Image of Nat Love


Lifetime: 1854 - 1921 Passed: ≈ 102 years ago




United States

Nat Love

Nat Love was an American cowboy and former slave in the period following the American Civil War. His exploits have made him one of the most famous heroes of the Old West.

Love was born into slavery on the plantation of Robert Love in Davidson County, Tennessee around 1854. His father was a foreman enslaved on the plantation's fields, and his mother the manager of its kitchen.Love had two siblings: an older sister, Sally, and an older brother, Jordan. Despite slavery-era statutes that outlawed black literacy, he learned to read and write as a child with the help of his father, Sampson. When slavery ended, Love's parents stayed on the Love plantation as sharecroppers, attempting to raise tobacco and corn on about 20 acres, but Sampson died shortly after the second crop was planted. Afterward, Nat took a second job working on a local farm to help make ends meet. At about this time, he was noted as having a gift for breaking horses. After some time of working extra odd jobs in the area, he won a horse in a raffle on two occasions, which he then sold back to the owner for $50 each time. He used the money to leave town and, at the age of 16, headed West.

Love traveled to Dodge City, Kansas, where he found work as a cowboy with cattle drivers from the Duval Ranch. According to his autobiography, Love fought cattle rustlers and endured inclement weather. He trained himself to become an expert marksman and cowboy, for which he earned from his co-workers the moniker "Red River Dick." In 1872, Love moved to Arizona, where he found work at the Gallinger Ranch located along the Gila River. He wrote in his autobiography that while working the cattle drives in Arizona he met Pat Garrett, Bat Masterson, Billy the Kid, and others.

Love decided he needed to leave the cowboy life. He married a woman named Alice in 1889 and settled down, initially in Denver, taking a job in 1890 as a Pullman porter, which involved overseeing sleeping cars on the Denver and Rio Grande Railroad. While working for the railroad, he and his family resided in several western states, before finally moving to southern California.

In 1907, Love published his autobiography entitled Life and Adventures of Nat Love, Better Known in the Cattle Country as 'Deadwood Dick,' by Himself, which greatly enhanced his legacy. Love spent the latter part of his life as a courier and guard for a Los Angeles securities company. He died there in 1921, at the age of 67.

Books by Nat Love

The Life and Adventures of Nat Love  Cover image

The Life and Adventures of Nat Love

Adventure Biography
Slavery Love Poverty Adventure Autobiography Journey Civil War Writer's Life Wild West

A man born into bondage who became a top cowboy in the wild west. Recommended for anyone interested in cowboy history, American history, black American history, or boys/men's interest. Nat Love had an adventuresome life as a cowboy. The involvement o...