Because cattle, horses and music have always been Celtic passions so it’s no surprise that the Scots and Scots-Irish were among the most significant influences on cowboy lore and culture.
Perhaps the best-known Scottish cowboy was Jesse Chisholm, who gave his name to the famous Chisholm Trail which ran from Texas to the Dodge City.
Chisholm is commemorated in a traditional cowboy song, The Chisholm Trail, which describes life on the long drive north. “Come along boys and listen to my tale, I’ll tell you of my troubles on the old Chisholm Trail ” Ramblin’ Jack Elliott is just one of many 20th century musicians who has recorded a version of it and Howard Hawks’s seminal 1948 western Red River is a fictionalized account of the first journey along it.
Another campfire favorite was Annie Laurie, a traditional Scots ballad. Folk singer Rob Gibson stated “this song in particular shows the direct link between modern cowboy culture and the Scots immigrants of old. “
“Because it was a slow song and because there were lots of Scots in America working as cowboys, the idea of singing slow quiet songs to bed down the cattle on the drive was very popular. You don’t want to do anything to spook them so you sing soothingly. And Annie Laurie is still very popular today at cowboy poetry festivals.”