Wednesday, February 9, 2011
“Mounted on my favorite horse… my lariat near my hand, and my trusty guns in belt… I felt I could defy the world.” – Nat Love
Nat Love was born as a slave in Tennessee on June 14 of 1854. Primarily his sister raised him because his family had so many slave duties. While he was young he taught himself, with the help of his father, how to read and write. Shortly after the slaves were freed Nat’s father rented and worked a small farm from his former master, but unfortunately his father died a few years later. As Nat looked for and did work around other plantations, he found that he had a very good skill in breaking horses.
By the time Nat was fifteen he had left his family and moved west. When he made it to Kansas, he ran into the crew of the Texas Duval Ranch. He decided he would ask the boss for a job, and the job agreed that Nat could join if he could break the wildest horse they had, named Good Eye. He eventually did break the horse, got the job, and worked for the Duval Ranch for $30 a month. Soon he adapted to the cowboy life, excelling in being a ranch hand and even in his shooting skills.
After three years with the Duval Ranch, he moved to Arizona and worked for Gallinger Ranch on the Gila River. During this time he became a master trail and ranger rider, but was also involved in some dangerous work. He was a part of numerous gun battles with cattle rustlers, bandits, and Native Americans. His Gallinger Ranch cowboys and he were sent to bring a herd of three thousand steers to Deadwood, South Dakota. While he was there, he was entered into a cowboy contest with $200 as the grand prize. He not only competed, but also won every competition and was dubbed the name “Deadwood Dick”.
He continued to work as a cowboy for the next fifteen years before he got married in 1889. He then took a job as a Pullman porter on the Denver and Rio Grande Railroad, which involved his family moving around the west a lot, but finally settling in southern California.
In 1907, he published his autobiography The Life and Adventures of Nat Love, Better Known in the Cattle Country as “Deadwood Dick”. The American public greatly accepted the book and has been known as one of the lesser-known great books about the west. Nat remained a huge family and worked up until his death in 1921. He was an amazing cowboy and showed that the less than possible could be easily achieved. By teaching himself how to read and write, work horses, shoot, and defeat the standards during a really difficult time, made Nat a huge asset to struggling African Americans around the US.
If you have any interest in reading his book, or just glancing at his pictures you can look here: http://docsouth.unc.edu/neh/natlove/natlove.html