Read CHAPTER XXII of The Life and Adventures of Nat Love Better Known in the Cattle Country as "Deadwood Dick", free online book, by Nat Love, on

A few reminiscences of the range. Some men I have met. Buffalo bill. The James brothers. Yellowstone Kelley. The murder of buck cannon by bill woods. The suicide of jack Zimick.

It has now been many years since I quit the range, and as my mind wanders back over those years as it often does, memories both pleasant and sad pass in review and it is but fitting that I record a few of them as a final to the history of my life which has been so full of action, which is but natural as the men of those days were men of action. They had to be, and probably their actions were not all good, that I freely admit, but while that is so, it is equally so that their actions were not all bad, far from it. And in the history of the frontier there is recorded countless heroic deeds performed, deeds and actions that required an iron nerve, self denial in all that these words imply, the sacrificing of one life to save the life of a stranger or a friend. Deeds that stamped the men of the western plains as men worthy to be called men, and while not many of them would shine particularly in the polite society of today or among the 400 of Gotham, yet they did shine big and bright in the positions and at a time when men lived and died for a principle, and in the line of duty. A man who went to the far west or who claimed it as his home in the early days found there a life far different from that led by the dude of Fifth Avenue. There a man’s work was to be done, and a man’s life to be lived, and when death was to be met, he met it like a man. It was among such men and surroundings that I spent so many years of my life and there I met men some of whom are famous now, while others never lived long enough to reach the pinnacle of fame, but their memory is held no less sacred by the men who knew them well.

Some men I met in the cattle country are now known to the world as the baddest of bad men, yet I have seen these men perform deeds of valor, self sacrifice and kindness that would cause the deeds recorded as performed by gentlemen in “ye olden time when knighthood was in flower” to look insignificant in comparison, and yet these men lay no claim to the title of gentlemen. They were just plain men.

It was my pleasure to meet often during the early seventies the man who is now famous in the old world and the new world, Buffalo Bill (William F. Cody), cowboy, ranger, hunter, scout and showman, a man who carried his life in his hands day and night in the wild country where duty called, and has often bluffed the grim reaper Death to a standstill, and is living now, hale, hearty and famous.

Others who are equally famous but in another way are the James brothers, Jesse and Frank. I met them often in the old days on the range, and became very well acquainted with them and many others of their band. Their names are recorded in history as the most famous robbers of the new world, but to us cowboys of the cattle country who knew them well, they were true men, brave, kind, generous and considerate, and while they were robbers and bandits, yet what they took from the rich they gave to the poor. The James brothers band stole thousands of dollars; yet Jesse was a poor man when he fell a victim to the bullet of a cowardly, traitorous assassin, and Frank James is a poor man today. What then did they do with the thousands they stole? The answer is simple, they gave it away to those who were in need. That is why they had so many friends and the officers of the law found it so hard to capture them.

And if they were robbers, by what name are we to call some of the great trusts, corporations and brokers, who have for years been robbing the people of this country, some of them, I am glad to say, are now behind prison bars, still others are even now piling up the dollars that they have been and are still stealing from the American people, and who on account of these same dollars are looked up to, respected and are honored members of society, and the only difference between them and the James brothers is that the James brothers stole from the rich and gave to the poor, while these respected members of society steal from the poor to make the rich richer, and which of them think you reader, will get the benefit of the judgment when the final day arrives and all men appear before the great white throne in final judgment?

Jessie James was a true man, a loving son and husband, true to his word, true to his principles and true to his comrads and his friends. I had the pleasure of meeting Frank James quite recently on the road while he was en route to the coast with his theatrical company and enjoyed a pleasant chat with him. He knew me and recalled many incidents of the old days and happenings in “no man’s land.”

Quite a different sort of man was Yellowstone Kelley government scout, hunter and trapper. He was one of the men who helped to make frontier history and open up the pathless wilds to the march of civilization. He was in the employ of the government as a scout and guide when I first met him, and thereafter during our many wanderings over the country, I with my cattle, he with Uncle Sam’s soldiers or on a lone scout, we often bumped up against each other, and these meetings are among my treasured memories. He was a man who knew the country better than he knew his own mother, absolutely fearless, kind and generous to a fault. He was the sort of a man that once you meet, him you could never forget him, and us boys who knew him well considered him the chief of all the government scouts of that day. I also had the pleasure of meeting Kit Carson in Arizona and nearly all the government scouts, hunters and trappers of the western country, and they can all be described in one sentence, they were men whom it was a pleasure and an honor to know.

“Billie the Kid” was another sort of a man and there has never been another man like him and I don’t think there ever will be again. Writers claim that he was a man all bad. This I doubt as I knew him well and I have known him to do deeds of kindness. He had many traits that go to make a good man, but fate and circumstances were against the kid, yet I know he always remembered a kindness done him and he never forgave an enemy. I have rode by his side many a long mile, and it is hard to believe he was as bad as he is pictured to be, but the facts are against him, and when his career was ended by the bullet from Sheriff Garrett’s colt, the world was better off, likewise were some men who stood in mortal fear of the kid, and I suppose they had good reason to be afraid as the kid always kept his word.

During my employment with the Duval outfit and Pete Gallingan I often made trips on the trail with herds of cattle and horses belonging to other ranch owners, and on these trips many incidents occurred, amusing and sad. The following incident happened in the fall of 1878, when I went up the trail with the half circle box brand outfit, belonging to Arthur Gorman and company.

We had a small herd of horses to take to Dodge City, where we arrived after an uneventful trip, and after disposing of the horses we started out to do the town as usual. But in this we met an unexpected snag. Our bookkeeper, Jack Zimick, got into a poker game and lost all the money he had to pay the cowboys off with, which amounted to about two thousand dollars, and also about the same amount of the boss’ money. The boys had about one and a half years’ wages coming to them, and consequently they were in a rather bad humor when they heard this bit of news. They at once got after Zimick so hard that he took me and went to Kinsely, Kas., where Mr. Gorman was. Arriving there he went to the Smith saloon to get a room, as Smith ran a rooming house over his saloon, and it was the custom for all the cattle men to make it their headquarters when in the city. Here he met Mr. Gorman, and we were sitting around the room and Zimick had only told Mr. Gorman a few things, when all of a sudden Zimick drew his 45 colt revolver remarking as he did so, “Here is the last of Jack Zimick.” He placed the gun to his head and before we could reach him he pulled the trigger, and his brains were scattered all over the room.

They arrested Mr. Gorman and myself and held up for a short time until things could be explained. Mr. Gorman was very much overcome by the act, as Jack was one of his best men, and had been with him a long time. Mr. Gorman had the body sent to Zimick’s friends in Boston, and he personally paid off all the boys, taking the money out of his own pocket to do so, but when the boys heard of Jack’s rash deed they said they would rather have lost every dollar they had, rather than have had Jack kill himself, as he was a favorite among all the cowboys, especially so among those in Mr. Gorman’s employ. Zimick had been in the employ of Gorman and company for over ten years and he was Mr. Gorman’s right hand man, and this was the first time he ever went wrong. Jack did not have the nerve to face his comrades again, and so I suppose he concluded that his colt 45 was the only friend he had to help him out of it.

In May 1882, I was in Durango, Colorado, and chanced to be in a saloon on Main street where a lot of us boys were together, among them being Buck Cannon and Bill Woods. The drinks had been circulating around pretty freely when Cannon and Woods got into a dispute over Cannon’s niece, to whom Woods had been paying attention, much against that young lady’s wish. After some hot words between the men, Woods drew his 45 colt revolver, remarking as he did so, “I will kill you,” and in raising it his finger must have slipped, as his gun went off and the bullet hit a glass of beer in the hand of a man who was in the act of raising it to his lips, scattering the broken glass all over the room, then passing through the ceiling of the saloon. In an instant Woods threw three bullets into Cannon, remarking as he did so, “I will kill you, for your niece is my heart’s delight and I will die for her.” Buck Cannon’s dying words were, “Boys, don’t let a good man die with his boots on.”

Along in the spring of 1879 we sent to Dodge City, Kansas, with a herd of cattle for the market and after they were disposed of, we boys turned our attention to the search of amusement. Some of the boys made for the nearest saloon and card table, but I heard there was to be a dance at Bill Smith’s dance hall and in company with some of the other boys decided to attend. There was always quite a large number of cowboys in Dodge City at this time of the year, so we were not surprised to find the dance hall crowded on our arrival there. Smith’s place occupied a large, low frame building down by the railroad tracks on the south. We found many old acquaintances there, among them being Kiowa Bill, a colored cattle man and ranch owner of Kansas, whose ranch was on Kiowa creek. I had met him several times but this was the first time I had seen him in a couple of years, but as he was dancing with a young lady I could not get to speak with him at once. So I looked up a wall flower and proceeded to enjoy myself. We had not been dancing long when I became aware of a commotion over near the bar, and all eyes were turned in that direction. I soon ascertained the cause of the commotion to be a dispute between Kiowa Bill and Bill Smith, the proprietor of the place, who was behind the bar. Kiowa Bill, after finishing the dance with his fair partner, took her to the bar to treat her. Smith, who was tending bar refused to serve her saying she had enough already. Kiowa Bill told Smith he (Kiowa Bill) was paying for what she wanted to drink and that he wanted her to get what she wanted. Smith said no, she could not have anything more to drink as she had too much already. At this Kiowa Bill reached over the bar and struck Smith over the head with a whiskey bottle, partly stunning him, but he recovered in an instant and grabbed his 45 Colt, Kiowa Bill doing the same and both guns spoke as one. Smith fell dead behind the bar with a bullet through his heart. Kiowa Bill rolled against the bar and slowly sank to the floor and was dead when we reached him.

The next day they were hauled to the cemetery, laying side by side in the same wagon, and were buried side by side in the same grave. Kiowa Bill had made his will a short time before and it was found on his body when he was killed.

I had known Kiowa Bill for several years and was present at a shooting scrape he had two years before, down in Texas, near the Arizona line. At one of the big round ups there, in 1877, myself and quite a crowd of the other boys were in camp eating our dinner when Kiowa Bill rode up. He had been looking after his own cattle as he owned over two thousand head himself. One of the boys in our party who did not like Bill, there being a feud between them for sometime, on noticing Bill approaching, remarked, “If that fellow comes here I will rope him.” True to his word as Bill rode up, the cowboy threw his lariat. Kiowa Bill, seeing the movement, threw the rope off at the same time springing down on the opposite side of his horse.

The cowboy, enraged at his failure to rope Bill, shouted, “I will fight you from the point of a jack knife, to the point of a 45,” at the same time reaching for his 45 which was in the holster on his saddle, which was lying on the ground a short distance away. At that Kiowa Bill fired, striking the cowboy in the neck, breaking it. Bill then sprang in the saddle and put spurs to his horse in an effort to get away.

Several of the cowboys commenced shooting after Bill who returned the fire. One of the cowboys, squatting down and holding his 45 with both hands, in an effort to get a better aim on Bill, received a bullet in the leg from Bill’s revolver that knocked him over backwards, and caused him to turn a couple of somersaults. Bill got away and went to New York. He was later arrested in St. Louis and brought back. At his trial he went free as it was shown that he killed the cowboy in self-defense. And his appearance at the dance was the first time I had seen him since the scrape in Texas.

Kiowa Bill was of a peaceful disposition and always refrained from bothering with others, but if others bothered with him they were liable to get killed as Kiowa Bill allowed no one to monkey with him. Such was life on the western ranges when I rode them, and such were my comrades and surroundings; humor and tragedy. In the midst of life we were in death, but above all shown the universal manhood. The wild and free life. The boundless plains. The countless thousands of long horn steers, the wild fleet footed mustangs. The buffalo and other game, the Indians, the delight of living, and the fights against death that caused every nerve to tingle, and the every day communion with men, whose minds were as broad as the plains they roamed, and whose creed was every man for himself and every friend for each other, and with each other till the end.

Another friend of the old times is Chas. R. Campbell, superintendent of the Kelso mines. Chats with these good whole-souled people of the cattle range bring back reminiscences of the past that would fill volumes but space and time in these days of hustle and bustle are but dreams and the world is full of them now.

I am at the present time connected with the General Securities Company in Los Angeles. Mr. A. A. C. Ames is president; Mr. James O. Butler, vice-president; Mr. Jacob E. Meyer, secretary, and Mr. Geo. W. Bishop, treasurer. These gentlemen are always extremely kind to me and the appreciation I feel for the kindnesses shown me will be fully rewarded.

As I stop to ponder over the days of old so full of adventure and excitement, health and happiness, love and sorrow, isn’t it a wonder that some of us are alive to tell the tale. One moment we are rejoicing that we are alive; the next we are so near the jaws of death that it seems it would be almost a miracle that our lives be saved.

Life today on the cattle range is almost another epoch. Laws have been enacted in New Mexico and Arizona which forbid all the old-time sports and the cowboy is almost a being of the past. But, I, Nat Love, now in my 54th year, hale hearty and happy, will ever cherish a fond and loving feeling for the old days on the range, its exciting adventures, good horses, good and bad men, long venturesome rides, Indian fights and last but foremost the friends I have made and friends I have gained.