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Cas City Forum Hall & CAS-L  |  Special Interests - Groups & Societies  |  Cas City Historical Society (Moderators: St. George, Silver Creek Slim)  |  Topic: All The Black Cowboys? 0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic. « previous next »
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Author Topic: All The Black Cowboys?  (Read 5745 times)
Shotgun Franklin
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« on: January 05, 2012, 10:24:35 pm »


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I read the reprint of Dakota Livesay's article,' Story From The Past "Bose Ikard''  (in the Cowboy Chronicle.)
I want to challenge his statement that one third of all cowboys were black. There is absolutely no evidence to support this statement. Over and over people have repeated the claim that a huge number of Cowboys, from one third to one fourth, were black. I've checked with as many Historians as I can and read as much Old West History as I can and just don't find evidence to support this. Even based on records of cattle drives and old photos there no way to support such a claim. If someone knows of a credible source then they ought to present it and clear things up. Until then It's just another one of those things people believe just because.


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Don Nix
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« Reply #1 on: January 06, 2012, 11:11:52 am »

You are absolutely right.Although there were a number of blacks and mexican hands the figure of 1/3 to 1/4 is way off.
 The king ranch used a lot of Mexican and black hands but they were a minority overall.
You have to remember the times and place.the reconstruction era and the fact that the  whaites were being disenfranchised by the freedmans bureau and Occupation forces.
 The folklorists that would have you believe that cowboys were a homogemous society and above the racial lines of the south are crazy.it didnt happen that way.
 Men like Bose Ikard, were considered trusted friends and servants but not equals.
 I have grown up around cowboys and I would dare say that the ratio of black to white is about the same today as it was in the 1870s. 
 I worked with a folklorist back in the early 90s documenting ranching culture in East Texas. She had the same ideas, yet although many many blacks raised cattle on small scales they did not transfer their skills to the job market as working hands.
 The Job market was too small and the pool of available out of work white men was too great. In an era where the ex confederates were being starved out whites were going to get the jobs.  Although many outfits had blacks  as cooks and swampers and horse jimglers ,they were a ssmall part of the crew and not nearly as many as 1/4 of the crew. Times were not that enlightened..
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Tascosa Joe
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« Reply #2 on: January 06, 2012, 01:26:51 pm »

As a youngster, I spent a lot of time reading about the big Panhandle Ranches, XIT, LS, etc.  I do not remember seeing a picture of a single black cowboy in those books.   Don the King Ranch had a fairly high percentage of Mexican Cowboys at least after 1900.  I am not basing that on documentation, that comes from a guy I used to serve with who grew up on the ranch.  His Dad was one of the Ranch Foremen as well as his Grandfather before him.   They are hispanic. 
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Don Nix
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« Reply #3 on: January 06, 2012, 01:43:52 pm »

Thats what I meant to say. The King ranch has always used a lot of Hispanics. The wagon boss on the Running w and the foreman have been and probbly still are Hispanic. But over all the they were in the minority not on the King ranch but among all the cattle outfits.
 Richard King was a slave owner and he had black hands but his vaqueros were and still are some of the best around.
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joec
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« Reply #4 on: January 06, 2012, 02:06:44 pm »

You got my interest peaked a bit with this as I know there where many more than most would believe. I found a couple of sites starting with http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cowboy that states about 25% after the civil war was of African America decent.. Here are some more.
http://www.legendsofamerica.com/we-natlove.html
http://themidnightdj.tripod.com/1860-1900.htm

There is more and even one that was a Texas ranger that was pretty good from what I read. He was know to disguise himself to help catch those he was sent after.

Edit: I found him and he was a US Marshal not a Texas Ranger. http://www.legendsofamerica.com/we-bassreeves.html
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Joe
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« Reply #5 on: January 06, 2012, 03:25:30 pm »

The first black Texas Ranger was appointed in the last quarter of the 20th century.
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« Reply #6 on: January 06, 2012, 03:49:21 pm »

The first black Texas Ranger was appointed in the last quarter of the 20th century.

I know that was my problem for some reason I was thinking he was a Texas Ranger but turned out he was a US Marshal as I posted named Bass Reeves. However with that aside it seems there was a pretty good percentage of cowboys that where of African decent. I do know that the Seminole indians also had a lot of African ex-slaves come to Florida with them when they fled the Texas area.
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ChuckBurrows
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« Reply #7 on: January 06, 2012, 05:10:56 pm »

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However with that aside it seems there was a pretty good percentage of cowboys that where of African decent.
based on what - Wiki, etc.? links that you posted. As others have said go to the original sources and do the research and do not just accept some politically correct revisionist historians view - look at the early photos of cowboy groups, the lists of names hired by various ranches, etc. and you will find no there was no pretty good percentage of Blacks - at most maybe 10% but more like 3-4% - either way no where near the 25-30% claimed by the PC crowd.
And FWIW - Personally I have no prejudice towards blacks, Hispanics (my Mama's maiden name was Delacruz after all), Indains ( I'm mixed bood by heritage) or any other ethnic group, but history should not be "Politicicised out of some kind of "white" guilt or whatever that unforunatley so many modern PC Historians have done.
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joec
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« Reply #8 on: January 06, 2012, 05:19:03 pm »

based on what - Wiki, etc.? links that you posted. As others have said go to the original sources and do the research and do not just accept some politically correct revisionist historians view - look at the early photos of cowboy groups, the lists of names hired by various ranches, etc. and you will find no there was no pretty good percentage of Blacks - at most maybe 10% but more like 3-4% - either way no where near the 25-30% claimed by the PC crowd.
And FWIW - Personally I have no prejudice towards blacks, Hispanics (my Mama's maiden name was Delacruz after all), Indains ( I'm mixed bood by heritage) or any other ethnic group, but history should not be "Politicicised out of some kind of "white" guilt or whatever that unforunatley so many modern PC Historians have done.

As I stated Chuck this post got my interest peaked, hence I looked for some information on it. Now as for your opinion about Political Correctness I can only go by what I found trying to add to the conversation nothing more as I hadn't given it much thought before this post. Sorry if it caused a problem with your belief system.
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« Reply #9 on: January 06, 2012, 06:59:22 pm »

Every time this topic of conversation comes up its always the same. bose Ikard and Bass reeves Nat Turner and a few more.
 Bass reeves was a Deputy U.S. Marshall out of the Guthrie court. He was used to hunt half breeds and blacks in the Indian territories. (I once was a historical consultant on an independent movie about Bass Reeves) Although he was an effective Deputy Marshall and he did arrest some whites, the surest way to get a fight out of a white in the eatsern part of Oklahoma and western Ark was to to send a black out to arrest him.
my grandfather killed a black deputy sheriff by hittinghim over the head with a cotton scale because he laid hands on him. No charges were filed as this was an affront to him.
 Most of these figures are made of folks who think that everyone who lived and worked  in the 1880s was a cowboy, and they do not nor have they ever lived in the south nad west.
 Blacks and whites interacted and worked together but they did not live together.They would not eat together and dern sure wouldnt share a bedroll.
J Frank Dobies book "Cow people" describes the old trail drivers reunion in the early 1900s where one of the Owners had a couple of his black hands with him and they were wearing name tags like the white drovers. This caused a stir and one of them said" why does his ni%%ers get to wear nametage . Our ni%ers is as good as his, Lets get name tags for them"
 What you have to take from that is that they were not considered as equals even though they might have been thought well of  and made good hands. 
 I have to insist on the simple fact that after the war jobs were scarce and there was no money  and the reconstructionist were denying white southerners jobs and bank credit and seizing property. The owner who would send blacks up the trail and not hire whites would not have lasted in Texas very long at all . It sounds good and looks good in the movies but it did not happen.
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Shotgun Franklin
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« Reply #10 on: January 06, 2012, 07:23:28 pm »

Quote
that states about 25% after the civil war was of African America decent

(I do NOT want this to be a personal attack.) This is exactly the deal. Give some source material.
We believe a lot of stuff that may or may not be true, if we don't have source material to prove
one way or the other then we need to quit stating sometime is or is not a fact.
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joec
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« Reply #11 on: January 06, 2012, 07:40:12 pm »

(I do NOT want this to be a personal attack.) This is exactly the deal. Give some source material.
We believe a lot of stuff that may or may not be true, if we don't have source material to prove
one way or the other then we need to quit stating sometime is or is not a fact.

That is what I was trying to do and the quote came from some of what I read. I have no opinion on this subject one way or the other as I stated, I never gave it much thought. The sources I gave are what I gave but there are records of black cowboys as to how many no idea. At this point I will leave this up to you all to work out as I don't want to be attacked nor attack anyone else.
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Russ McCrae
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« Reply #12 on: January 18, 2012, 06:37:44 pm »

As a youngster, I spent a lot of time reading about the big Panhandle Ranches, XIT, LS, etc.  I do not remember seeing a picture of a single black cowboy in those books.   Don the King Ranch had a fairly high percentage of Mexican Cowboys at least after 1900.  I am not basing that on documentation, that comes from a guy I used to serve with who grew up on the ranch.  His Dad was one of the Ranch Foremen as well as his Grandfather before him.   They are hispanic. 

On the cattle side they still are majority Hispanic, I can count on both hands the number of white cowboys/division managers and still have spare fingers. King may have also had slaves but from what I was told/read it was most likey one or two house servants. They have always been a hispanic ranch with a few whites mixed in.

What was your buddy's name? I know quite a few of the bigger kineő families on the ranch.
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« Reply #13 on: January 19, 2012, 09:30:06 am »

Russ:

My friend,s name is Cavazos.  His Grandfather was Lauro, His uncle Lauro was the President of Texas Tech Univ, and his uncle Richard was the the first hispanic 4 Star Gen in the Army.  His Dad stayed on the ranch, but left about 30 years ago, and last I heard was living around Fredericksburg and was writing books. 

T-Joe
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« Reply #14 on: January 19, 2012, 02:05:28 pm »

Good thread.  I was surprised when I read the 25% figure.  Just started studying old west history in the last year and that was one of the more surprising things I read.  Just casual observance I couldn't remember seeing many old cowboy pics with black cowboys.
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Hangtown Frye
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« Reply #15 on: January 19, 2012, 11:41:35 pm »

Several of the sources I've read say "up to a quarter were Black or Mexican..." which I always took to mean 20% Mexican, 5% Black.   Smiley  It's pretty much a "fudge factor" for historians who want to be PC but can't fudge the numbers to their satisfaction any other way.

As an aside, a family member of mine from Clayton, New Mexico told a story related to her by her father from the turn-of-the-century about a group of cowboys coming into the "Big" hotel in town (still standing and still serving dinner last time I was there, the Eklund Hotel).  When they sat down, the waiter said "You boys can eat in here, but your nigger has to eat in the kitchen"
In reply, one of the cowboys drew his big Colt and laid it on the table and said "Nigger Charlie eats with us at home, Nigger Charlie eats with us here."  End of story.

As far as Mexican Cowboys goes, there were surely plenty.  There are always stories of "So and so shot a Mexican, etc..." or "I got into a gunfight with a Vaquero" in the ruminations of such lights as John Wesley Hardin, etc., who in fact got into a gunfight with the Mexican boss of the herd behind him when driving cattle to Kansas. But that's like saying that there were always Germans around in the West.  There were, but that doesn't make them a huge percentage of the population.

Anyway, the moral is that, indeed there were both Blacks and Mexicans working cattle in the West (after all, Mexicans invented the technology that the American Cowboys adopted), but as to their numbers?  Good question, but I doubt that there were 25% of them Black.

Cheers,

Gordon
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« Reply #16 on: January 24, 2012, 05:08:01 pm »

25% of cowboys where black?
I don't know, but the number I saw was that 1/3 (or approximatly 9,000) of all cowboys in the U.S. where black (AA)  by 1810.... read it in "Gunfighters : The outlaws and their weapons (page 212-213)" by Chris McNab.
I am not swearing to the accuracy, I am only mentioning the source.

I can't help but wonder how many asian cowboys there where...
Chon Wang: [shaking his hand] My name is Chon Wang.
Roy O'Bannon: John Wayne?
Chon Wang: Chon Wang.
Roy O'Bannon: That's a terrible cowboy name!
Chon Wang: Why?
Roy O'Bannon: No, come on. That's not gonna work. That's horrible; that's so bad! And so's the ponytail!



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« Reply #17 on: January 25, 2012, 01:51:20 am »

    Lincoln County, NM was about as western as you could get in 1880.  In playing with my census program I find that there were 1,502 white Heads of Households in the county.  This figure includes the Hispanic population. 

771 of those were born in New Mexico.  Most of those would very likely be the Hispanic population.

An additional 86 Head of Household’s were born in Mexico.

In addition, there were 46 Blacks in the County.  Of these, 31 were soldiers, 4 were teamsters, 2 were cooks, 1 was a servant, 5 were laborers, 1 worked on a farm and 2 were herders.  (cowboys) 

A look at Chisum’s outfit on the Pecos shows 10 Anglo “cattle herders”, 2 Hispanic “cattle herders” and 1 Black “cattle herder” by the name of John Maniff.

Andy Adams wrote that Charles Siringo stated that …”Negro cowboys were treated with as much courtesy and respect as his white cowboys”.  (at Chisum’s ranch)   

Evidently not enumerated in 1880, Frank Chisum, a Black, came to New Mexico with John Chisum in 1867 and was one of Chisum’s most trusted men.  Frank established his own herd during the Chisum years and when the company folded in 89 stayed in the cattle business in the Pecos Valley up until about 1928.

Lincoln County in 1880 was southeast New Mexico.  This census is said to be incomplete in that the census takers didn’t get too far off the beaten path.  However, Lincoln County in 1880 probably had several thousand square miles in it that had not been settled.   I will say that the census taker did manage to enumerate Billy the Kid so how incomplete was it?

My gGrandfather came from southwest Louisiana / southeast Texas to the Pecos Valley in 1888 and became a manager for the –V Ranch.  It is said that he was on numerous trail drives, one going to Canada.  I would wager that he worked with far more Blacks in Texas than New Mexico.   
 

   
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Yeso Bill
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« Reply #18 on: January 25, 2012, 03:26:03 am »

PS
In all honesty, I didn’t think the term “cowboy” was that popular by 1880.  But using the same tricks in the 1880 Census except using “cowboy” instead of “herder” and going to the state of Texas, we find 29 Black “cowboys” and 351 White “cowboys”.  It looks like about 10% of the “White” cowboys were Hispanic. 

There were lots of sheep and goats in Texas and if I type in “White” with “Herder” I get 1, 968 with a little over 10% (looking at the first page only) being Anglo.

There were 70 Black herders in the state and no doubt, some in each category were cowboys. 

Billy
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« Reply #19 on: January 25, 2012, 09:44:42 am »

FWIW, the term "waddy" seems to have been more in usage before the 1890's. There are references before that to "cow boys" as such but even that term goes back to before the Revolution for boys who tended cattle in the Colonies.

A far greater myth than that of a large percentage being minorities is that this was a coveted profession when it was not. Most were looked down upon. Punching cattle was nothing anyone dreamed of as it was hard, dirty & dangerous work. Hollywood glamorized the life of the 'waddy' much as they did the Prohibition gangsters. The same goes for the mythical bounty hunters, fast draw artists, etc. All BS.
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« Reply #20 on: January 29, 2012, 08:23:36 pm »

History is revisionist BS?   Shocked

Say it isn't so!   Roll Eyes


I shudder to think what will be said about _us_ 100 years from now.
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Shotgun Franklin
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« Reply #21 on: January 29, 2012, 09:04:46 pm »

It's bad enough what's being said about us now.
At least they could have waited 'til we were in the ground to tell us every problem in the world is our fault.
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« Reply #22 on: March 13, 2012, 06:39:31 am »

It's bad enough what's being said about us now.
At least they could have waited 'til we were in the ground to tell us every problem in the world is our fault.

Ain't THAT the truf!
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« Reply #23 on: March 13, 2012, 10:52:34 am »

As a History teacher, I tell my students that Wikipedia is NOT a reliable source for scholarly research.  It is often edited by individuals with an agenda, and short on primary sources.  It is usually based on 3rd or 4th hand sources.  It may be OK for a glance at a subject, and maybe a springboard to other sources, but NOT to garner facts from.
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Shotgun Franklin
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« Reply #24 on: March 13, 2012, 06:51:56 pm »

Here's what I believe but only have my own common sense to back it up.
In East Texas there was a large Black population, as working cattle was a low level blue collar type job it is LIKELY that many men working cows were Black. Farther West and North the Black population was much smaller and the number of Blacks employed to work cattle should, or might, have been lower.
I also am sure that it will take a lot of research to come to any real figure as to the break down by race of the common laborers we now call Cowboys. Until I see real source material quoted quoted it's just BS.
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