Thursday, June 9, 2016



 In the family stories told to my sister and me when we were growing up, it was always James Sellers Dobbins (my dad's grandfather) who was oh, so famous.  According to the stories, he was one of Kit Carson's Scouts, was at one time captured by the Indians, and was given one of Kit Carson's rifles at some point in the relationship.  Now, for two little girls growing up in the 1940's, amid all the radio and movie cowboys - Roy Rogers, Gene Autry, Cisco Kid, the Lone Ranger, Red Ryder, and so many others, having a real life great-grandfather (though long dead) who not only was a cowboy in Kansas and Colorado but also a Scout with the famous Kit Carson, was a real thrill.

As the story went, the gun was ultimately passed on to Jim Dobbins' son Robert Gaston Dobbins and thence to his son Percy, who was my dad's cousin.  We girls had never met any of these Colorado Dobbinses but my dad and Percy were buddies growing up; undoubtedly the gun story was passed around between them.  My sister and I were very impressed and were true believers in what we were told.

And so it was that when I turned about 40 years old, I became interested in genealogy and the first family I researched was the famous James Sellers Dobbins.  Was I in for a surprise!

When my mother turned over to me the few Dobbins family documents she had been given by her mother-in-law Maud Dobbins, I saw first of all the picture above, which was old and a bit faded -- and certainly didn't look like the handsome dude in the top photo, although it was the same person.
I learned that Jim Dobbins spent his life after the Civil War raising stock out on the dry prairie of eastern Colorado.  Dry, dust, hard work: that pretty much sums up what the "real" picture of Jim looked like.

But still, I wondered about him being one of Kit Carson's scouts.  Below is part of what was written on the back of that "Hawes" photograph by Maud.  Typescript is below:

Fought in the Civil War, Union side 1863.  Was Indian Scout in Kit Carson's Brigade patrols to Fort Leavenworth, Kansas and Santa Fe, N.M. over the Santa Fe trail.  

Now it is true that Kit Carson spent a lot of time around Ft. Lyons near Las Animas where Jim Dobbins, his wife Nannie, and sons Robert Gaston and Scott Walter Dobbins lived.  But Kit Carson died in 1864, which was long before Jim and his family moved to Colorado, which happened in 1875.  As to the gun, Percy Dobbins, son of Robert Gaston Dobbins, gave it to a museum in New Mexico and they authenticated it as belong to Carson.  However, in the pile of material my mother had, there was also an old article that said one of Carson's attendants in his latter years was given the gun, and as he aged, he in turn passed it on to Percy.  

Within a few weeks of researching my now "not so famous" relative, I was convinced that what my family handed down was like that old game we used to play as kids - with telling a story to one person and having that story repeated from person to person and seeing how changed it was at the end.  

Jim Dobbins in 1860 left Kansas for the Colorado gold country and went back empty handed.  In 1863 he did fight in the Civil War in the 11th Kansas Cavalry.  His regiment was sent out to settle some Indian problems around the various forts.  And as nearly as I can prove, he did once own a rifle belonging to Kit Carson.  But a famous Scout?   I think not.

Best I can do for him is an IMMORTAL NOBODY. 

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