Tom Tate Tobin was a frontiersman, trapper, mountain man, guide, and scout in the early American West.
Tobin was born in St. Louis, Missouri, on March 15, 1823, and when he was just 14 years old, he traveled west with his half-brother, Charles Autobees, to Taos, New Mexico, in 1837. There, he worked as a trapper and sometimes at a store in Arroyo Hondo. Later, he worked as a trapper and scout at Bent’s Fort, Colorado.
In 1846, he married Pascuala Bernal, and the two settled at Arroyo Hondo, near Taos, New Mexico. In the Taos Pueblo Revolt in January 1847, he narrowly escaped being killed. Through the years, he continued to work as a guide and scout, making acquaintances with other frontiersmen, such as Kit Carson, Uncle Dick Wootton, Ceran St. Vrain, Charles Bent, John C. Fremont, Wild Bill Hickok, William F. Cody, and the Shoup brothers. By 1853, his talents as a mountain man were so highly regarded that he guided the Beale expedition from the Gunnison River to California.
Some ten years later, in September 1863, he was sent along with a detachment of soldiers to track down and eliminate the notorious outlaws Felipe and Julian Espinosa. Returning to Fort Garland, Colorado, with the desperados’ heads in a sack, he never received the full $2,500 reward offered.
In November 1868, Tobin was appointed by General Penrose as a chief scout on an Indian-hunting campaign where he worked along with two other scouts, including his half-brother, Charles Autobees, and “Wild Bill” Hickok. In the meantime, his daughter, Pascualita, had grown up and married William “Billy” Carson, Kit’s son, in 1878. Later, when Tobin found out that Billy was abusing his wife, he went after his son-in-law to avenge a beating, but instead, was shot by Billy Carson. Though Tobin survived, he never fully recovered from his wound. However, he did outlive Billy for many years. Tobin died on May 16, 1904, and was buried at Fort Garland, Colorado. More …
© Kathy Alexander/Legends of America, updated November 2022.
Adventures in the American West
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