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Finding Aid to the Dodge City Cowboy Band and Jack Sinclair Collection MSA.Dodge
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Collection Details
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  • Access
  • Use
  • Preferred citation
  • Biographical/Historical note
  • Acquisition
  • Scope and contents
  • Processing history
  • Arrangement
  • Related archival materials

  • Title: Dodge City Cowboy Band and Jack Sinclair Collection
    Identifier/Call Number: MSA.Dodge
    Contributing Institution: Autry National Center, Autry Library
    Language of Material: English
    Physical Description: 25.2 Linear feet (24 boxes, 2 flatfile drawers)
    Date (bulk): Bulk, 1891-1916
    Date (inclusive): 1866-1929, undated
    Abstract: The Dodge City Cowboy Band existed from 1879-1916 and performed in cowboy garb, promoting Dodge City and the idea of the Wild West all over the United States. The conductor used a decorated gun as a baton, and the musicians all dressed as cowboys. The band was founded and first directed in Dodge City, Kansas by Chalk Beeson. Jack Sinclair took over as director from 1890-1916 and moved the band to Pueblo, Colorado, where Sinclair was a police officer. This collection includes advertising and promotional materials, photographs, and sheet music for the Dodge City Cowboy Band, much of which refers to the band’s final performance, the opera “The Cowboy’s Dream.” This collection also includes personal papers of Jack Sinclair and his daughter Edith Frances Sinclair, who also performed with the band.
    creator: Beeson, Chalkley McArtor
    creator: Dodge City Cowboy Band
    creator: Sinclair, Jack


    Collection is open for research. Appointments to view materials are required. To make an appointment please visit http://theautry.org/research/research-rules-and-application or contact library staff at rroom@theautry.org. An item-level inventory is available from library staff.


    Copyright has not been assigned to the Autry National Center. All requests for permission to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted in writing to the Autry Archivist. Permission for publication is given on behalf of the Autry National Center as the custodian of the physical items and is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which must also be obtained by the reader.

    Preferred citation

    Dodge City Cowboy Band and Jack Sinclair Collection, 1866-1929, Autry National Center, Los Angeles; MSA.Dodge; [folder number] [folder title][date].

    Biographical/Historical note

    The Dodge City Cowboy Band formed in Dodge City, Kansas between 1879 and 1880 and served as a booster for the town of Dodge City and its citizens. The band was formed and organized by Chalkley McArtor “Chalk” Beeson (April 24, 1848-August 8, 1912), the owner of the Long Branch Saloon. Beeson conducted the band with a revolver, and the musicians dressed as cowboys. Although the band was started in and promoted Dodge City and idea of the Wild West, the band was comprised of professional musicians from Chicago, Denver, Kansas City, and St. Louis. Pueblo, Colorado Police Officer Jack Sinclair became the director in 1890 and moved the band’s base to Pueblo, but they continued to tour all over the United States. Benjamin M. Wilson was the band’s general manager in both Dodge City and Pueblo. The band enjoyed much popular success and also enjoyed notable appointments such as being one of the bands invited to play at the inaugural celebration for President Benjamin Harrison in 1889 and an appointment as regimental band for the 2nd U.S. Cavalry in Cuba during the Spanish American War. In 1916, Sinclair composed their final performance, an opera titled “The Cowboy’s Dream." The opera’s main character is Prairie Flower, portrayed by director Jack Sinclair’s daughter, Edith Frances Sinclair.
    Information taken from The Autry website and from Steve Beeson's book on the Beeson/Beason family - Family History Center microfilm #1035659, Item #9 via http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~beeson/chalkley.html.


    The collection consists of four acquisitions:
    • 86.23: Purchase from R. L. Wilson, 1986 July 22;
    • 88.101: donation from Bill Bowman, 1988 July 22;
    • 94.155: Donation from Professor Ralph Levy, 1986 August 26;
    • 2001.35: Purchase from High Noon Western Collectibles, 2001 September 4.

    Scope and contents

    This collection contains promotional materials and memorabilia for the Dodge City Cowboy Band, sheet music used by the Dodge City Cowboy Band, and personal papers of band director Jack Sinclair, his wife, and their daughter Edith.
    The collection of Dodge City Cowboy Band promotional materials and memorabilia date from 1880 to 1916. Many items refer to the band’s final opera “The Cowboy’s Dream.” Items in this series include a business card, display labels, newspaper clippings, notes, paste-up sheets, framed and unframed photographs, a postcard, posters, programs for “The Cowboy’s Dream,” a scrapbook, and stationery for the Dodge City Cowboy Band, some of which features Edith Frances Sinclair as Prairie Flower.
    The Dodge City Cowboy Band Sheet Music series includes hand-written and printed sheet music by Jack Sinclair and by others.
    The papers of Jack Sinclair and his family date from 1866-1929 and include correspondence, a 1921 newspaper clipping about Sinclair’s efforts as a police officer, a receipt, and photographs. Some of the photographs are of Native Americans with hand-written labels by Major Ted Powell, sent to Mrs. Jack Sinclair in 1929.

    Processing history

    Initial inventory, physical processing, and cataloging by Autry National Center staff. Additional processing and finding aid completed by Holly Rose Larson, NHPRC Project Archivist, June 14, 2012, made possible through grant funding from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission.
    Processing of collection and publication of finding aid made possible by a grant from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC).


    • Series 1: Dodge City Cowboy Band Papers
    • Series 2: Sheet Music
    • Series 3: Sinclair Family Papers

    Related archival materials

    Dodge City Cowboy Band papers, Kansas Historical Society, Topeka, Kansas.

    Subjects and Indexing Terms

    Sinclair, Edith
    Wilson, Benjamin M.
    Brass band music
    County music
    Cowboy's Dream Cowboy's lullaby
    Dodge City (Kan.)
    Music -- United States
    Operas -- Scores and parts
    Police -- Colorado
    Sheet music
    Western music