Dutch Henry Born: Wild West legend

Photo courtesy John M. Motter
This photo was taken shortly after 1900 on Pagosa Street in Pagosa Springs. The sign above the board walk reads J.M. Archuleta Wool and Cattle Buyer. Archuleta’s store was located in the middle of Block 21, where the Sullenburger Hotel was later built following a fire. I don’t recognize the man with the horse, but suspect he hopes to sell the horse since it has only a lead rope and no saddle or bridle.

Any time a mixture of buffalo, bullets and bloodshed splattered across the wild and wooly Western frontier, it seemed inevitable that Dutch Henry Born would show up in company with his buffalo gun and unbelievable ability to survive.
Such an event took place not once, but twice on the Great Plains of the Texas Panhandle at a fort called Adobe Walls located a few miles northwest of present-day Amarillo.
The first Battle of Adobe Walls took place in 1864 and was one of the largest engagements between whites and Indians on the Great Plains. Col. Christopher “Kit” Carson commanding the First Cavalry, New Mexico volunteers with 14 officers, 321 enlisted men and 75 Ute and Jicarilla Apache scouts, started in search of the winter encampment of a large force of Kiowa and Comanche Indians.
The second battle of Adobe Walls took place June 27, 1874. Guess what? Right in the middle of the bullets and bloodshed was Dutch Henry Born. Guess what No. 2? Dutch Henry walked out alive.
The fort at Adobe Walls had been built by frontiersman and fur trader William Bent, who had earlier built a fort along the Arkansas River in eastern Colorado. Bent’s Fort on the Arkansas River served the needs of fur trappers, buffalo hunters and merchants traveling along the Old Spanish Trail from Kansas City, Mo., to Santa Fe, N.M.
Bent built the fort Adobe Walls in 1848 for trade with the Comanche, Kiowa and Prairie Apache Indians. Lovers of western history will enjoy reading about Bent’s life on the Internet and visiting the museum that preserves his memory at Las Animas in eastern Colorado.
Carson’s task during his sortie to the now-abandoned Bent’s Fort was to calm down the Plains tribes who had taken to helping themselves to the supply trains traveling between Kansas City and Santa Fe. Carson felt secure as he marched across the bison-clad plains with troops, scouts and a pair of mountain housers. Within two days, he and his army came near to becoming massacre victims a few years before Custer sacrificed his command as a role model for Webster’s definition of that form of extinction.
Ten years later, Dutch Henry and 28 bison-hunting compañeros found themselves confined inside Adobe Walls looking through cracks in those walls at several thousand well-well-armed wilderness warriors led by Chief Quanah Parker. We’ll see the results Carson’s conflict and the Second Battle of Adobe Walls this coming week as we sight down the barrel of Dutch Henry’s buffalo rifle.

This story was posted on December 9, 2018.