Black Pioneers, Settlers, Cowboys and Outlaws
During the western migration, during the period we call the "Wild West", 1 in 3 cowboys was either Black or Mexican. Hollywood seems to have left a third of the cowboy population out of its hundreds of cowboy movies. Maybe they just didn't know better.
Most of the information here is from the wonderful book, "The Black West" by William Loren Katz, published in 1987 by Ethrac Publications, Inc.
Other souces of information about Black cowboys and settlers are, "Black California, The History of African-Americans in the Golden State", by B. Gordon Wheeler, and "The Negro in American History" series by Encyclopedia Britannica Educational Corporation.
A great book about Black cowboys is "The Negro Cowboy" by Philip Durham and Everett L. Jones. It has great stories, photographs, maps and illustrations as well as an extensive bibliography.
This is not a comprehensive listing, but represents some of the most colorful and obscure Black men and women who helped tame "The Wild West".
By the way, if you're in Colorado or planning a trip there, stop by the Black American West Museum and Heritage Center in Denver.
Scout, explorer and teller of tall tales.
Ben BrunoA leader amoung the Seminole Indians. The Seminole tribe who adopted him termed blacks their slaves so that they could not be recaptured and enslaved by the U.S. government.
Jim PierceExpedition cook and guide.
Edward RoseFrontiersman, trapper, guide, friend of the Aricaras Indians.
John MarrantProtestant missionary to the western Indian tribes.
John StewartMethodist missionary to the Wyondotte tribe.
Edmonia LewisFirst famous black sculptress in America.
Greenbury LoganSettler, soldier, rendered crippled in the Texas war for independence against Mexico. After the war, lost all civil rights when slavery was introduced.
John JonesSettler, publisher, conductor on the "Underground Railroad", Civil Rights activist.
Aunt Clara BrownEntrepreneur, nurse, community leader and organizer in Central City, Colorado.
William LambertConductor of Underground Railroad in Detroit, Michigan.
George MonroeGold miner, California stage driver.
William RobinsonPony Express rider.
Biddy MasonAs a slave, she walked from Mississippi to California keeping her master's cattle from roaming. Cleverly negotiated her freedom when her master chose to return to Mississippi. Gained wealth through her labors and investments. Became a well-known philanthropist.
Mary Ellen PleasantCivil rights activist, California.
Mifflin W. GibbsFounded California's first black newspaper, "Mirror of the Times". Civil rights activist.
Britton Johnson"Best shot on the Texas frontier."
Jesse StahlBronco buster. "...best rider of wild horses in the West."
Bose IkardTop trail Hand.
Mary FieldsKnown as "Stagecoach Mary". Laundress, mail carrier, gunfighter, brawler.
Ben HodgesDodge City con man, forger, card cheat, rustler.
Isom DartCattle rustler.
Charley GlassColorado cowpuncher, broncobuster, ranch foreman.