Pioneer Hall – Anson TX

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Description

Located in Anson’s City Park, construction on Pioneer Hall began in 1938 and was completed in 1940. The Hall is 71’ wide and 121’ long with a “barrel” roof concealed by stone façade on its front side. The exterior is constructed of native stone that was provided by Works Project Administration (WPA) workers.

In 1885, M. G. Rhodes hosted a wedding party and dance at his Star Hotel in Anson. One guest was Larry Chittenden, a salesman and writer visiting his uncle in Jones County. He was so inspired by the dance held that night for the cowboys and ladies that he composed a poem commemorating the occasion, “The Cowboys’ Christmas Ball.” The poem, first printed in Anson’s Texas Western Newspaper in 1890, also appeared in Chittenden’s 1893 poetry collection Ranch Berses. Over the years the poem was remembered and anthologized many times in print and song.

In 1934, Leonora Barrett and Hybernia Grace revived the historic ball and its folklore. Their group performed during the 1936 Texas Centennial Exposition in Dallas and at the National Folk Festival in Washington, D.C. in 1938, when they danced on the White House lawn. As annual interest increased, the group copyrighted the event and named a board of directors for the Texas Cowboys’ Christmas Ball Association. A new venue, Pioneer Hall, was built in 1938-40 with help from the Work Projects Administration. The dance has been a three-day event since 1940, and the following year Jenne Magafan’s mural in the Anson Post Office depicted the historic “Cowboy Dance.” Chittenden’s poem records real people and ranches of 1880s Jones County, along with observations of dress and customs which influence some of the formal rules and decorum of the ball today. Ladies must wear dresses and gentlemen must check their hats, and some attendees dress in period clothing. The event draws national and international visitors, while some participants are direct descendants of those immortalized in the poem. With such 19th century dances as the grand march, waltz, cotton-eye joe, polka, Virginia Reel and Schottische, this Anson tradition helps perpetuate an important aspect of life in frontier Texas.

Source notes

Anson Christmas Ball Assn (https://www.ansoncowboyschristmasball.com/history-of-the-pioneer-hall.html), accessed June 2019.

Historical Marker Text.

Project originally submitted by Eveline Evans on June 26, 2019.

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Location Info


898 23rd St.
Anson, TX 79501

Coordinates: 32.74673, -99.89173

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