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World Cowboys
First Posted: Jan 26, 2013
Jan 26, 2013

Nate Love aka Deadwood Dick and Red River Dick/Black Cowboy

Image: Public Domain  Image: Public Domain
Nat Love (left) and Nat Love and His family (right)

Nat Love, pronounced as Nate Love, also known as Deadwood Dick (1854-1921), was an African-American cowboy following the American Civil War. In 1907, Love wrote his autobiography, Life and Adventures of Nat Love, in which he explains that his father was a slave foreman in the fields, and his mother managed the kitchen. Love had an older brother Jordan and an older sister Sally.


Love was born a slave on the plantation of Robert Love in Davidson County, Tennessee, in June 1854. Despite slavery era statutes that outlawed black literacy, he learned to read and write as a child with the help of his father, Sampson Love. When slavery ended, Sampson attempted to start a family farm to raise tobacco and corn, but he died shortly after the second crop was planted. Nat then took a second job working on a local farm to help make ends meet. After a few years of working odd jobs, he won a horse in a raffle. He sold the horse for one hundred dollars and gave half to his mother, and he used the other half to leave town. He went west to Dodge City, Kansas, to find work as a cowboy. In Dodge City, he joined the cowboys from the Duval Ranch which was stationed in Texas. Because of his excellent horse riding skills, the Duval Ranch cowboys gave Love the nickname "Red River Dick." Once he joined the Duval cowboys he left Dodge City and returned with them to the home ranch in the Texas Panhandle.

Love's autobiography tells of many adventures fighting against cattle rustlers and inclement weather. His many years of experience made him an expert marksman and cowboy. He entered a rodeo in Deadwood, South Dakota, on the 4th of July in 1876. Nat Love was also very adventurous. He won the rope, throw, tie, bridle, saddle and bronco riding contests. It was at this contest that the fans gave him the nickname "Deadwood Dick".

On October 1877, he was captured by a band of Akimel O'odham (Pima) while rounding up stray cattle near the Gila River in Arizona. Love reported that his life was spared because the Indians respected his fighting ability. A while after being captured, he stole a pony and managed to escape into West Texas.

Love spent the latter part of his life working as a Pullman porter on the Denver and Rio Grande Railroad. He died in Los Angeles in 1921 at the age of 67. It is historicly proven he died of old age.


In 1969, a clothing company in Boston took the name Nat Love to pay homage to this "groovy guy". Nat Love, Inc. introduced hot pants to the United States at the first National Boutique Show held at the Hotel McAlpin in New York City.

Quotes by Nat Love "Mounted on my horse my... lariat near my hand, and my trusty guns in my belt... I felt like I could defy the world."
"Every time you shoot at someone, plan on dying."
"If a man can't go out in the blaze of glory, he can at least go with dignity."

For More Information:

Nat Love