In 1970, the Black Bart Gunfighters formerly known as the "Wild Bunch" formed in Willits and to this day they provide entertainment at the Willits Frontier Days parade, barbeque and rodeo events. The group is comprised of good guys, bad guys, gunfighters, dance hall girls, youngsters, bootleggers, old pioneers and a traveling minister. They strive for authenticity with their costumes, props and guns. At times they appear to be obnoxious while drinking moonshine, and even a little flirtatious. It's all part of the act.
“Burton’s true tales about Black men of iron resolvesuch as U.S. Deputy Marshal Bass Reeves are a breakthrough for minority groupswho often feel left out of the dominant American myth of the cowboy. Burtonmight have focused on Reeves alone, but his wider, wiser view includes manymore Indian and black gunfighters, lawmen, outlaws…”
Abolition and a surplus of unemployed southern whites apparently changed the cowboy stereotype to the white version just prior to the long overland drives in the Great Plains and the establishment of ranches across the West. With plenty of whites competing for work, the African American cowhand became more of an anomaly in the Great Plains by the mid-1870s. But anomalies are often remembered, and plenty of African American cowboys entered regional folklore. Folk memory and white writers have preserved many infamous black gunfighters and murderers, such as Ben Hodges of Dodge City and Cherokee Bill, who terrorized Indian Territory. Ample nicknames persist, like One Horse Charley and Bronco Sam; others received the appellation "Nigger" so-and-so, which was tacked onto the first names of Newt Clendenen, Bob Leavitt, and many others.