Francis Henry Maynard

[Francis H. Maynard] (December 16, 1853 – March 28, 1926 / Iowa City)

Biography of Francis Henry Maynard

Francis Henry Maynard, known as Frank H. Maynard (December 16, 1853 – March 28, 1926), was an old-time cowboy of the American West who claimed authorship of the revised version of the well-known ballad "The Streets of Laredo". After a decade of roaming the West, Maynard settled down with his wife, the former Flora V. Longstreth (1860–1931), to work as a highly successful carpenter and building contractor in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Yet, his interest remained in reminiscences of his time as a cowboy and the desire to tell his special story for posterity.

Maynard was born in Iowa City in Johnson County in eastern Iowa, the second of five children of Horace Maynard (1822–1890), no relation to a Tennessee politician of the same name, and Georgiana Maynard (born 1829; date of death unknown). At the age of sixteen, Maynard left home to look for adventure, first along the Platte River. He lived for a time in Towanda in Butler County, Kansas, with a widowed maternal aunt. The other Maynard family members soon moved to Butler County, and for a time young Maynard and his father hauled freight from Emporia to Wichita, Kansas. In 1870, Maynard went on his first buffalo hunt in Kingman County, Kansas.

In the spring of 1872 at the age of eighteen, Maynard was "officially" a cowboy, a livelihood that he maintained until his marriage in 1881. In the spring and summer of 1872, he helped to drive a herd of horses, which had been wintered in Kansas to Jacksboro in Jack County in north central Texas. On the return to Kansas, he joined other drovers on a cattle drive. One of the cowhands on the drive was Rube Arp, a native Texan and former Confederate who befriended the young northerner and son of a veteran of the Union Army from threats by others on the drive. Maynard clashed with a former Confederate from Arkansas known only as "Slusher" because of Slusher's practice of downing large quantities of rotgut whisky. After several clashes, Maynard left the drive until he was informed of a plot to kill him. He took refuge at Fort Richardson near Jacksboro, became ill, and was treated for two weeks by an Indian family before he could resume his trip north to Kansas. Maynard was later reconciled with "Slusher."

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The Streets of Laredo

As I rode down by Tom Sherman's bar-room,
Tom Sherman's bar-room so early one day,
There I espied a handsome young ranger
All wrapped in white linen, as cold as the clay.
'I see by your outfit that you are a ranger,'
The words that he said as I went riding by,
'Come sit down beside me, and hear my sad story,
I'm shot through the breast and I know I must die.

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