Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Oklahoma Trivia - Johnny Clare 1890-1910

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In Osage County, fifteen miles west of Pawhuska, there is a lonely grave with a cross headstone and metal fence around it. The grave is that of Johnny Clare, a cowboy who worked for a physician in Pawhuska. At the head of the grave below the cross is a cast-iron plaque which reads:

Johnny Clare
May 1890--May 1910
Cowboy employed by Dr. Hall
Thrown from his horse
and Killed at this spot

According to lore, Johnny was alone and chasing an outlaw steer in the open prairie. He managed to rope the steer, but after lassoing the animal, he was thrown from his horse and killed. A cowboy by the name of Dwight Barnard found Johnny dead in the tall bluestem grass of the open prairie. Standing nearby was his horse and the steer. The horse and the steer were tied together by the rope Johnny had used.

A small group of friends decided to bury Johnny at the spot where he was killed. As they were preparing to bury him, a tinker drove by. The tinker provided the canvas covering of his tinker's wagon as a covering for the cowboy's body. Ninety-five years have passed and the lonely gravesite is still visible from from the highway.

Cowboy poet, Larry McWhorter of Weatherford, Texas wrote this poem about Johnny Clare.

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