Thomas Tate Tobin

Last updated
Thomas Tate Tobin
Born(1823-05-01)May 1, 1823
Occupation Mountain man, adventurer, US Army scout, bounty hunter
Spouse(s)Pascuala Bernal

Tom Tobin (1823–1904) was an American adventurer, tracker, trapper, mountain man, guide, US Army scout, and occasional bounty hunter. Tobin explored much of southern Colorado, including the Pueblo area. He associated with men such as Kit Carson, "Uncle Dick" Wootton, Ceran St. Vrain, Charley Bent, John C. Fremont, "Wild Bill" Hickok, William F. Cody, and the Shoup brothers. Tobin was one of only two men to escape alive from the siege of Turley's Mill during the Taos Revolt. In later years he was sent by the Army to track down and kill the notorious Felipe Espinosa and his nephew; Tobin returned to Ft. Garland with their heads in a sack. [1]

Tracking (hunting) science and art of observing animal tracks

Tracking in hunting and ecology is the science and art of observing animal tracks and other signs, with the goal of gaining understanding of the landscape and the animal being tracked (quarry). A further goal of tracking is the deeper understanding of the systems and patterns that make up the environment surrounding and incorporating the tracker.

Mountain man Men living remotely in the Rocky Mountains of North America

A mountain man is an explorer who lives in the wilderness. Mountain men were most common in the North American Rocky Mountains from about 1810 through to the 1880s. They were instrumental in opening up the various Emigrant Trails allowing Americans in the east to settle the new territories of the far west by organized wagon trains traveling over roads explored and in many cases, physically improved by the mountain men and the big fur companies originally to serve the mule train based inland fur trade.

Guide person who escorts travelers or tourists through unknown or unfamiliar locations

A guide is a person who leads travelers, sportsmen, or tourists through unknown or unfamiliar locations. The term can also be applied to a person who leads others to more abstract goals such as knowledge or wisdom.



Thomas Tate Tobin was born in St. Louis, Missouri, on May 1, 1823 to Bartholomew Tobin, an Irish immigrant, and Sarah Autobees. Sarah, believed to have been a Lenape, had been widowed before marrying Tobin.[ citation needed ] She brought her son Charles Autobees (later Autobee) into the marriage. A year later, the couple had a daughter Catherine together.

Irish people Ethnic group, native to the island of Ireland, with shared history and culture

The Irish are a nation and ethnic group native to the island of Ireland, who share a common Irish ancestry, identity and culture. Ireland has been inhabited for about 12,500 years according to archaeological studies. For most of Ireland's recorded history, the Irish have been primarily a Gaelic people. From the 9th century, small numbers of Vikings settled in Ireland, becoming the Norse-Gaels. Anglo-Normans conquered parts of Ireland in the 12th century, while England's 16th/17th-century (re)conquest and colonisation of Ireland brought many English and Lowland Scots people to parts of the island, especially the north. Today, Ireland is made up of the Republic of Ireland and the smaller Northern Ireland. The people of Northern Ireland hold various national identities including British, Irish, Northern Irish or some combination thereof.

Lenape Indigenous people originally from Lenapehoking, now the Mid-Atlantic United States

The Lenape, also called the Leni Lenape, Lenni Lenape and Delaware people, are an indigenous people of the Northeastern Woodlands, who live in Canada and the United States. Their historical territory included present-day New Jersey and eastern Pennsylvania along the Delaware River watershed, New York City, western Long Island, and the Lower Hudson Valley. Today, Lenape people belong to the Delaware Nation and Delaware Tribe of Indians in Oklahoma; the Stockbridge-Munsee Community in Wisconsin; and the Munsee-Delaware Nation, Moravian of the Thames First Nation, and Delaware of Six Nations in Ontario.

Early life

In 1828, Charles Autobees, then 16 years old, went west to work as a beaver trapper. He returned to St. Louis in 1837. That year, his half-brother Tom Tobin, then 14 years old, left with Charles and his colleague Ceran St. Vrain to return to Taos. Tom worked as a trapper and scout at Bent's Fort and in Taos. Along with his brother, Tobin worked at Simeon Turley's store, mill, and distillery at Arroyo Hondo. He accompanied his brother Charles on trips to deliver supplies and whiskey to trappers in trade for furs. The men took the pelts to St. Louis to trade for more supplies for Turley's store. Autobees and Tobin made regular stops in places such as Fort Jackson, Fort Lupton, Bent's Fort, and El Pueblo.

Beaver Genus of mammals

The beaver is a large, primarily nocturnal, semiaquatic rodent. Castor includes two extant species, the North American beaver and Eurasian beaver (Eurasia). Beavers are known for building dams, canals, and lodges (homes). They are the second-largest rodent in the world. Their colonies create one or more dams to provide still, deep water to protect against predators, and to float food and building material. The North American beaver population was once more than 60 million, but as of 1988 was 6–12 million. This population decline is the result of extensive hunting for fur, for glands used as medicine and perfume, and because the beavers' harvesting of trees and flooding of waterways may interfere with other land uses.

Ceran St. Vrain American fur trader

Ceran St. Vrain, born Ceran de Hault de Lassus de St. Vrain, was the American son of a French aristocrat who immigrated to the United States in the late 18th century; his mother was from St. Louis, where he was born. To gain the ability to trade, in 1831 he became a naturalized Mexican citizen in what is now the state of New Mexico. He formed a partnership with American traders William, George and Charles Bent; together they established the trading post of Bent's Fort. It was the only privately held fort in the West.

Arroyo Hondo, New Mexico census-designated place in New Mexico

Arroyo Hondo is a small census-designated place in Taos County near Taos, New Mexico, United States. It is historically notable as the site of the killing of six to eight employees by a force of allied Native Americans at Simon Turley's mill on January 20, 1847. This took place during the Taos Revolt, a popular insurrection of New Mexicans and Native Americans against the new United States territorial regime during the Mexican–American War.

Marriage and family

By 1846, Tom had married Pascuala Bernal. They lived in Arroyo Hondo, near Taos. He continued working for Turley, and delivered dispatches to Fort Leavenworth for Gen. Stephen Kearny.

Fort Leavenworth United States Army installation located in Leavenworth County, Kansas

Fort Leavenworth is a United States Army installation located in Leavenworth County, Kansas, in the city of Leavenworth since it was annexed on April 12, 1977, in the northeast part of the state. Built in 1827, it is the oldest active United States Army post west of Washington, D.C., and the oldest permanent settlement in Kansas. Fort Leavenworth has been historically known as the "Intellectual Center of the Army."

The Taos Revolt

On the morning of January 19, 1847, insurrectionists opposed to American rule began a revolt in Don Fernando de Taos (present-day Taos, New Mexico). They were led by Pablo Montoya, a Mexican, and Tomás Romero, a Pueblo also known as "Tomasito" (Little Tomas).

Taos, New Mexico Town in New Mexico, United States

Taos is a town in Taos County in the north-central region of New Mexico in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, incorporated in 1934. As of the 2010 census, its population was 5,716. Other nearby communities include Ranchos de Taos, Cañon, Taos Canyon, Ranchitos, El Prado, and Arroyo Seco. The town is close to Taos Pueblo, the Native American village and tribe from which it takes its name.

Pablo Montoya was a New Mexican politician who was active both in the 1837 revolt against the Mexican government, and in the Taos Revolt of 1847 against the United States, during the Mexican–American War.

Tomás "Tomasito" Romero, was a Pueblo from Taos Pueblo, where he was referred to as "the alcalde." He was a leader of the Taos Revolt against the American invasion of New Mexico during the Mexican–American War. At the beginning of the revolt, "Tomacito leaned over the governor's still living form and raked a bowstring over his scalp, pulling away his gray hair in a glistening sheath ... 'cut as cleanly with the tight cord as it would have with a knife' "

The Pueblo, led by Romero, went to the home of Governor Charles Bent, broke down the door, shot Bent several times with arrows, and scalped him in front of his wife and children. They murdered and scalped several other government officials. Among them were Stephen Lee, acting county sheriff; Cornelio Vigil, prefect and probate judge; and J.W. Leal, circuit attorney.

Charles Bent American politician

Charles Bent was appointed as the first civilian Governor of the newly acquired New Mexico Territory by military Governor Stephen Watts Kearny in September 1846.

The next day a large force of approximately 500 Mexicans and Pueblo attacked and laid siege to Simeon Turley's Mill, where Autobee and Tobin were working. Seeing the crowd approach, Autobee rode to Santa Fe to inform the occupying American forces about the revolt and to try to get help, leaving eight to ten mountain men, including his brother Tom, to defend the mill. After a day-long battle, only two of the men, Johnny Albert and Tobin, survived; they escaped the burning mill separately on foot during the confusion of night fighting.

After his escape, Tobin and Autobee served as scouts for a company led by Capt. Ceran St. Vrain, to find and capture the insurrectionists. Those perpetrators who were not killed in battle were tried and mostly hanged. Romero was assassinated while in jail by a US dragoon, John Fitzgerald.

Scout, guide, Indian fighter

In 1847, Tobin farmed on land bordering the San Carlos River southeast of El Pueblo, selling his crops to Lt. Col. William Gilpin, who was camped with his troops near Bent's Fort. The next year, Gilpin asked Tobin to scout for him during a planned spring campaign against the Indians. Gilpin asked Tobin to serve as a courier, carrying dispatches from the Canadian River valley of Oklahoma to Bent's Fort.

Just before the Civil War, Maj. B.L. Beall hired Tobin as a scout to guide an expedition to find a railroad route to California. Beall described Tobin as "having a reputation almost equal to Kit Carson's for bravery, dexterity with his rifle, and skill in mountain life."[ citation needed ]

In November 1868, Gen. Penrose appointed Tobin as chief scout on an Indian-hunting campaign. Other scouts hired were Tobin's half-brother Charles Autobee, and "Wild Bill" Hickok.

Felipe Espinosa

In the early 1860s, the Mexican national Felipe Espinosa (along with two cousins) moved to the San Luis Valley from New Mexico. The Espinosas went on a killing spree beginning in 1863, murdering more than 30 Anglos in the area in retaliation for relatives killed in the Mexican–American War. A detachment of soldiers from Ft. Garland, as well as several posses, attempted to capture the brothers, but succeeded only in killing one brother, who was quickly replaced by a cousin. Eventually, Colonel Sam Tappan, the commanding officer of Ft. Garland, requested Tobin's help in bringing Espinosas' reign of terror to an end. He provided Tobin with a detachment of fifteen soldiers, but Tobin left them at camp, as they made too much noise on the trail. Tobin tracked the Espinosas to a camp and shot them. He cut off their heads and carried them in a sack back to Ft. Garland as proof of his success. When asked by Tappan how his trip had gone, Tobin reportedly replied, "So-so", then rolled the heads out of the sack and across the floor. The government had posted a reward for several thousand dollars (Dead or Alive) for the Espinosas, but Tobin never collected the full amount. The governor of Colorado gave him a coat like Kit Carson's and the Army gave him a Henry rifle.

Billy Carson

In 1878, Tobin's daughter Pascualita married William (Billy) Carson, a son of Kit Carson. Some years later, Tobin tried to stab Carson for abusing Pascualita; the younger man hit Tobin in the head with a sledge hammer and shot him in the side. Tobin and his son-in-law apparently reconciled a few days later, but Tobin never fully recovered from the shooting. He did outlive Billy Carson.

See also

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  1. Kutz, J.: Mysteries & Miracles of Colorado, Rhombus, 1993