Matt Allen
November 2016.

Which historical cowboys should be more famous?

1 answer

Bass Reeves was an African American US Marshal out of Fort Smith who was dispatched into the Native American territories to retrieve outlaws that were hiding there. He did it with integrity and bravery to the utmost.

Reeves’ signature story was that his own son Bennie shot and killed his [the son’s] wife. The son then went into the Native American territories to hide, and Reeves went in to get him. Other US Marshals volunteered to take the duty from him, so he could be spared bringing his own son in for what could have been a hanging. Reeves said, “No, I’ll do it myself. It’s my son and I’ll take care of it.” Every couple years I hear there’s someone making a movie about his life, but it’s yet to come up. The son, Bennie Reeves, served time at Fort Leavensworth prison and, subsequent to his release, lived out a blameless life.

"There are some neat working day cowboys that did the jobs for their entire lives that people don’t really hear about."

Charlie Goodnight was a scout with the Texas Ranger. He went on to become one of the most notable cowmen in the West, certainly in Texas. He ran cattle in the Palo Duro Canyon, the second largest canyon after the Grand Canyon. He built an empire and created all kinds of ranching practices that are still in use today. Goodnight is recorded as having invented the “chuckwagon” concept – a covered field kitchen in a wagon that transported food and cooking equipment.

There are also some neat working day cowboys that did the jobs for their entire lives that people don’t really hear about. Tom Blasingame was one. He worked on all the big Texas ranches, most notably the JA Ranch, and for his entire life he was a cowboy, riding horses even into his 90s. One day in 1989, he went out for a ride, found that he didn’t feel too well, stepped off his horse to lie down and died right there.

Then there’s another guy called Boots O’Neal who’s still alive. Boots is 83 this year and he works out of The 6666 Ranch (Four Sixes) in Texas. He still saddles a horse every morning and rides all day long. Boots is still a good cowboy. He ropes, and sorts, and cuts – he does everything that any young cowboy can do. Boots has a joyful spirit about him that makes it obvious that he loves his job. He goes to all the area dances and dances with the pretty girls. He’s a neat personality.

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