The Life and Adventures of Nat Love, Better Known in the Cattle Country as "Deadwood Dick"

The Life and Adventures of Nat Love, Better Known in the Cattle Country as "Deadwood Dick"

The Life and Adventures of Nat Love, Better Known in the Cattle Country as "Deadwood Dick"

The Life and Adventures of Nat Love, Better Known in the Cattle Country as "Deadwood Dick"

Synopsis

Thousands of black cowpunchers drove cattle up the Chisholm Trail after the Civil War, but only Nat Love wrote about his experiences. Born to slaves in Davidson County, Tennessee, the newly freed Love struck out for Kansas after the war. He was fifteen and already endowed with a reckless and romantic readiness. In wide-open Dodge City he joined up with an outfit from the Texas Panhandle to begin a career riding the range and fighting Indians, outlaws, and the elements. Years later he would say, "I had an unusually adventurous life". That was rare understatement. More characteristic was Love's claim: "I carry the marks of fourteen bullet wounds on different parts of my body, most any one of which would be sufficient to kill an ordinary man, but I am not even crippled". In 1876 a virtuoso rodeo performance in Deadwood, Dakota Territory, won him the moniker of Deadwood Dick. He became known as DD all over the West, entering into dime novels as a mysteriously dark and heroic presence. This vivid autobiography includes encounters with Bat Masterson and Billy the Kid, a soon-after view of the Custer battlefield, and a successful courtship. Love left the range in 1890, the year of the official closing of the frontier. Then, as a Pullman train conductor he traveled his old trails, and those good times bring his story to a satisfying end.

Excerpt

Brackette F. Williams

An account of the life of Nat Love, a cowboy, brand reader, rodeo man, Pullman porter, and sometimes just plain hell-raiser, born in Tennessee in 1854, would be of interest to readers even if all they sought was to understand better what it was like to live in these times and places. the fact that Mr. Love is an African American adds a potentially significant dimension to such an account. Born in slavery, Nat Love experienced the Civil War/War between the States as a child, and he struggled as a teenager to survive its aftermath before migrating as a young man to work in Kansas, Texas, and Arizona and New Mexico Territories. An account of his life, therefore, opens up the possibility of addressing some of the egregious gaps in the culture history of the African-American presence in the western and southwestern United States during this period. the fact that this account is an autobiography in his own, as we are prone to say today, "voice," adds yet another valuable dimension.

The voice in which Nat Love writes, however, does not prove easily recognizable as an African-American one, if what one expects is an emphasis on the African-American cowboy's experience, his interaction with "Black Indians," or his struggles against legal or informal forms of racism. the voice is a western voice which, in many respects, follows the script for many of the western movies we all know so well. the braggadocio element of Nat Love's account does, however, seem to combine the characteristics of a southern storytelling tradition with a similar western tradition to express events in what Love calls "true western style." Much of his tale must be treated as stories designed for telling around campfires, rather than ones intended to be pored over in academic settings. Nonetheless, hyperbole notwithstanding, The Life and Adventures of Nat Love, Better Known in Cattle Country as "Deadwood Dick": A True Story of Slavery Days, Life on the Great Cattle Ranges and on the Plains of the "Wild and Woolly" West, Based on . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.