The exploits of ‘Dutch’ Henry Born

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Photo courtesy John M. Motter Early Pagosa legend “Dutch” Henry Born poses for us, replete with his six-shooter and buffalo rifle.
Photo courtesy John M. Motter
Early Pagosa legend “Dutch” Henry Born poses for us, replete with his six-shooter and buffalo rifle.

By the late 1870s or early 1880s, S.J. Berlin and Asa Pangborn had taken up land on the west fork of the San Juan River. Both were Summitville miners. Berlin was a mine foreman. The Pangborns moved to Pagosa Springs where Asa Pangborn Jr. was born. The old-timers I knew when I moved to Pagosa Springs remembered Asa Pangborn Jr. as the first white child born in Pagosa Springs.

Another early settler on the west fork of the San Juan was “Dutch” Henry Born. Born lived a colorful life before turning to mining in the San Juans and then homesteading land around Born’s Lake. While living at the lake, Born raised a family, operated a fish hatchery, and hosted folks who came to fish in and boat on the lake.

Born was born in Wisconsin in 1849, but moved with his family to Michigan at an early age. In 1869, he rode west into Kansas, where he is said to have been a scout for Custer. After turning to buffalo hunting, he soon became known as “Dutch” Henry, one of the legendary characters of the Old West.

He took part in the 1874 Battle of Adobe Walls located in the Texas Panhandle. It is said he turned outlaw because of an incident that took place while he was buffalo hunting on the Colorado plains. Suffering from an injury, he sought help from a nearby Army post. When the post commander refused help, he nursed himself back to health, then launched a career of stealing horses from the Army and selling them to Indians and stealing horses from Indians and selling them to the Army.

He is said to have frequented Dodge City during the cattle drive days and to have been arrested by Bat Masterson while hanging out in Trinidad, Colo. Masterson took him back to Dodge City, where he successfully thwarted an attempt to convict him of horse stealing. Many more stories, enough to fill a book, could be told of the exploits of Born.

In 1899, Born married Ida Dillabaugh, his childhood sweetheart in Michigan. The couple raised four children while living at Born’s Lake. Because he was an old man when he settled down and started raising children, I knew his daughter, Mabel Bennett. And, he has grandchildren still living in the Pagosa Springs area.