African-Americans in the Old West (Cornerstones of Freedom)
What I Learned Section 1 -- Answer
the Following Questions:
1. In 1865, how many western states were part
of the United States?
Five. The western states were Texas, Kansas, Nevada, Oregon, and
California. The rest of the territory was owned by the United
States. The territories were called the Nebraska Territory, the
Utah Territory, the New Mexico Territory, and the Washington Territory.
There were a few established towns, and the rest of the land was
The Indian Wars were fought from 1865 to
1900 in the West. By 1900, nine new states had been admitted to
the United States. They were Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota,
Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, Idaho, Utah, and Washington. By 1912,
three more states were added: Oklahoma, Arizona, and New Mexico.
Did you know
by the 1900's, the "Old West" was also coming to a close? Farms,
towns, cities, and the railroad stretched across the once open
prairies of the west.
2. True or False: African-Americans
were cattle ranchers in Texas.
True. Some of the African-American cattle ranchers were
former slaves in Texas, and some moved from the South to Texas
to become cattle ranchers. The road used to travel from the South
to Texas was called the "Freedom Road" because it led to new opportunities
Cattle ranchers herded cattle hundreds
of miles north to towns connected to the East by the railroad.
They used several trails on the cattle drive, including the Chisholm
Trail, the Kansas Trail, and the Shawnee Trail.
Although African-Americans worked with
white Americans as cattle ranchers, African-Americans were often
paid less and mistreated.
3. Name and describe
ONE of the jobs African-Americans performed in the Old West.
Rancher or Cowboy. Cattle ranchers or cowboys herded cattle
hundreds of miles across plains, up and down hills, and through
rivers. It was sometimes dangerous when a stampede occurred or
Native Americans attacked the cattle drive. Did
you know one out of every five cowboys was African-American
from the 1870's to 1890's?
Settler or Farmer. Settlers moved west and settled on a
piece of land. They turned this land into a farm. Settlers often
faced many hardships in the Old West.
Railroad Worker. As the railroads expanded in the Old West,
some African-Americans worked laying railroad tracks.
Teamster. A teamster in the Old West is like a truck driver
today -- they drove wagon loads of goods from one town to another.
Did you know they were called
"teamsters" because the wagons were pulled by a team of horses?
Stagecoach Driver. A stagecoach driver drove people or
mail from one town to another.
Homesteader. Under the Homestead Act (1862), if an American
citizen lived on and farmed a track of land up to 160 acres (65
hectares) for five years, they could own this land without paying
for it. Many African-Americans traveled to Kansas, Nebraska, and
the territories to become a Homesteader.
Soldier. African-Americans joined the U.S. Army and were transferred
to the Old West. The army protected the settlements and towns
in the Old West from outlaws, bandits, cattle rustlers, and Native
4. What year did President
Abraham Lincoln sign the Homestead Act?
1862. The Homestead Act encouraged western expansion by giving
up to 160 acres (65 hectares) of land to any American citizen
who improved this land for five years. Many African-American took
advantage of this Act. They moved west, settled upon a track of
government-owned land, and started farming.
5. Who gave the 10th
Cavalry the nickname Buffalo Soldiers?
The Cheyenne. Before the Civil War, African-Americans were
not allowed to join the U.S. Army. During the Civil War, some
African-Americans fought as volunteers with the U.S. Army. After
the Civil War, African-Americans were allowed to join the U.S.
Army as a soldier.
In 1866, four African-American regiments
were created in the U.S. Army. They were the 9th and 10th Cavalry
(soldiers who fought on horseback) and the 24th and 25th Infantry
(soldiers who marched and fought on foot). The regiments were
all African-American, and the officers were white. These four
regiments were stationed in the West for almost 30 years.
In 1867, the 9th Cavalry was stationed
in Texas, and 10th Cavalry was stationed in Kansas. Just four
months after arriving in the west, the 10th Cavalry fought against
the Cheyenne and Arapaho. The 10th Cavalry fought bravely, and
they were given the nickname of Buffalo Soldiers by the Cheyenne.
The nickname Buffalo Soldiers was a compliment; the Cheyenne regarded
the buffalo as noble and sacred. Soon the other African-American
regiments were also known as Buffalo Soldiers.
In 1878, Second Lieutenant Henry O. Flipper
was assigned to the 10th Cavalry in Texas. He was the first African-American
graduate of West Point and the only African-American officer in
the entire U.S. Army at the time.
What I Learned Section 2 -- Define the
Barracks: Building where soldiers live
Scout: Someone sent to find out
and bring back information
Stampede: Sudden scattering of
cattle or horses in fright
Territory: Part of the United States
not yet admitted as a state
Tracker: Person who follows the
marks or prints left behind by a moving person or animal
Treason: The crime of betraying
your country by spying for another country or by helping an enemy
Veteran: Someone who has served
in the armed forces, especially during a war
Bonus Questions (Answer 1 of the
Following Questions for Your FREE
a. Name an African-American mentioned in this
book and describe one of his or her accomplishments.
a slave, was a member of the Lewis and Clark Expedition (1804-1806).
The Lewis and Clark Expedition was the first American expedition
to explore the territory from the Mississippi River to the Pacific
Ocean. It was led by Captains Meriwether Lewis and William Clark.
After the expedition, York became a free man.
James Beckwourth explored the West after escaping slavery
in Missouri in 1820. In 1850, he discovered a mountain pass between
California and Nevada. This pass became a main route, and it is
now known as Beckwourth Pass. There is also a town in California
named after Beckwourth.
Al Jones was a trail boss in the Old West. A trail boss
is in charge of cattle roundups, the cattle drive, and other cowboys.
Nat Love, a former slave from Kansas, was a cowboy. He
also wrote an autobiography titled, The Life and Adventures
of Nat Love by Himself.
Bill Pickett, a former slave, was a cowboy and rodeo star.
He invented "bulldogging" and first performed it at a rodeo in
1903. Bulldogging is a stunt where a person jumps from a horse
onto a running steer.
Toby and Govie were settlers in Texas in 1869. They built
a log hut from trees they chopped down. They planted corn by poking
holes in the ground with sticks. Toby hunted wild animals, and
Govie made clothes out of the animal skins.
Mary Fields became a mail stagecoach driver in 1895, when
she was sixty-three years old. She was known as "Stagecoach Mary."
Henry O. Flipper was the first African-American graduate
from the United States Military Academy at West Point. In 1878,
he was assigned to the 10th Cavalry in Texas, and was the only
African-American officer in the U.S. Army at the time. He was
also a mining engineer and served in a high position in the United
b. Describe how African-Americans
were treated in the Old West.
Prior to 1865, slavery was allowed in the United States. The issue
of slavery divided the U.S. and was one of the factors leading
up to the Civil War (1861-1865). The North wanted to abolish (end)
slavery, and the South wanted slavery to continue.
In 1863, the Emancipation Proclamation
was issued which freed approximately 4 million African-Americans
held as slaves in the South. In 1865, the North won the Civil
War, and the Thirteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was
passed which abolishes slavery in the United States.
Although all slaves had been freed, they
still faced difficult times. African-Americans were exposed to
anger, hatred, and prejudice in the South. They had few job opportunities
and little food. They were cheated, beaten, and murdered.
Many African-Americans headed west to start
a new life. Although they were hired as cowboys and railroad workers,
African-Americans were paid less and mistreated.
Some laws discriminated against African-Americans.
They were not allowed to live near white people, attend the same
schools as white children, or be buried in the same cemeteries
as white people. In 1896, the United States Supreme Court ruled
in Plessy v. Ferguson, it was constitutional to allow "separate
but equal" accommodations for white and African-American citizens.
The African-American soldiers fighting
in the West (or Buffalo Soldiers) were sometimes mistreated by
the U.S. Army. Their equipment was old, their horses were lame,
their barracks were falling apart, and their food was not very
good. However, the Buffalo Soldiers fought bravely in the West.
Fourteen Buffalo Soldiers were awarded the Medal of Honor for
extreme bravery in battle. It is the highest award given by the
c. Use five of the words
in Section 2 in a sentence.
Answers will vary. Here are sample sentences from our young readers:
is to me as barracks are to
My older brother is the scout
when we go to the movies because he always finds the best seats
in the theater.
"Watch out for the cattle, there's a STAMPEDE,"
yelled the trail boss.
Utah was part of the Utah Territory
before it became a state.
My mom teaches me to be a tracker
of small animals when we go camping.
Treason is a very serious
My great-grandfathers are veterans
from World War II.
d. Have a parent or friend give you
a spelling test with EACH of the words in Section 2.
More Valuable Information about African-Americans
in the Old West:
Mosaic: Migrations (Library of Congress)
& the Old West (Long Island University)
Soldiers on the Western Frontier
African-American World (PBS)
Britannica Guide to Black History
Book Encyclopedia: The African American Journey