cowboy and rancher, may have been born into slavery and escaped from bondage before the Civil War, though information about his life prior to his arrival in southwest Texas in the 1870s is limited. Based on stories he later told to his co-workers it seems likely that Adams spent his early adult life working as a cowboy in the brush country region of Texas, probably south and west of San Antonio. Given the circumstance of his birth and the times in which George came of age, he never received a formal education. As recent historical scholarship has made clear, black cowboys on the Texas plains enjoyed greater freedoms than did African Americans living in more settled regions of the state. However, their freedoms were always tainted by the persistent racism that prevailed during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. George Adams's life was a vivid example of ...
Kenneth Wayne Howell
Betti Carol VanEpps-Taylor
farmer, patriarch, and founder of the Sully County Colored Colony, Dakota Territory (South Dakota became a state in 1889), was born in slavery, probably in Tennessee, and was freed at Emancipation. He married Mary Elizabeth Bagby Blair, reported to be half Cherokee. With their six adult children they founded South Dakota's only successful black agricultural colony. Five years out of slavery the family was farming near Morris, Illinois, about fifty miles southwest of Chicago. With substantial personal property, they held their land “free and clear.” An oral tradition among South Dakota African Americans suggests that Blair's successful bloodline of fast horses, his unseemly prosperity, and his interest in expanding his lands aroused jealousy among his white neighbors in Illinois, prompting him to consider relocating to Dakota Territory.
Sully County, just east of present‐day Pierre, South Dakota, opened for settlement in April 1883 The following year Norval Blair ...
was the first African American and perhaps the first of any color to become a millionaire in Texas. His life reflects substantial changes in the social and legal implications of skin color from the late eighteenth century to the mid-nineteeth century, distinct from, but closely related to, changes in the institution of slavery.
His father was a “free colored” man named William Goyens Sr. (or Goin), born in 1762, who enlisted in a company of the Tenth North Carolina Regiment May 1781–May 1782 for the Revolutionary War. After discharge from the militia, Goyens Sr. married an unknown woman referred to as “white,” who was the mother of the younger William Goyens. Goyens Sr. then remarried a colored woman named Elizabeth in 1793. Goyens Sr. received an invalid pension for North Carolina militia service in 1835, at the age of seventy-two (Research of Cindy Goins Hoelscher ...
Melissa Nicole Stuckey
cofounder of Boley, Oklahoma, the largest all-black town in the United States, was the eldest child of Matthew and Dottie Haynes and was born in Red River County, Texas. Very little is known about Haynes's childhood and young adulthood. He was the eldest of more than twelve brothers and sisters, grew up on a farm, and had very little education during his formative years. By 1900 his parents had moved to Paris, Texas, a small city, which increased the educational opportunities available to Haynes's younger siblings, but whether the move took place early enough to allow Haynes to attend city schools is unknown. In the late 1880s or early 1890s, Haynes married and started a family. In 1899, shortly after his wife, whose name is unknown, passed away, he moved to Oklahoma City, Oklahoma Territory, to begin anew. He was soon joined by his daughters, Winnie and George ...
Jon L. Brudvig
also known as “Nigger Ben” or “Nigga Benjy,” cowboy, cattle rustler, card cheat, and con artist, was born Benjamin F. Hodges in Texas, the son of an African American buffalo soldier assigned to the Ninth Cavalry stationed in San Antonio and a Hispanic mother, neither of whose names is known. Nothing is known about Hodges's family, childhood, or education, or indeed of his life before he arrived in Dodge City, Kansas.
Hodges arrived in the newly established town of Dodge City in 1872 with a herd of Texas cattle. Robert M. Wright, author of Dodge City, indicates that Hodges, then in his late twenties, was one of the earliest Texas drovers to arrive in Dodge City. Although not as famous as some of the town's other residents, notably Wyatt Earp, Bat Masterson, and Doc Holliday Hodges was one of the most ...
a cowboy and town founder most famous for honoring enduring pioneers with single white flowers, was born in Orangeville, Texas, the eldest son of two former slaves, Alex and Annie Hooks. While still at the Hooks Plantation, located outside of Texarkana, Alex had learned to read and write (his owner taught him in defiance of the law and used him as a bookkeeper), which helped him avoid the economic toils so many penniless freedmen faced in the postbellum South. In Orangeville, Alex Hooks became a preacher and prominent educator in that tiny town's black community, and the Bible, accordingly, played a dominant role in the education of his five sons and three daughters. Wiry, skinny Mathew Hooks soon went by the nickname Bones and developed such rugged attitudes and salt of the earth perseverance as would enable his successes in the Lone Star State Among them were ...
cowboy and trail-driver on the Goodnight-Loving Trail and close associate of the cattleman Charles Goodnight, was born a slave in Summerville, Mississippi, and later moved to Parker County, Texas, with the family of his owner and probable father, Dr. William Ikard. Bose Ikard's mother was named King and was also William Ikard's slave. Though the Texas Historical Commission lists Ikard's birth as 1843, and Ikard's own headstone lists 1859, a probable year of birth was 1847, the same year as that of William Ikard's “legitimate” son, with whom Bose was largely raised.
Ikard's association with Goodnight arose from their proximity as neighbors in Parker County, working in the same industry. With a move from Mississippi to Texas in 1852 the Ikard family became part of the primary industry of the region, cattle. The sale of one female slave, possibly Ikard's mother, to another neighbor, Oliver ...
David B. McCarthy
was born Oliver Toussaint Jackson in Oxford, Ohio, the fifth of six children of Caroline Chavons and Hezekiah Jackson. His parents named him after Toussaint Louverture, leader of the Haitian slave revolution of 1791.
At age fourteen Jackson moved to Cleveland, Ohio to work as a steward and caterer at the Vendome Hotel. In 1887 he moved to Colorado and ran catering businesses in Denver and Idaho Springs. On 5 September 1889 he married Sarah “Sadie” Cook, whose sister Jennie was married to Oliver’s older brother James; Sadie was the aunt of composer Will Marion Cook. Census records report that they had one child, who apparently did not survive early childhood.
In December 1892 Jackson began to operate the Stillman Cafe and Ice Cream Parlor in Boulder, Colorado. He and Sadie bought a house on Pine Street in 1893, and in 1894 they bought a farm just ...
renaissance man of diverse interests who spent most of his life as a cowboy and foreman on New Mexico horse and cattle ranches; amateur natural historian, geologist, astronomer, and archaeologist; and self-taught violinist and surveyor, discovered what was later identified as North America's first Paleo-Indian site, in Wild Horse Arroyo near Folsom, New Mexico. This discovery pushed back the date of known human settlement on the continent from 3,000 years to over 10,000 years.
McJunkin was born in 1851 on a ranch near Midway, Texas, where the laws of that time defined him as the property of persons unknown. The names of his parents have never been established, and even the origin of his surname is disputed; accounts that he worked for a Jack McJunkin in Texas (whether before or after emancipation is not clear), point to John Sanders McJunkin of Midway. In 1910 he informed a U S ...
David Mark Silver
Isaiah Thornton Montgomery was born on the “Hurricane” plantation of Joseph Davis at Davis Bend, Mississippi, the son of Benjamin Montgomery, the plantation business manager and later a planter and owner of a mercantile store, and Mary Lewis. As a result of his father's prominent position among the slaves, Montgomery was chosen at the age of nine or ten to serve as Davis's personal secretary and office attendant. Davis, the older brother of Confederate president Jefferson Davis, granted Montgomery full access to all the books, newspapers, and periodicals within his home, enabling Montgomery to continue the education begun first by his father and later continued by another slave. Following the Civil War, in November 1866 Davis sold his two plantations to the Montgomery family During the next fifteen years the Montgomerys struggled and ultimately failed to make the plantations profitable yet they still succeeded in ...
David Mark Silver
planter and founder of Mound Bayou, Mississippi, was born on the “Hurricane” plantation of Joseph Davis at Davis Bend, Mississippi, the son of Benjamin Montgomery, the plantation business manager and later a planter and owner of a mercantile store, and Mary Lewis. As a result of his father's prominent position among the slaves, Montgomery was chosen at the age of nine or ten to serve as Davis's personal secretary and office attendant. Davis, the older brother of Confederate president Jefferson Davis, granted Montgomery full access to all the books, newspapers, and periodicals within his home, enabling Montgomery to continue the education begun first by his father and later continued by another slave. Following the Civil War, in November 1866 Davis sold his two plantations to the Montgomery family During the next fifteen years the Montgomerys struggled and ultimately failed to make the plantations profitable yet ...
the first black deputy marshal west of the Mississippi, was born in Paris, Texas, although some historians believe he was born near Van Buren, Arkansas. The son of slaves, Reeves spent his early years on a small farm in Grayson County, Texas, owned by George Reeves a former colonel in the Confederate army Very little is known about Reeves s early life and even less is known about his parents Early on he labored in the Texas cotton fields as a water boy where he learned stories and songs about black outlaws He liked them so much according to one source that he worried his mother with his preoccupation with badmen violence and guns Reeves was chosen as companion for Colonel Reeves s son and he served in this capacity until he was a young adult The relationship came to a quick end however when the two argued during ...
sailor, cooper, soldier, surveyor, farmer, and innkeeper, was born in Lunenburg, Worcester County, Massachusetts. Taylor's father was probably Prince Taylor (?–1804), a slave of John Taylor of Lunenburg. It is not known if the younger Prince Taylor was born a slave or free. In occupation and location, Taylor continually reinvented himself to cope with changing circumstances. He did not marry.
Taylor served as steward on the fourteen-gun brig Diligent under Captain Brown for five months in 1779 during the failed Penobscot expedition, America's greatest naval disaster until Pearl Harbor. In his 1818 Revolutionary War pension deposition, Taylor declared, “I am by trade a Saylor” (Revolutionary War Pension Application, Massachusetts service, dossier #S.42.463, National Archives). On 6 March 1781 he accepted the bounty paid by the town of Lunenburg to enlist in the Continental Army for the next three years His enlistment ...
Michael N. Searles
cattleman sometimes known as “80 John,” was born near Inez in Victoria County, Texas, to Mary Wallace, a slave. Mary was born in Virginia, lived in Missouri, and sold to Mary O'Daniels of Texas. Little is known of Mary's other children born in Missouri or of Daniel's father. Neither Webster's birth nor his young life distinguished him from other slave children born in that region of the state. Webster, as he was then known, spent his earliest days performing menial chores and graduated to field work by the time he reached adolescence. However, chopping cotton never was his preferred activity, and he looked forward to a day when he could become a cowboy.
Wallace began his cowboy career as a teenager in the mid 1870s on a cattle drive from Victoria to Coleman County While Wallace was a tenderfoot he carried out his responsibilities and finished the trail drive ...
Darrell M. Milner
George Washington was born near Winchester in Frederick County, Virginia, the son of a mixed-race African American slave father named Washington and a white mother whose name is unrecorded. The nature of his parentage violated social conventions; his father was immediately sold, never to be involved in his life again, and his mother allowed baby George to be adopted by James C. Cochran and his wife, a white family. At age four George moved west with the Cochrans, settling first near Delaware City, Ohio; when he was nine, the family moved farther west, eventually to Bloomington on the Missouri frontier. As a black youth in the slave state of Missouri, Washington was denied a formal education, but he taught himself the rudiments of reading, writing, and mathematics. He also acquired the skills in woodcraft and marksmanship for which he would later become renowned.
By 1841 Washington and a partner ...