Johanna July

cowgirl
Born: circa 1850
Birthplace: probably northern Mexico

July was born to a family of Seminole Indians and former African American slaves who had left Florida and settled in northern Mexico after the Seminole War ended in 1842. By 1871 the group had crossed the U.S. border and arrived at Eagle Pass, Tex., a town on the Rio Grande. In 1871, they agreed to clear troublesome Indians from the U.S. side of the river for the U.S. Army. In return, the black Seminoles received a tract of land at Brackettville.

An old pioneer, Adam Wilson, taught July to ride when she was a girl. July preferred to ride bareback, with only a rope around the horse's neck. With her ropes of beads, gold earrings, and colorful clothes, July was soon famous throughout the area as an expert horsewoman. She became a horse breaker after her father died and her brother moved away because it was one of the few ways she could earn a living. July tamed wild horses for soldiers at nearby Fort Duncan by riding bucking horses into the Rio Grande. She kept them there until they calmed down. The horses, nervous at being in the water, were usually grateful at being led onto dry land again. They tended to obey July after that.

When she was 18, July married a Seminole scout named Lesley and went to live with him at Fort Clark. However, July was unhappy with domestic life and yearned to be with her horses. Not long after the wedding, July left Lesley and returned to her mother's house near the Rio Grande.

Died: circa 1930

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