Story by Roger Edison

As we reflect to imagine the Cowboys who operated the long cattle drives of the late 1800's; we likely think of it as perhaps a scene from a "John Wayne" movie. Perhaps pondering ideas of the life without much thought to the actual daily hard work, inclement weather, long hours in the saddle and sleeping each night on the ground. Rarely do we imagine the many men from several races and their stories nor the many true dangers they endured each day operating the cattle drives. Many of these cow punches came to Texas looking for work after the end of the Civil War as there was a high demand for beef and Texas had plenty of longhorns needing men to drive herds often over a thousand miles to market. These men came from almost every imaginable background. Many were Anglo, though a large number of Mexican Vaqueros were already working the longhorn cattle and several blacks helped with these drives. Some of these negro wranglers changed history and became very famous, such as Nat Love and legendary Bose Ikard who was Charles Goodnight's most loyal friend.....This is the story of a man less famous but grew a fortune as a Texas Cattleman....This is the story of "80 John",

It was September 15, 1860 when Mrs Mary Wallace, a negro slave in Inez, Texas gave birth to her son. Mary had been sold to the O'Daniel family just three months prior. Mrs O'Daniel who was present asked, "Mary, he a handsome lad. What will you name him?" Mary replied, "Daniel. How about Daniel Webster Wallace".

While Daniel was born into slavery, he was treated much like family on the O'Daniel farm growing up playing and working with the O'Daniels two sons, M. H. and Dial. However, Daniel did not care much for farming growing tired of his job chopping cotton. The Civil War had ended several years earlier and Daniel now being a free man dreamed of being a COWBOY. He was a mere 17 years old when he ran away venturing his dreams of the west and cattle drives. Although, he remain good friends with the O'Daniel family through out his life.

Young Daniel truly just a green horn found his first job as a Cowboy with little effort joining the cattle drives of 1877. He drove cattle for C. C. Slaughter, Isaac L. Ellwood, Andrew B. Robertson, Sam Gholson, C. A. "Gus" O'Keefe, and for the Bush and Tillar Cattle Company. He worked for John Nunn's N.U.N. cattle outfit on the headwaters of the Brazos River as a wrangler and horse breaker.

However, Daniel with no education and much bigger dreams than the many peers he worked with knew he needed schooling if he planned to be a businessman. At age twenty-five he returned to school in Navarro County, where he was admitted to the second grade, and in two winters learned to read and write.

Now in his later-twenties, Daniel joined Clay Mann's outfit near Colorado City in Mitchell County, Texas. The Mann's cattle brand was a large eight zero read as 80 on the side of cattle that Daniel branded. Daniel could out brand, out work and perform better than any other wrangler in the outfit. It was there that Daniel earned the nickname "80 John". He voiced his dream with Clay Mann about wanting to one day own a Ranch. Mann agreed to help him become his own rancher by taking wages as cattle rather than dollars. Mann implemented a plan that would pay Daniel Webster Wallace "80 John" five dollars a month from his thirty-dollar wage for two years and put the remainder aside to invest in his own herd, for which Mann provided free pasture. This working relationship nurtured a bond of mutual trust and respect which lasted until Mann's death in 1889. Two years later Wallace moved his cattle to 1,280 acres which he had purchased in 1885 and started ranching for himself southeast of Loraine in Mitchell County.

He became one of the most respected black ranchers of his time. His Durham cattle brand was a D triangle and on his Herefords he used a D on the right hip and a running W on one side. "80 John" married Laura Dee Owens who was considered highly educated to his standards on April 8, 1888; they had three daughters and a son. Daniel Wallace was a member of the Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association for thirty years. He died on March 28, 1939, leaving an estate worth more than $1 million, and was buried on his ranch. A state historical marker in Loraine, Texas commemorates his life.

American Cowboy Picture

Daniel Webster Wallace, 80 John

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80 John and Clay Mann

80 John Wallace overshadowed his boss Clay Mann, owner of many cattle brands, the 80 being one. I am writing a book on Mann and Wallace as they had a close and personal relationship. Mann was reported to be the biggest cattle owner/operator in the U. S. during the 1880's. His freight bill alone for shipping cattle by rail over a five year period was over $900,000 dollars. Clay Mann grew up in Parker Co., TX, left after killing his father's murderer and went down to Coleman Co.. He was just 16 then and the next year made his first cattle drive to Kansas.
Mann died in 1889 at the age of 41. During his short life he owned ranches in NM, WY, TX, and Old Mexico. Little has been written about Mann so I hope to change that with
"The 80 brand & Legendary Clay Mann".
Note: 80 John, or Daniel Webster Wallace made sure his children were educated and his daughter Hettie Branch wrote a short book about his life. She gave a signed copy to all of Clay Mann's children and I have a copy from one of the Mann descendants. She was an educator and passed a few years ago.
The Wallace ranch is still operational and the Wallace family graveyard is located on the ranch. The owner keeps it locked so permissions are needed to enter the site. There are about 20 family member buried there.


This is a really insightful article. Didn't know this and find this amazing. It must have been very tough for any man to make his mark in life during his time and it seems he made more than just a mark.

Black Cowboys in Ga

I'm a photographer and I'm wondering if there are any African- American cowboys in Ga? I'll be down in North Ga in Oct and wanted to photograph a few while in the state. If anyone knows of any willing to be photographed please email me at


Great read

I enjoyed reading this blog. I will have to do a little reading of my own and compare notes.

From Slavery to Cattle Rancher

I knew about the one in three cowboys being black or mexican during the time of the cowboy after the civil war. This is a great history lesson. That a black man could make it to being a rancher during that time in Texas, is a remarkable feat.

From Slavery to Cattle Rancher

I had no idea, thanks for the history!!



I'm proud to be a part of the American Heritage. Proud to say I'm from Texas, Proud to say I served in the United States Navy. However, no greater part of my soul can be more proud than to say, "I'm an American Cowboy". Men who were not as privileged as me have made far greater contributions living the life of being a Cowboy. On the trail drives, in ranching and in Rodeo. One of every three cowboys was an African American or Mexican working the cattle drives. Over 5,000 Black cowboys served the cattle drive era, not to include the numerous Black Cowboys working as Buffalo Soldiers or the many other areas that tamed, built and civilized the western states. Of these men, Bill Pickett developed skills that grew into American Bull Riding and Steer Wrestling. He worked with Will Rodgers in New York City Theaters taking back east to the stage what it was like working in his hey day in the wild west.

Charles Goodnight spoke during the death of Bose Ikard, "There was a dignity, cleanliness and a reliability about him that was wonderful. His behavior was good in fight, he is probably the most devoted man to me that I ever had. I trusted him further than any living man". Goodnight trusted Bose as his detective, payroll banker and cattle driving skills over any other man in his team.

Nat Love from Tennessee became America's most famous black Cowboy. Able to speak fluent Spanish. During a rifle and pistol competition into the Dakota's he earn the nickname, DEADWOOD DICK, out shooting his competitors. His later years found him as a Porter on a Pullman working for the American Railroad.

No great mentor is the story of less known, Daniel Webster Wallace nicknamed "80 john" born as a slave and died a millionaire rancher in 1939. All of these men, lived by the code often called the code of the west, or the Cowboy Code. They were honorable, devoted and true to their word. Men who make me proud to say they were true Cowboys.

I'd like to express my appreciation for your inputs. Thank you for taking the time to read this and sending your comments.

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