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Wild, Wild West
West to Freedom - Nat Love and Bill Pickett



West to Freedom - Nat Love and Bill Pickett
Reading Level
     edHelper's suggested reading level:   grades 6 to 8
     Flesch-Kincaid grade level:   6.76

Vocabulary
     challenging words:    snotty, cowhand, bulldogger, steers, mustang, subdue, injury, accomplishment, competitive, truth, fastest, champion, despite, nickname, territory, stunts
     content words:    African American Pioneers, African Americans, African American, Nat Love, Davidson County, Dodge City, American Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln, Emancipation Proclamation, Great Plains


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West to Freedom - Nat Love and Bill Pickett
By Trista L. Pollard
  

1     In West to Freedom - African American Pioneers, you read about the many pioneers who settled in the West. African Americans were part of this group. They came west as slaves and as freedmen and women. African American men joined cattle companies as cowboys or cowhands. Some of these cowboys became famous for their riding and herding skills.
 
2     Nat Love was born in Davidson County, Tennessee, in 1854 as a slave. He moved to Dodge City, Kansas, when the American Civil War (1861-1865) ended. In 1863 he gained his freedom. President Abraham Lincoln had signed the Emancipation Proclamation during that year. Love was now free to travel in the West. He wanted to find adventure. At the age of fifteen, he started working for cattle companies. These companies were located in Texas and Arizona. However, he herded cattle to many other states. Love drove cattle and horses on the trails through the Great Plains, the Rocky Mountains, and down to Mexico. He worked many cattle drives to Kansas, South Dakota, and Nebraska. Love worked as a cowhand for over 20 years. He also entered rodeo competitions. On July 4, 1876, Love won a roping, shooting, and wild horseback competition in Deadwood, South Dakota. He rode a wild mustang for 12 minutes and 30 seconds, which was the fastest time. For his accomplishment, he was named "Deadwood Dick" by other cowboys at the competition.
 
3     We know a lot about Nat Love because he wrote his own autobiography. In 1907 his book, The Life and Adventures of Nat Love, Better Known in the Cattle Country as "Deadwood Dick", was published. Some historians believe that Love "stretched the truth" in his book. However, in his autobiography, he talked about meeting famous cowboys like Billy the Kid, Jesse James, Kit Carson, and Buffalo Bill Cody. He also talked about surviving Indian attacks and western storms. He participated in and witnessed gunfights. All of this occurred as he traveled through New Mexico, Colorado, Wyoming, Montana, and Utah. In 1889, Love was married and decided to start a new life. He retired from the cowboy life in 1890. Love moved to Colorado and became a Pullman porter for the Denver and Rio Grande Railroad. He also worked as a bank guard later in life. Nat Love died in 1921 at the age of 67 in Los Angeles, California.

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