"All day (long) on the prairies I ride, Not even a dog to run by my side." The solitary cowboy describes his life on the prairie -- where, e.g., "My books are the brooks, my sermons the stones" (the latter teaching him "not to despise" small things).
Seemann and Ohrlin both credit authorship to Allen McCandless. Seemann also lists first printing as being in the Trinidad, Colorado _Daily Advertiser_, 1885. [Cannon also attributes this to McCandless, and lists the 1885 printing, but says that it probably circulated before that, which makes you wonder about McCandless's authorship - RBW]
Carl T. Sprague's recording [credits] the words to John Lomax's "Cowboy Ballads" book. From oral tradition to print to aural tradition. - PJS