It’s a story of two retired Texas Rangers, Augustus McCrae and Woodrow Call, as they leave Texas in search of Montana’s “Big Sky Country.” Since its debut, Lonesome Dove and all its colorful characters have become part of cowboy vernacular.

Louder erica
Freelance Writer
Erica Louder is a freelance writer based in Idaho.

Our second daughter is named Clara. The story my husband gives everyone is that Clara is the only female character in Lonesome Dove who is not a “fallen woman” and naturally one day he’d name a daughter after her. Our dog is Newt, named for Call’s would-be son, and when our own son was born, the name Woodrow was under consideration (at least my husband thought it was). A friend named her son Augustus after Capitan Gus and, apparently her husband’s stepdad’s last name is McCrae, and she can only think “if only. …”

All this talk of Lonesome Dove-inspired names gets me thinking about cowboy names in general. They are often as unique as the individuals who claim them. I have rancher friend who named his three daughters Arena, Ariat and Dally. In our little piece of rural Idaho, we hear babies named Maverick, Strait, Brooks, Marshal, Walker, Goldie and Annie. All inherited from some long-ago Western story or their own piece of cowboy culture.

At the Snake River Stampede this year, one of the bull riders caught my attention – Happy Weight. His wasn’t the only one with an original moniker. In the junior rodeo, there was a Bradee-Blu, an Abiline, a Cash and a Colt. Of course, there was Stetson, Ryder and Rusty Wright, Bubba Buckaroo, Taos Muncy, Timber Moore and Darby Fox in the main program.

If you are looking for cowboy baby name inspiration, skip all the baby name websites and get yourself to There you will find more Lanes, Levis and Blakes than you’ll find bull riders who make time. Don’t miss the Southern selection of Bubba Boots and Billy Bob Brown. There is a Lefty, Shorty, Tuf, Cimarron, Sage, Ruger and Roscoe. The cowgirl names are all top-notch too. Of course, you’ll find a few Ivys, Cheyennes and Jessies. But there is also Sissy, Tillar, Kricket, Callahan, Italy, Billie and Rainy.


Maybe it’s inspiration from Lonesome Dove, from your favorite country artists, from nature, from your tools, from history or from who knows where else, but cowboy families seem to know their business when it comes to naming their babies, and nowhere is that more apparent than at the rodeo. Tip up your glass and kick up your boots all you proud owners of a Western inspired name!  end mark

Erica Louder is a freelance writer based in Idaho.