cowboy who was known as Deadwood Dick (1854-1921) but whose real name
was Nat Love.
Born a slave in a log cabin in Tennessee in 1854, he was the youngest
of three children. In 1869 money from a raffle gave him the means to buy
new clothes and head out on foot for the West, and when got as far as
Dodge City, Kansas, he took up work as a cowboy. Set up by his new associates
to ride a bucking bronco as a humbling initiation, he surprised them by
his success in bringing the horse under control. The "tenderfoot"
was cheered and then accepted into the Duval outfit at $30 a month.
In 1876, after a cattle drive to Deadwood City in the Dakota Territory,
he entered a rodeo and won, won several roping and shooting contests,
earning him the name "Deadwood Dick." He claimed to have taken
only a record 9 minutes to rope, throw, tie, bridle, saddle, and mount
an untamed bronco. His other feat that day was to win the 100- and 250-yard
rifle shooting contests and the 150-yard contest with the Colt .45. Later
that year he was captured by an Indian tribe that adopted him against
his will. After a forced 12-hour night ride of 100 miles, he was able
to escape, bearing two new bullet holes added to the other twelve that
already scarred his body.
Love spent most of his time working in the dust and as a black cowpuncher
driving cattle up the Chisholm Trail. When the Old West gave way to progress
and technology and Deadwood Dick's days as a cowboy were over, he swapped
his mount for the iron horse and took a job on the railroad as a Pullman
porter. Despite having grown up in the slavery era when black literacy
was outlawed, Love had been taught to read and write by his father. So
in 1907, he was able to write his autobiography in his own words. It was
called "The Life and Adventures of Nat Love: Better Known in the
Cattle Country as Deadwood Dick" and it became the primary source
of the events in his life -- both real and, it must be admitted, fanciful.
for Deadwood Dick's autobiography -- or look for it in your favorite library.