Dutch Henry Born: Wild West legend

Photo courtesy John M. Motter
This building from Pagosa’s past, known by oldtimers as the Dyke House, still remains. The name Dyke comes from Archuleta County’s first sheriff, William Dyke, who ranched in the area. The building served as a stop for the train, which ran between Pagosa Junction and Pagosa Springs. The building also served as a general store and post office. It served into the 1930s. I suspect it was last operated by the Stanley Belmear family, but, if you know better, I’d like to hear about it. This building is a few miles west of Pagosa Springs in the Aspen Springs area, on Stollsteimer Road.

We closed last week’s column about the second battle of Adobe Walls in the midst of a colorful description of the attacking Indians as provided by William “Billy” Dixon, who was trapped in the old fort along with a young Bat Masterson, Dutch Henry Born and others.
Continuing with Dixon’s description: “Scalps dangled from bridles, gorgeous war-bonnets fluttered their plumes, bright feathers dangled from the tails and manes of the horses, and the bronzed, half-naked bodies of the riders glittered with ornaments of silver and brass. Behind this charging host stretched the Plains on whose horizon the rising sun was lifting its morning fires. The warriors seemed to emerge from the glowing background.”
Leading the Indian force estimated at more than 700 strong was Comanche Chief Quanah Parker. The reader needs to know that Indian war leaders earned their leadership positions by winning battles. Parker was respected by all of the Plains tribes for his fighting prowess. The buffalo hunters also respected him. Parker was the son of a white woman, Cynthia Ann Parker, who had been kidnapped as a small girl from the home of a pioneer family south of Dallas. He was the best known of the Indian leaders during the Red River Indian War, which tied up three frontier armies before the Indians were defeated at Palo Duro Canyon in the Texas Panhandle.
The aforementioned Dixon ended the second battle of Adobe Walls with one of the most spectacular gunshots ever made. The initial Indian attack almost carried the day. The Indians were close enough to pound on doors and windows of the buildings with their rifle butts; so close that the hunters’ long-range rifles were almost useless. They were fighting with pistols and Henry and Winchester lever-action rifles.
After the initial attack was repulsed, the hunters were able to keep the Indians at bay with large-caliber, long-range Sharps rifles. The hunters suffered four casualties, three on the first day. Fifteen Indians were killed so close to the buildings that their bodies could not be retrieved by their fellow warriors. On the third day after the initial attack, 15 warriors rode out on a bluff nearly a mile away to survey the situation. Already renowned as a crack shot, Dixon took aim with a Big Fifty Sharps, either 50-70 or 50-90, and cleanly dropped a warrior from atop his horse. Seeing their fellow warrior killed from such a distance apparently so discouraged the Indians they gave up the battle. The Indians had a black bugler who was said to have been killed by Dutch Henry.
Next week we’ll continue by looking at Dodge City, Bat Masterson and “Hanging Judge” Isaac Parker through the eyes of Dutch Henry Born.

This story was posted on December 26, 2018.