Looking for more from Sean McLachlan? He also hangs out on the Midlist Writer blog, where he talks about writing, adventure travel, caving, and everything else he gets up to. He also reproduces all the posts from Civil War Horror, so drop on by!

Friday, November 16, 2012

Wild West Photo Friday: Black Cowboys

Wait, isn't this supposed to be Civil War Photo Friday? Well, I decided to mix it up a bit this week. In honor of the First Kansas Colored Volunteers getting their own state historic site, I wanted to show where some of them probably ended up.

After the Civil War, former slaves were faced with choices for the first time in their lives. Many moved to big cities, especially in the North, to look for work. Sadly, they found prejudices just as engrained there as back on the plantation. Some decided to join the great movement westward.
An estimated 15-20% of all cowboys were black. Prejudice wasn't as serious on the frontier, where everyone had to get along just to survive. In the Old West a man could work hard and maybe make a fortune regardless of the color of his skin. There was racism in the West, of course, but there was also a lot more opportunity. Some black cowboys even banded together to form towns such as West Texas City near Galveston. This town was originally called Our Settlement, showing the pride of these former slaves in finally having something to call their own. One of its founders, Calvin Bell, was the first African-American to have his own cattle brand, in 1874.
Here is one of the most famous black cowboys of them all, Nat Love, who was responsible for his own fame by being one of the few black cowboys to write an autobiography.


  1. Old Westerns don't reflect those percentages either.

  2. I like hearing about the tribes, what they did and how they survived. Your posts share what would have been regional knowledge in the past.


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