The collection includes: original poems and clippings of Clark poems, most published in
Sun and Saddle Leather by Chapman and Grimes of Boston (copyright 1914); copies of
manuscript poems; and, correspondence (1957-1967): with Clark's nephew, Dr. Edwin E.
Clark, Professor of Electrical Engineering at the South Dakota School of Mines and
Technology, from Clark's literary executor, Leland Case, as well as between the
Westerners Foundation and Clark's former publishers.
Charles Badger Clark (1883-1957), dubbed "the cowboy poet" after his first book was
published (1915), became the "poet lariat" by official decree of Leslie Jensen, South
Dakota's governor (1937-1938). Clark's father, one of Dakota Territory's pioneer
Methodist circuit riders, was founder of Dakota Wesleyan University at Mitchell, S. D.
and a superintendent of the Black Hills Methodist Mission. His father's parsonage was in
the gold town of Deadwood and there Badger grew up. As a young man he contracted
tuberculosis, and, after his doctor suggested a move to the Southwest, Clark adventured
six years as an Arizona ranch hand. While working near Tombstone he wrote his first
poetry. Clark subsequently sold poems and short stories to Christian Century, The
Rotarian, Scribner's, Collier's, Sunset, and other magazines. Early collections of
Clark's poems were published as Sun and Saddle Leather (1915) and Grass Grown Trails
(1917). During the 1920's he traveled the Redpath Chautauqua circuit reading his verse
and speaking. During the 1930's he built a picturesque cabin in Custer State Park, and
there at Legion Lake, spent his mature years. Clark's poems "Cowboy's Prayer" and "Job"
were especially popular. Leland D. Case, editor of Together and later Executive Secretary
of Westerners Foundation, was made literary executor by Badger Clark's heirs. Case and
the Westerners Foundation were committed to the project of reprinting a collection of
Clark's poems under the title of Sun and Saddle Leather.