D. J. O'Malley papers, 1863-1985  PDF

Overview of the Collection

O'Malley, D. J. (Dominick John), 1867-1943.
D. J. O'Malley papers
1863-1985 (inclusive)
1 linear feet of shelf space.
Collection Number
MC 186
D.J. O'Malley (1867-1943) was a cowboy for the N Bar N Ranch, the Montana Cattle Company's 79 Ranch, and other cattle ranches around Montana. His papers consist primarily of cowboy poetry and other writings reflecting his experiences as a cowboy; a small amount of correspondence (1887-1939); and miscellany, including a few items concerning his father Dominick O'Malley's Civil War military career.
Montana Historical Society, Research Center Archives
Montana Historical Society Research Center Archives
225 North Roberts
PO Box 201201
Helena MT
Telephone: 406-444-2681
Fax: 406-444-5297
Funding for encoding this finding aid was provided through a grant awarded by the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Biographical NoteReturn to Top

Dominick J. O'Malley was born in New York City in 1867. His father, Dominick O'Malley, fought in the Civil War with New York's 69th Regiment and remained in the military in New York City after the war until he was transferred to Fort Concho near San Angelo, Texas, in December 1866. The elder O'Malley underwent surgery for the removal of a minie ball in New York in 1869, but died from the effects of the surgery in early 1870. D.J. O'Malley's mother, Margaret, remarried a soldier, Charles H. White, who was transferred to Fort Dodge, Kansas, in 1872, and then to Fort Larned, Kansas, in 1873. In 1875 White was discharged and traveled to Cheyenne, Wyoming Territory, where he secured work as a carpenter. The family joined White and moved soon thereafter to Fort Sanders near Laramie City, Wyoming, where White had enlisted in the Second U.S. Cavalry.

In September 1877, the White family moved to Fort Keogh, Montana Territory. White was discharged in 1881 and disappeared in the fall of that year never to be seen again by his family. Margaret White and her children moved to Miles City and Dominick started work as a horse wrangler for an officer named Logan, who ran cattle on the range near the Little Dry Creek. Logan was bought out in 1881 by the Niedringhaus brothers of St. Louis, Missouri, who ran the Home Land and Cattle Company, or, N Bar N. O'Malley worked for the N Bar N until 1896, when it was bought by McNamara and Marlow. Between 1881 and 1896 he drove cattle from Texas to Montana and worked in various capacities including horse wrangler, as part of the range crew, and as representative, or "rep", someone who worked the ranges outside the main range of the company.

After leaving the N Bar N, O'Malley worked for several outfits in eastern Montana, including the Bow and Arrow, the M Diamond, the Quarter Circle L, and the L U Bar. He also served as a special deputy sheriff in the town of Rosebud. From 1901 to 1904 he worked as a deputy inspector for the Montana Stock Growers Association. O'Malley then worked for two years for the Montana Cattle Company (the 79) on its Musselshell River ranges. In 1906 he was hired by the Keeline Brothers on Cabin Creek.

In March of 1908 the Montana State Prison hired O'Malley as a guard and he worked there until 1911, when he moved to Wisconsin where he was married in the same year. O'Malley lived in Eau Claire, Wisconsin, for the rest of his life, except for the period 1921 to 1923, when he returned to Montana to once again work as a guard at the state prison in Deer Lodge. In Eau Claire O'Malley operated a raspberry farm and worked at the Gillette Rubber Company (later UniRoyal) from 1927 to 1941. He died on March 6, 1943.

O'Malley started writing poetry in the 1880s and had many pieces published in the Miles City Stock Growers Journal in the 1880s and 1890s. He also wrote about events that he witnessed, which occurred during the time he lived in Montana. These were published in various newspapers, especially in Miles City and Eau Claire. Some of his poetry has been used as music lyrics. O'Malley and his wife Margaret had two daughters, Margaret and Alicia. O'Malley went by the name of his stepfather, White, until he moved to Wisconsin when he adopted the name of his biological father. During his cowboy days O'Malley was nicknamed "Kid White" and the "N Bar N Kid." He sometimes used these names as well as humorous names, such as "Jack R. Abbit" and "Iyam B. Usted" as his byline.

Content DescriptionReturn to Top

The collection is arranged in six series: Incoming Correspondence (1887-1937), Miscellaneous Correspondence (1887-1965), Financial Records (1895), Writings (n.d.), Miscellany (1863-1985), and Clippings (1882-1976, n.d.). The Writings are divided into four sections: poetry, poetry used as lyrics, prose, and "Reminiscences and Poems of Early Montana and the Cattle Range." This last section is composed of poetry and prose arranged by O'Malley in book form, which apparently was intended for publication. Included in this "book" are three pieces not written by O'Malley. Included in the Clippings series are three scrapbooks compiled by O'Malley, which include articles about him, poems and prose written by him, and articles and poems of interest to him, mostly about people he knew or occurrences in the frontier west. Photographs have been separated to the Photograph Archives and printed material has been separated to the Library.

Administrative InformationReturn to Top

Detailed Description of the CollectionReturn to Top

The following section contains a detailed listing of the materials in the collection

Incoming correspondence Return to Top

Container(s) Description Dates
1 / 1

Miscellaneous correspondence Return to Top

Container(s) Description Dates
1 / 2
John I. White (singer and writer) and Otto Lund (Eau Clair newspaperman) re Dominick J. O'Malley
1940, 1965
1 / 3
Letters of recommendation

Financial records Return to Top

Container(s) Description Dates
1 / 4
Receipt for taxes paid

Writings Return to Top

Container(s) Description Dates
1 / 5
1 / 6
Brands and cattle companies(information written for Margaret O'Malley's use in teaching a class in American literature)
1 / 7
Poetry: "A Cowboy's Daydream" "Cow-boy Reverie" "Dying Cowboy" "The Ex-Cowboy's Kick" "Found on a Sheepherder's Mess Box" "In Memory of My Mother", Dec. 31, 1894 "Memories of the Range" "A Northern Brother" [untitled poem on verso] "An Old Cowboy's Musings" "Old Montana" "A Sheepherder's Advice" "Sweet By-and-By Revised" "William J. Bryan" [Bryan and McKinley on verso] Unitled (re Jack Hawkins)
1 / 8
Poetry used as lyrics: "Charlie Rutlage" (text from Cowboy Songs and Other Frontier Ballads, collected by John A. Lomax, New York: Macmillan Co., in Charles Ives Seven Songs for Voice and Piano, New York: Associated Music Publicshers, c1957) "When the Work is Done Next Fall" - 10 verses (in Cowboy Songs as Sung by John White, 'The Lonesome Cowboy' in Death Valley Days, New York: Pacific Coast Borax Co., n.d. (originally appeared in the Miles City Stock Growers' Journal, Oct. 6, 1893)) "When the Work's All Done This Fall" - 3 verses (sheet music, Chicago: Calumet Music Co., c1935) "When the Work's All Done This Fall" - 9 verses (unknown publication)
1893, 1935, 1957, n.d.
1 / 9
Prose: (A-L): "Arrest of Five U.S.Soldiers by Tom Irvine; Billy Smith's Arrest of Win Roberts the Horsethief; Cowboys Arrest of a Sherff's Posse" "Brandt Murder in 1893 Most Fiendish Crime in the History of Custer County" "Crow Rock, Deadman Creek, Blaisdell Butte" "Early Days in Miles City" "The Experiences of Three Montana Cowboys Lost in Blizzard of February, 1895" "Fort Keough" "John S. Truscott" "Killing of Deman by Long Henry Thompson" "The Killing of Ed Starr, the Wyoming Gunman" "Long Henry Thompson, Montana Gunman"
1 / 10
Prose: (N-W): "The N Bar N Kid Recalls Old Days at Fort Keogh "Nervy Arrests Made by Peace Officers in Montana in Early Days" "No One Knows What Indian Killed Custer" "A Peculiar Gun Play: The Unusual Antics of Billy Smith's Six-shooter and Smith's Nervy Arrest of Win Roberts, the Horsethief" "The Rustler" "The Sheriff's Posse That was Arrested - by the Man They Were After" "When Conquered Reds were Deported from Montana to Dakota and Indian Territory; Show of Force Necessary" "When Frank Conley Quelled Riot at State Penitentiary" "When Judge Lynch Held Court in Miles City" "When the Pioneers of Eastern Montana were Organized" "Where Custer Fell," 1936
1 / 11
Reminiscences and Poems of Early Montana and the Cattle Range Poems: "A Death of Charlie Rutledge" "After the Roundup" "The Old Gray Mule Saloon" "A Cowboy's Soliloquy" "The Cowboy's Reverie: "To the Memory of Wily Collins" "An Old Cowboy's Letter" "The Sheriff's Posse and the Cow" "Busted Cowboy's Christmas" "Elegy to an Old Saddle" [author unknown] "A Dance at Cree's Ranch" "In Memory of My Mother" "The Cowboy" "An old Cowboy's Musings" "The Cowboy's Kick" "The D2 Horse Wrangler" "Montana, Where the Sage Brush Grows" "The Wouldbe Cowboy's Complaint" "The Hunyocker" "A Cowboy's String" "A Rejected Cowboy's Farewell" "A Sheepherder's Advice" "Fifty Years Ago" "The Dying Rustler" "An Old Cowhand's Longing" "The Little Old Log Shanty" "Powder River" [by A. (Buck) Buchanan] "A Cowboy's Carol" "Longing for the Old Range Days" "The Roundup" "The Old Cowboy Talking" "The Would Be Cowboy"
1 / 12
Reminiscences and Poems of Early Montana and the Cattle Range Prose: "The Coming of the Second U.S. Cavalry to Fort Keogh" "The Conly Brothers" "Killing of Women and Children at Wounded Knee, a Shameful Chapter in Western Indian Warfare" "Fort Keogh in 1879" "The Experiences of the FUP Roundup Crew" "Chief Joseph's Own Story (Told by him on his trip to Washington D. C. in 1897)" [North American Review, April 1897" Untitled (re Little Big Horn Battle) "The Cattle Trail from Texas to Montana, Ofted Called the National Trail" "Chales Binion's Life was Epic of Early Western Cattle Trails" "Miles City's Regrettable Tragedy" (Killing of Al Smith, the roller skater) "John X. Beidler, Montana Famous Vigilante" "The War Between the Cattlemen and Rustlers in Wyoming -- 1892" "The Lynching of H. Hoefner at Forsyth, Montana"

Miscellany Return to Top

Container(s) Description Dates
1 / 13
Autograph book
1 / 14
Calling card; list of friends and outfits which they worked; Miles City fire department constitution and bylaws [co-authored by O'Malley]; the Rand Riders Roundup, Inc. membership card and description of their proposed memorial museum; and recipes for tanning skins
1894, n.d.
1 / 15
Certificates (Sons of Veterans, USA, etc.)
1 / 16
Transcripts of funeral and memorial services, chart showing how many pieces O'Malley had printed in various newspapers
1943, n.d.
2 / 1
Writings about or that mention Dominick J. O'Malley
2 / 2
Dominick J. O'Malley correspondence and military records
2 / 3
Margaret O'Malley financial and legal records
1879-1893, n.d.
2 / 4
Charles H. White correspondence
2 / 5
Margaret J. O'Malley correspondence
1943, 1966

Clippings Return to Top

Container(s) Description Dates
2 / 6
Articles about Dominick J. O'Malley
1894-1976, n.d.
2 / 7
Articles and poems by Dominick J. O'Malley ["The Cowboy's Christmas," Miles City Stock Growers' Journal, March 19, 1892]
1892-1936, n.d.
2 / 8-9
Articles, poems and items written by and about Dominick J. O'Malley known as Kid White the N-N Kid Cowboy and western poems (scrapbook of newspaper clippings)
1930-1939, 2003
2 / 10
Articles annotated by Dominick J. O'Malley
2 / 11
Poetry and prose by and about Dominick J. O'Malley (scrapbook)
2 / 12
Poetry and prose by and about Dominick J. O'Malley (scrapbook)

Transferred Material Return to Top

Container(s) Description Dates
2 / 13
List of items transferred to the Library
2 / 14
List of items transferred to the Museum
2 / 15
List of items transferred to the Photograph Archives

Names and SubjectsReturn to Top

  • Subject Terms :
  • Poets.
  • Ranch life--Montana.
  • Cattle brands--Montana.
  • Cattle drives--Montana.
  • Cattle raising--Montana [Central]
  • Cattle stealing--Montana.
  • Cowboys--Montana.
  • Little Big Horn, Battle of the, 1876.
  • Ranches--Montana.
  • Geographical Names :
  • Fort Keogh (Mont.)
  • Miles City (Mont.)
  • United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865