Cowboy Nat Love: a snapshot biography.

“In an old log cabin, on my Master’s plantation in Davidson County in Tennessee in June, 1854, I first saw the light of day. The exact date of my birth I never knew, because in those days no count was kept of such trivial matters as the birth of a slave baby. They were born and died and the account was balanced in the gains and losses of the Master’s chattels, and one more or less did not matter much one way or another.” – Nat Love

Nat Love Biography

People said Nat Love never felt discouraged; he always lived with a positive attitude.

Born enslaved in Davidson Country, Tennessee, in 1854, Nat spent his early years until Emancipation enslaved on a plantation, surrounded by plantations with thousands of other enslaved people. His father worked on the plantation in a role that was similar to a foreman, his mother ran the kitchen.

Nat showed much promise from an early age. While the law prohibited enslaved people from learning to read and write, he was able to learn with his father’s help. He was also known as a leader and hard worker, and he desired to help others from a young age. After his father and brother-in-law passed away while Nat was in his teens, he took on the responsibility of caring for both households.

But with time, he longed to explore the world. When his uncle came to stay with the family, Nat felt the time was right to venture out. In February of 1869, feeling full of confidence, he went west, becoming a cowboy first in Texas and then in Arizona.

Nat Love Portrait, 1907
Nat Love, 1907

The cowboy life brought him many experiences. Some were challenging. Like overcoming fights and being captured by a Native American tribe. Many other experiences were full of joyful times.

It was also during these years that Nat met the woman whom he would call his love. After living the cowboy life for eighteen years, Nat decided to settle down towards the late 19th century. He married and became a Pullman porter overseeing sleeping cars in Denver.

In the early 20th century, he moved to Los Angeles, where he worked as a courier and guard for a security company. And where he published his autobiography, “Life and Adventures of Nat Love, Better Known in the Cattle Country as ‘Deadwood Dick,’ by Himself.”

Nat passed away in Los Angeles in 1921.


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Click here to read quotes from Nat Love.


“Life and Adventures of Nat Love, Better Known in the Cattle Country as ‘Deadwood Dick,’ by Himself.” – Documenting the American South, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill / Photograph taken in 1907 – Wikimedia Commons / Wikipedia

To Cite

“Cowboy Nat Love: a snapshot biography.” Historical Snapshots.