African Americans on the Frontier

African Americans on the Frontier


African Americans on the Frontier

Black families coming West in covered wagons established self-sufficient all-Black towns and filled every job from barber to teacher, doctor to state legislator.

  • "'Aunt Viney' Moulton had been a slave. In 1867, she crossed the plains, walking barefoot part of the way. Tired of walking, she stopped in Boise and stayed. In 1878, she became the only black member of the Boise Presbyterian Church."
    From Idaho Ebony: The Afro-American Presence in Idaho State History, by Mamie O. Oliver
  • Nearly a third of the cowboys who helped build the American West were black.
  • "Black history in Idaho began with York, the black man who came west with Lewis and Clark in 1805.  After York, there came black trappers, fur traders, miners, soldiers, railroad workers, horse trainers, and rodeo riders.  Idaho never had a lot of black people.  Records showed only 60 black people in Idaho in 1870, and only 53 in 1880."
    From Idaho Ebony: The Afro-American Presence in Idaho State History, by Mamie O. Oliver
  • Blacks were also military heroes. It is a little-known fact that credit for Teddy Roosevelt's victory at San Juan Hill during the Spanish-American War belongs to the all-black tenth cavalry.
  • Henry Parker, a black mine owner, made one of the first gold discoveries in Idaho Springs, Colorado.

African-Americans on the Frontier

Call numbers are for copies at Boise Public Library.

African-Americans on the Western Frontier, edited with an introduction by Monroe Lee Billington and Roger D. Hardaway
978.0049 AFRICAN

Black Pioneers: An Untold Story, by William Loren Katz
YA 977.0049 KATZ

Black Pioneers: Images of the Black Experience on the North American Frontier, by John W. Ravage
978.0049 RAVAGE

The Black West: A Documentary and Pictorial History of the African-American Role in the Westward Expansion of the United States, by William Loren Katz
978.0049 KATZ 1996 

Blacks in the West, by William Sherman Savage
978 SA93B

"Frontiersmen Conquer the Wilderness, 1800-1860," from Eyewitness: The Negro in American History, by William Loren Katz
973 KATZ 

In Search of the Racial Frontier: African Americans in the American West, 1528-1990, by Quintard Taylor
978.0049 TAYLOR 

Into the West: The Story of Its People, by Walter T.K. Nugent

A Narrative Bibliography of the African-American Frontier: Blacks in the Rocky Mountain West, 1535-1912, by Roger D. Hardaway

African-American Women on the Frontier

"Aunt" Clara Brown: Story of a Black Pioneer, by Kathleen Bruyn
917.88 B839A

Black Women in America: An Historical Encyclopedia, edited by Darlene Clark Hine
R OV 920.7208 BLACK WO

Black Women of the Old West, by William Loren Katz
978.0049 KATZ

"Mary Ellen Pleasant," from By Grit and by Grace: Eleven Women Who Shaped the American West, edited by Glenda Riley and Richard W. Etulain
920.078 BY GRIT

"Mary Fields," from And Not Afraid to Dare: The Stories of Ten African-American Women, by Tonya Bolden
920.7208 BOLDEN

"Mary Fields," from More Than Petticoats: Remarkable Montana Women, by Gayle C. Shirley
920.7209 SHIRLEY

"Mattie Castner: Mother of Belt," from More Than Petticoats: Remarkable Montana Women, by Gayle C. Shirley
920.7209 SHIRLEY

African-American Cowboys

"The Black Cowboy Was the Equal of His White Brother," from The American Frontier: Opposing Viewpoints, edited by Mary Ellen Jones

Black Cowboys of Texas, edited by Sara R. Massey
976.4 BLACK C

"The Life and Adventures of Deadwood Dick Written by Himself (Nat Love)," from Black Joy, compiled by Bill Adler
301.451 D28B

Guts: Legendary Black Rodeo Cowboy Bill Pickett, by Cecil Johnson

Negro Cowboys, by Philip Durham and Everett L. Jones
636.209 D934N  

African-Americans in Frontier Idaho

Blacks in Idaho's White Press: 1863-1916, by Mamie O. Oliver
979.6004 OLIVER

Idaho Ebony: The Afro-American Presence in Idaho State History, by Mamie O. Oliver
979.603 OLIVER

"Idaho's African Americans," by Laurie Mercier, from Idaho's Ethnic Heritage Historical Overviews v.1
979.603 IDAHOS v.1

African-Americans and Native Americans

Black Indians: A Hidden Heritage, by William Loren Katz
970.3 KATZ

Jim Beckwourth: Black Mountain Man and War Chief of the Crows, by Elinor Wilson

Mountain Man, Indian Chief: The Life and Adventures of Jim Beckwourth, written from his own dictation by T.D. Bonner
917.8 B389M

My Heroes, My People: African Americans and Native Americans in the West, by Morgan Monceaux
YA 920.078 MONCEAU

African-Americans in the Frontier Military

The Black Infantry in the West, 1869-1891, by Arlen L. Fowler
356 F829B

The Black Military Experience in the American West, edited by John M. Carroll
355.3 C236B

The Buffalo Soldiers: A Narrative of the Negro Cavalry in the West, by William H. Leckie
357.1 L495B

The History of the Twenty-Fifth Regiment United States Infantry 1869-1926, edited by John H. Nankivell
356.1 N155H

Magazine Articles

"American Daughters: Black Women in the West." Montana: The Magazine of Western History Spring 1988, pp. 14-27

"Bill Pickett," by Anne Dingus. Texas Monthly Feb. 1997, p.168

"The Forgotten Pioneers," by Scott Minerbrook. U.S. News & World Report Aug. 8 1994, pp. 53-56

"History Alive!" Humanities Jan./Feb. 1998, pp.42-44 (Biddy Mason and Los Angeles)

"The Legacy of Bass Reeves," by Art T. Burton. Crisis (The New) May/Jun. 1999, pp. 38-43

"Showman Extraordinaire." Blackfax Summer-Winter 1992, pp.5-8 (Bill Pickett)

Web Sites

African-American Mosaic (Library of Congress)

Black American West Museum and Heritage Center

Idaho Black History Museum

Buffalo Soldiers on the Western Frontier (bibliography)

Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture

Smithsonian: African-American History and Culture

Research and text by Ellen Druckenbrod

Last updated: May 10, 2012 - 9:45am by farrit