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Ott Black


Mandan’s slogan, “Where the West begins” was especially true in the late 1880s. Cattle thrived on the tall grass prairie that stretched for hundreds of miles to the west. Towns such as Dickinson and Medora became railheads for beef fattened on the open range. And with these towns and ranches came the cowboy. Long, sinuous lines of longhorn cattle wound their way up from Texas, driven by hardened, seasoned trail hands. For several decades, these rugged individuals battled hostile Indians, rustlers, lack of water and the elements to move the vast herds north to the Dakotas, Wyoming and Montana.

One of the many cowboys who trailed the herds from Texas was Arthur P. Black, better known as Ott Black. He was born in Texas in November of 1867. By the age of fourteen he was working on the range, and he spent most of his life on various ranches. Floating from ranch to ranch and town to town he met up with many of the famous and infamous characters of the Old West such as John Wesley Harding, Calamity Jane and Theodore Roosevelt.

After driving a herd of longhorns to Dakota he decided to stay. Farmland and barbed wire had all but ended the cattle drives. He settled near Lemmon where he opened a saloon. But soon he was back doing what he knew best – riding, roping and branding, working on Ed Lemmon’s big cattle ranch. When Winona in Emmons County became a flourishing community, he moved there and met Clara Rose, better known as Mustache Maude, a mannish, robust woman who toted a gun and rolled her own smokes. They married and together they ran a number of saloons and gambling dens in both Dakotas. In 1911 they settled on a homestead near Shields, but split up in 1921. Maude died in 1932.

Ott continued in his rambling ways, but he noted with sadness that the West had changed. In the mid 1930s he began dictating a book. On this date in 1939, The End of the Long Horn Trail, went to press at the Selfridge Journal Office. The book chronicled his fascinating life from Texas to Dakota through the years 1881 to 1907. Although he flirted with the law a number of times, he was not necessarily a violent man. He once stated, “I only killed one man in my life and I ran him to death. I was ahead of him all of the time.”

Dakota Datebook written by Jim Davis


Selfridge Journal June 22, 1939

Selfridge Journal July 20, 1939

Prairie Pioneers of Grant County, 1976

Selfridge Journal December 20, 1945