“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Anson in Jones County, Texas — The American South (West South Central)

Cowboys’ Christmas Ball

Cowboys' Christmas Ball Marker image. Click for full size.
By Duane Hall, November 8, 2014
1. Cowboys' Christmas Ball Marker
Inscription. In 1885, M.G. Rhodes hosted a wedding party and dance at his Star Hotel in Anson. One guest was Larry Chittenden, a salesman and writer visiting his uncle in Jones County. He was so inspired by the dance held that night for the cowboys and ladies that he composed a poem commemorating the occasion, “The Cowboys’ Christmas Ball.” The poem, first printed in Anson’s Texas Western newspaper in 1890, also appeared in Chittenden’s 1893 poetry collection Ranch Verses. Over the years the poem was remembered and anthologized many times in print and song.
     In 1934, Lenora Barrett and Hybernia Grace revived the historic ball and its folklore. Their group performed during the 1936 Texas Centennial Exposition in Dallas and at the National Folk Festival in Washington, D.C. in 1938, when they danced on the White House lawn. As annual interest increased, the group copyrighted the event and named a board of directors for the Texas Cowboys’ Christmas Ball Association. A new venue, Pioneer Hall, was built in 1938-40 with help from the Work Projects Administration. The dance has been a three-day event since 1940, and the following year Jenne Magagan’s mural in the Anson Post Office depicted the historic “Cowboy Dance.” Chittenden’s poem records real people and ranches of 1880s Jones County, along with observations
Front Entrance of Pioneer Hall image. Click for full size.
By Duane Hall, November 8, 2014
2. Front Entrance of Pioneer Hall
of dress and customs which influence some of the formal rules and decorum of the ball today. Ladies must wear dresses and gentlemen must check their hats, and some attendees dress in period clothing. The event draws national and international visitors, while some participants are direct descendants of those immortalized in the poem. With such 19th century dances as the Grand March, Waltz, Cotton-Eye Joe, Polka, Virginia Reel and Schottische, this Anson tradition helps perpetuate an important aspect of life in frontier Texas.
Erected 2009 by Texas Historical Commission. (Marker Number 16003.)
Marker series. This marker is included in the Works Progress Administration (WPA) projects marker series.
Location. 32° 44.747′ N, 99° 53.539′ W. Marker is in Anson, Texas, in Jones County. Marker can be reached from the intersection of Avenue G and 23rd Street, on the right when traveling south. Touch for map. Marker is attached to the Pioneer Hall building next to the front entrance. Marker is at or near this postal address: 2300 Avenue G, Anson TX 79501, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. First Presbyterian Church Building (approx. 0.7 miles away); Fort Phantom Hill C.S.A. / Texas Civil War Frontier Defense
Pioneer Hall image. Click for full size.
By Duane Hall, November 8, 2014
3. Pioneer Hall
Located at northwest corner of Avenue G and 23rd Street
(approx. ¾ mile away); Anson Jones (approx. ¾ mile away); Jones County (approx. ¾ mile away); Jones County Courthouse (approx. ¾ mile away); Omar Burleson (approx. 0.8 miles away); Anson Opera House (approx. 0.8 miles away); First United Methodist Church of Anson (approx. one mile away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Anson.
Also see . . .
1. Classic Cowboy Poetry - Larry Chittenden. Includes the full verses of the poem. (Submitted on November 14, 2014.) 

2. The Texas Cowboys' Christmas Ball. Official website of the Texas Cowboys' Christmas Ball Association. (Submitted on November 14, 2014.) 

3. Cowboys' Christmas Ball. From the Texas State Historical Association's "Handbook of Texas Online". (Submitted on November 14, 2014.) 
Categories. Arts, Letters, MusicEntertainment
View to North Along Avenue G image. Click for full size.
By Duane Hall, November 8, 2014
4. View to North Along Avenue G
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. This page originally submitted on November 14, 2014, by Duane Hall of Abilene, Texas. This page has been viewed 572 times since then. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4. submitted on November 14, 2014, by Duane Hall of Abilene, Texas.
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