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Meet the 5 African-Americans Who Had a Big Impact of the “Black Wild, Wild West”

The late 19th century and early 20th century was a time for #Black people to leave the old way of life they once knew to start over fresh anew somewhere else. For many African-Americans heading west seemed like a really good idea. So, many of them set out between 1865 and 1920 from the South going west. Thousands of Blacks established homes, towns and ways to make money and create a better life. Most movies do not show their existence but they existed as lawmen, cowboys, settlers, soldiers and adventurers.

Deputy U.S Mashal Bass-Reeves

Sometime during the Civil War after working as a scout and a tracker Marshal Bass Reeves escaped #slavery into Indian Territory (now modern-day Oklahoma) and was hired as the Deputy U.S Marshal. Reeves could not read or write, but he was a skilled detective, a master of disguise, and an expert tracker. Of all the outlaws Reeves went after in his long career, only one ever escaped his iron grasp. He reportedly made as many as 3,000 arrests and killed 14 outlaws during his 32-year career.


Benjamin “Pap” Singleton was one of the leaders of the Exoduster movement of Blacks who left the hardships of the South and settled in Kansas. Many of Singleton’s colonies failed and life in Kansas was difficult for the new settlers.

Amos Harris, more affectionately known as “Big Amos” or “Nigger Amos”, is said to have been Nebraska’s first Negro cowboy. He was reported to weigh anywhere from 250 pounds and 300 pounds and was 6 foot 3 inches tall. He spoke 5 languages and it was reported that he was born south of Galveston, Texas, on the Brazos River, the son of freed slave parents.

Matthew “Bones” Hooks was an African-American who was committed to establishing Black towns wherever he went. Where he was told he could not go, he went anyway. He was born to former slaves and did not have much education, however, he had an historical consciousness. Hooks became a great leader of the black community of Amarillo and High Plains. He was one of the first people to establish a black church in West Texas.

Aunt Clara Brown was a deeply religious woman who was separated from her husband, son and four daughters when they were each sold to different slave owners. Later wealthy, she provided health care to the poor of all colors, she founded churches and she searched Kentucky to locate her long-lost family. Her search was in vain, but she returned to Denver with 26 ex-slaves, paying for all of their travel costs.


Written by How Africa

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