Cowboy poets and guitars go together like “boules ball” and kids playing in the park. There’ll be an opportunity for that fun diversion on Saturday, July 27 at the Historic 1883 Stutsman County Courthouse. Visitors to the courthouse usually enjoy concerts in the courtroom upstairs, but D.W. Groethe draws in enough people to make an outdoor setting seem more appropriate, especially during Jamestown’s Buffalo Days..
His concert starts at 1 p.m. on Saturday and visitors are asked to bring a comfortable chair suitable for outside. Be sure to bring the kids to this concert. As a part of the city-wide celebration, there will be outside fun for the kids and adults alike.
“Rob Hanna, ( a State Historical Society of North Dakota’s Sites Manager), brought historic games for the kids,” said Steven Reidburn site supervisor of the 1883 Courthouse. “It should be a hoot for the kids and their families,” he said. “If they (youngsters) attended an event with their folks back in the 1800s, they would have had simple activities like they’ll see on Saturday,’ he said And the kids can play games while their folks are enjoying the music and poetry
Groethe is one of those people you just feel you “know,” once you hear him sing and speak about his cowboy life. His personality and friendly demeanor flesh out that connection. He’s from western North Dakota, where he was educated and began writing, singing and playing guitar. It took moving to Montana for him to start his “hands-on” understanding of what life was like working on ranches and driving livestock.
Groethe’s been a part of the Western Folk-Life Center’s National Poetry Gathering, Two National Folk Fests, performed at the Library of Congress, the Kennedy Center and just about every Cowboy Poet gathering this side of the Mississippi.
His poetry was published in the “American Cowboy “ magazine, “Rattle,” “The Cowboy Way,” “Rope Burns,” National Public Radio’s “What’s in a Song?,” “Ranch Rhymes,” and a number of other publications. He has three CDs and four books of poetry, one of which “West River Waltz” won the Will Rogers Medallion Award of Excellence for Cowboy Poetry.
The following Saturday, August 3, Dr. Timothy Bratton will perform his violin with selections from the Civil War period. It will be at 1 p.m., and he will be inside the courtroom. Bratton was an instructor and headed up the history department at the University of Jamestown, when it was still Jamestown College. He was a history professor there since the 1980s, and was part of the original committee established to conserve the 1883 Stutsman County Courthouse. Following retirement he has been teaching violin with the Two-Rivers Performing Center. As of May 2019, he began working part-time at the 1883 Courthouse as an interpreter, where it is not unusual for him to demonstrate how the acoustics sound on the violin, in the courtroom for visitors.
As an aside (or full disclosure), the roles of teacher and student are now reversed for Dr. Bratton. He was both Hanna and Reidburn’s history professor at Jamestown College. Bratton is now working for Hanna and with Reidburn at the courthouse. The 136-year-old courthouse is located at 504 Third Ave. SE.
If anyone has an item for this column, please contact Sharon Cox, PO Box 1559, Jamestown, ND 58402-1559.