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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

Mathias Hanses

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 ...

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

Charles Rosenberg

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 ...

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 ...