It was a tough and lonely job, but the historic American
cowboy endured it with courage and a song. Using and
modifying traditions passed on from Mexican vaqueros and
the Spanish before them, the cowboys became a basic part
of American Western heritage and legend.
On the National Day of the Cowboy, we celebrate their
contributions to the pioneering spirit of America.
As the cities of the American East and Midwest grew
in the mid-to-late 1800s, the need for food, especially for
meat, grew along with it. Then the great roundups and cattle
drives became a part of our Western heritage. The cowboys
worked long days and nights tending their herds despite
dangers from terrain they had to cross, unhappy Indians
and fierce outlaws whose goal was to steal the herds.
As the railroads developed, the need for long cattle drives
decreased. Over time, the cowboy techniques of riding and
cattle-handling became the focus of today's rodeos.
Take a look at Cracker westerns: books about the 'cowboys' on Florida's frontier. A few titles by Lee Gramling: Ghosts of the green swap, Ninety mile prairie, Riders of the Suwannee. You'll find them in the Florida section.