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Love's Life


Nat saw her heartbreak and disappointment as she looked down and walked away.  But seeing her in such pain made Nat jump out of the wagon he had been hiding in, and he took her in his arms and kissed her in front of all his workmates.  Soon they were engaged to be married, and Nat decided that come fall, he would settle down in Mexico City with his sweetheart.  Alas this love story did not end well, as she became ill and died in the spring on that year.  Nat dealt with the loss the only way he could, by being wild and reckless, putting himself in harm's way any chance he'd get.  Eventually, his wounds had healed, and Nat was able to focus on his work.

At the end of his cowboy days, Nat Love married another woman in Denver, Colorado.  Little is said in the book about Nat Love's second wife, which he refers to as his second Love, except that she said she wasn't in the least bit jealous about the first Mrs. Love.

During the great Buffalo hunts that took place during the 1870s, both the cowboys and Indians contributed to the near annihilation of the species.  Nat Love himself had carved 126 notches on his rifle stock.  Even then,  there were concerns raised over the massacre of a species.  Nat Love himself commented on this, saying "Where once they roamed by the thousands now rises the chimney and the spire, while across their once peaceful path now thunders the iron horse..."

While we could go on about the moral issues brought up while reading Mr. Love's exploits, we must remember that late 19th century America was a different place with different concerns, and that survival was still a primary concern of many; it was not a time of reflection, but a time for action. The Gold Rush had ended, the Civil War was over, railways were still under construction,  and cities were only beginning to grow.

We must also remember that Nat Love was first and foremost, a working man.  While we imagine cowboys as being lone riders who answer to no one, the fact is being a cowboy back then was no different than being any blue collar worker today.  As the iron horse made its way through the land, the need for riders and cattle drivers diminished.  In one earlier story, Nat Love recalls roping a passing locomotive's smokestack in a foolish daredevil stunt.  Ironically, this event would later prove to a been an omen, as Nat Love would give up his life as a cowboy to work for the railroad industry.

In 1890, Nat Love accepted a job in the Pullman service on the Denver and Rio Grande Railroad, but he soon realized his glory days were over.  The former cowboy had a hard time adjusting to a life of service. On his first trip, after making numerous mistakes and not getting much money from tips, Nat quit his job in order to be his own boss, selling fruit, vegetables, honey and chickens from a covered wagon.  Again, this proved a futile pursuit, as he realized the adventurer in him still had some mileage left, and that normal life did not hold much excitement.  Eventually, Nat gave up trying to find exciting work and decided to give the Pullman service another try.

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Excerpts from the electronic edition of The 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, are the property of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.  The full electronic edition, which also includes original illustrations of this text may be viewed here. All other text and graphics on this website are 2002 http://www.natlove.com Send mail to webmaster@natlove.com
Last modified: October 18, 2002