The Story Of Nat Love: Born A Slave; Died A Legend!

Talent paves its way no matter what. Nat Love was born amidst the shadows of slavery but lived as the king of cowboys. The stories of his adventures are still alive and are told not only in the West but the whole of the US.

Nat Love earned his fame when he won the title of “Deadwood Dick.” And his adventures took him to the Old West, where he fought Native Americans, took bullets, and much more as a black cowboy.

So, let’s take a dip in the adventurous life of the legend!

His Early Days!

His early days were dark. He was born as an African-American slave in the plantations of Davidson County, Tennessee, around 1854. And as was the norm, he was not allowed to learn to read or write. But still, his persistence made his father Sampson teach him reading and writing.

But as we know, slavery ended soon. The end of the Civil War also brought an end to slavery, and Love’s father started working as a sharecropper on the same plantation growing Corn and Tobacco. Although the future seemed better now, God had other plans.

Sadly Love’s father died after planting the second crop. So, Nat had to take a second job as well to take care of the house.

Though the situation was gloomy, tables were going to turn soon.

Nat had a gift with horses. He was known for breaking horses.

So, while he was doing some odd jobs, one day, luck gave him a second chance, and guess what, he took it. He won a horse in a raffle, and that too twice. He sold the horse back to the owner at $50 each time.

Luck on his side and a wild heart beating inside, he escaped to Dodge City, Kansas, to work as a cowboy. But before that, he gave half of his earnings to his mother.

He was 16 at this time, and the journey of a legend had just started.

The Adventures Of Nat Love

After his escape, he worked for a few years in Kansas and then for a few more in Arizona. He became an expert marksman and cowboy over these years and earned himself his first moniker, the “Red River Dick.”

Nat Love, Deadwood newspaper article
Edward L. Wheeler. Deadwood Dick, the Prince of the Road; or, The Black Rider of the Black Hills. 1877.

The tale of becoming the Deadwood Dick:

Once while driving cattle, he reached Deadwood of Dakota Territory. Here he heard the news that a Rodeo with prize money of $200 was being held. Enticed by the high prize money, he entered the Rodeo and won not one or two but six contests. He champed rope, tie, throw, saddle, bridle, and bronco riding competitions and earned his second moniker, the Deadwood Dick!

The tale of fighting with the native Americans:

While in Arizona, Love was attacked by Pima Indians. A fight took place, and Love got several bullets and finally got captured. But seeing the courage of Nat Love, the tribe was impressed and let him live amongst themselves. They even nursed him back to health. Once in good health, the chief offered him to marry his daughter and promised to give him 100 ponies.

But Nat being the wild heart he was, refused and instead escaped on their best pony.

The Later Life

As he grew older, Love decided to leave his cowboy life and settle down. In 1889, he married Alice, took up a job as a Pullman porter, and spent the rest of his days as a family man. He also served as a courier and guard for a Los Angeles company later.

Nat Love lived life with a verve and died a happy man in 1921 at 67.

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