Wednesday, 07 April 2004
Pix Of The Day: Who Was The Real Deadwood Dick?
CREDIT: © University of North Carolina/Documenting the American South
WHERE: Deadwood, Dakota Territory. WHAT: the life & times of Deadwood Dick.
MAPS: South Dakota and Deadwood. Thumbnail click pops-up source page.
Just as Deadwood Gulch became a vague entry in many people's internal gazetteer, so Deadwood Dick is listed in many internal address books. A tiny, unscientific survey suggested that people recognize the soubriquet, though the best identification we managed to get was that he was a character invented by a Western writer. Several men claimed to be the real Deadwood Dick, but Nat Love (1854-1921) probably has the best claim based on his memoirs. The invention by a Western writer may not be too far wide of the mark in some of the more heroic details, but the broader sweep of the narrative seems solid enough. Better yet, there are photographs!
In his book 'Life and Adventures of Nat Love, Better Known in the Cattle Country as "Deadwood Dick," by Himself; a True History of Slavery Days, Life on the Great Cattle Ranges and on the Plains of the "Wild and Woolly" West, Based on Facts, and Personal Experiences of the Author' published in Los Angeles, California, 1907, there are seven more photographs:  Roping Contest at Deadwood, SD, holding a lariat;  In My Fighting Clothes, much the same as the last one, but holding a rifle;  My First Experience as a Pullman Porter;  This is Where I Shine. Now I am Out for the Money;  Close of My Railroad Career;  With Wm. Blood, My Old Cowboy Friend, and Other Friends at the Close of My Railroad Career; and  With the General Securities Company. A late 19th century career in pictures.
The photographs, and the line drawings that also bring the tale alive, are listed on an illustrations index page, with printing details, and extensive hypertext reference links from the contents page for the electronic edition of the text.
The history of the West has been written from a white Anglo perspective. There are other stories to be told: the highest estimate for the non-white contribution to cowboy history, given by Dr. Richard W. Slatta, estimates Anglos at 63%, African-Americans at 25%, and Mexicans or Mexican-Americans at 12%. Immigrant Chinese people were also significant contributors to the development of the West, and all these groups have probably been under represented in the historical accounts. After looking at some of Deadwood's 'mainstream' characters, we will then seek out some of 'marginalised' non Anglos who do appear in the documentary record of the emerging West.
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Jules Laforgue (1860-1887)
"Ah! que la vie est quotidienne."
Oh, what a day-to-day business life is.
'Complainte sur certains ennuis' (1885)