Fred Lambert, sworn in at the age of 16, was
the youngest Territorial Marshall from
In 1887 Charles Fred
"Cyclone" Lambert was
to Henri and Mary Lambert in Room #31 of the famous
It was a blustery winter night with a blizzard
blowing outside, and at the time of his birth one of the hotel guests, and
good friend of the Lambert family, laughingly commented that he
should be named "Cyclone Dick," much to Mary's chagrin. However, she went
along with it and the couple soon asked the guest to be Fred's
godfather, which he gladly accepted. The guest and Fred's godfather was none other than Buffalo Bill Cody. Buffalo Bill would
later give Fred instruction in the use of guns when he got older.
Fred's father Henri Lambert started Lambert's
Inn which later became the
Hotel. Henri was the one time personal chef of President Abraham
Lincoln and Lambert's Inn, which he built in 1872, became a notorious place during
the wild and bawdy days of the
Fred Lambert 1968 photo depicting all of the
various law enforcement badges he wore during his career.
The Inn hosted all manner of famous and
infamous people including
Black Jack Ketchum,
Allison and many more. Fred grew up knowing some of these
people and was a bit of a showman himself. During the
early heyday 27 men were shot and killed. In fact the saloon
was so notorious that during the 1870's the favorite expressions in
were: "Who was killed at Lambert's last night?" and "It appears
Lambert had himself another man for breakfast."
In 1902, the dining area
was remodeled by the Lambert sons and they they counted over four
hundred bullet holes in the ceiling, many of which can still be seen
today. A double layer of
heavy wood prevented anyone from sleeping upstairs from being killed. Today, the ceiling of the dining room still holds 22 bullet holes.
At 15, Fred was a freight wagon driver on
the run between Cimarron
and Taos. About the same time he took a job with the Indian
Police. On one of his first assignments, staking out Picuris
Peak near the Taos Pueblo, Fred and two other deputies got into a
brawl with some outlaws. Suspecting moonshine traffic, the trio
watched as a train of mules and six men came down the trail loaded
with whiskey. When Fred approached them, the leader, a man by
the name of Juan Gallegos, drew his gun. But Fred was too quick
for him and grabbed the gun around the cylinder at the same time that
the hammer came down smashing the web of his hand. With his
other hand, Fred pulled his own gun and struck Gallego between the
eyes. Gaining the upper hand the deputies arrested the entire
gang but Fred would live with a scar on his hand for the rest of his
the age of 16, Fred would become the youngest Territorial Marshall
Mexico and would continue to serve as a tough lawman in many
capacities for his entire life.
When Fred was still learning the tricks of
the Sheriff trade, he was befriended by a man named Frank Harrington,
the man who shot
Black Jack Ketchum, which ultimately resulted in his arrest.
Frank took him out
behind the stone walls of the Cimarron
Jail, and taught him to shoot.
By the time Fred became the Sheriff of
the wild days of Cimarron
were over. As Fred walked the streets of Cimarron
the worst thing that usually happened was taking care of a drunken
"Bunny" Alpers. Alpers, who also happened to be the mayor had
a habit for Saturday night binges. Whenever "Bunny" passed out or there
was trouble at the tavern, the bar keeper would hang and old red railroad
lantern on the porch, a signal for Fred to come and help. When Bunny
passed out in chair, Fred would load him in a wheelbarrow and haul him
home, where he would dump him in front of his house.
Fred was also many things other than a lawman. Somewhere along the line he married a woman named Katie Hoover and they
adopted a young Navajo boy named Manuel Cruz. When not serving for
the law, he was also an active rancher. Fred also took on the
restoration of the Aztec Mill, which was built in 1864 by
Maxwell, of the
Grant. For many years, Fred operated the century-old Maxwell
grist mill as a museum and a tourist attraction. The Astec Mill
Museum is now operated by the
Historical Society. Due to his efforts, many other historic
landmarks in Cimarron were made sites of markers which tell their story.
Mr. Lambert was also caring, thoughtful and a
well-read man. During his life he wrote poetry, published and contributed
to several books, and made many pen and ink drawings and paintings. He published a
book of his poems and pen and ink drawings titled, Bygone Days Of The
Old West and contributed to other books including, A Cowboy
Detective, and New Mexico, A Guide to the Colorful State.
He assisted in the preparation of a book on the history of the
New Mexico Mounted Police, The Thin Gray
Line, and wrote a brief introduction entitled, "A Few Words From an
Old Mountie". He also served as a consultant for other publications
such as, Satan's Paradise:
From Lucien Maxwell to Fred Lambert
and Haunted Highways.
Fred Lambert passed away on February 3, 1971.
of America, updated July, 2017.