isn't easy to sum up the life of a man such as Nat Love into a few pages,
seeing as he has himself done such an excellent job of telling us his
story. Nonetheless, we will try and provide an accurate portrait, so
that those who do not have the pleasure of reading his book will have a
better idea of who he was, and why he was so important.
Nat Love was born a slave in 1854,
only 7 years before the beginning of the Civil War. Nat tells of his
early days (CHAPTER I) When his family
was freed from bondage, along with thousands others following Abraham
Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation, Nat Love was still a very young man,
ready to start living a new life out west, where he heard he could find
work as a cowhand. In the sixth chapter (CHAPTER VI)
of his book, Nat Love tells of the beginnings of his life as a cowhand.
Nat Love found work in Dodge
City, Kansas, as part of a group of cowboys called the Duval outfit, and
it wasn't long until he began to show his talent as a cowboy, roping and
herding cattle and learning to shoot his Colt .45 revolver. Love
later reluctantly left his companions, joining another outfit called
the Pete Gallinger company, which offered better pay.
At the age of 22, the now
experienced Love showed off his skills at the 4th of July Roping contest
in in the town of Deadwood, South Dakota. There, Nat Love impressed the
crowds with his roping technique, setting the 9 minute record, and earning
the moniker "Deadwood Dick". One interesting detail here is
many others also shared that name, which was taken from a
popular series of adventure novels. Love was proclaimed "Champion
Roper of the Western Cattle Country.", and he would become the most famous
Deadwood Dick in history, a name which he was proud of the the extent of
defending it with his own life.
That same day, Nat Love also
impressed onlookers with his shooting skills, putting 14 bullets into the
bull's eye of a target, all of them shot from the hip, while other
contestants could only manage 8 at best. That day, not only
did Nat Love gain fame, but also fortune, walking away with a $200.00
purse; the kind of money that could go a long way in making sure a black
cowboy would get equal treatment during his stay in town.
stories, which abound in his autobiography are fact, or just tall tales,
they are nonetheless entertaining, and inspiring.