While the 3rd regiment was waiting at Pueblo for orders to move on to Fort Lyons, a dispatch came to be sent to Fort Garland. Captain Cree was looking for a man to send, when Alston Shaw volunteered to go. After he had his horse saddled and was all prepared to start, Captain Cree came up to him, shook hands and said, “Good bye, Shaw.”

Alston asked, “Why, what’s wrong?”
“I will tell you, Al, I never expect to see you return.”
“What makes you think so?”
“Old Est Pinosa is up on the Sangre de Cristo range and you know what he is doing.”

Al Shaw was well aware of Est Pinosa and his crimes, but was willing to take his chances and immediately after breakfast started on his errand.

A short time before this, Est Pinosa was away from home and it was reported that during his absence, some soldiers insulted his wife and daughter. He swore revenge, and to be sure to get the right ones “he would kill every white man crossing the range.” But he never robbed anyone, his hatred was so strong against the white people that his only desire was to kill them off.

So numerous were his crimes that Governor Evans offered a reward of fifteen hundred dollars for his head, dead or alive. Tom Tobin was trailing him, intent upon getting the reward.

The first night out from Pueblo, Alston Shaw stopped on Sangre de Cristo range at Sam Laval’s place, which was used as a government station. As he rode up to the house, a Texan who was sitting with some Mexicans nearby, said, “Ultro gringo paro” (another foreign dog). Shaw ignored the remark and went on talking with Laval.

The last thing Laval told him when he was starting out again was, “Look out for Est Pinosa, he left here just before you came last night.”

After winding around through the foothills all the forenoon, he reached the foot of the main divide about noon and as yet saw no signs of the Mexican. Just as he was beginning to think the way was clear, he was startled by two shots right ahead of him. Dismounting from his horse and cautiously creeping around the bend in the road, he came upon nine Mexicans and naturally thought it was Est Pinosa and some of his friends, and as they had caught sight of him he never expected to get on his horse again, but he made up his mind to die as dear as possible, so he got out both of his revolvers and prepared to fight. The Mexicans seeing that it was just a lone man, showed signs of friendliness and Al Shaw went into their camp and learned that they were with a freight train which was on ahead going to Fort Garland, and they were shooting black birds, hence the cause of their shots. Shaw then told them of Est Pinosa, thus explaining the cause of his precaution. By this time they fully understood each other and had got on friendly terms; they went on to Fort Garland together. As they were almost on top of the range they saw smoke raising up toward the Spanish Peaks. They supposed it was either Indians or the dreaded Mexican and his followers, nevertheless they kept a close look out along the road, taking no chances, as some of the desperadoes might spring out from under ambush and attack them at any time.

In the meantime, while the dispatch carrier was carefully and cautiously making his way over the mountains, ever on the lookout for the revengeful Mexican, Tom Tobin and a friend were just as cautiously trailing after Est Pinosa. As he sneaked down in a pasture, stole a steer and run it back in the hills at the foot of the Spanish Peaks, Tom Tobin was closely following, watching for an opportunity to get the drop on the Mexican and his one companion. Finally when they had butchered the steer and dug a hole in the snow and a little in the ground to build a fire in and cook the meat, Tobin had crept around back of them and just as Est Pinosa turned his back in the direction of Tobin, he fell shot through the back, and Tobin’s friend soon killed the other Mexican. The shot did not kill Est Pinosa, so Tobin took his knife and started to cut the Mexican’s head off. He began cutting in the back of his neck and the knife was dull so he made slow progress. The dying Mexican said, “Tom, hurry up, that knife is dull.”

Alston Shaw rode into Fort Garland, while a poker game was going on in Captain Curley’s Dutch Company. One soldier went broke and was going to whip the one who won his money. He got a large pole from a pile of dead timber and was just raising it to strike when the others interfered. He turned onto them with oaths and said, “Why not for you leave me alone; pretty soon me get deadwood on him?” He was in a fighting humor and would undoubtedly have caused some trouble had not a new excitement started in camp. Just as the poker troubles were reaching a crisis, Tom Tobin came riding into Fort Garland with the head of Est Pinosa stuck on the end of a stick and holding it up in sight of all, thus changing affairs in the fort. He got some of his reward then, but it was several years before he got it all.

After safely delivering the dispatch, Shaw started back to the command at Pueblo, and stopped, as before, at Sam Laval’s place. Here the Texan again made remarks about the “gringo paro” (the Texan was a rebel and had married a Mexican girl, and not only fell in with their customs, but took up their hatred for the white settlers, whom they always called foreigners).

This time Shaw did not ignore his remarks, but strongly resented them, and said: “You have said enough; now if you have any blood in you, come out and fight.” So saying, Shaw got his revolver ready or action in case some of the other Mexicans should resort to treachery. The Texan backed off and began to apologize. The bluff had good effect, during the remainder of Shaw’s stay; they were all very careful of what they said.

Much to the surprise of Captain Cree, Alston Shaw rode back into camp at Pueblo on the night of the fourth day out, and was kept busy for awhile giving the particulars of Tobin’s trailing of Est Pinosa and the end of the Mexican desperado.

Some of the Pioneers of Colorado


Source: True History of some of the Pioneers of Colorado, by Miss Luella Shaw, Press of Carson Harper Co, Denver, Colorado, 1909