FRANCIS X. AUBRY
Also known as “The Telegraph,” Francis X. Aubry pioneered the “Aubry Cutoff” on the Santa Fe Trail. From a point on the Arkansas River, just east of present-day Syracuse, Kansas, he headed across southeastern Colorado to the Cimarron River. Aubry is best remembered for a ride he made from Santa Fe to Independence, Missouri during which he covered 780 miles in 5 days, 16 hours.
Tall and with a commanding presence, Charles Autobees was a man of force but was also uneducated.
After living as a mountain man and trader for many years, Autobees finally settled on a ranch near the junction of the Huerfano and Arkansas Rivers in 1853. Although he lived on the land for 30 years, his residence didn’t qualify under US Government Homestead rules. As a consequence, he lost his land and died penniless, a victim of government bureaucracy.
A friend of Sam Houston’s, Judge Spruce M. Baird dealt in both land and cattle and was attorney and agent for the Vigil-St. Vrain Land Grant. For whatever reason, Judge Baird wore his bright red flannel underwear on the outside over his clothing.
ALEXANDER BARCLAY AND JOSEPH DOYLE
English-born Barclay and American-born Doyle were storekeepers and bookkeepers at Bent’s Old Fort in 1838.
From 1844 to 1848, both men worked with George Simpson to establish the settlement at Hardscrabble, 30 miles west of El Pueblo. Shortly after that, Barclay and Doyle moved to northern New Mexico where they built Fort Barclay.
JAMES P. BECKWOURTH
Born in 1800, James P. Beckwourth was the son of a slave mother and a Virginia plantation owner. His father gave him a classical education.
In 1824, he headed west. For 40 years, he worked as trapper, guide, adventurer, and war leader of the Crows, finally dying among them in the lodge of Iron Bull in 1866.
CHARLES AND WILLIAM BENT
Charles and William Bent were brothers who founded Bent’s Old Fort as part of the Bent, St. Vrain & Company. Charles Bent was appointed Governor of New Mexico after Stephen Kearny took the territory from Mexico in the Mexican War. Bent only had the job for a couple of months when the Taos Uprising happened, and he was killed by a group of Mexicans and Taos Indians.
CHRISTOPHER “KIT” CARSON
Kit Carson was a famous Indian scout, mountain man, and military leader.
Chief Conniach was a famous Ute Indian chief who spent many years around Trinidad observing the settlers. He and his tribe helped Uncle Dick build the toll road over Raton Pass from 1866 to 1867.
JUAN BAUTISTA DE ANZA
Juan Bautista de Anza was the Governor of New Mexico in the late 1700s. De Anza led the expedition that killed Cuerno Verde and finally stopped the Comanche raids on Taos and Santa Fe during the Spaniard days.
Wyatt Earp was a famous lawman and outlaw of the 1880s. After he took part in the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral in Tombstone, Arizona, Wyatt and Doc Holliday came to Trinidad to confer with their old friend Bat Masterson, who helped them start a new life. Wyatt laid low in Colorado for five years. He was spotted gambling in places like Trinidad, Aspen, and Denver.
Robert Ford, Jesse James’s cousin, came through the area with a show called, “How I Killed Jesse James,” a dastardly deed he actually did. In the mid-1880s, Ford and his wife Dot lived in Walsenburg, where he operated a saloon on West 7th Street.
COLONEL JOHN FRANCISCO
Along with Henry Daigle, Colonel John Francisco founded La Veta. He came to the area in 1862 from Fort Garland. He is credited with arriving in the area and saying, “This is paradise enough for me.”
Mother Jones was a famous union organizer who came to southern Colorado during the great Colorado Coal Wars of the early 1900s.
STEPHEN WATTS KEARNEY
Stephen Watts Kearney was a Colonel—and later General—who led the Army of the West through the Raton Pass area in 1846 to take Santa Fe and northern New Mexico for the American government during the Mexican War.
Born in 1853, Bat Masterson was a famous frontiersman and peace officer in the American West. As a young man, he became known as a brave buffalo hunter and Indian fighter. As a lawman, he was viewed as a cold-blooded gunfighter, but that reputation was untrue. Masterson served as city marshal of Trinidad, Colorado, in 1882.
Lucien Maxwell was the heir of the Miranda & Beaubien Land Grant, which is how it became the Maxwell Land Grant. A good friend of Kit Carson, when Kit married Clara Jaramillo, Lucien married Luz Beaubien.
In the Taos Uprising, Luz’ older brother was killed by the Pueblo Indians and Lucien inherited the Land Grant through his wife.
Arthur Roy Mitchell was an illustrator of many dime novels from the early and mid-1900s. There is a museum in Trinidad named for him containing many of his illustrations. Mitchell was instrumental in buying the Baca House and saving it for the Colorado Historical Society.
Ouray was a famous Ute Indian chief.
Zebulon Pike was a famous American military explorer who came to the area in 1807, probing the Spanish boundaries. Pikes Peak is named for him.
In 1836, Teresita Sandoval moved with her four children to a buffalo ranch near the junction of the Fountain and Arkansas Rivers where she lived with Matthew Kinkead, the father of her 5th child. Dreams of her illusive happiness eventually led her away from Kinkead and into the arms of Alexander Barclay.
George Simpson helped found and build the communities of El Pueblo, Hardscrabble, and Greenhorn. In 1842, he married Juana Suaso, daughter of Teresita Sandoval Suaso. Later, Simpson came to Trinidad with his wife and settled down in 1865. He was elected to the Trinidad School Board, was the clerk of the magistrate court, and sold office supplies, books, and newspapers around town.
CERAN ST. VRAIN
Ceran St. Vrain was one of the partners in Bent, St. Vrain & Company, and one of the landowners of the Vigil-St. Vrain Land Grant.
Cuerno Verde was a famous Comanche chief who led many raids against the Spaniards in Taos and Santa Fe, New Mexico. He was cornered and killed by Juan Bautista de Anza near the foot of Greenhorn Mountain in southern Colorado.