Cowboy Nat Love, also known as Dead- wood Dick from his autobiography entitled The Life and Times of Nat Love, Better Known in Cattle Country as “Deadwood Dick, ” was once a sharecropper in Ten¬ nessee. He worked hard to support his wid¬ owed mother and his sister, but when good luck came his way and granted him the win¬ ning ticket in a raffle, Love left the life of fanning behind.Selling the horse that was his prize, he gave half of the money to his mother and left for Dodge City, Kansas, where he began to live the life of legend.
There are stories about the 14 gunshot wounds that he survived, and more tales about the skill with which he could train a horse, brand a steer, and use a gun. There are stories about his wild drinking nights with his friend Bat Masterson, and a story in which Nat Love rode his horse through a bar and ordered a couple of drinks — one for himself and one for his horse.
He was a legendary gunfighter in his youth, and an exceptionally skilled one. During the 1876 Fourth of July celebration held in Deadwood, South Dakota, Love proved it by winning rifle and handgun matches, rope throws and a bucking bronco contest.
One of the many African-American cowboys responsible for settling the wild western territory, Love fought Native Americans, moved with the railroad, and herded cattle for the Pete Gillinger Com¬ pany in Arizona.
Even with his reputation, Love was just like any other pioneer when he left his past behind and headed west working on the railroad. Just like thousands of other bold travelers, he laid one stone on the road west. He wrote his auto¬ biography in 1907 and was later living in Los Angeles as a Pullman porter. By risking every¬ thing to settle new terri¬ tory, he made it possible for his family to experi¬ ence freedom in Ameri¬ ca, and for many others to follow his family’s example.