Susan Spess Shay

Still playing make believe.

My Favorite Tombstone


I didn’t know the Johnsons, but I know of them. I’m really sorry I didn’t get to know Glenn and Modena.

I’m most familiar with two things about them.

Their headstone. It’s famous in C-Town’s Woodlawn Cemetery.

At the top is the brand they used. I don’t know what it was called or meant (anyone know?) but it’s different. Down lower they put the names of their sons. Can you read it? Their names are Tally, Muggyown, Coyote and Woodly. I absolutely love those names. Especially Muggyown and Coyote. Aren’t they fantastic?

Here’s the back of the stone.

Don’t you love the longhorn? I don’t know if Glenn and Modena raised only longhorns, but it would be interesting to find out.

Here’s a closeup.

Can you read it?

I was laid to rest on the old Perry Trail that leads toward Tod Holler in a narrow grave just 6-3 where the hungry coyots will howl over me. I have roam these hills for a many year but I’m afraid I’ve turn my last long horn steer.

Modena–just think of me as the days goes by and I will meet you and the boys in heaven in the sweet by and by. Glenn Johnson.


The other thing I remember about the Johnsons is the Long Horn–their bar? Saloon? Hony-tonk? I was never there, but if I remember right it was a hony-tonk, a skating rink and a church all at the same time. 🙂

There’s a family story about a couple of my (much!) older cousins who went there one night. One got into a fight, the other jumped in to help and Glenn, thinking they were the instigators, broke the fight up and loaded up my cousins to take to jail.

Before he drove off, someone stopped him. “You can’t lock up those boys, Glenn. They’re Ray Spess’s grandsons.”

Glenn didn’t hesitate or question the guy. He just opened the truck door and stepped back. “Get on home, boys.”

BTW: Granddad would probably have left them in jail. He didn’t hold with such goings on.


Author: Susan Shay

For as long as I can remember, I've loved two things--reading and people--and that led me to become a writer. Many of my stories are set in Small Town Worlds. I'm a wife, mother, sibling and an aunt. I have a deep faith in God, and an exciting life in Christ. Maybe I shouldn't be (after all, he's God!) but I'm constantly amazed at the things He's up to. :)

6 thoughts on “My Favorite Tombstone

  1. I love these names too…in fact Tally Johnson is named for my father in law…

  2. No I don’t…his actual name is Talmadge…his nickname is Tally…and Mr. Johnson was named for his nickname…

  3. Perhaps this will be read…I hope someone will get some enjoyment from the history. I’m “Steve”. When I was in my very early-to-late teens, I worked and rode the area with Dr. Raymond E. Henry…large animal (predominately) veterinarian from Pawnee. We often went to the ranch/farm of the Johnsons. I was always intrigued by the lifestyle of the Johnsons…a bit hillbilly…a bit armed cowboys…always nice guys. In addition to their cattle (longhorns and herefords), they had a small menagerie of animals…as I recall, everything from zebras to water buffalo. It was a hobby of Glenn’s. Dr. Henry, in addition to his chosen profession, was a surprisingly talented trumpet player. He put together a band which predominately played music from the years preceeding the 60’s…much of which was country/western and “swing”. As a young drummer, I played with the “old guys” for several years through college in the mid-60’s.
    We played at Glenn’s “dance hall” (The “Longhorn”) on several occasions. The place was always packed to the proberbial gills. Made you wonder where all the people came from. There was some heavy drinking going on but rarely a fight. People had a wonderful time. Tally, Muggyown, and Coyote were all “deputized” by the Pawnee County sheriff (if I recall correctly) and they “kept peace” at the dance hall…each “packing” a side arm.
    I just learned today (Monday, 29 July 2013) of Muggyown’s death.
    Altho’ it may sound strange to say in 2013, another little piece of the true American west has died with Muggy…Rest In Peace, Cowboy!
    (Song “we” composed for Glenn: “Down at the Longhorn every Saturday night…they’re swinging and swayin’…to Glenn’s delight…so grab your partner and come on down…down to the Longhorn…on Saturday night!”


    • Steve,
      Your comment warmed my heart. Thank you so much for taking the time to share it with me. I know of Doc Henry (my family used him for our cattle, I think) but never met him myself. I was never at the Longhorn, even to roller skate. I’ve heard some pretty wild stories about it, though.
      Thank you so much for coming to my Small Town World! I hope you’ll drop by and say hi again soon.

I'm so glad you dropped by my Small Town World! Hope you'll leave a comment. I really enjoy hearing from you!

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