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The creator of Home on the Range

Kathie Bell
Special to the Globe
Dr. Brewster M. Higley was the original author of the song "Home on the Range." SUBMITTED PHOTO

Dr. Brewster M. Higley of Smith County, Kansas wrote the words in 1872, but it didn't become our State song until 1947.

Higley was born in Rutland, Ohio on Nov. 30, 1823.

Brewster was the grandson of Rutland's founder Brewster Higley IV.

At the age 18, Higley began his studies in medicine at La Porte Medical College in La Porte, Indiana. Higley specialized in diseases of the ear and throat.

Upon graduation in 1849, he had a medical office in Pomeroy, Ohio. Before moving to Kansas in 1871 to claim land under the Homestead Act of 1862, he briefly practiced in Indiana.

Higley's personal life was tumultuous. Marriages to his first three wives ended either in tragedy or unhappily.

Before moving to Kansas, Higley abruptly left his fourth wife and left his children with relatives in Illinois. He married his fifth, and final, wife shortly after his fourth marriage was dissolved by default in 1875.

Living in a small cabin he built on July 4, 1872 near Athol on West Beaver Creek, Higley wrote the words to Kansas's future state song as a poem later that year.

In December 1873, The Smith County (Kansas) Pioneer first published the poem as "My Western Home."

Later, Daniel E. Kelley, a friend of Higley, wrote the music on his guitar.

Though not identical, the original words are similar to those sung today.

However, the poem initially did not contain the words "on the range." In 1925, Texas composer David W. Guion did an arrangement of the song and was sometimes erroneously credited as its composer.

Though the song has had various names, the most common are "Home on the Range" and "Western Home."

"Home on the Range" is often referred to as the unofficial anthem of the west.

It has been performed countless time in popular music, films and television shows. The Kansas legislature made it the official state song of Kansas on June 30, 1947.

Bing Crosby recorded the song in 1933, 1938 and 1939. Frank Sinatra sung it and released it in Great Britain in 1946, but it wasn't available in the United States until 1993.

In 1983, John Denver with the Muppets, included the song on his album "Rocky Mountain Holiday." Disney made a full-length animated movie in 2004 titled "Home on the Range."

In 2010, the of the  Western Writers of America  selected "Home on the Range" as one of the one of the top 100 western songs of all time.

The cabin Higley wrote the state song in was listed on the Register of National Historic Places as the "Home on the Range Cabin" in 1973. It sits on private land owned by the Peoples Heartland Foundation, a 501c3 charity. The Foundation has recently restored the cabin.

Brewster M. Higley died in Shawnee, Okla. in 1911 and is buried there in Fairview Cemetery.