Nat Love (1854-1921)

Born a slave in Tennessee, Nat Love had an advantage over many men of his time—black and white. He could read and write. He also longed for life on the range. When he found a ranching outfit in Texas that employed several black cowboys, he asked the trail boss for a job. The boss agreed—if he could break the wildest horse in the herd, Good Eye. Another noted black cowboy Bronco Jim was also with the outfit. He offered a bit of advice. Love survived the wildest ride of his life and got himself a job.

Throughout the years, he rode in harsh weather, fought Indians, learned to shoot with dead accuracy, worked with Mexicans, and learned to speak Spanish fluently. When a cattle drive brought him to Deadwood City in Dakota Territory during a Fourth of July Festival in 1876, he entered a competition for a $200 prize. Earning that prize was no easy feat! Each contestant had to rope, throw, tie bridles, and saddle and mount a wild mustang in the shortest time. Next, the men were to shoot targets at a distance of 100 and 250 yards using a rifle, then a pistol. Love won the prize money and a nickname given to him by the townspeople: “Deadwood Dick.” In his autobiography, he talks about having drinks with Billy the Kid.