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Kenneth Wayne Howell

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 ...

Article

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 ...

Article

Liz Stephens

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 ...

Article

William F. Mugleston

cowboy and author, was born in Davidson County, Tennessee, the son of Sampson Love and a mother whose name is unknown. Both were slaves owned by Robert Love, whom Nat described as a “kind and indulgent Master.” Nat Love's father was a foreman over other slaves; his mother, a cook. The family remained with Robert Love after the end of the Civil War.

In February 1869 Love struck out on his own. He left because Robert Love's plantation was in desperate economic straits after the war, and he sensed that there were few opportunities other than agricultural work for young former slaves in the defeated South. Although his father had died the year before, leaving him the head of the family, Love nevertheless left because, as he admitted, “I wanted to see more of the world.”

After a short stay in Kansas Love worked for three years on ...

Article

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 ...