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Legend of Old Stone Ranch

Texas State Epic Poem

Old cabin in Robertson, Texas built c. 1886. Photo by Norm Lanier / Flickr (noncommercial use permitted with attribution).

Official State Epic Poem of Texas

Texas designated "Legend of Old Stone Ranch" as the official state epic poem in 1969 (author: John Worth Cloud, published in 1968). All Poetry Symbols

Senate Concurrent Resolution

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 that 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.