“Home on the Range” is a classic western folk song sometimes called the “unofficial anthem” of the American West. It is also the official anthem of the state of Kansas. Dr. Brewster M. Higley of Smith County, Kansas, wrote the lyrics in the poem “My Western Home” in 1872. In 1947, it became the Kansas state song. In 2010, members of the Western Writers of America chose it as one of the Top 100 western songs of all time.
In 1871, Higley moved from Indiana to Smith County, Kansas, under the Homestead Act. He lived in a small cabin near West Beaver Creek. He was inspired by his surroundings and wrote “My Western Home”, published in the Smith County Pioneer in 1872. That home is now listed on the National Register of Historic Places as the Home on the Range Cabin.
Single Home On The Range Bing Crosby Columbia 1938
Higley’s friend Daniel E. Kelley (1808–1905) wrote the melody on his guitar. Higley’s original words are similar to those of the modern version of the song, but not identical; the original did not contain the words “on the range”. The song was eventually adopted by ranchers, cowboys, and other western settlers, and it spread throughout the United States in various forms. In 1925, Texas composer David W. Guion (1892–1981) arranged it as sheet music published by G. Schirmer. The song has since gone by a number of names, the most common being “Home on the Range” and “Western Home”. It was officially adopted as the state song of Kansas on June 30, 1947, and is commonly regarded as the unofficial anthem of the American West.
Bing Crosby recorded the song on September 27, 1933, with Lennie Hayton and his orchestra for Brunswick Records. The origin of “Home on the Range” was obscure and widely debated at the time. It was published in 1910 in Cowboy Songs and Other Frontier Ballads by John Lomax, who said that he learned it from a black saloon-keeper in Texas. Its popularity led to a plagiarism suit that created a search for its background.