Biography of Robert Fletcher
Robert Fletcher (1885–1972) is the uncredited writer of the lyrics to Cole Porter's "Don't Fence Me In." After graduating with a degree in mining engineering he moved to Montana where he found work in mining camps and as a surveyor. He then moved to Helena Montana to work for the Montana Highway Department to promote tourism in Montana. In about 1935 he was instrumental in the creation of "Ports of Entry" at major highways entering Montana, where visitors were provided with information about Montana's history and points of interest.
He became a student of Montana history, and with that background he wrote the text for a series of historical markers displayed throughout Montana in the mid-1930s. Several compilations of those markers have been published.
In the 1950s he was commissioned by the Montana Cattlemen's Association to write a history of the cattle industry in Montana titled "Free Grass to Fences."
He was an early "cowboy poet" and published a book of verse titles "Corral Dust." He also composed songs for the entertainment of friends.
For $200 Cole Porter purchased Fletcher's version of the song that later became "Don't Fence Me In," intended for a movie that was not made. Several years later Cole Porter's revision of the song, especially the version sung by Kate Smith, became popular nationwide. Fletcher eventually negotiated with Cole porter's estate to receive a share of the royalties from the song.
Fletcher left his employment with the State of Montana and moved to Butte to take a job in public relations with the Montana Power Company, where he worked until his retirement. He eventually moved to Rancho Bernardo, California, near San Diego, where he died.
Robert Fletcher Poems
That Li'l Baldy Hoss
You see that li'l baldy hoss A standin' over there, His eyes half shut, his head drooped With a plum' dejected air?
The Belled Coyote
Aint no one loves a coyote That I ever heard about. He aint nuthin' but a pestilence Requirin' stampin' out.
Western land was made for those Who like land wild and free, For cattle, deer, and buffalo, For antelope and me;
That Li'l Baldy Hoss
You see that li'l baldy hoss
A standin' over there,
His eyes half shut, his head drooped
With a plum' dejected air?
Looks to you worth 'bout twobits
An' not a speck of use
But I wouldn't take a million
For that li'l ol' cayuse!