Online Reviews

Giving the Black Cowboy His Due! Until recent times, the role played by black men and women in the settling of the West has pretty much been swept under the carpet. Yet, as documented in Tricia Wagner's fascinating BLACK COWBOYS OF THE OLD WEST, African-Americans contributed their fair share to the history and folklore of the Wild West.  
By any standards, the ten men profiled in Wagner's book were unique. How else would you describe a bulldogger like Bill Pickett who downed the animal by biting the bull's upper lip? 'Unique' would certainly cover mustanger Robert Lemmons, who Wagner labels the 'Horse Whisperer.' Lemmons would round up herds of wild mustangs by using psychology to become the herd's leader! Cowboy Charley Willis composed and sang songs to calm the herds he was tendering, some of which - like 'Goodbye, Old Paint' - become cowboy classics. By contrast, Bose Ikard became the right-hand man for Oliver Loving and Charles Goodnight of Goodnight-Loving Trail fame. Daniel Webster Wallace, born a slave, was so successful in the Texas cattle business that he became a millionaire; what a tremendous achievement for those days!  
In many ways, Wagner's book is as inspiring as it is entertaining. The chapter on Nat Love, probably the most famous African-American cowboy of all, is entitled: 'An Unusually Adventurous Life.' In many ways, that describes the ten men profiled in BLACK COWBOYS OF THE OLD WEST. Wagner's book is a great read...and a long-overdue tribute to some truly trailblazing individuals. Highly recommended.

Michael O’Connor "Wordsmith" (Wausau, WI USA)

5.0 out of 5 stars February 2, 2011


Black Cowboys of the Old West: True, Sensational, and Little-Known Stories from History Like many people, I grew up watching programs and movies on television about cowboys and the west. Whether real or not my concepts about history were shaped from television. In BLACK COWBOYS OF THE OLD WEST, my preconceived notions were thrown out with the first two words of this title--BLACK COWBOYS. There were no African American cowboys in those movies yet these black cowboys were firmly a part of the real history of the west.  
With spell-binding details, Tricia Wagner writes ten true stories of these cowboys and you learn about the key role they played in American history. The cover shows Nat Love and in the chapter called "An Unusually Adventurous Life," Wagner writes, "Nat's life as a roughrider was at times tragic. ‘Horses were shot from under me, men killed around me, but always I escaped with a trifling wound at worst,' he said. Attacks by Indians, white desperadoes, and outlaws were common in cow country, but it was the stampedes that got Nat's heart racing." (Page 84)  
Also the chapter on Bill Pickett, "Bulldogger Extraordinaire" was remarkable. Talk about courage from a cowboy! Pickett would position himself face to face with a bull in a rodeo ring and as Wagner writes, "A bewildered audience watched in disbelief as Bill Pickett sunk his teeth into the snotty upper lip of the bull. He bit down hard on the steer's sensitive upper lip, holding it in a vise-like grip while simultaneously throwing his arms in the air." (Page 78) Wow. The cowboys on TV never did that sort of stunt!  
Each chapter in this title is filled with revelations and interesting insights into the true stories of these African American cowboys. Wagner has culled these stories from a mountain of books listed in an extensive bibliography.  
For a fresh perspective on the taming of the west, I highly recommend this book.

W. Terry Whalin "Publisher/ Editor / Writer" (Scottsdale, Arizona)


African American Women of the Old West

You know I am somewhat of a history buff in general and I have learned over the years that you have to learn not just Black or African American History separately, intertwined, that is how I manage to know the "I didn't know that stuff". This is one of those books that adds to my knowledge of that kind. Women, of all races get short changed in history, but this book brings to light some women who are part of the American Story. I love anything having to do with the Old West so that was just a bonus. This is a good book for any daughter who is maybe having some issues with finding that we are all a part of a story and that we are all valuable. The book has sections that are so interesting that you find yourself having to tear yourself away from them. As my title states, this was a book that I read in a day, as in it came and I opened the first page and couldn't put it down. I think that it’s a good historical book for anyone interested in this era in American History.

Marlina "Neena" (Middleton, WI, United States)

Really captures the feelings while giving the history!

It Happened on the Oregon Trail is a wonderful and easy read that captures the strains, toils and joys that happened on the voyage out west. The author did a very good job of crafting a series of individual stories together into a mosaic. The stories collectively provide insight into the feelings of our brave ancestors, who set out on such a dangerous voyage, all to create a better life for their family. I would highly recommend it, especially so for the school kids!

- Mark A. (Ohio) - December 31, 2006

Now a resident of southeastern U.S., Tricia Martineau Wagner, while living in California, became captivated by western history, especially the means by which the U.S. became a nation that spanned the continent. Her interest led her to write intriguing stories of those who lived the reality of life on the westward trail while crossing a vast wilderness from Missouri, stretching over 2,000 miles to the bewildering heights of the Rocky Mountains. She depicts a variety of experiences of men, women and children who walked the dusty, long trail midst their worst enemies--time, disease and weather. Tricia's superlative narration swiftly binds the reader to the lives of these historic characters, bringing them vividly to life in the minds-eye. Her twenty-nine factual short stories reveal meticulous research shown in the bibliography. Being a descendant of Rebecca Burdick Winters, the focus of Tricia's last story, I felt again the love and sacrifice of a pioneer mother for family, religion, and friends while reading Tricia's rendition of Rebecca's death by cholera on the plains. Others who felt Rebecca's love returned that love by burying her body deeply and staying up through the night chiseling her identity into a tire iron to place as her head stone. Rebecca's love did not end with her death, but continued to inspire her family 144 years later when they exhumed her remains for a more proper burial. Rebecca's love still continues, as Tricia later wrote, "Rebecca is working through us all." The entire book opens a little-known frontier of knowledge of an era that each of us can experience vicariously through Tricia's exceptionally well written book.

- Beth Olsen (Utah) - January 28, 2005

History teacher who LOVES the book 
It Happened on the Oregon Trail is a great resource for history teachers who are looking for a well-written collection of researched accounts of America's true pioneers who traveled the Oregon Trail. It serves as a colorful supplement to the often-dry and sparsely detailed history textbook recollections of trail stories. Written in an almost lyrical style, students and teachers will find the vignettes captivating and very emotional. Tricia Martineau Wagner has captured history the way it should be told!

- Denise C. Spiess (Bryan, OH USA) - January 27, 2005

Kids will appreciate the Oregon Trail's trials 
These stories come alive as you travel with the families on the Oregon Trail. Kids will come to know these people were real and did endure incredible hardships. Too many stories do not get told to the kids; these stories help keep the Oregon Trail alive, interesting and exciting.

- teacher's pet - January 6, 2005

Really captures the feelings while giving the history! 
This is a wonderful and easy read that captures the strains, toils and joys that happened on the voyage out west. The author did a very good job of crafting a series of individual stories together into a mosaic. The stories collectively provide insight into the feelings of our brave ancestors, who set out on such a dangerous voyage, all to create a better life for their family. I would highly recommend it, especially so for the school kids!

- A reviewer, 01/05/2007

Tricia Martineau Wagner's stories are CAPTIVATING 
I cannot begin to tell you how much I am enjoying each and every chapter of It Happened on the Oregon Trail. I am so intrigued by every story. I find it fascinating, as if I really knew each individual and their plight. Her writing is so descriptive. How interesting doctors, writers, judges, entrepreneurs! I find I want to discuss each story with the author. I am in awe. She did an outstanding job of capturing each party or individual, their woes, accomplishments, heartaches. I visually can see each mini story, see them on the trail while I read it. Just incredible!!!

- Anita Sanchez, one who appreciates our ancestors. 01/04/2007

Captivating for Kids 
These stories make it possible for kids to understand the people who journeyed on the Oregon Trail were real people who did amazing things to survive. The people come alive and you can feel their trials and hardships.

- Beth White, 01/06/2005