“California Joe”

Author: Captain Jack Crawford, "The Poet Scout"
Earliest date: 1886 (Crawford, in The Poet Scout)
Keywords: cowboy love rescue orphan reunion drowning
Found in: US(Ap,So,SW)


"Well, mates, I don't like stories," so the singer tells his: of rescuing an orphan teenager when riding with Jim Bridger. She says she will love him, then her uncle takes her to his home. She is told Cowboy Jack is dead, but at last they are reunited


Crawford describes this as a true story written in the year California Joe died (1876), though he does not explicitly identify California Joe.

The _Concise Dictionary of American Biography_ notes that John Wallace "Captain Jack" Crawford (1847-1917) served in the Union army from 1862, and "succeeded Buffalo Bill Cody as chief of scouts" [in the 1876 Sioux campaign]. It adds that he wrote "sincere but banal verse." This last description seems to be true: _Granger's Index to Poetry_ cites only three of his poems, none of which is cited more than once. The three are this poem, "The Death of Custer," and (get this) "Broncho versus Bicycle." It appears Crawford is remembered primarily for his scouting work; I couldn't find his name or descriptions of his writings in any literature or poetry references.

Additional information about Crawford can be found ing Logsdon.

Western scout Jim Bridger (1804-1881) was part of many exploratory expeditions from 1822 to 1868. - RBW


  1. Larkin, pp. 136-139, "California Joe" (1 text, 1 tune)
  2. Logsdon 30, pp. 173-181, "California Joe" (1 text, 1 tune)
  4. Roud #4645
  5. BI, Lark137