Deadwood Dick

Deadwood Dick is a name that the Afro-American cowboy Nat Love (1854-1921) took for himself. Deadwood Dick was a character in the once immensely popular “dime novels” written by Edward Lytton Wheeler in the later 1800s. Nat Love wrote an autobiography, The Life and Adventures of Nat Love, Better Known in the Cattle Country as “Deadwood Dick.” That’s only part of a much longer title. Love was born into slavery in Tennessee. He and his family became sharecroppers after the US Civil War. At age 16, Nat Love took off for the West. He worked as a cowboy for several ranches, claiming he fought with cattle rustlers. He was a fine horseman and marksman, and participated in rodeo events. He claims to have known such legendary characters of the American West as Billy the Kid. Love said that his rodeo fans started calling him “Deadeye Dick” after the famous fictional character. Later in life he worked as a Pullman Porter and as a security guard. He published his book in 1907. Some of it seems to have stretched the truth a bit. Whether the book is fact or fiction, Nat Love’s life itself is a wonderful story.

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