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Frank Davis

Frank Davis

Frank Davis 150 150 ctx

Frank L. Davis Collection, 1920s
Location: 0143
Accession #: 1989.036


This collection includes six photographic postcards, most by Ralph R. Doubleday, of rodeo personalities such as Leonard Womack, Charlie Johnson, Lee Robinson, Frank Smith, and J. W. Harris.


No biographical information about this collection’s donor, Frank L. Davis, accompanied the accession files. The following brief biography on Lee Robinson is included because he is featured in the collection’s photographic postcards.

Lee Robinson
Lee Robinson was a well-known calf-roper and bull-dogger since 1919. He won the calf-roping competition in New York’s Madison Square Garden rodeo produced by Tex Austin in 1921. He set the record for calf-roping at that time with an average of 15 seconds on six calves. In 1923 Robinson took part in the making of a Hoot Gibson movie at the Houston Rodeo. He had punched cows on the famous JA Ranch in west Texas and had bossed a cow outfit in Arizona.

At the 1927 Tucson Rodeo, the Porter Saddlery presented to him the “Lee Robinson Saddle” designed by Lee and Fred S. Porter. This saddle would become very popular for years to come and “was virtually the introduction of the modern day roping saddle.”

On February 25, 1927, Robinson, his wife, and daughter died in a car accident around Tonilla, Texas, while driving from Tucson, Arizona, to Fort Worth. The Robinsons are buried in Denton, Texas, where Robinson’s wife Ara Lee Robinson was born. Lee was scheduled to compete in the Fort Worth competition that year, so as a eulogy Fox Hastings led Robinson’s horse in the grand entry.

Lee Robinson was honored as an inductee in the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum’s Rodeo Hall of Fame in 1967.

“Lee Robinson in Rodeo Hall of Fame.” Rodeo Sports News, Vol. 15, No. 11, May 1, 1967.

Lee Robinson Light Weight and Lee Robinson Tree
The N. Porter Saddle & Harness Company of Phoenix, Arizona, created a particular saddle in honor of Lee Robinson. In their 1929-1930 Catalog No. 17 on pages 14-15, the saddle and tree are described. Specifications can be requested as a photocopy from the catalog. We have provided the description below:

The Lee Robinson Light Weight: Weight — Only 30 pounds, complete with latigoes, cinchas and stirrups — but strong enough for all-around use. Since its first showing, in our Spring Flyer, this number has lead all other saddles in sales. There must be a reason–this one exemplifies our slogan, ‘Quality, without penalty of high cost.’ Like all of our saddles, this one is made of the best oak-tanned leather and on the highest grade tree obtainable.”

The Famous Lee Robinson Tree: No other saddle tree has proven as popular as the Lee Robinson tree. The late lee Robinson, shown at right, after whom this tree is named, was the originator–and possibly no other man was more qualified to do it. He was raised in a saddle, on the range, after which he followed the rodeo game for a number of years. His thorough knowledge, gained by constant association with saddles, resulted in the designing of this tree. The last thing that he told us from his own lips was: ‘This is the best saddle that I have ever owned.’ — and he meant every word. (His saddle was No. 111, shown on page 39). Since the first appearance of this tree, many have been sold, which goes to show that ‘Lee’ (as we knew him) knew what he was doing. The construction of this tree is the best. The covering is a heavy rawhide, stitched on with rawhide thongs, and the horn is bolted on, the bolts running through the entire fork. A double covering of rawhide is put on over the fork, at the base of the horn, which gives added strength. Like all of our high grade trees, this one is guaranteed not to hurt a horse’s back, or break, even though the horse should fall over backwards on it. The long sideboards are made so as to proportion the weight of the rider over the entire back, which keeps the saddle from bearing at any one particular point, thereby eliminating the hurting of the horse’s back. Any tree proving faulty in either of these two respects will be repaired or replaced free of charge. The Lee Robinson is made regularly with a 2 1/2 inch cantle, but we can furnish it with a higher or lower cantle if you prefer it.”

Ralph R. Doubleday 
Refer to the Ralph R. Doubleday Photographic Collection for biographical information concerning Doubleday.

This collection contains six photographic postcards of rodeo events. Five of the postcards were photographed by Ralph R. Doubleday, while the sixth one’s photographer is not identified. Rodeo personalities represented include Leonard Womack, Charlie Johnson, Lee Robinson, Frank Smith, and J. W. Harris.

Personal names:
Doubleday, Ralph R.
Harris, J. W.
Johnson, Charlie
Robinson, Lee
Smith, Frank
Womack, Leonard

Subject Headings:

This collection was accessioned on August 18, 1989. The scope and content note was written by librarian Karen Spilman in March 2003. The current finding aid was written and updated by archivist/librarian Laura Anne Heller in December 2009.

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

Frank L. Davis Collection, Box ##, Folder ##, Dickinson Research Center, National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.

Series 1: Frank L. Davis Collection
Photographs have been cataloged in the Image Archive Database, but none have been scanned yet.
Box/Folder # Accession # Folder Title/Description
1/14 1989.036 .1 Leonard Womach [sic] on Wild Brahma Steer. 1925 ca. Ralph R. Doubleday, photographer. Photographic postcard, b&w, 3.5×5.5 in. 35mm slide available (1999).
1989.036 .2 Charlie Johnson Throw [sic] from Wild Steer. 1923. Ralph R. Doubleday, photographer. Photographic postcard, b&w, 3.5×5.5 in.
1989.036 .3 Lee Robinson Bulldogging. 1923 ca. Ralph R. Doubleday, photographer. Photographic postcard, b&w, 3.5×5.5 in. Also in Ralph R. Doubleday Photographic Collection: 79.026.0296.
1989.036 .4 World’s Champion, Carlsbad, N.M. 1923 ca. Photographer unknown. Photographic postcard, b&w, 3.5×5.5 in.
1989.036 .5 Frank Smith Bulldogging Pendleton Round-Up. 1923. Pendleton, OR. Ralph R. Doubleday, photographer. Photographic postcard, b&w, 3.5×5.5 in. Also in Ralph R. Doubleday Photographic Collection: 79.026.0265; 79.026.0282.
1989.036 .6 J. W. Harris on ‘Gold Spot.’ 1925 ca. Ralph R. Doubleday, photographer. Photographic postcard, b&w, 3.5×5.5 in. Also in Ralph R. Doubleday Photographic Collection: 79.026.0989; 79.026.1255.
Adventure District
Adventure Road
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