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Kansas Family History

Family History of John Trott

The Kansas Heritage server would like to thank John Matrow (jmatrow@juno.com) for contributing this material.

TROTT, John [Dickinson]

The Trott Home on the Range

In 1934 "Home on the Range" was a hit song on the radio and around the
country. Suddenly it was taken off the air as William and Mary Goodwin
of Tempe, Arizona, filed a suit for copyright infringement, claiming
a 1905 copyright on "An Arizona Home". Samuel Moanfeldt investigated
the origin of the song in 1935 for the Music Publishers Protective

He ultimately discovered that Dr. Bruce Higley of Smith Center, Kansas,
wrote the words around 1873 and that Charence B. Harlan wrote the
melody shortly thereafter and the lawsuit was dismissed.

In the process of the investigation, articles appeared in papers about
the lawsuit and many people wrote both to the investigator and to local
papers with information on where they first heard the song.

On April 4, 1935, the St. John COUNTY CAPITAL carried a story about a 
Dr. W. D. Kirby who believed an old-timer by the name of John Trott was
the author. He said that their class sang a version called "Home Where
the Buffalo Roam" at Oak Creek school of Cheever township, north of
Abilene. One day a teacher said "We will now have a song by Dave
Knisely entitled 'Give Me a Home Where the Buffalo Roam.' And I might
add the writer of this song is John Trott. No doubt many of you know

The story went on to say "A more musical neighbor woman told us she had
met him and heard him play and she thought he was a natural musician,
in fact she thought him quite a musical genius and told us he had
written several quite good songs besides "Home Where the Buffalo Roam."
Several of our neighbors said most any pleasant evening you would find
him seated in front of his dugout playing some musical instrument. His
claim was over in Mud Creek neighborhood."

He went on to say "[There is] no doubt in my mind that the author of 
that song is John Trott, at least he got credit for it in the north
end of Dickinson county, where I lived from '82 to '91."

The entire story of the song was published in the KANSAS HISTORICAL
QUARTERLY, November, 1949 as "Home on the Range" by Kirke Mechem.
Reprints were made in 1969 by the Kansas State Historical Society.

Could this John Trott be part of the David and Hannah Trott descendants
that came to Dickinson County in 1874? Let us examine the facts.

1) David and Hannah had a son named John born July 14, 1844 in
Somerset, England.

2) The 1875 Kansas Census shows John at home with mother Hannah and
sister Sarah.

3) On Nov. 15, 1881, Homestead Certificate No. 5937 was granted to John
Trott for W2SE4 and E2SW4 in S10-T11-R1. This is located one mile
northeast of Manchester in Flora Township in northern Dickinson County.

4) Manchester is on Mud Creek.

5) On Dec. 21, 1920, John Trott and Margaret Ellen Trott, his wife of
sold the land. John died in 1922 and was buried in Keystone Cemetery in
Manchester, thus he was a long-time area resident.

6) Cheever Township is immediately east of Flora Township.

Thus, I find it likely that this is the same John Trott.

The original words mentioned "Solomon vale" (Solomon River valley)
which ran through Smith County. I find it interesting that the Solomon
ends at the Smoky Hill River thirteen miles south of Manchester. The
Mechem article discussed how popular songs spread rapidly by passerbys
and trail hands in spite of the frontier conditions.

While we know John Trott did not write the song, it is certain that he
contributed to its popularity. We now also know that he was a good

John Matrow (gggnephew) 12/12/97

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