When we think of a cowboy, we usually picture the American Cowboy, rough and rugged wearing a cowboy hat, a gun on his hip, and riding he favorite horse around the Old West. One thing we wouldn’t think of is that we really wouldn’t think of an American Cowboy being born in Canada. Nevertheless, one of the most “unusual” American Cowboys was actually born in Canada. His name was Charles Nebo, or as he was known by nickname, Charley, and he was born in March of 1842. Charles Nebo wasn’t your typical cowboy and might have even been more Forrest Gump than soldier, although he wasn’t autistic, like Forrest Gump was…or at least, not that anyone knew of.
Charlie never tried to inflate his achievements and was happy to live like a true frontier man, nevertheless, people often made him sound like he was…maybe, a little bit more of a cowboy than he actually was. I suppose it made no sense to say that he was just a “good old boy” from out west. People don’t expect that, and maybe, they just wouldn’t read about it, either, but the reality is that there were more average people in the American West than there were the wild people who made the West famous.
Charley Nebo lived in Canada until 1861. Then, he moved to Saginaw, Michigan. He was a Union soldier during the Civil War and went on to become a cowboy in New Mexico. At one point he actually befriended Billy the Kid. Nebo wrote about him in a letter, saying, “He wasn’t the ruthless bad fellow that Western history has made him out to be.” Nebo apparently gave people the benefit of the doubt, and himself, as a respected cowboy, once shot a man after witnessing him kill a Mexican boy’s dog. In all, Nebo was a common man, humble and capable. He wasn’t what people might call spectacular, but he was a good man, and it took a lot of those good men to build the American West.
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