National Order of Cowboy Rangers
NOTE: Officers and all members participating in any of this ritualistic work, must first commit to memory the parts to be taken by them.
Under no circumstances should this Ritual, or any part of it, be displayed to any person not a member of the National Order of Cowboy Rangers in good standing.
Members of good oratorical delivery should, if possible, be selected for the Degree work.
WORTHY BOSS, *, calls Ranch to order, then calls up entire Ranch: Rangers, into your saddles. Guards, chain the gates.
GUARD OF CORRAL: Worthy Boss, the gates are securely closed and the Guard of the Roundup is on duty.
WORTHY BOSS: It is well. Admit no one until this Ranch is duly opened. Boss of the Spur, you may examine all present for brands, that we may know there are no mavericks in the Ranch.
Boss of Spur, beginning with Worthy Boss, takes up passwords. He shall then stand back of altar, give salutation sign, and address Worthy Boss.
BOSS OF SPUR: Worthy Boss, all are properly branded.
WORTHY BOSS: Boss of the Spur, you may clothe the altar with the flag of our Country and place upon it the open Bible.
BOSS OF SPUR, unfolding flag: With the flag of our Country we drape the altar in token of our loyalty to our God, to our Country and to our Home.
Placing open Bible on altar: On this emblem we place the open Bible, from which all true laws come. Love, Loyalty and Benevolence to our fellowman is the FIRST law.
Addressing Worthy Boss: Worthy Boss, your orders have been obeyed.
WORTHY BOSS: Brother Rangers, gather the altar that we may unite in prayer to the Almighty.
Rangers and all officers quietly take positions around altar, forming chain by resting right arm over shoulder of brother to right, touching right shoulder with right hand. While in this position Sky Pilot offers prayer.
SKY PILOT: Let us pray. Almighty God, Creator and Preserver of the universe, unto Thee we look for guidance and protection as we journey a long the earthly trail. We invoke Thy divine blessings upon the members of this Ranch, and upon the worthy Rangers, wherever they may be. If there be a brother in distress, out on the burning sands or in the relentless grasp of a raging blizzard, be Thou with him and set his wandering feet upon the trail that leads to safety. Bless the widow and orphan, and when the great Roundup is called in the Eternal Beyond, may the brand of approval be stamped upon the soul of each Ranger. Hear us and bless us, we ask in Thy great name. Amen.
All join in: Amen.
WORTHY BOSS: Brother Rangers, you may return to your seats and remain standing. When
Quiet: Rangers, display your brands.
Rangers give Salutation sign, answered by same sign by W.B. Worthy Boss seats Ranch.
WORTHY BOSS: Range Muse, you may read the Ranch poem.
RANCH MUSE: Away out West on the Rocky’s slope,
The cowboy wields his plaited rope,
And sleeps at night when the day is past;,
Beside his herd, on the buffalo grass.
The prairie dog and the mountain grouse,
The wild sage-hen and the greasewood mouse,
He counts among his dearest friends,
As o’er the saddle-tree he bends.
His trusty bronco, true as steel,
Is the only guest at his daily meal;
The bellowing herd on a distant trail,
The howling wolves and the coyote’s wail,
The screech of an eagle, passing by,
Or the song of a lark in the azure sky.
Is music sweet to the cowboy true,
Where a man’s a man the whole year through.
The purest sunlight ever know
Shines upon his prairie home;
The snow-cap’d peaks against the sky,
The gilt-edged clouds that hover nigh,
The dark green pines on the mountain side,
With the massive rocks and the canons wide,
And now and then a glittering stream,
That frets and foams through pass and seam,
As it rushes on o’er rocks and rills
Like a bounding deer, to the low foothills,
All lend to form a picture grand,
That’s painted there by Nature’s hand,
So, as we journey along the trail
To the Great Roundup, let each one hail
His fellow pard with heart and soul,
That each may gain that heavenly goal.
WORTHY BOSS: I now proclaim this Ranch open and ready for business. Guard of the Corral, inform the Guard of the Roundup that the Ranch is open and ready to admit any in waiting.
WORTHY BOSS: Are there any applicants who desire to adopt the brand of this Ranch?
RECORDER OF BRANDS: Worthy Boss, … name of candidate has been roped and stands at our gate.
WORTHY BOSS: Vice-Boss, it has been reported to me that a Maverick is feeding in the Roundup, seeking admission, you may now take charge of the Ranch.
VICE-BOSS: Guard of the Corral, look over the hunch in the corral, and report any Mavericks.
GUARD OF CORRAL, raises wicket, looks out, closes wicket and salutes Vice-Boss: Vice-Boss, a Maverick from the open range has been headed in and awaits the branding iron.
VICE-BOSS: Boss of the Spur, you may retire to the corral and bring in the Maverick. Attendants, move the altar to one side and prepare for the branding.
Boss of the Roundup blindfolds candidate before Boss of the Spur enters ante-room.
Boss of Spur retires to ante-room, without ceremony, takes candidate by right arm, leads him to inner door, gives any alarm.
GUARD OF CORRAL, opens door so candidate may hear: Who stands at our gate?
BOSS OP SPUR: A Maverick found on the desert would enter.
GUARD OF CORRAL: By what right does he seek admission?
BOSS OP SPUR: He is vouched for by a Brother Ranger.
GUARD OF CORRAL: Whither does he travel?
BOSS OF SPUR: Westward ho.
GUARD OF CORRAL: Vice-Boss, a stranger, journeying Westward, weeks admission, and is vouched for by a Brother Ranger.
VICE-BOSS: Admit him.
Boss of Spur conducts candidate near center of room. Altar is moved to one side.
SAGE BRUSH PHILOSOPHER: Hold! Who comes here?
BOSS OF SPUR: Venerable Sage. Brush Philosopher, behold a wanderer from the outer world.
SAGE BRUSH PHILOSOPHER, stands before candidate: Stranger, you stand at the gate-way of a great principle; you have journeyed long and far, wandering about over the dim trails of Life, with the thorny beds at your feet. You have looked out over the bleak plains, peering into the misty horizon, while the noon-day sun burned and blistered upon the sand dunes of the desert; you have seen, as every other traveler toward the eternal star of Hope has beheld, the alluring mirage that borders so closely on the realistic that none, save the tried and experienced Ranger, may discern.
Of times, mayhap, the thorns and rugged rocks in of hum a n adversity have pierced your very heart; and your tears, commingled with the red blood of life, have stained the soil at your feet. But you have pressed on, full conscious that it is not all of life to live nor all of death to die—that there is an evolving spirit within, and a goal beyond the sky.
The dim and devious trails of the past shall no longer be a part of your existence, and there shall live, in memory, only the sweet perfumes of the flowers you planted along the way and moistened with your tears. You are now within the gates of stronghold that has for its motto, Love, Loyalty and Benevolence—Love, one for another; Loyalty to your home, to your country, to yourself and to your God: Benevolence to all mankind, and above all an unwavering devotion to a Brother Ranger. Here you are among men who have come up through the trackless vales of the past and over the hard sands of experience—men who are worthy to be called Rangers—men who stand beneath the blue canopy of heaven, in God’s great outdoors, ready to defend a worthy Brother in distress.
Are you willing to proceed further into the mysteries of this Order—to undergo any ordeal that may test the sterling qualities of man, and to pledge yourself to stand shoulder to shoulder with those whom you may call Pards?
CANDIDATE: I am.
SAGE BRUSH PHILOSOPHER: You will now be conducted to our Sky Pilot, that you may give the pledge of honor.
BOSS OP SPUR, conducting candidate to station of Sky Pilot: Reverend Sky Pilot, a stranger stands before you who desires to be obligated.
SKY PILOT: Stranger, do you know the value of an oath?
CANDIDATE: I do.
WORTHY BOSS calls up Ranch.
SKY PILOT: It is well. Place your left hand over your heart, raise your right hand and repeat after me: “I. (your name) in the presence of the members of this Ranch, hereby promise on my honor, to keep in secret any and all things I may see, hear or be instructed in while within the gates of this Ranch. except such as may hereafter be given me to import, so help me God." You may now resume your position and proceed with your trusty guide, and as you journey, listen well to what he may say.
WORTHY BOSS seats Ranch.
BOSS OP SPUR, faces candidate about. Candidate remains standing near station of Sky Pilot: Stranger, as you entered the gates of this Ranch you listened attentively to the words of wisdom, in retrospective reverie, as they fell in solemn admonition upon your cars, from the lips of one, who, ages ago, came up through the lights and shadows of Life. you have answered well your willingness to proceed further and have taken the obligation.
We welcome you, stranger, to the sacred precincts of our Ranch. Here you are shut in from the turmoil of the outer world; here you must obey our laws and recognize the Stars and Stripes as the banner of your allegiance. Be deliberate in all things you do, and always bear this one principle in mind that to die for these you love is nobler far than wear a crown. If you are brave no harm can befall you.
We believe you are made of the right stuff. You have been vouched for by men of impartial judgment, and tonight, when we press the sizzling branding iron upon your naked form, and the burning fumes of your own flesh fill your nostrils, and you writhe in pain, we expect, also, that there will he burned into your heart that great principle of Loyalty that makes the world stronger and better.
Leads candidate onward about the room.
But, come! Let us journey onward! For ages the trend of migration has been toward the setting sun—Westward the star of Empire has pointed the way. Centuries before your eyes beheld the glories of the world, these vast plains and rolling hills were inhabited by primitive man. Then came the savage races, who bitterly fought the advance of modern civilization. To them, progress was incomprehensible and deadly.
As, tonight, in mental vision, we journey through this wild and treacherous wilderness, we undergo the hardships and dangers that come to everyone who travels this way. You have turned your back upon the rising sun and set your face toward the Great West, you have looked for the last time upon the land that gave you birth: hade farewell to friends and dear ones: the last goodbye is said; the last fond embrace is given.
We are now wending our way over the trackless sands of the desert close beside our slow-moving oxteams; our shoes are worn and useless, and the rugged pebbles burn and bruise our tender feet, leaving behind a trail of blood to blaze the way for those who follow. Our goal is the great Westland, where freedom, liberty, and sweet commune with our Maker encounters no restraint.
But, onward! Ever Westward ho! Our little caravan of canvas-covered prairie schooners has been a long-time on the way toward the land of Promise. Days have lapsed into weeks—weeks into months. The bleak plains and the hot sands glare and reflect the penetrating rays of the sun, and the heat waves scorch and sear our tender faces.
Night is coming on. We are weary and worn from the long journey, and there is no shelter save the stars and the, blue sky above. But, come! Let us journey on to you sheltering ranch, where danger may not beset us and where there is always a welcoming hand for the stranger.
Approaches station of Junior Past Boss.
Junior Past Boss, before you stands a stranger, found wandering on the desert lands. May we not give him shelter and protection?
JUNIOR PAST BOSS: It is well. Protection we will give; hut before this stranger is taken into our full confidence. I would relate a story to him.
Seats candidate in a chair. Low lights. Unblindfolds him.
Stranger, in your mind’s eye, you have tonight lived over again the life that many who came before you endured. Years ago when the Great American Desert stretched from the Father of Waters on the East to the Golden Gate on the West, there came out of the Eastland, a caravan of sturdy, God-loving-emigrants. Their faces were set toward the hard storms of the barren waste—their goal was the Great Westland, where the azure skies touch in mellow harmony the brown and purple shades of the horizon.
As we look back tonight over the dim and misty past, we see the snail-like ox train, winding its way in and out, leaving a cloud of lazy dust hanging low in the sultry sky. Weeks pass and months drag wearily on. At the close of one day, this little caravan paused to rest. The campfire was built and the meagre meal prepared. The prattling children lifted their sweet voices to the God above and gave themselves into His keeping. Fathers and mothers sit around the smoldering ashes and dreamed of a new home, farther on, and then fell asleep beside their babes.
Out in the pale moonlight crouched a band of savage Red Men who waited the hour of attack.
Night wore on. The palefaced strangers in a strange land, lulled to rest, by the soft winds of the trackless desert, were unconscious of the dangers that lurked about them. The first dawn of a new day began to mellow the eastern horizon. The tired sentinel heard the wail of a night. bird. He listened. Again and again it, came to his ears, ever closer and closer. To him it was the call of Death. A savage demon, with the glare of fire in his dark, deep-set eyes, raised his painted form behind a clump of chaparral and sent a poisoned arrow through the sentinel’s heart.
An instant later the listening air was rent, by the hideous yells of a thousand voices. The low sage brush gave birth to countless red devils who encircled the peaceful little camp, and the whistling arrows rained in deadly mission upon the defenseless emigrants. It was a. terrible awakening. The brave men fought valiantly for their lives and for the lives of those they loved most dear.
Some distance away, a party of frontiersmen, passing by another trail, heard the sound of musketry and rifle. Mounted on swift steeds, they hurried to the rescue. They routed the savage warriors of the plains and then looked upon the awful scene, where, the night before, the weary trail-makers had laid down in peace to rest. The forms of once strong men had poured their life’s blood into the thirsty sands; their scalp-locks had been torn from their fleshy beds, and life had gone from their bodies; hair-faced women lay silent in death with mutilated faces unturned to the skies above; innocent babes, with chubby limbs torn from their tender bodies, had been trampled into the white sands, and their warm blood moistened the gnarled grass roots of the plains. All—all save one—a bright-eyed boy with golden hair—lay silent in death.
This fair-haired boy, home away from the terrible scene by kind bands of the plainsmen, never forget the lesson instilled into his young heart. Though father, mother, sisters and brothers found their last resting place on the lonely desert, he rejoiced that he might live to tell the tale—not the tale of the awful massacre—but the story of bravery, love and loyalty, displayed by the men and women of the caravan and of the dauntless frontiersmen who rode into the very jaws of death to rescue those in distress. And, as he grew to manhood, this solemn vow he took: “Never to f alter when duty calls, and to lay down my life, if need be, for those in distress."
Upon this principle the National Order of Cowboy Rangers is founded. It is the embodyment of the great brotherly love that finds lodgement in every human breast among the true Ranger’s of the open world.
But, come! The Roundup is on, and it behooves you to show the steel, that is in every fibre of your being!
Boss of Spur blindfolds candidate.
Rangers! Rope the wildest outlaw on the range, and place this tenderfoot in the saddle, that he may know and feel there is life everywhere!
Boss of Spur and assistants place him in the saddle and give him the Bronk test.
BOSS OF SPUR, taking candidate, unblindfolded, to station of Vice-Boss: Vice-Boss, behold a tenderfoot who has the ability to hang the steel into an outlaw, but we are not sure that he did not pull leather. What further test would you apply?
VICE-BOSS: There is an unwritten law on the open range that when a tenderfoot shows himself made of the right stuff, he is ever afterwards received into the roundups of the ranch. There has also gone forth an edict, emanating from the Supreme Boss, whose word to us is law, that before any man may become a member of this order, he must first bare his naked flesh to the red-hot branding iron, that the world may know he is no longer a Maverick. Men, rope and hogtie the tenderfoot, that he may not escape the iron.
Candidate is blindfolded and lead to center of room. Lay him on back; two men hold legs, cue hold left arm, right sleeve rolled up and brand applied on inside of forearm, half way between wrist and elbow. Vice-Boss will see that altar is replaced in center of room.
BOSS OF SPUR, presenting candidate at alter, unblindfolded: Reverend Sky Pilot, before you stands Mr …, who has proven himself worthy to become one of us. He has been properly branded and is ready to take the obligation.
SKY PILOT, before altar: Mr …, can you keep a secret?
CANDIDATE: I can.
SKY PILOT: You answer, I fear, without giving sufficient thought to the sacredness of a pledge. You say you CAN keep a secret, but WILL you?
CANDIDATE: I will.
WORTHY BOSS calls up Ranch.
SKY PILOT: Place your left hand over your heart, rest your right hand on the Holy Bible, and
repeat after me:
“I, … (your name), in the presence of my Maker, the creator of the universe, and the fellow Rangers here assembled, being desirous of wholly identifying myself with the National Order of Cowboy Rangers, do hereby solemnly promise and declare, that I will keep in secret all signs, passwords and other secrets of this Order, except when acting in an official capacity, duly authorized to impart same.
And I do further promise that I will not disregard the laws of this Order, hailing each member as Brother, and to protect his family whenever and wherever I may be convinced they are in danger. I will not willingly or knowingly injure a brother Ranger but will do unto him as I would be done by.
I pledge upon my sacred honor, as a man in the open, that I will try to so live that my actions and conduct in daily life, will reflect credit upon the National Order of Cowboy Rangers; to guard the Ranch as I would my home; to respond promptly to any call of distress from a worthy Ranger, and to warn him, whenever possible, of impending danger.
I hereby pledge myself to be loyal to this Ranch, and to the Supreme Ranch, National Order of Cowboy Rangers, and to abide by the constitution, laws and mandates of the same, and I covenant and agree that if I violate any part of this obligation I forfeit all the rights to which I would otherwise be entitled. To all of this I pledge my honor, so help me God."
Yon may now remove your hand from your heart and from the Book of Law.
WORTHY BOSS seats Ranch.
SKY PILOT: We accept your obligation of honor, in good faith. You will now be conducted to our Worthy Boss; but before you go, I present to you this token, which you may bear to him, that he may know you have taken the obligation, and are entitled to receive the passwords and secret signs of the order. Presents candidate with rope.
BOSS OF SPUR, presenting candidate before Worthy Boss: Worthy Boss, a friend who has come up through the trials and hardships of the past, stands before you. He bears a token from our Sky Pilot. as an emblem of fealty.
Candidate, instructed by Boss of Spur, presents token to Worthy Boss.
WORTHY BOSS: Welcome to membership in this Ranch. I accept, this token, which is symbolical of the strong brotherly love that binds us, one to the other. The strongest fibre in this closely woven fagot, standing alone, might easily be broken and fall useless by the trailside. Bound together, each becomes strong. So we, the members of this great Order, are bound together in brotherly love, that there may be strength in unity.
You have passed through the ordeals that have proven you fit to stand among the men of this Ranch, a worthy Ranger. Let not the, lessons that have been here inculcated, pass away from your memory—let, not our motto, of Love, Loyalty and Benevolence, fade and die upon the altar of indifference. Friend, you are no longer a Maverick. You have been tried and found not wanting, and being convinced you are made of the right stuff, I pronounce you a Ranger in good standing, and I will now instruct you in the secret work of the Order.
Follows with secret work, use of gavel, etc.
WORTHY BOSS, calls up Ranch: Rangers, I take pleasure in presenting to you, Pard …, who is hereby ordained, by virtue of the power vested in me as Worthy Boss of this Ranch, a full-pledged member of the National Order of Cowboy Rangers. Rangers, salute our Pard with the sign of Recognition.
The Ranch will be at ease for congratulations.
After short recess Ranch will again be called to order, and then closed in regular form.
WORTHY BOSS, calls up Ranch: Brother Rangers, I am about to close the Roundup of this Ranch. We will now sing our Closing Ode:
Rangers, out on the trail
Let no one duty fail,
In love or strife ;
Let each one do his part
With true and loyal heart,
And blessings to impart
All through this life.
Good night, dear Pards, good night.
Keep always in the right.
Stand firm and fast;
So live that all may know,
As through the world you go,
Your life will virtue show,
Unto the last.
SKY PILOT: Let us pray. Almighty Father, we thank Thee for the many blessings Thou hast bestowed upon us; be with us as we go out upon the open range of the world; bless our undertakings that are worthy; keep us as in the hollow of Thy hand, and give unto us that sweet consciousness that maketh mankind Loyal and Benevolent, Amen.
All brothers join saying: Amen.
WORTHY BOSS: Boss of the Spur, you may attend to our altar.
BOSS OF SPUR, closes Bible, folds flag, salutes Worthy Boss: Worthy Boss, your orders have been obeyed.
VICE BOSS: Brother Rangers, this Ranch is about to be closed. As we go from this Ranch tonight, again to commingle with the outer world, let each one remember his obligation, and prove himself a living example of our motto, which is members join, Love Loyalty and Benevolence.
WORTHY BOSS: I hereby proclaim this Ranch closed until our next Roundup night, when the bars will be again let down for the transaction of such business as may lawfully come before it. Rangers, advance the Countersign.
DISMISS: One rap of gavel.