By: Sterling Terrell
Were cowboys, on average, a humble God-fearing group?
I mean the cowboys of the old cattle drives.
The cowboys eulogized in Lonesome Dove.
Late 1800’s. You know the ones.
I am not so sure anymore.
From one of the last cowboys of the open-range, it seems being a cowboy might have been the most rebellious, anti-establishment, thing a certain demographic could do at the time:
But my oldest brother, Jimmy, was my favorite. I just worshiped him. He died when he was nineteen. I never got over it, though I was nothing but a little kid. They buried him in the cemetery in Lincoln, and the wind blowed my hat in his grave. His death was what made an infidel of me. I asked my mother if God could have kept him from dying, and she said, yes, God was all-powerful and could have prevented it if he had wished. So I said: ‘I’ll never go in one of your damn churches again.” And I never have. That family stuffed me full of all that religious bull when I was a kid, but I never had any more use for it after I was growed, and in that I was like the rest of the cowpunchers. Ninety per cent of them was infidels. The life they led had a lot to do with that. After you come in contact with nature, you get all that stuff knocked out of you—praying to God for aid, divine Providence, and so on—because it don’t work. You could pray all you damn pleased, but it wouldn’t get you water where there wasn’t water. Talk about trusting in Providence, hell, if I’d trusted in Providence I’d have starved to death.
–E. C. Abbott “Teddy Blue,” We Pointed Them North
Wish he had read, Can Man Live Without God
Or, The End Of Reason.