Remembering Black History: The Black West, pt. 2

It's the last day of Black History Month and though this is late in coming, I didn't forget! I mentioned earlier in the month that would be featuring the fascinating black characters of the Old West and I have delivered: my top 5 rugged black cowhands, rodeo riders, pioneers, and businessmen of the Wild West. In my last post, I featured my top 5 women of the West so if you missed that be sure to check it out! In the meantime, here is just a brief list of black frontiersmen of the Old West... Enjoy!

1. Bill Pickett (1870-1932): Born to Black Cherokees in the Midwest, Pickett was a cowhand who invented "bulldogging," one of the 8 rodeo sports performed and credited to an individual. In 1971, he was the first African American  to be voted into Oklahoma City's Cowboy Hall of Fame.

2. George Bonga (1802-1880): A fur trapper, trader, and negotiator from Minnesota, Bonga was of African American and Indian descent and was made legend for his size and strength--he was over 6-feet tall, 200 pounds and once carried 700 pounds across northeastern Minnesota!

3. Alvin A. Coffey (1822-1902): Born a slave in Kentucky, Coffey was one of the first few black men to arrive in California in 1849 during the height of the Gold Rush. He managed to raise enough money to purchase his freedom, along with his wife and children's and later moved them to California. In 1887, he was inducted into the California Society of Pioneers--the only African American to receive that distinction.

4. Jean Baptiste Point du Sable (1745-1818): Did you know a Haitian man founded the city of Chicago? Well du Sable is that man. Born to a French seaman and an African slave woman, du Sable established a trading post at the mouth of the Chicago River, which would grow to become the great city it is today.

5. Nat Love (1854-1921): Also known as Deadwood Dick, Love was one of the most popular cowboys of the West. Born a slave, he later became a "cowpuncher" (I hope it doesn't mean what I think it means!) who was a loud and proud gunslinger full of tall tales. He entered a rodeo contest in Deadwood City in the Dakota Territory and won every contest, which landed him the nickname "Deadwood Dick."

Nat Love's wrote of his adventures as a cowboy in the Wild West and his book can be purchased here. Whether it's February or June, it's important to remember Black History 365 days a year.