A brief war and a murder charge

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Photo courtesy John M. Motter Billy Kern is one of those early Pagosa Country pioneers who is worth a story by himself. He arrested Juan de Dios Montoya for murdering William Howe in 1892 and, in a very threatening environment, delivered his prisoner to Durango for trial.
Photo courtesy John M. Motter
Billy Kern is one of those early Pagosa Country pioneers who is worth a story by himself. He arrested Juan de Dios Montoya for murdering William Howe in 1892 and, in a very threatening environment, delivered his prisoner to Durango for trial.

We’ve been writing about the Montoya/Howe Sheepmen’s/Cattlemen’s War that took place along the west fork of the, San Juan River where it crossed what we recognize today as the At Last Ranch.

Just as we closed last week’s column, Juan de Dios Montoya leaned his 45.90 buffalo rifle against a boulder on the west side of the river. Montoya gripped a bullet-shattered shoulder as his searching eyes watched William Howe’s body, stripped of life, slump from his blood-stained saddle into the oblivion of knee-high grass.

The shooting in this so-called war lasted scarcely longer than a minute. In that oh-so-brief time, one young man still in the vigor of youth lay dead and another, equally young and vigorous, clutched a bleeding shoulder, still shaking from the suddenness of his near-death encounter with the grim reaper.

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