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Axtell One Name Study
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Family of Robert Hood Reeves AXTELL and Geneva Elizabeth CAMPBELL

Husband: Robert Hood Reeves AXTELL (1887-1976)
Wife: Geneva Elizabeth CAMPBELL ( - )
Children: Robert Hood Reeves AXTELL
Julia Elizabeth AXTELL
Francis Campbell AXTELL
Charles DeWitt AXTELL
Marriage 18 Jun 1912 Oakland, Alameda County, California, USA

Husband: Robert Hood Reeves AXTELL

Name: Robert Hood Reeves AXTELL 1
Sex: Male
Father: Joseph Laurence AXTELL (1855-1899)
Mother: Julia Crane REEVES (1859-1948)
Birth 9 Jun 1887 Plankinton, Aurora County, South Dakota, USA
Death 1976 (age 88-89)

Wife: Geneva Elizabeth CAMPBELL

Name: Geneva Elizabeth CAMPBELL 1
Sex: Female
Father: -
Mother: -
Birth USA

Child 1: Robert Hood Reeves AXTELL

Name: Robert Hood Reeves AXTELL 1
Sex: Male

Child 2: Julia Elizabeth AXTELL

Name: Julia Elizabeth AXTELL 1
Sex: Female

Child 3: Francis Campbell AXTELL

Name: Francis Campbell AXTELL 1
Sex: Male
Spouse: Marion DOUGLAS

Child 4: Charles DeWitt AXTELL

Name: Charles DeWitt AXTELL 1
Sex: Male

Note on Husband: Robert Hood Reeves AXTELL (1)

b. June 9, 1887 at Plankinton, S.D., married Geneva Elizabeth Campbell, June 18, 1912 at Oakland, Calif. Under date of June 30, 1932 he writes "From the place of birth I moved with my parents to Topeka, Kansas in 1892, thence after father's death in 1899 to Tombstone, Arizona. Grew up there in a semi-wild State, followed the range cattle business as a cowboy and later rancher and cattle owner until 1928. During the later years there I dabbled in verse and prose writing. My work, verse of the range country and cowboy life and prose of the same nature, was of no great merit, but a number of magazine editors fell for it and published the stuff." Since 1928 he lived one year in Phoenix, Ariz. and since then near Riverside, Calif., raising oranges. [axb45.ged]

Note on Husband: Robert Hood Reeves AXTELL (2)

From http://www.cowboypoetry.com/axtell.htm

 

Robert Hood Reeves Axtell (1887-1976), known to his friends as "Bob," arrived with his family in Arizona Territory in 1898. The Axtell's bought the JO Bar Ranch east of Tombstone in 1899. The JO Bar was and still is a cattle ranch. In 1906 a young tubercular fellow from South Dakota, Charles Badger Clark, Jr., moved on to the Kendall brothers' neighboring Cross I Quarter Circle, seven miles to the northeast.

 

The 18-year old Axtell and 23-year old Clark quickly became best friends. Bob tutored Charlie in the many cowboy arts he needed as caretaker for the Kendalls. They were to share in many adventures great and small and remained friends for the rest of their lives.

 

Axtell was among the first to appreciate the poetry Clark wrote and saw published by Pacific Monthly. Axtell would serve as model for characters found in Clark's short stories. In 1923 Badger would reference his friend Bob Axtell in a poem in Sunset:

 

Pals

 

Once we met in a cow corral

Far on the great gray plains

Kind luck dealt me a red-haired pal

With desert sun in his veins.

Over the sand of the fenceless land

We rode in a world of two,

Loping and roping and swapping lies,

Damning each other with laughing eyes

Under the western blue.

 

Charles Badger Clark, Jr.

 

Bob Axtell, writing under the pen name "Reeves Axtell" and encouraged by his friend Badger Clark, began writing poetry shortly after Clark left Arizona in 1910. By the 1920's he submitted some of his work to various western magazines and had some of his verse published. One of his better known poems, published in Sunset in 1922, is titled "Sanctuary."

 

Sanctuary

 

"Another mile, another mile."

My pony jogs along.

The weary way a fearful trial.

Tired, stumblin' feet just slogs along

And chokin' dust just fogs along

Light as a pullet's feather.

The grass is scurse and gettin' worse,

I never seen it drier.

The rainy season's plumb perverse

The storm clouds all are in reverse

And never get no nigher.

Lord! Send a spell o' weather!

 

"We'll get there----get there----after while."

My saddle creaks the rune.

"We've killed another weary mile."

My horse's feet beat out the tune

While risin' dust clouds haze the moon,

"Forget the dust and weather."

It's cowmen's fate when rains are late

To hump their backs and take it.

Next spring the Lord may irrigate

These hills that look so desolate

I reckon then, we'll make it,

Rains cain't stop altogether.

 

"We're there! We're there! We're there!

We're there!"

Sing quickened hoofs apace,

The leather squeaks the joyful air

For we have reached my homing place.

The lamp-lit door, my woman's face,

Sing out, you joyful leather!

"You're late tonight, Bill. Things all right?"

She swings the gate to meet me

And takes my hand and holds it tight

In both of hers, and, smiling bright,

Lifts up her face to greet me.

What matters dust or weather!

 

Bob Axtell, writing as "Reeves Axtell"

 

Bob Axtell's poetry is the genuine article, written by a man who experienced the end of open range cattle ranching in Arizona. His words ring with the authenticity of a person who has experienced all that he has committed to verse. It is too easy to dismiss Axtell's poetry as derivative of Badger Clark's work. To be sure, many of Axtell's verses owe a great deal in theme, structure, meter and rhyme scheme to Badger's poems. But the same can be said about hundreds and hundreds of cowboy poems. Axtell, after all was there when Clark created his classics.

 

 

Ballad of a Trail-Weary Trail-Herder

 

The footsore dogies jam and crowd,

And poke along, and bawl and bleat,

Beneath a floatin', ashy cloud

That fogs their millin' horns and meat

And smudges up behind their feet

Till I'm half-choked and worse than blind---

Oh, gosh, the alkali I eat

A-ridin' here behind!

 

To swing the lead I'd shore be proud---

Sa-ay, wouldn't it be sweet

To get plumb free of this here shroud

That's all messed up with noise and heat?

Oh Misery shore grows complete

And weds itself to Fate unkind

When I'm the goat that has to beat

These drags along behind!

 

A week ago I would have vowed

That drivin' trail-herd was a treat;

I rode along a-singing loud

And plannin' how my gal I'd meet

In her ol' man's grape-arbor seat,

But now---the trail's just "mill and grind,"

And love songs shorely obsolete,

A-trailin' here behind.

 

Old horse, no fool has got me beat

For just plain softenin' of the mind---

But you kin hark to me repeat:

Trial-herdin's hell behind!

 

Bob Axtell, writing as "Reeves Axtell"

 

I would like to express my appreciation to the Axtell family, especially Charles Axtell (named for his father's friend Badger Clark) of Tolleson, Arizona for providing these wonderful poems for me and permitting me interviews, photos and letters, while researching Badger Clark.

 

2005, Greg Scott, all rights reserved2

Sources

1Daniel Gibson Axtell, "Axb45.ged" (File from www.axtellfamily.org).
2"Cowboy Poetry (Robert "Bob" Hood Reeves Axtell)" (http://www.cowboypoetry.com/axtell .htm).
Cowboy Poetry. Web: http://www.cowboypoetry.com/.