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First Posted: Jan 21, 2013
Jan 21, 2013

Isom Dart aka Ned Huddleston, Black Fox and Calico Cowboy/A Black Cowboy

Image: Public Domain
Isom Dart aka Ned Huddleston, Black Fox and Calico Cowboy

Born into slavery in Arkansas in 1894, Ned Huddleston, aka Isom Dart, was both a cowboy and outlaw. In 1861, during the Civil War, Huddleston served his "owner", a Confederate officer, in Texas. He was freed at the end of the war and went to a region near the Texas-Mexico border. It was there that Huddleston (Isom Dart) became an excellent horseman, bronco-buster and stunt rider and roper while riding in the rodeo. He became known as Black Fox and Calico Cowboy.

Huddleston lived a checkered life from cattle driving, mining gold and silver, stealing horses and being a bandit. After a firey love affair with a Shoshone Indian woman in 1875, Huddleston joined the Tip Gault Gang in Southeastern Wyoming. They were well known as rustlers of both cattle and horses. It was here that he was almost killed and decided to go clean. He changed his name to Isom Dart and made his way as a bronco buster.

Image: Public Domain
The Tip Gault Gang

"...They were the Tip Gault Gang. Among the gang's number were Tip Gault, Jack Leath, Joe Pease, a Mexican known only as Terresa, and an ex-slave, Ned Huddleston. Huddleston had been born in Arkansas in 1849. After the Civil War, he drifted into Mexico and Texas working as a rodeo clown and eventually arrived in Brown's Park with a cattle drive. One evening the Gault Gang was burying a member who had been kicked to death by a horse when they were ambushed by a group of cowboys seeking revenge for earlier Gault wrong-doings. All of the gang were killed except Huddleston who jumped into the grave and played dead. Ned eventually crawled out of the grave and stole a horse from a nearby ranch to make his getaway. The rancher spotted him and managed to shoot him in the leg as he rode away. Exhausted from the loss of blood, Ned fell off of his horse and passed out on the trail. Miraculously, Ned was discovered and nursed back to health by William 'Billy Buck' Tittsworth who, as a youngster in Arkansas, had lived on a plantation neighboring Ned's. The two men had been close friends in their youth and had not seen each other for years before that fateful night on the trail. Huddleston managed to get to Green River City where he caught the first train out of town. He changed his name and determined to go straight. He would eventually return to Brown's Park as Isom Dart. ..." John Jarvie of Brown's Park BLM Cultural Resources Series (Utah: No. 7)

In 1890 he started his own ranch in Brown's Hole. Many of the local cattlemen were certain that Dart had seeded his ranch with cattle stolen from their herds. They hired Tom Horn to kill Dart. On October 3, 1900 Isom Dart was ambushed and murdered by Tom Horn. The citizens of Brown's Hole had mixed feeling about this killing. Some thought Dart was guilty of rustling but many thought he had gone clean and was living a hard-working life.

For More Information:

Black Cowboys
Isom Dart

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