1885
Charles Siringo Cowboy and first Italian American to write best seller.


The life of cowboys regaled in wide brimmed Stetson hats and colorful bandanas around their necks, and toting pistols as they traverse the irregular trails of the West to round up cattle is not the image that readily comes to mind when one thinks of Italians in America. Indeed although this image was very distant from the lives of ordinary Italian immigrants, it was the story of a small but fascinating number including Charles Angelo Siringo (1855-1928) who was born in Texas of an Italian father and an Irish mother. With limited formal education, but literate, by the time he was a young teenager, Charles had become a cowboy, riding the open range during the heyday of the cattle industry. The cowboy lore that became cemented in the public mind is on that flourished from 1860 to 1887, prior to the closing of the frontier due to barbed wire fencing and refrigerator cars --when cattle barons rounded up cattle and moved them many hundred of miles to cattle centers. Siringo learned the cowboy trade from colorful veterans and joined with them in branding, riding horses to round up stray cows, cooking and sleeping in the open field, joining posses to apprehend thieves, and in numerous unnamed survival skills.

Siringo retired a cowpuncher in the 1880s to become a restaurateur and to write his autobiography that resulted in A Texas Cowboy: or Fifteen Years on the Hurricane Deck of a Spanish Pony in 1885. This work was considered the first authentic book on cowboy life style and became a best seller. Siringo then joined the Pinkerton National Detective Agency retiring in 1912. He wrote a second book Pinkerton's Cowboy Detective, but was forced by the company to change the title to A Cowboy Detective, A True Story of Twenty-two Years with a world-famous Detective Agency. He then wrote Two Evils: Pinkertonism and Anarchism, a scathing expose of improper practices conducted by the Pinkerton company. He wrote other books of recollections of adventures written in typical cowboy jargon, and relating tales of pursuing famous outlaws.

In contradistinction to the artificiality that frequently marked Hollywood's treatment of the West, historians of Southwestern lore regard his work, particularly his first book, A Texas Cowboy as a candid and honest account of cowboy life. Siringo's book had lasting influence as a classic of Western genre and constituted the first bestseller authored by an Italian American. Although Siringo's story is wholly unique, it does illustrate the rapidity with which the second generation adapted to life in that part of the country. Moreover, it helps to shed light on a small but discernible group of Italian Americans who continue to earn their living as cattle ranchers. Thus recent research has located a number of Italian American families so engaged in the hot, dusty, and demanding work as cowpunchers in Paradise Valley, Nevada.






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