Nat developed useful skills in his youth, such as horsemanship and hunting, but there were few prospects for a young black man in 1860s Tennessee other than a lifetime of backbreaking farm work for former slave masters.
In 1869, when Love was fifteen, he left home and headed west.
* * * Nat Love is the emblematic African-American cowboy, but he was by no means the only one.
Most of them were slaves owned by white ranchers, but some were freemen.
The famous western cattle trails were established in the 1860s, immediately after the Civil War, just as many former slaves were looking to begin new lives.
While the West was by no means devoid of racism, it offered freedoms that the South did not.
Back in Love’s home state of Tennessee, he would not even have been permitted to own firearms, let alone compete and make a name for himself with them.