RANCH be the official epic poem of Texas.


Sources...

"HCR No. 8, 61st Legislature, 1st Called Session." Texas Legislature Online. The State of Texas, n.d. Web. 15 Nov 2011. <http://www.lrl.state.tx.us/legis/billsearch/BillDetails.cfm?legSession=61-1&billTypeDetail=SCR&billnumberDetail=8>.
Shearer, Benjamin F. and Barbara S. State Names, Seals, Flags and Symbols: A Historical Guide Third Edition, Revised and Expanded. Westport, Conn: Greenwood Press, 3 Sub edition, 2001.


Additional Information

More symbols & emblems: Complete list of official Texas state symbols from NETSTATE.COM.

The Legend of Old Stone Ranch
The Legend of
Old Stone Ranch

John Worth Cloud

The Legend of Old Stone Ranch, by John Worth Cloud. 390 pages. Publisher: Published in Fandangleland by the Albany News (1968) Many historians have noted the extraordinary speed with which the western prairies of Texas changed from the wild frontier of the buffalo to the docile rangeland of the Hereford. Today, West Texans are working to preserve and mark as historically important the structures they built and then abandoned as nomadic inclinations moved them elsewhere.

In need of equal attention is careful research of the life histories of the men and women who lived in the era. Newton Givens, whose story is recorded in this book, was a prototype of the breed, and the author has chosen a worthy protagonist for this work.

John Worth Cloud recorded the story of Newton Givens in verse. The story takes place in the Albany-Fort Griffin area of Texas and is about the first ranch settled in the valley of the Clear Fork of the Brazos River.