Tobin was born at 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, as well as sometimes working at a store at 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 the acquaintance of 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 by many years. Tobin died on May 16, 1904 and was buried at Fort Garland, Colorado. More …
By Kathy Weiser-Alexander, updated February 2020.