|The most famous black cowboy of all, Nat Love
Nate Love, also know as Deadwood Dick, was
born a slave in Tennessee. He he had a love of the free and wild
life on the range. Soon he was known as a good all around cowboy.
Nate found a Texas outfit that had delivered
its herd and was preparing to go back down to Texas. There were
several good black cowboys in the outfit. After sharing breakfast
with the crew, Nate asked the trail boss for a job. The boss agreed if
Nate could break a horse named Good Eye, the wildest horse in the outfit.
Bronco Jim, another black cowboy gave Nate some pointers and Nate rode
that horse. He said later that it was the toughest ride he had ever had.
The work was very hard. Nate rode through hailstorms so violent that
only strong men could withstand them. The first time he met hostile
Indians, he admitted he was too scared to run. After going through a
number of such trials he adjusted to the ways of the cattle country and
could handle any problem,
Nate had a forty-five and he took every chance
he could to practice with it and he got very good with it. There came a
time when he could shoot better than any of his friends.
Nate left the Texas Panhandle, and rode into Arizona where he got a job
working for an outfit on the Gila River. He had ridden many of the
trails of the southwest and he believed that he was a capable
cowboy. While in Arizona working with Mexican vaqueros, he learned
to speak Spanish like a native and he became very good at reading brands.
In the spring of 1876, Nate Love's outfit received orders to deliver three
thousand steer to Deadwood City in the Dakota Territory. They
arrived July 3rd. The town was getting ready for the 4th of July. The
mining men and gamblers had gotten together and organized a contest with
$200 prize money. Nate said that six of the dozen men in the contest
were Black. Each black cowboy was to rope, throw, tie bridles, and
saddle a mustang in the shortest possible time. The wildest horses were
chosen for this event. Nate roped, threw, tied bridles, saddled, and
mounted his mustang in exactly nine minutes. The next competitor took
twelve minutes and thirty seconds. In the rifle and Colt events,
shooting at 100 and 250 yards with 14 shots, Nate placed all of his shots
in the bulls eye and 10 of the 12 pistol shots in the bulls eye.
Nate Love was the obvious winner and along with the prize money, the town
gave Nate the title of "Deadwood Dick".