This famous western song was first published in 1873 as a poem titled, “My Western Home.” The lyrics were written by Dr. Brewster M. Higley of Smith County, Kansas, and Higley's original version/lyrics are archived by the Kansas Historical Society (www.kshs.org), with the second verse reading :
"Oh! give me a land where the bright diamond sand
Throws its light from the glittering streams,
Where glideth along the graceful white swan,
Like the maid in her heavenly dreams."
Despite being the official state song of Kansas, many critics identify it as one of the greatest western songs of all time. Music was added to the poem by a friend of Higley’s and, for the next century, the song was passed around by settlers, cowboys, and other frontiersmen. The song has changed lyrically, as well as melodically. It has also undergone several name changes, for instance, it has also been titled “Western Home” and “Unofficial Anthem.” Copious amounts of artists have sung and created their own rendition of the song including: Gene Autry, Roy Rogers, Bing Crosby, Marty Robbins, and several others.
FUN FACT: As there are no “true” antelope species in the area in which Higley was writing about, the reference to antelope was actually a reference to the pronghorn, an indigenous buck-looking mammal that was mistakenly dubbed as an antelope.