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African American or Black Cowboys in the Western Frontier

Don has worked in newspaper writing, business writing, and technical writing.

Books about Negro Cowboys

Books about Negro Cowboys

There were a lot of Black or African Americans on the American frontier. Of these a lot were cowboys. When I took a course in twentieth-century history some time ago, the professor said that some good things did come out of the 1960s. One of these was the discovery that there were women, and Indians and black people in American history. History texts do seem to overlook these groups.

Popular culture has misled us about the Black population on the frontier and those working as cowboys. Until the sixties, Black Culture was separate from white culture. Music, for example, had Black audiences and Black performers. The movie industry made movies for white audiences, and some movies were made separately for Black audiences. Mainstream westerns showed cowboys as white heroes. I saw a documentary, probably on the History Channel about Westerns with Black actors and Black cowboys for the Black audience.

Nat Love

african-american-cowboys-in-history-and-ictionf

Blacks also worked at a variety of other jobs in the west, store clerks, farmers, and railroad workers. The Negro Cowboys estimates at least five thousand black cowboys in the last part of the nineteenth century. According to Hardaway Kenneth Wiggins Porter, a University of Oregon history professor, there were closer to eight thousand, maybe nine thousand. That would be about 25 percent of the 35,000 cowboys in the frontier cattle industry.

Conditions for Black cowboys were not perfect, but they were probably better off socially and economically, according to Porter, than that in the South. There was still prejudice and restrictions of the Blacks in the west as well as elsewhere. They did, however, get the same pay as the other cowboys, they shared bunkhouses with the white cowboys, and they worked and ate together, according to Durham and Jones. “ usually two or three members of a trail crew of a total of eleven would be Black. A few but not many became ranch and trail bosses. Many African American cowboys have become well known to historians of the subject.

In other words, it was not idyllic, but it was not too bad either.

In addition to working as cowboys, African Americans were miners, farmers, soldiers, and many other frontier occupations. Also, some were outlaws In the Children’s book Negroes In the Early West, author olive W. Burt has chapters on:

  • Explores
  • Mountain Men
  • Founders of Cities
  • Business Men
  • Soldiers
  • Cowboys
  • Women

The question comes to mind as to why Blacks are so lacking in Western History and Fiction.

Although there were more African American cowboys than any other minority, they are absent from the Western Mythology. In the preface to The Negro Cowboys, the authors say they found “…an unimagined number of Negro cowboys, who had been dropped from the history of the West.” Since both authors are professors of literature, they approach their research though in terms of memoirs of men who knew the west. In their Epilogue, they write about the West in fiction.

Blacks rarely appear in Western fiction they note. Western fiction, they contend started in 1902 with Owen Wister’s’ The Virginian. Wister, the feel, was a romantic and presented a romanticized picture of the West. There are romanticized cattlemen in the novel but no African Americans. Wister visited the west, but he went fishing and hunting with cattlemen or guides. “He saw cowboys at leisure, but rarely at work.”

The authors think that Wister shared the racial prejudice of his times. Wister’s work, they feel, shows an admiration for the Anglo–Saxon, the conquering white man.

“…Wister’s novel was the great archetype that established the western as a distinct genre of popular fiction. “…Contained all the essential elements: a strong, simple and thoroughly good hero; a villain who was incarnate evil; a heroine who was pure and beautiful as well as stupid or stubborn enough to distrust the hero for at least half the story…”

Oddly these observations are much like what my history teacher said about TV and movie westerns, at least as regards women. Generally, the women, instead of helping the hero were there to be rescued, or they just got in the way somehow.

The popular culture of Wister’s time was the same as Thomas Dixon’s The Clansman (1905) the book upon which the movie The Birth of a Nation was based.

The Virginian set the pattern for a genre of fiction in books, short stories, movies, and television.

Since World War II there has been some change in the biases. The authors cite a Saturday Evening Post story of 1950: “Stampede! By Allan R. Bosworth. The Black Cowboy is portrayed much as real blacks were treated on actual drives. Stories by Ernest Haycox, Clay Fisher and Jack Shafer.

Another reason that Black Cowboys may not have been portrayed is the image of the cowboy as a mythical hero. He couldn’t be any kind of minority ethnically or culturally. WASP is the old word: White, Anglo-Saxon-Protestant.

In summation, there were a lot of African Americans on the frontier, and many were cowboys. For a variety of reasons, they have not been noted in our histories or popular literature. They are slowly getting recognition.

Sources:

The Negro Cowboys 1965 by Phillip Durham and Everett L. Jones

Negroes in the early west 1969 by Olive W. Burt

African American Cowboys by Roger D. Hardaway reprinted in part on Texas Ranch House.

Texas Ranch House link

© 2011 Don A. Hoglund

Comments

Don A. Hoglund (author) from Wisconsin Rapids on December 03, 2016:

Charlene,

Thank you for reading and commenting.

After the Civil War, I believe a lot of southerners went to the west to seek better opportunity and to find a new life.

Don A. Hoglund (author) from Wisconsin Rapids on December 03, 2016:

Charlene,

Thank you for reading and commenting.

After the Civil War, I believe a lot of southerners went to the west to seek better opportunity and to find a new life.

Don A. Hoglund (author) from Wisconsin Rapids on December 03, 2016:

Charlene,

Thank you for reading and commenting.

After the Civil War, I believe a lot of southerners went to the west to seek better opportunity and to find a new life.

Charlene on December 02, 2016:

Dahoglund, thanks for the feed. I came across this article because I am recording the history of my great grandfather. According to the oldest family members, he was born in the late 1800s. He indeed was a cowboy. The story of his life reflects the scene from Django (without the woman). My great grandfather was married three times. The only difference he was from the South, somewhere near Pickens County, Alabama. He later relocates to the Deltas of Mississippi. This is why I seriously feel that Django may have been scripted from my great grandfather's life.

As you stated there were thousands of black cowboys. Well, I would like to validate my claim that there were black cowboys of the South.

Don A. Hoglund (author) from Wisconsin Rapids on February 05, 2015:

I wrote this primarily due to someone saying that there were no black cowboys. In a way it was a natural since many were well trained in horsemanship when they were slaves. The blacks were the ones who groomed and trained horses. Thanks for your comments.

Don A. Hoglund (author) from Wisconsin Rapids on December 06, 2014:

ecogranny.

Thanks for reading and commenting. I wrote this hub because someone said that there were no Black ppeople in the West and if there were there couldn't have been very many. since I had two books, one of which was for children, I felt it was necessary to set the record straight.

I think that after the Civil War both white and black folks went to the frontier. because of the devastation in the south. It is interesting that a classic western was entitled "The Virginian"

I believe a lot of today's cowboys are Indians.

Kathryn Grace from San Francisco on December 05, 2014:

Thanks for explaining why we don't see much of Black cowboy history. I'd love to see some stories about the ones for whom we have any records. As your statistics show, there were many. I believe they found the west sometimes more accepting, when survival skills were important, though as settlements grew up, I understand they found racial discrimination as prevalent as ever.

Don A. Hoglund (author) from Wisconsin Rapids on March 26, 2013:

Hi Mary,a black friend in college who came from Mississippi told me that prejudiced in the North could be worse than in the south. That was because you knew where you stood in the South. In the North people were nice to your face but not so much otherwise. This was back in the early 1960's. A lot of prejudice still exists but not as much, I think. Thanks for the comment and the share.

Mary Hyatt from Florida on March 26, 2013:

This Hub caught my eye when I was looking through your profile. As a person who grew up in the South and saw racial discrimination firsthand, I am sympathetic with the black man. We have treated them miserably through out the years. It was good to read in your Hub that they were allowed to bunk with the white cowboys. They couldn't even drink from our water fountains when I was a kid I wrote a Hub about racial discrimination in the south, and how wrong I thought it was even as a child.

You Hub reminded me of WWII and the black men who served, but were not treated as equals.

Congrats on HOTD. BTW: I live in S. Fl. and we still have cattle ranches and cowboys that work the cattle, but I never see a black cowboy here. Hmmmmm...wonder why???

Voted UP and shared.

Don A. Hoglund (author) from Wisconsin Rapids on March 19, 2013:

Radical Rog, I didn't know that about King Richard. Interesting. The history professor I liked taught "Intellectual and Social History of the United States." There is a classic on the subject by Vernon Perrington. The profeesor said "In this class you will consider Perrington to be your Bible. You can consider me to be the Anti-Christ." This was around 1960. In the bio about my teacher in Wikipedia he says he is proud of the fact that the FBI tapped his phone during the Viet Nam era.

Peter Rogers from Plymouth on March 19, 2013:

Dahoglund, had the same problem until I discovered that great English king, Richard the Lionheart was French and couldn't even speak English. Started to think then that official history is only what they want you to believe. Delve deeper and it keeps you awake at night.

Don A. Hoglund (author) from Wisconsin Rapids on March 19, 2013:

Radical Rog, I was not much interested in history in school until I was an upper classman in college. Teachers had a talent for making an intrinsically interesting subject into something sleep inducing. I only wrote this hub because someone insisted there couldn't be very many Blacks working as cowboys. After the American Civil War all sorts of people went to the west looking for opportunities, including white and black southerners. The movies, I think, created the idea of cowboys being white mostly. There were actually movies produced by blacks for blacks with black cowboy heroes.

Thanks for commenting.

Peter Rogers from Plymouth on March 19, 2013:

Found this very interesting. Read some accounts of coloured soldiers during the American Civil War, after which they seem to disappear from historical and fictional accounts of the old west. Must admit to never really thinking about it before, but make a link between the reason and such modern accounts like, The Help. Also take the view that most history is what they want you to know, the truth comes a poor second.

Don A. Hoglund (author) from Wisconsin Rapids on April 17, 2012:

It has been a long time since I've seen that film. Enjoy it.

Jim Higgins from Eugene, Oregon on April 17, 2012:

After reading the Hub, I came back to find the name of the movie, Silverado and move it onto my queue in #1. Have not seen a good western in a while.

Don A. Hoglund (author) from Wisconsin Rapids on April 17, 2012:

Hi xstatic. What led to writing this hub is that I ran into a situation of someone denying there were any Blacks as cowboys. Since I had two books on the subject I figured this was a belief that had to have some light shone on it.Two things stand out to me. First is that many former slaves went to the west looking for opportunity. second is that they had useful skills. Many slaves were put in charge of tending horses as slaves.Some made good use of that out west. There have been a number of Black cowboys in the rodeos and riders in horse racing.

Thanks for commenting.

Jim Higgins from Eugene, Oregon on April 17, 2012:

Had to read this and comment since I just watched a History Detectives (PBS) show last night about champion rodeo rider and early Okalhoma African/American cowboy Bill Pickett. They were tracing a saddle with his name on it. Fascinating story as is this HUB!

My mother, who moved to Texas as a small child in the very early 1900s, always said there were no African American cowboys. I guess she didn't see any on her father's tenant farm which was not a ranch anyway.

Don A. Hoglund (author) from Wisconsin Rapids on April 09, 2012:

I'm sorry that I have no contacts to help in your search. However, maybe someone reading this article will have the information you need.

Deszeray on April 08, 2012:

Hi my name is Deszeray & my grandfather is in search of an African American Texas cowboy , by the last name Stampley . He is trying to get in touch with his son Kevin Stampley . So if you have any information about Stampley , may you please email me @ deszerayw@aol.com . Than You .

Don A. Hoglund (author) from Wisconsin Rapids on February 10, 2012:

Thanks for commenting Freeway Flyer.Actually the term cowboy has come to be applied to many frontier occupations such as outlays,lawmen and others.Cowboy cure was probably much like that of other groups with a lot of young men, such as military. Blacks were cowboys largely because many went west after the Civil War and were good with horses, since many worked with horses during slave days. Rodeo is a celebration of the real world roundup.I think all cultures celebrate their past.

Paul Swendson on February 10, 2012:

For me, the large number of black cowboys is a reflection of what a lousy job the cowboy had. It's interesting that in western movies and with the modern definition of the cowboy, cattle ranching has little connection with the term. Cowboys evolved into the western heroes you describe, and today it is a guy who dresses a certain way, listens to certain types of music, and goes to rodeos. Since the existence of black cowboys and the actual way of life on the open range do not fit the romanticized image, they are left out of the story. It's just one of many examples of our nation's racist heritage and of the American peoples' capacity to romanticize their past.

Don A. Hoglund (author) from Wisconsin Rapids on November 24, 2011:

Coolmon, thanks for reading this hub and commenting.I thought this information needed more exposure.

Coolmon2009 from Texas, USA on November 24, 2011:

I enjoyed reading your article on African Americans cowboys. Thanks for sharing this article.

Don A. Hoglund (author) from Wisconsin Rapids on November 16, 2011:

Hi moiragallaga.Thanks for reading my hub.I tend to be drawn to subjects that are out of the mainstream. This subject especially seems to be largely unknown.

Moira Garcia Gallaga from Lisbon, Portugal on November 15, 2011:

There is always something new to learn each day. Thanks for sharing this article Dahoglund, it's well written and interesting, but most of all, it brings enlightenment to people by providing them new information and insights.

Don A. Hoglund (author) from Wisconsin Rapids on October 22, 2011:

Cat R

My wife is of German heritage. Her Grandmother came over here before the wars. I am sure she felt some prejudice at that time. That generation tended to settle in neighborhoods with people of similar backgrounds and the churches were very much made up of people like them:German or Polish, or Swedish whatever.

Glad you enjoyed the hub.

Cat R from North Carolina, U.S. on October 22, 2011:

Extremely interesting!

I came to the US as a 'white' person and felt the racism and 'missunderstanding' because I was German and thus considered affiliated with Hitler.

I guess that got me interested in the Buffalo Soldiers and the famous Tuskagee.

We tend to blame a country for a minority of dirtbags. In two history classes where we covered the Holocaust, my Professor had to mention that while all Nazis may have been German, not all Germans were Nazis.

Don A. Hoglund (author) from Wisconsin Rapids on October 11, 2011:

Thanks for reading it and commenting.I'm afraid we are all guilty of confusing the myth with reality. This was just an attempt to separate the two.

ThoughtSandwiches from Reno, Nevada on October 10, 2011:

Hi dahoglund...

Excellent subject, masterfully researched, and delightfully written...It is clear why this was the Hub of the Day (Congrats on that, btw!)

I took a number of Frontier themed courses in grad school...one of those touched on this topic and I remembered enjoying then...and enjoying in now!

Thanks for the hard work!

Thomas

Don A. Hoglund (author) from Wisconsin Rapids on October 09, 2011:

jjs

The Blacks were working with horses as slaves and is one of the reasons they fit into the cowboy life. They were also active in horse racing.They were participants in many aspects of western life. Like their white counterparts were some good and some bad.Thanks for commenting and adding your information.

jjs on October 09, 2011:

It is such a shame that the Black population today, by and large, have no idea that part of their culture includes such a large number of cowboys. Most of them don't believe me when I first tell them.

And as a daughter of a rancher here in South Texas, I can also vouch for the fact that horses are still used to work cattle, both out in the pasture and in the pens. I can also vouch for the presence of Black cowboys since I know some even today. In the 1800's and first half of the 1900's a huge percentage of the cowboys responsible for breaking horses for both the ranch work and the military were Blacks. Anyone worth his salt would be truthful in admitting the Black cowboys were, for the most part, some of the hardest working cowboys in existence. The ones I know today certainly fit that description, and they are, hands down, some of the best horsemen anywhere.

Don A. Hoglund (author) from Wisconsin Rapids on October 09, 2011:

Hi ahorseback,

Thanks for the praise.This one kind of chose me.I felt a need to counter a claim that there were no Blacks in the West.

ahorseback on October 09, 2011:

Dahoglund , Its no wonder you have such a score , your writing chioces are great , conciencious, and always very interesting. !Great job .....

Don A. Hoglund (author) from Wisconsin Rapids on October 09, 2011:

I'm afraid that outside the USA there are a lot of misconceptions about the United States,likewise we have a lot of misconceptions about others. The best thing is to keep an open mind. Appreciate you comment.

Hopeforhungrychildren on October 08, 2011:

Hi

dahoglund

fantastic hub,outside usa ppl have general preception that cowboys are whites ,that probably coz the international media portrays them as whites,thenx for the reality check.....

Regards

From

India.

Don A. Hoglund (author) from Wisconsin Rapids on October 08, 2011:

Hi WillStarr,It helps both of us.

Homesteadbound, I often don't have great motives. I sometimes just write on things that grab my interest.Thanks for the comment.

Wannabwestern,That is a sad story. Prejudice, where I've grown up and lived most of my life, tends to be more hidden. I was a bit taken back when I lived in Kansas City back in the sixties how open it was.Much of that has changed now.Thanks for commenting.

embitca, for good or bad movies are fiction.

Kenhubs, history may be written by all sides but more often than not only the winning side is read.

Aaron Farkas,Can't say as I ever gave in much thought. I sort of ran into the subject by buying the book"Negro Cowboys" at a book sale.

allaboutseo,Thanks for the comment. I have a tendency to write about what grabs my interest. Not the best way to build a niche,I suppose.

allaboutseo from United Kngdom on October 08, 2011:

really nice dear i like your topic the most keep it up......

Aaron Farkas on October 07, 2011:

Thanks for writing this article. Black cowboys aren't something that people think about too often, but they are historically significant!

kenhubs on October 07, 2011:

Nice hub, and thanks for the education. What I've observed is that history is always written by the conqueror, the aggressor, and as such most stories are usually unbalanced. This situation is further compounded by the movie industry which prefers to distort facts, as long as it will increase their profits.

It's only when a conscious effort is made to; preserve history on the one hand, and discover true history on the other, that things like this come to light. Thanks.

Emma from Boston on October 07, 2011:

Great hub! I was at the Buffalo Bill Cody Museum in WY a few weeks ago and they had info there that said that approx. 30% of all cowboys were black. Funny how you would never know that from western movies!

Carolyn Augustine from Iowa on October 07, 2011:

This was an excellent and informative hub. In Wickenburg, Arizona, a woman named Elizabeth Smith successfully opened a hotel and ran it for a period of years before racism forced her into early retirement. She was African American. This is not a well-known, or well-publicized aspect of Wickenburg history. I think it is embarrassing to most of the residents there that this is a part of their history, but we should try to learn from history so we won't be doomed to repeat it. This was an interesting area of focus and why I always love reading your hubs Dahoglund!

Cindy Murdoch from Texas on October 07, 2011:

dahoglund - and for all those people out there who did not know, it did need to be shared! And I'm glad that you did! I think it is great! Thanks

WillStarr from Phoenix, Arizona on October 07, 2011:

And thank you!

Don A. Hoglund (author) from Wisconsin Rapids on October 07, 2011:

Hi WillStarr,

I linked back to your hub. Thanks.

Don A. Hoglund (author) from Wisconsin Rapids on October 07, 2011:

Homesteadbound.

Glad you like the hub.I really wrote this when I found some people think there were no Black cowboys.I figured the information cried to be presented.

WillStarr from Phoenix, Arizona on October 07, 2011:

Hi, dahoglund,

The email noted that I linked to this Hub on my 'Hired On' story, since they complement one another so well.

Cindy Murdoch from Texas on October 07, 2011:

I think it is sad that they have been left out of the history books, and as time passes that information becomes harder and harder to retrieve, another unfortunate turn. Didn't the Lonesome Dove series have a black cowboy in it? I I remember a TV series about pony express riders has a young black rider who blended right in with the others. And I think the Magnificient 7 had a black cowboy in it. I enjoyed watching all of those westerns, and I think they are so much deeper and better because of those actors portrayals. Thank you for writing an excellent article on this subject. It has made me stop and think about things.

Congratulations on your hub of the day. It was certainly deserving.

Don A. Hoglund (author) from Wisconsin Rapids on October 07, 2011:

Of course you can print it out for you grandchildren.I hope the enjoy it.Thank you for the comment and vote.

Dee aka Nonna on October 07, 2011:

I really enjoyed read this. I too love history. With your permission I will print this and give it to my grandchildren. My grandson, in particular, will love reading this.

I lived in Houston, TX for a number of year and a black couple who owned a ranch keep the history of the black cowboy alive for all the children of the area. They sponsored many, many events and rodeos...had a small museaum ... it was great. My boys, when they were small, loved going there. Voted up and useful.

Don A. Hoglund (author) from Wisconsin Rapids on October 07, 2011:

Sounds reasonable. I haven't seen the email yet.

WillStarr from Phoenix, Arizona on October 07, 2011:

Hi, dahoglund,

When I first moved to Arizona many years ago, I too thought they used pickups, and they did, but I soon learned that they also used pickups to haul their horses around.

BTW, I sent you an email.

Don A. Hoglund (author) from Wisconsin Rapids on October 07, 2011:

WillStarr,

You certainly have first hand experience that I don't, so I'll concede the discussion.Thanks for the input.

Don A. Hoglund (author) from Wisconsin Rapids on October 07, 2011:

DzMsLizzy

Frankly, I am not sure if I might have known that.TR was aware of the Black people in the West and sympathetic. I may have read about the incident you mention but it would have been a dozen years ago.I was not really reviewing the book so much as using it as source materiel. However it is a good book about the west in general as well a the place of Blacks.

WillStarr from Phoenix, Arizona on October 07, 2011:

"From what I have read and TV documentaries it seems the modern cowboy used pickup trucks more than horses."

They use trucks, ATV's, helicopters, and whatever else they need, but to gather cattle out of the rough places, nothing beats the horse.

I got saddle sores one day back in the eighties, trying to keep up with a rancher friend west of Tucson. It's tough, dangerous work, and some of it can only be done on horseback.

Liz Elias from Oakley, CA on October 07, 2011:

Congratulations on getting Hub of the Day! Nice work!

You are so correct about the blatant omissions in history. Few people also know that in Teddy Roosevelt's "Rough Riders," at the so-called "charge" up San Juan Hill in the Spanish-American war, a large part of his regiment were Negroes.

(And that's another historical cover-up; it was no "charge," it was an extended battle over 3 weeks, with hundreds killed!)

You've done a great review of this book--I must look it up. Voted up, useful, and interesting.

Don A. Hoglund (author) from Wisconsin Rapids on October 07, 2011:

Will Starr

From what I have read and TV documentaries it seems the modern cowboy used pickup trucks more than horses.I am sure there is a place for both.Thanks for commenting.

Don A. Hoglund (author) from Wisconsin Rapids on October 07, 2011:

Business Time,

I appreciate your stopping by and reading this.I am glad you liked it.

Don A. Hoglund (author) from Wisconsin Rapids on October 07, 2011:

Celiagirl,

Yes there were Black people in most facets of western life.I tried to focus this hub on the one aspect of cowboys in order for it too not get too long.Thanks for commenting.

Don A. Hoglund (author) from Wisconsin Rapids on October 07, 2011:

Weasey

Thanks for commenting and providing additional information.

Don A. Hoglund (author) from Wisconsin Rapids on October 07, 2011:

daniellehorgan

Thank you for your comment. If you learned something here, it is worthwhile.

Don A. Hoglund (author) from Wisconsin Rapids on October 07, 2011:

L.L. Woodard,

Thanks for the congratulation. I'm glad you like the hub and I appreciate the comments.

Don A. Hoglund (author) from Wisconsin Rapids on October 07, 2011:

2

Patricias

They were there. Just have to look harder.There are some good books out about pioneer women, one written by Dee Brown if you are interested.Thanks for reading and for your congratulations.

Don A. Hoglund (author) from Wisconsin Rapids on October 07, 2011:

Moonlake,

Thanks for visiting my hub. I am glad you enjoyed it and thanks for the congratulations.

Don A. Hoglund (author) from Wisconsin Rapids on October 07, 2011:

Anasshad,

Thanks for commenting. I try to be interesting and informative and you indicate I succeeded in this case.Thanks for being a follower and I am following you now, as well.

Don A. Hoglund (author) from Wisconsin Rapids on October 07, 2011:

Patty English,MA

Thanks for visiting again.I appreciate you comments and spreading the word.

Don A. Hoglund (author) from Wisconsin Rapids on October 07, 2011:

Bail up

Thanks for visiting and commenting.Probably movies since the 1960's have felt the need to include minorities. Appreciate your comment.

Don A. Hoglund (author) from Wisconsin Rapids on October 07, 2011:

Prasetio,

The cowboy is very much America's myth.I think the mythical cowboy is related to the knights of old England.Thanks for commenting.

Don A. Hoglund (author) from Wisconsin Rapids on October 07, 2011:

Hi Peggy W

Thanks for stopping by again.I appreciate your comments.I tried to concentrate on Cowboys here as it would get too long with all the other occupations such as Jockeys, and Buffalo soldiers. I will get to one about the Buffalo soldiers ass well as a fiction piece in the series I started on Galvanized Yankees. I think both groups were in about the same area.

Don A. Hoglund (author) from Wisconsin Rapids on October 07, 2011:

MsDora,

Thank you for reading my hub and I appreciate your spreading the word about it.

Don A. Hoglund (author) from Wisconsin Rapids on October 07, 2011:

Kristine Manly,

Thank you for reading and passing the word about my hub, I appreciate it.I am glad you found it useful. I have a book on the Buffalo Soldiers but have not had a chance to read it yet. I expect to do a hub on them as well.

Don A. Hoglund (author) from Wisconsin Rapids on October 07, 2011:

Peter Lumetta,

I appreciate your letting me know that there was a problem in the hub sot that I could correct it. Hopefully it is OK now. Glad you liked the hub.

Don A. Hoglund (author) from Wisconsin Rapids on October 07, 2011:

Allen Williams,

Thanks for stopping by to read.It may be that the myth still dominates. Lots of people like westerns but do not know much about western history, or any other history for that matter.I think both have a place.

Don A. Hoglund (author) from Wisconsin Rapids on October 07, 2011:

Ronhi,

I think in the 1960's there was mo0re awareness of other races and it started to show up in TV shows. The TV show Rawhide shows one Black cowboy and one Mexican.Thanks for the congratulations.

WillStarr from Phoenix, Arizona on October 07, 2011:

There are still lots of cowboys in the west because on horseback is still the best way to gather cattle out of heavy brush, cactus, and canyons. And yes, many are Indians.

Don A. Hoglund (author) from Wisconsin Rapids on October 07, 2011:

Cardelion,

It is a case where the myth overcomes reality.How many people read history of the West? Almost everyone has seen Western movies though.Teaching history is important.Thanks for commenting.

Don A. Hoglund (author) from Wisconsin Rapids on October 07, 2011:

Rickrideshorses,

Thank you for stopping by and commenting. I am glad you found it of interest.I am sure there are Blacks working with horses and probably as cowboys.I saw a documentary many years ago and it seems that a lot of modern day cowboys are Indians.I tried to concentrate in this hub on Black cowboys although they were in many occupation.Thanks.

Sarah Kolb-Williams from Twin Cities on October 07, 2011:

History truly is in the hands of whoever is writing it down -- this is a fantastic hub that illustrates this. Valuable information -- thanks for your research.

Celiegirl on October 07, 2011:

Thanks so much, it has been a fascination of mine about Black Cowboys and black women of the Wild West so i knew some of this information, through my own research.

There were black towns as well, along with thoughts of other interesting tidbits. Thanks again! Beverly Jenkins is a romance novelist that talks about the black cowboys of the West.

VC L Veasey from Detroit,MI on October 07, 2011:

dahoglund

Good hub. This is one of my areas of study as well. So this is not new info for me.

Some famous Black Outlaws back in the day who were literally white-washed out the history books were Cherokee Bill and Isom Dart.

A famous Black lawman was Deputy US Marshall Bass Reeves. It said that the character Clint Eastwood played in the movie “Hang em High” was based on the life and career of Reeves. Google these guys names and see what you come up with.

You don't hear about Black Cowboys because Black men (and blacks in general) weren’t seen as worthy of mention by White writers of the day. They weren't seen as being of equal value as White men or of White people period.

Same thing with the portrayal of Indians in the movies. They were always shown as the bad guys, as savages attacking the good white settlers, but what they forgot to tell us is, that they were fighting to protect their ancestral lands that white settlers and the United States government was trying to take away from them by force. The general attitude toward Indians was summed up by the great Civil War General Phil Sheridan “The only good Indian is a dead Indian.”

The prevailing sentiment was that Whites were superior to all other groups. That was mythology spun by White intellectuals and writers of the day. What other groups did in the West wasn't important. Even the idea of how many men a White western outlaw killed was always “not counting Mexicans and Indians”. Killing White men counted more, was more worthy.

So this is just a tiny smattering of why you've never heard, read or saw anything about black cowboys, lawmen or outlaws while you were growing or thereafter.

daniellehorgan on October 07, 2011:

This is a fascinating hub, and congratulations on receiving hub of the day, it is much deserved! You realy can learn something new everyday!

L.L. Woodard from Oklahoma City on October 07, 2011:

Congratulations both on a great hub and for being named Hub of the Day.

The black cowboy tradition continues today, especially in the rodeo circuit called Bill Pickett Rodeo, named after a black cowboy who is credited with having first developed the rodeo event called bulldogging.

2patricias from Sussex by the Sea on October 07, 2011:

This is an unusual and interesting Hub, and certainly deserves the Hub of the Day status. Congratulations.

I was born in the West, and we had 'local history' at my school - but no mention of anyone black, or women either.

moonlake from America on October 07, 2011:

Congratulations on hub of the day. Enjoyed this hub. Good work.

Anas Shad from Pakistan on October 07, 2011:

Great hub. Really interesting. These types of hubs should deserve to be the hub of the day. Keep up the good work. Following you. :)

Patty Inglish MS from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation on October 07, 2011:

Congratulations for your Hub being named a Hub of the Day! More accurate histories like this one need to be made as public as possible. I've read it again and shared with my followers. Cheers!

Bail Up ! on October 07, 2011:

Very interesting hub! Old movies do depict some black cowboys but not many to my recollection, certainly not the close to the 25% mark. Thanks for the accurate research and educational hub :)

prasetio30 from malang-indonesia on October 07, 2011:

I just saw the cowboy from my television and I found something real from you, especially about the history. I had never know about this before. Thanks, brother for share with us. Well done and vote up!

Prasetio

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on October 07, 2011:

CONGRATULATIONS on getting the Hub of the Day! Well deserved and an important topic for those who were unaware of the part that black cowboys played in settling the West. Of course the Buffalo Soldiers also played their part. Nice to bring this out of obscurity.

Dora Weithers from The Caribbean on October 07, 2011:

Congratulations. Great article. Have heard mention of Black Cowboys but never thought they were as many as 25%. Will forward the word.

Donna Kristine from Atlanta, GA on October 07, 2011:

Thank you so much for this wonderful Hub. I will tweet this and post a link to this on my website. African-American children, especially, need to know this information. Voted Up! I also met an African-American Park Ranger at Yosemite who told me about the Buffalo Soldiers. He sent me a great video on the Buffalo Soldier. Again, great Hub!

PETER LUMETTA from KENAI, ALAKSA on October 07, 2011:

da, very good HUB I enjoyed it. Check yourself you double printed a few paragraphs. Congrats on the HUB of the day!

Peter

Allen Williams from Pennsylvania on October 07, 2011:

I have know about blacks being a part of the western movement after seeing a documentary some years ago. It was refreshing to read your hub about this lightly documented history. Your hub marks another location of information when people are searching for some answers. Hubs like this help to preserve or at least open people's eyes to the history that is not properly documented or taught. Good hub! I voted up and awesome!

ronhi from Kenya on October 07, 2011:

i was kind of schocked to watch the movie "wild wild west" because the cowboy in the movie was a black. I couldnt help but wonder, really? where there really african American cowboys? Or is this just an invention of a creative movie director? Thanks for answering my unspoken questions. And congratulations on hub of the day

cardelean from Michigan on October 07, 2011:

Years ago I found a non-fiction children's book about African American cowboys. It was the first time I had ever realized that they had been such a presence in the West. As a teacher of African American children, I snatched the book up to have in my classroom. I love that I now teach US History as part of my curriculum and am able to include this part of history in my teaching. It is unfortunate that most people, including African Americans, have no idea of this part of our history. Thanks for bringing this great topic to light and congratulations on your hub of the day!

Rickrideshorses from England on October 07, 2011:

Thanks for this really absorbing read. I had absolutely no idea that there were black cowboys. Until today I'd never seen a picture of a black cowboy - that's how much it's buried in history. Do black people to this day still work on ranches as cowboys? I worked at a ranch briefly in Missouri (I'm from England) and there were lots of romantic pictures of famous cowboys but not a single black person.

Don A. Hoglund (author) from Wisconsin Rapids on October 06, 2011:

Thanks for commenting and the added information.To a large extent I wanted to document the fact of African Americans in the real west and working as cowboys. Much more can be said for other role. Mostly the kinds of things that white people did except for the more prestigious roles, although some did own ranches,I believe.

As far as movies are concerned, I recall a show which I thnk was on the History channel about cowboys in the movies that were produced for Black audiences.The movie industry was segregated back then.

Wayne Brown from Texas on October 06, 2011:

So much of our love of the old west was kindled by the motion picture industry which basically picked the cowboy out of the traveling wild west shows and turned him in to fictional western heroes of the big screen. Many of these figures came out of Oklahoma off of the larger cattle ranches. Most who worked the wild west shows did it for the money as it paid better than working as a ranch hand. Tom Mix was among this crowd. Some of the travel wild west shows would "winter" in Hollywood CA and this is how they really first came to the attention of the movie industry as they would put on shows locally while waiting for the weather to warm up to the east. Understanding the times, the prejudices which were wide-spread in the American public spilled over on to the motion picture screen leaving the African-American cowboy literally out of the picture. Ironically, it was producer Mel Brooks who eventually used a black cowboy as his centerpiece in the western spoof, Blazing Saddles almost 100 years later. I think the wild west would have remained rather obscure in our history had it now found ground on the silver screen. WB

Don A. Hoglund (author) from Wisconsin Rapids on October 05, 2011:

Peggy W,

Thanks for commenting and voting.I've had a long time interest in folklore, myth and the West.Black people were a part of the west more than most of us realize. All sorts of people headed west after the Civil War so the South has left a mark on the west.There were outlaws, business people among the Blacks as well as cowboys, but I just wanted to concentrate on the cowboys for now.

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on October 04, 2011:

Good and important hub raising awareness of the part blacks have played in American history. Well done. Voted up, useful and interesting.

Don A. Hoglund (author) from Wisconsin Rapids on October 01, 2011:

Thanks WillStarr.I appreciate the comment.I read your story. I would have read it before but I wasn't aware of it.

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