The cowboy has often been described a “rootin’ tootin’ shootin’” (or “rooting,” “tooting,” and “shooting"). The 1936 song performed by native Texan Gene Austin, “I’m a Rootin’ Shootin’ Tootin’ Man From Texas,” solidified the western image. “Rootin’ tootin’” (sometimes given as “rooty tooty") was a bit of nonsense language that had been used in the 1890s.
The film cowboy Douglas Fairbanks was described as “rooting, tooting, shooting” in 1916, and famed film cowboy Tom Mix was described in 1920 as a “rooting, tooting, shooting son-of-a-gun.”
Crooners: Gene Austin
Lemuel Eugene Lucas, better known as Gene Austin, was born June 24, 1900 in Gainesville, located in the Red River Valley of north Texas. He was the only child of Nova and Belle Lucas, both Missouri natives. Nova, the son of George Washington and Kate Lucas, would die in 1943, long after he and Belle were divorced. Belle, the daughter of Alva and Elmansa Hearrel, was a descendent of a famous Shoshone maiden, Sacajawea, her great, great grandmother. Sacajawea - known as the “Bird Woman” and celebrated for her courage, resourcefulness, and good humor - accompanied Lewis and Clark in their expedition from North Dakota to the Pacific Coast, 1800-1806. Belle would die August 3, 1956 and be buried alongside Nova in Gainesville.
In his autobiography, Gene would recall those early developmental years with considerable fondness.
My Texas childhood...was rich in the stuff that mattered most to a small boy at the start of the twentieth century. Plenty of room to grow in, fresh air and sunshine, nourishing simple food, friendly neighbors, pleasant climate, horses, cattle, rabbits, chickens; and most of all, first-hand contact with the singing cowboys. It was a typical Mark Twain childhood.
Gainesville was located in cattle country crossed by the Chisholm Trail, the fabled thoroughfare traveled by cowboys and steers on the way to the stockyards of the Upper Midwest. While still a toddler, Gene would wander off to the Trail while his mother was engaged in chores, drawn to the western trail songs sung by the cowboys during the cattle drives. His access to this music, however, was cut short by Belle - who upon hearing these songs re-enacted at home by Gene - denied him access to “at dreadful trail where any bolting steer could trample my child to death, or gore him!”
Austin died on January 24, 1972, at the age of seventy-one, in Palm Springs’ Desert Hospital. He had been suffering from cancer for ten months. Five of his recordings comprised the music at the funeral, including “My Blue Heaven” and a song written by him especially for this event and recorded two years earlier, “There’s a New Blue Heaven in the Sky.” The pallbearers included Dunagan, Bill Putnam, Rick Adams, Jon Antelline, Dave Covey, Harry Segal, Phillip Moody, Jack Pepper, Hartley Cassidy, and fellow recording artist Nick Lucas.
3 October 1895, Newport (RI) Daily News, pg. 7, col. 2:
The rooting, tooting, ringing of bells and clapping of hands throughout the contest was something unprecedented in the history of the game here.
11 July 1916, Washington (DC) Post, pg. 5, col. 2:
His only chance to make good amidst his new surroundings is to throw aside his timidity, which he promptly does and becomes a “rooting, tooting, shooting” cowboy.
(Douglas Fairbanks in “The Good Bad Man”—ed.)
1 September 1920, Wisconsin Rapids (WI) Daily Tribune, pg. 6, col. 2 ad:
We have that “rooting, tooting, shooting son-of-a-gun”
in a splendid western story that was written and directed by himself—a dandy—
The Dare Devil
16 September 1926, Chester (Iowa) Sun-Herald, pg. 1, col. 3 ad:
Twenty Rooting, Tooting Cowboys
(Bar X Rodeo—ed.)
Lost in Chicago
by Albert Bein
New Yorik, NY: Harcourt, Brace and Company
“You rootin’ tootin’ he is!”
You rootin’ tootin’, even though I see you are slow in admitting it!
OCLC WorldCat record
I’m a rootin’ shootin’ tootin’ man from Texas
by Gene Austin; Ernie Erdman; Gus Kahn; Dan A Russo; New Dixie Demons
Type: 78 RPM recording; English
Publisher: United States : Decca, 
Material Type: Music
Document Type: Sound Recording
Notes: Side A. - matrix 90829 ; Side B—matrix 90831.
Description: 1 sound disc : 78 rpm ; 10 in.
Contents: Side A I’m a rootin’ shootin’ tootin’ man from Texas / Gene Austin. (New Dixie Demons). Side B—Toot toot tootsie goodbye / Erdman-Kahn- Russo. (New Dixie Demons).
Other Titles: Toot toot tootsie goodbye.
Responsibility Gene Austin. Toot toot tootsie goodbye / Erdman-Kahn-Russo.
OCLC WOrldCat record
The cowboy blue yodeler Billy Binns’ ranch, range and home songs
by Billy Binns; Will Livernash
Type: Musical Score; English
Publisher: New York, N.Y. : Stasny-Lang, ©1936.
Document Type: Musical Score
Notes: On cover--Book no. 1. For voice and piano, with chord symbols.
Description: 1 score (66 p.) ; 31 cm.
Contents: A-ridin’ ol’ paint—By the light of the pale blue flames—Clementine—The cowboy’s lament—Frankie and Johnny—Home on the range—Hand me down my walking cane—If your saddle is good and tight—I long for my home on the plains—I’m nearin’ the end of the trail—Just an empty picture frame—Little old sod shanty—The man on the flying trapeze—My sweet prairie rose—Oh! Susanna—The old ridin’ saddle—Out on the prairie in the moonlight—Photographs of Billy Binns—Rootin’, tootin’, shootin’ sons-o-guns—Red River Valley—Saddle dreams—Settle down you restless dogies—The sunset trail—Sing me a hill billy lullaby—She’ll be coming ‘round the mountain—There’s a little lone trail in the valley—The trail that leads from my heart to you—When it’s moonlight in Sunshine Valley—The wild buckaroo—Whoopee ti yi yo little dogies—Wild rovers—Where the Texas stars shine brightly above.
Other Titles: Billy Binns’ ranch, range and home songs, Ranch, range and home songs
Responsibility compiled and arranged by Will Livernash.
14 August 1936, Waterloo (Iowa) Daily Courier, pg. 18, col. 6:
The “rooting, tooting, shooting” peculiarities of the U.S. Marines once again furnish good story material for the top-billed show of the Iowa theatre’s double-feature program, “The Leathernecks Have Landed.”
18 August 1936, Benton Harbor (MI) News-Palladium, pg. 12, col. 1L
The second number is entitled “Wahoo,” a rootin’ tootin’ cow-girl act in which the girls will sing that new song (from Bing Crosby’s movie “Rhythm on the Range") called “I’m an Old Cowhand.”
OCLC WorldCat record
Rootin’ tootin’ rhythm
Type: Book; English
Publisher: [S.l.] : Republic Pictures, 
Related Subjects: Rootin’ tootin’ rhythm (Motion picture) | Autry, Gene
OCLC WorldCat record
The Farris family : rootin, shootin, and tootin
by Sherry Ann Schauer Davis
Type: Book; English
Publisher: [Houston, Tex.] : Davis, ©1978.
Texas (Lone Star State Dictionary) • (0) Comments • Friday, May 23, 2008 • Permalink