A research collection documenting the short, tumultuous life of rodeo performer Henry Grammer assembled by Oklahoma writer and amateur historian Arthur Shoemaker. The collection includes correspondence, photocopied clippings, interview notes, photographs, and other material documenting the life and times of Grammer. Shoemaker’s handwritten and typed notes and timelines help amplify and summarize the research material. In addition, other members of the Grammer family and related topics such as rodeo are also subjects of the collection. Several of Shoemaker’s articles and the book The Road to Marble Halls: The Henry Grammer Saga, written based on this research, are briefly covered.
Arthur Shoemaker is a native of Laredo, Texas. After attending school at Texas Technological College in Lubbock and serving in the U.S. Eighth Air Force during World War II, he taught school in the Sapulpa, Oklahoma school system for several years. Later, he was employed by Texaco and worked in the oil business in Kansas and Oklahoma. As an avocation, Shoemaker pursued historical research and writing, focusing on western and Oklahoma subjects. Shoemaker has been published in a variety of publications including, The Chronicles of Oklahoma, True West, Oklahoma Today, Ketch Pen, and the Tulsa Tribune. He is a member of the Western Writers of America, the Rodeo Historical Society, and the Osage County Historical Society.
Henry Grammer was born on July 20, 1883 in Falls County, Texas. He grew up in Texas, eventually becoming a cowboy on a ranch near Carrizo Springs, Texas. In 1901, he arrived in Osage County, Oklahoma Territory with a trainload of Texas cattle. Grammer stayed in Osage County, finding work as a cowboy for Sylvester Soldani, a rancher and influential member of the Osage Tribe.
In 1903, Grammer moved to Montana where he worked for the Circle Diamond Ranch under ranch foreman and Great Westerner inductee John Survant. While employed at the ranch, he shot and killed a man in a Malta, Montana saloon during an altercation. Henry Grammer spent his next three years in the Montana State Prison, Deer Lodge, Montana. Photocopied newspaper clippings and prison ledgers in the collection document this incident.
Grammer was released from prison in May 1907 and boarded the train for Ponca City, Oklahoma Territory. In July 1907, he married Maggie Alexander, a quarter-blood Osage Indian. Later that year, he began his rodeo career when he engaged in a match roping contest against Texas roper, Buck Matthews. During the next year his rodeo career really took off when he worked for the 101 Ranch Wild West Show in Ponca City along with his brother Tom and Tom Mix; he and brother Tom participated in the Ride and Roping Contest in Dewey, Oklahoma (later called the Dewey Roundup); and Henry toured South America with the IXL Wild West Show.
Henry Grammer’s rodeo career continued, and in 1912 he found himself in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, a participant in the first Calgary Stampede. In the following years he toured England with the 101 Ranch Wild West Show, participated in the first East Coast rodeo to feature real cowboys in 1916, participated in Cheyenne Frontier Days in 1917, and won a match roping contest with Ben Johnson, Sr. at Fairfax, Oklahoma. He was also stabbed and nearly killed during an argument in Burbank, Oklahoma.
In December 1919, Henry Grammer shot and wounded Harry Church in the Leland Hotel in Ponca City, Oklahoma. He posted a $3000 bond, and after the trial was postponed a number of times, Grammer was acquitted in November 1920. During 1920, he was active as a rodeo judge, helped the Miller brothers with the 101 Ranch roundup, participated in roping contests, and traveled with his wife and youngest son, Buster, to Hot Springs, Arkansas. He also got involved in another shooting, this time shooting and killing Jim Berry in an argument over a steer; because Berry sought out Grammer on Grammer’s ranch at night and shot at Grammer first, the shooting was judged to be in self-defense.
In the early 1920s, in addition to his rodeo and ranching activities, Henry Grammer was also apparently involved in the moonshine whiskey business, servicing workmen during the Osage County oil boom. In early 1923, Grammer and another man confronted a bootlegger over an alleged hijacking; the bootlegger was shot and wounded by Grammer’s confederate. Three months later on June 14, shortly after a fight between Grammer and John Mayo and three other men, an automobile driven at high speeds by Mayo left the road near Shidler, Oklahoma killing Grammer, but throwing Mayo and his wife clear with minor injuries. Grammer had $10,500 in cash on his person at the time of his death. On June 17, Henry Grammer was laid to rest in the mausoleum at the IOOF Cemetery in Ponca City, Oklahoma. Best remembered for his rodeo career, Grammer is considered one of the greatest steer ropers of all time.
Scope & Content Note
The Arthur Shoemaker Collection on Henry Grammer has been arranged in three series: Research Files, Writing, and Photographs.
Series 1: Research Files (1902-2000)
This series consists primarily of correspondence, photocopied clippings, interview notes, and other material related to Shoemaker’s research into the life and death of rodeo performer Henry Grammer. Other members of the Grammer family, including brother Tom Grammer, uncle Joseph Grammer, and nephew C. O. Leuschner (also known as Dogtown Slim), are also documented in the collection, but the primary focus is Henry Grammer.
The research material includes extensive photocopied clippings and notes documenting various aspects of Grammer’s tumultuous life, first-person data in the form of interview notes and correspondence, and Shoemaker’s correspondence with historical societies, archives, and other institutions during the course of his research. Shoemaker’s handwritten and typed notes and timelines help amplify and summarize the primary source material. Some of the material, especially correspondence with author Jane Pattie, concerns Shoemaker’s efforts to get Grammer inducted into the Rodeo Historical Society’s Rodeo Hall of Fame at the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City.
Other topics touched briefly in the collection include rodeo history, John Survant and the Circle Diamond Ranch near Malta, Montana, and Guy Weadick, founder of the Calgary Stampede. These subjects are related to aspects of Henry Grammer’s life, but material independent of him is also included. Clippings and Shoemaker’s notes comprise the bulk of this material.
Series 2: Writing (1909-circa 2000)
This series is the smallest in the collection. Included is research material for two articles written for the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum’s rodeo periodical Ketch Pen, and the galley proof of Shoemaker’s book on Henry Grammer, The Road to Marble Halls: The Henry Grammer Saga, which includes his handwritten editorial emendations.
Series 3: Photographs (1991-1997)
This series is comprised of 127 photographic prints and negatives. Most of these are copy prints and copy negatives, created using a camera rather than an photo enlarging stand or scanner, so the image quality of many photographs is quite poor. The family and rodeo career of Henry Grammer are the primary focus of these images. Among the few vintage photographs in the collection are five images documenting the Dewey, Oklahoma Roundup some time in the 1910s.
Contemporary photography shows the Grammer family vault in the Ponca City, Oklahoma, IOOF (International Organization of Odd Fellows) Cemetery mausoleum and the donation of a Henry Grammer portrait to the Osage County Historical Museum in Pawhuska, Oklahoma. Photographs meant to illustrate two articles for the Ketch Pen magazine are also included.
Leuschner, C. O.
Mix, Tom, 1880-1940
Circle Diamond Ranch (Mont.)
Doolin’s Ranch (Okla.)
Osage County (Okla.)—History
Wild west shows
The Arthur Shoemaker Collection on Henry Grammer was donated in September 2003. Jonathan Nelson processed the collection in July 2005. Although the series arrangement was created during processing, the folder titles and content are essentially the same as Mr. Shoemaker’s original folder titles and content. Three rodeo programs were separated to the Collection of Rodeo Programs and Ephemera and one book was separated to the Research Center stacks.
The Arthur Shoemaker Collection on Henry Grammer is the property of the Donald C. & Elizabeth M. Dickinson Research Center, National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum. Literary right, including copyright, belongs to the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum, with the exception of copyrighted artwork images and published literary works, which are the property of the respective copyright holders. It is the responsibility of the researcher, and his/her publisher, to obtain publishing permission from individuals pictured, relevant copyright holders, and the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum.
Restrictions on Access
The collection is open for research. It is advisable for researchers to discuss their proposed research with staff prior to visiting the Center.
Arthur Shoemaker Collection on Henry Grammer, Box ##, Folder ##, Dickinson Research Center, National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.
Series 1: Research Files – 1902-2000
|Box/Folder #||Folder Title/Description|
|001/001||Research Files, 1968-1971, undated|
|001/002||Research Files, Correspondence, 1984-1988|
|001/003||Research Files, Correspondence, Tom Benbrook, 1993, undated|
|001/004||Research Files, Correspondence, Jane Pattie, 1993-1999|
|001/005||Research Files, Grammer family, Canadian research, 1902-1991|
|001/006||Research Files, Grammer family, Henry Grammer, 1935-1966, undated|
|001/007||Research Files, Grammer family, Henry Grammer, Jim Berry shooting, 1920-1994, undated|
|001/008||Research Files, Grammer family, Henry Grammer, Harry Church shooting, 1919-1993, undated|
|001/009||Research Files, Grammer family, Henry Grammer, Death and burial, 1923, undated|
|001/010||Research Files, Grammer family, Henry Grammer, Genealogy, 1907-2000, undated|
|001/011||Research Files, Grammer family, Henry Grammer, Grammer in Montana, 1902-1999, undated|
|001/012||Research Files, Grammer family, Henry Grammer, Osage murders, 1926-1937, undated|
|001/013||Research Files, Grammer family, Joseph Grammer, 1910-2000, undated|
|001/014||Research Files, Grammer family, Tom Grammer, 1952-1992, undated|
|001/015||Research Files, Grammer family, Interview notes, 1956-1989, undated|
|001/016||Research Files, Grammer family, C. O. Leuschner (Dogtown Slim), 1987-1996, undated|
|001/017||Research Files, Grammer family, C. O. Leuschner (Dogtown Slim), Whiskey raids, 1923-1930, undated|
|001/018||Research Files, Tom Mix and “Tony,” 1968-1969, undated|
|001/019||Research Files, “Henry Grammer” (poem), n.d. Photocopy.|
|001/020||Research Files, “The Round Up”, Doolin’s Ranch, Oilton, Oklahoma, August 19 & 21, 1921. Photocopy.|
|002/001||Research Files, Rodeo, 1907-1996, undated|
|002/002||Research Files, John Survant/Circle Diamond Ranch, 1913-1962, undated|
|002/003||Research Files, Guy Weadick/Sheepshead Bay Stampede, 2000|
Series 2: Writing – 1909-ca. 2000
|Box/Folder #||Folder Title/Description|
|002/004||Articles, “Best in Bartlesville,” 1909-1997, undated|
|002/005||Articles, “Hat Full of Gold,” 1958-1961|
|002/006||Books, The Road to Marble Halls: The Henry Grammer Saga galley proof, circa 2000|
Series 3: Photographs – 1991-1999
|Box/Folder #||Folder Title/Description|
|002/007||Articles, “Best in Bartlesville,” 1997, undated |
|002/008||Articles, Spurs at Fairfax,” 1997 |
|002/009||Circle Diamond Ranch/Malta, Mont., undated |
|002/010||Grammer Family, Henry Grammer, undated |
|002/011||Grammer Family, Henry Grammer, Funeral and grave, 1999, undated |
|002/012||Grammer Family, Henry Grammer, Grammer portrait, 1991 |
|002/013||Grammer Family, Tom Grammer, undated |
|002/014||Kaw City, Okla., undated |
|002/015||Rodeo, undated |
|002/016||Rodeo, Dewey Roundup, undated |