Barbara Bockelman Cowboy Poetry Collection

Barbara Bockelman Cowboy Poetry Collection, 1971-2002
4 folders
Location: 0142, Box 1, Folders 3-6
Accession #: 2002.099


Barbara Bockelman is an Oklahoma native of the Slapout community in Laverne. This collection consists of her own cowboy poetry, the unpublished manuscript A Permanent Home, and an assortment of articles.


“Bockelman arrived in Oklahoma with her grandparents shortly after Black Sunday, and the old home place has an important part in her memories as well. She tells us ‘In 1936 my family moved into a sod ranch house built in 1895 located on Kiowa Creek in the eastern Oklahoma Panhandle…Eventually the soddie began to deteriorate…and the walls were returned to the sod in the west pasture from whence it came.’ She raised her family on that same ranch land and she still lives there today.”

The Big Roundup, page xxvi.

A Permanent Home tells the true story of a family seeking refuge from the Depression and the agonies of the Dust Bowl days. Interwoven into the story is the love of a step-grandfather and grandmother for the foster child they welcomed into their home after only two months of marriage. Both had had unhappy first marriages and both had raised families from those marriages. Ernest and Neva Sitton gave a lonely child a wonderful life and established a family philosophy of ‘when you’re down, the only way is up.’ The story is told by that lonely child who flourished under the Sittons’ loving care as Granddad sought that home for ‘his two girls in blue,’ a song he loved to sing to them.

In 1936 the family ended their search for that home on the Y Bar Ranch in the Oklahoma Panhandle on Kiowa Creek where the author and her husband live. The Bockelmans raised four children on the Y Bar.

Barbara (Janie in the story) married Vernor Bockelman of the Slapout community during the last year of WWII. After his Army discharge in 1945, he began working on the Y Bar. In the early 1950s the Sittons retired to Albuquerque, New Mexico, to live near Barbara’s mother. Barbara had dropped out of college during her second semester at then Oklahoma Agricultural and Mechanical College where Vernor had also attended for three years before his enlistment in 1943. Four children later, Barbara and Vernor decided a college education for her was good insurance for her and the children so she and the two younger children moved part time to Alva to attend Northwestern Oklahoma State University. One hundred thousand miles later, she graduated with a degree in Secondary education specializing in English and Journalism. She and the two younger children returned home each weekend while Vernor coped with the two older girls. Their son was a preschooler and the youngest girl was in lower elementary. Each morning Vernor made biscuits for breakfast but when Barbara received her degree, he vowed to make no more biscuits—and he hasn’t! Barbara taught English on senior and junior high levels in the Laverne School as well as journalism for thirteen years. She also sponsored the school newspaper which was published in the local Leader Tribune. She supervised the publication of “The Tiger Roar,” the school annual. All four children – three daughters and son, two of whom have Master’s degrees — are college graduates.

In 1989 Barbara, encouraged by a former student, began writing and performing cowboy poetry which reflected her ranching experiences. Since then she has appeared at the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum only Cowboy Poetry Gathering organized by Dr. Guy Logsdon. She also is a regular at the National Cowboy Symposium, Lubbock, Texas, under the leadership of Alvin Davis. She presents storytelling of ranch experiences and cowboy poetry to elementary students hoping to preserve the stories of the ranching industry and its importance in this part of the world. She self-published a collection of cowboy poems and stories: On Kiowa Creek. Barbara is also a certified lay speaker in the United Methodist Church and attends the Fairview Methodist Church near Slapout. This is the same church mentioned in A Permanent Home. Barbara states she started her ‘professional, paid writing career’ as a high school freshman. A handsome senior boy asked her to write a short story for his senior English assignment. She did—for twenty-five cents! The teacher accused his of copying it from a magazine. Barbara says, ‘I could spot a ‘copy’ everytime — after all, I’d been there, done that.’

She also says, ‘Cowboying and the cattle business is in my blood. Granddad was a cowboy who knew his business and then I married one who worked with Granddad. We weren’t and aren’t the ‘ride’m, yipee’ cowboys but the cattle handlers who do it quietly. The secret was and is to ‘out think the herd’ and that takes a lot of smarts.”

Bockelman, Barbara. “Introduction,” A Permanent Home, unpublished, 1972.

This collection consists of three series: Poetry, Manuscript, and Articles.

Series 1: Poetry, 1981-2002
This series consists of some photocopied poems published in The Big RoundupCowgirl Poetry, American Cowboy Poet Magazine, and VISTA.

Series 2: Manuscript, A Permanent Home, n.d.
This series consists of Barbara Bockelman’s original manuscript of A Perfect Home. The unpublished 1972 manuscript covers 62 chapters in 402 double-spaced pages. The manuscript includes a table of contents and contact information on the first page, plus a three-page introduction, included above in the Biography.

Series 3: Articles, 1971-2000
This series consists of articles written by and about Barbara Bockelman.

Personal Names:
Bockelman, Barbara

Subject Headings:

This collection was accessioned in 2002 and filed along with other small cowboy poetry collections. Archivist Laura Anne Heller created the current finding aid on July 14, 2009.

The collection is open for research. It is advisable for researchers to discuss their proposed research with staff prior to visiting the Center.

Barbara Bockelman Cowboy Poetry Collection, Box ##, Folder ##, Dickinson Research Center, National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.

Series 1: Poetry - 1981-2002

Folder # Description
3 Poem, “Black Sunday.” 2 pages, original manuscript. [1] 2002.099.1
3 Poem, “Black Sunday.” The Big Roundup: Classic and Contemporary Poetry from, published by New West Library, pages 192-194. ISBN: 0-9712-5503-2. Photocopy. Also includes photocopy of front cover, back cover, and page xxvi of Preface. 6 pages total. [1] 2002.099.1
3 Poem, “The Cowtank.” Cowgirl Poetry: One Hundred Years of Ridin’ and Rhymin’, published by Gibbs-Smith Publisher, pages 54-57. ISBN: 1-58685-016-4. Photocopy. Also includes photocopy of front and back covers. 4 pages total. [1] 2002.099.1
3 Poem, “Old Blue.” American Cowboy Poet Magazine, Summer 1992, page 8. Photocopy. Also includes poem titled “The Birthin’” by Helen Mazewski from Riggins, Idaho. 1 page total. [1] 2002.099.1
3 Poem, [Family]. VISTA, September 6, 1981. Photocopy. Exact title is unknown. 1 page total. [2] 2002.099.1
3 Poem, “Sal.” Email correspondence, dated February & March 2002, between Joe Fitzgibbon and Barbara Bockelman concerning publication of “Sal” in an essay in Oregon English Journal. 3 pages total. [1] 2002.099.1

Series 2: Manuscript - n.d.

Folder # Description
4 A Permanent Home, Chapters 1-32. [1] 2002.099.2
5 A Permanent Home, Chapters 33-62. [1] 2002.099.2

Series 3: Articles - 1971-2001, n.d.

Folder # Description
6 Bockelman. “When sundogs and hogs were signs to live by.” Farmland News, May 31, 1972. Photocopy. [1] 2002.099.3
6 Bockelman. “When sundogs and hogs were signs to live by.” Farmland News, May 31, 1972. Newspaper clipping. [1] 2002.099.3
6 Bockelman. “When sundogs and hogs were signs to live by.” Farmland News, May 31, 1972. Entire newspaper. [1] 2002.099.3
6 Bockelman. “Have You Ever???” 1986 Farm Woman’s Almanac, Reiman Publications. Page 91. Photocopy. [1] 2002.099.3
6 Bockelman. “Have You Ever.” Farm Wife News, n.d. page 24. Photocopy. [1] 2002.099.3
6 Bockelman. “The Deepfreezer—A Family Member.” Northwestern Electric News, Vol. XXXXIII, No. 12., October 1989. Page 4. Newsletter. [1] 2002.099.3
6 Bockelman. “Send the Light…”, “The Toaster,” and “Sad Irons – Glad Irons.” From Lamp Light to Satellite: From out house to satellite dish…a welcome transition. Northwestern Electric Cooperative, Inc., 1990. Photocopy. [1] 2002.099.3
6 Bockelman. “Bockelman.” History of Beaver County, Vol. I. page 565. Color photocopy. [1] 2002.099.3
6 Bockelman. “The Fraid Hole.” Oklahoma’s Orbit, March 21, 1971. Photocopy. [1] 2002.099.3
6 Bockelman. “A Special Horse: A Special Feeling.” Progressive Farmer, May 1974. Photocopy. [1] 2002.099.3
6 Bockelman. “A stalled pickup is bad enough… But then I have to cope with My husband’s sign language!” Farm Journal, March 1973. Photocopy. [1] 2002.099.3
6 Bockelman. “I Remember When…we slept under the stars.” The Leader Tribune, Laverne, Oklahoma, March 1, 2000. Photocopy. [1] 2002.099.3
6 Bockelman. “The Hugging Lady.” Reminisce, Reiman Publications, March/April 1995. Photocopy. [1] 2002.099.3
6 Bockelman. “A New Beginning.” Mature Living, June 1996. Page 16-17. Color photocopy. [1] 2002.099.3
6 Bockelman. “The Windmill—Guardian of the Plains.” Paper presented at National Cowboy Symposium, 1996. 5 pages. Original manuscript. [1] 2002.099.3
6 Bockelman. “The Soddie.” Paper presented at National Cowboy Symposium, Lubbock, Texas, 1997. 8 pages. Original manuscript. [1] 2002.099.3
6 Bockelman. “Laverne Post Office.” Published Laverne Leader Tribune, 1998. Original manuscript. 4 pages. [1] 2002.099.3
6 Bockelman. “Trail drive—Texas to Oklahoma—1932.” Unpublished original manuscript. 5 pages. [1] 2002.099.3
6 Letter, Rusty and Opal Fitzgerald to Verne and Barbara Bockelman, March 3, 1974, Miami, Texas. Letter recollects a cattle drive from Texas to Oklahoma in 1932, during the Great Depression. 12 pages. Photocopy. [1] 2002.099.3
6 Devlin, Jeanne M. “Cowboy Poets.” Oklahoma Today, March-April 1990. Page 37-41. Color photocopy. 5 pages. [1] 2002.099.3
6 ”Woman ‘cowboy poet’ gains recognition.” Northwestern Oklahoma State (Alva) Alumni News, Winter 1991-92. Page 15. Photocopy. [1] 2002.099.3
6 Love, Bernice. “Cowboy Poetry Captures Life on the Range.” The Sunday Oklahoman, December 30, 1990. Color photocopy. 4 pages. [1] 2002.099.3
6 Guy, Steven B. “Poet-Short Story Writer reads to First Graders.” The Morris News, Thursday, May 10, 2001. Page 8. Photocopy. 1 page. [1] 2002.099.3
6 ”Grads to Step Out Today at Slapout.” Daily Oklahoman, August 1982. Photocopy. 1 page. [2] 2002.099.3