Wyatt Earp. Wild Bill Hickock. Nat Love. If you don’t recognize the last name, it’s because Nat Love is one of the most remarkable names of the wild west that is still far too little known by people today. He was the “real Deadwood Dick” whose life could hardly be contained in the most wild of stories to be found, personifying the story of the American frontier of his time as clear as the iconic Heritage Rough Rider revolver you can hold today. The story of the west burns bright in the torch carried on by Heritage Manufacturing and it was fueled by legends just like Nat Love whose adventures, exploits, and accomplishments were both embellished and enshrined with the very best.
Becoming a Legend
Born in 1854, Nat Love, pronounced as “Nate” and often spelled just the same, was a man who would take to cowboying early in his youth. This set the foundation for him to earn the moniker as the greatest black cowboy of the wild west. The life on the trail would also give him the skills he needed in 1876 to win a contest that awarded him with $200 and a new nickname of “Deadwood Dick.” He would work as a cowboy until the year of 1889 where he finally settled down to have a family. This lengthy time working the frontiers of America gave him plenty of fodder for storytelling to come, but he had honest achievements in his life that fueled his status as a legend at a time when people were more eager than ever to hear such untamed stories.
Nat Love had a knack for a keen shot that helped him to live the hard life of a cowboy. While competing at the contest he won at the iconic Deadwood City in South Dakota, he was said to have hit fourteen shots ranging up to 250 yards with a rifle and twelve shots up to 150 yards with a pistol, each right in the bullseye to win the entire contest. The name “Deadwood Dick” would follow him throughout his life, inspired by a famous literary character from a popular dime novel of the time. This name would follow him through just about every occupation Nat Love held ranging from being a Pullman porter at the railroad to a courier and guard for a securities company. It would even grace the cover of his own 1907 autobiography in a name that was rather unforgettable, called The Life and Adventures of Nat Love, Better Known in the Cattle Country as ‘Deadwood Dick’.
The Story Still Being Written
The story of Nat Love is oftentimes regarded as not entirely truthful, as it was full of exaggerations that were all too common in the sensationalized stories coming from the west. But the American people were all too excited to hear these regardless of their truthfulness. The life of a cowboy found its way into American myth thanks in no small part to the tale of Nat Love, one that he himself told. The tales told in this autobiography include Nat fighting with local Native Americans as a cowboy – even being captured by a group led by a named called Yellow Dog who he was able to escape after a month, riding over a hundred miles with no saddle to come home – chasing and roping wild mustangs, and even sharing drinks with Billy the Kid.
The sometimes tall tales of “Deadwood Dick” made his legacy stick as time passed by. While his popularity never ascended to the heights of people like Jesse James in the eye of the public, his legacy as a true original of the wild west would continue on even today. From novels to comics, his stories are still being told and artwork inspired by Nat is even on display in museums like the Denver Art Museum. The most popular stories carrying on the legacy of Nat Love have been on the silver screen, however. In 1996, Nat Love was featured in the TV film The Cherokee Kid played by the Ghostbuster’s star Ernie Hudson. In 2013, he appeared in the film They Die by Dawn where he is played by The Wire’s Michael K. Williams. Then, in the 2021 star studded hit from Netflix called The Harder They Fall released with Nat Love being played by upcoming Avengers star Jonathan Majors, the film is centered around a sensationalized tale surrounding Nat Love and many other prominent black figures of the wild west like Rufus Buck, Stagecoach Mary, Cherokee Bill and more.
The continuation of these stories is just a small homage to the legacy of Nat Love, but also a part of a much larger myth of the west that inspires Heritage Manufacturing to the very same proficiency and excellence in their firearms that drove the cowboys, gunslingers, and lawmen alike to such global recognition.
The Timeless Icon
The Man with No Name. Hondo Lane. Nat Love. The myth of the west and the real life legends that were born of it met like never before when it came to the “real Deadwood Dick” Nat Love. The story that you can feel in your own hands when holding the Rough Rider, Barkeep, or the even Rancher carbine is alive and well, born from legends who actually walked the wild west, were inspired from it, or in some cases, a combination of the two. It’s this legacy that is made from champions of myth just like Nat Love that we see deeply ingrained into the unmistakable style and undeniable performance of each and every Heritage firearm.