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Allison gang runs riot in Pagosa Country

We’ve been writing about the Allison gang, probably the best known of the outlaws who plagued Pagosa Country circa 1880.

Charley Allison, head of the Allison gang, should not be confused with Clay Allison, a well-known gunman in the Cimarron area of New Mexico and throughout Oklahoma and Texas.

The earliest information I have on Charley Allison is that he had been a deputy sheriff or maybe a constable in Conejos in the San Luis Valley of Colorado. It appears he held up five or six stages over in the San Luis Valley before crossing the San Juans to conduct his business from Amargo, New Mexico, a community located just a little east of today’s Lumberton.

We reported that the Allison Gang held up the Durango/Pagosa Springs stage twice, robbed the Voorhees store in Pagosa Springs, and stole several horses including a valuable trotter owned by Colorado Gov. Hunt, but stabled with the Archuletas at Monero at the time of theft.

One of the more daring of the Allison Gang ventures involved Chama. During the days when the railroad was being built through Chama and across northern New Mexico on its way to Durango, Chama was a typical Wild West town.

It seems Charley Allison rode into Chama one sunshiny day, reined in his horse in the middle of Main Street, unholstered his six-shooter, and began firing into the air. Heads poked through quickly opened upstairs windows, allowing the curious to stick their heads through the windows in an attempt to learn what was going on. Merchants and shoppers abandoned down-stairs stores and formed a crowd around the seemingly unnoticing gunman.

Focused on Allison, the crowd failed to notice that both ends of the street were sealed by a bunch of hard-eyed gunslingers who joined their boss by shooting into the air.

When his gang had the crowd adequately surrounded, Allison yelled out. “We’ve got you surrounded. This is a holdup. Don’t do anything stupid. Keep your hands away from your guns.”

Having completed his introduction, Allison proceeded to loot the pockets and purses of the helpless crowd. When finished with their looting, the gang climbed on their horses, shifted into high gear, and galloped out of town. It wasn’t long until a posse was assembled and also galloped off in the direction Allison was last seen.

The posse never found the Allison gang, but proving he knew a good thing when he saw it, Allison repeated his Chama holdup scene in Pagosa Springs the next day. Pagosa citizens proved to be as susceptible to Allison’s sales pitch as Chama had been.

Allison and his gang escaped from Pagosa, but his freedom did not last long. A few weeks later he was arrested by a lawman in Santa Fe, where he stood trial and was sentenced for armed robbery.

It is said he eventually was released from the New Mexico penal system and spent the remainder of his natural life in Montana.

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