Born as Nat Love, a slave living in a log cabin in Davidson County, Tennessee, he was the youngest of three children. A lucky raffle ticket brought him enough money to clothe himself and seek greater opportunities, so he started on foot for the West in 1869. Upon his arrival in Dodge City, Kansas, he found work as a cowboy. At once, he earned the admiration for his ability to ride a bucking bronco that his new companions had furnished him for his initiation. Because of this feet, the "tenderfoot" was accepted by the Duval outfit for 30 dollars a month.
At a Fourth of July celebration in 1876, after a cattle drive to Deadwood, South Dakota, Love found himself in competition with the best cowboys in the west. He won the contest to rope, throw, tie, bridle, saddle and mount an untamed bronco. A feat he accomplished in nine minutes! He also won the shooting contests with a rifle at 100 and 250 yards and a Colt .45 at 150 yards. He confidently declared "if a man can hit a running buffalo at 200 yards, he can hit pretty much anything he shoots at." He was given the name 'Deadwood Dick' by his fans.
Later that year, Love was captured by American Indians and unwillingly adopted by the tribe. He escaped after an incredible ride of a hundred miles in twelve hours of darkness, carrying with him two new bullet holes ... part of the total of "the marks of fourteen bullet wounds on different parts of my body."
In 1890, with the passing of the great era of the cowboy, Love became a Pullman porter. Despite the slavery-era statutes that outlawed black literacy, Love had learned to read and write on his father's knee. In 1907, he wrote the autobiography entitled The Life and Adventures of Nat Love: Better Known in the Cattle Country as "Deadwood Dick."