Jose Tafoya

Jose Piedad Tafoya (1834 - ca. 1913), sometimes called the Prince of the Comancheros, was one of the more notable traders from New Mexico who traveled throughout the Southern Great Plains exchanging goods with the Comanches and their allies the Kiowa for stolen horses, cattle, and sometimes human captives.[1][2][3][4] According to legend, he was seven feet tall.[5] He was born in La Cuesta, New Mexico in 1834 and first visited the Great Plains as early as 1859.[3][4] In the 1850s, he operated a sheep ranch in San Miguel County, New Mexico.[1][4] His first wife was Maria de Jesus Perez. They married April 20, 1863 in Anton Chico, New Mexico.[3] In the 1860s, he operated a trading post near what is now Quitaque, Texas.[1][4][6] In the 1870s, he began sheep herding in Texas.[1][2][4] He also at times acted as a scout for the US Army, possibly unwillingly. According to some sources, he was instrumental in the defeat of the Comanches at the Battle of Palo Duro Canyon. He allegedly revealed the location of Comanche camps to Colonel Ranald S. Mackenzie after being forced to do so either at the end of a rope or after being tied to a wagon wheel.[1][4][5][7][8][9][10] Some believe that this story is mythical.[10] Mackenzie credited another Comanchero scout named Johnson for finding the camps.[7] Tafoya also participated in the ill-fated Buffalo Soldier tragedy of 1877.[11][12][13] In 1879, he accompanied Lt. John L. Bullis on an expedition into southern New Mexico in pursuit of a band of marauding Lipan and Mescalero Apaches.[14] By the 1880s, he had left Texas and was once again ranching sheep in New Mexico.[1][4] He appeared in the U.S. Court of Claims in 1893 along with three other former Comancheros, where they admitted to having purchased cattle marked with brands belonging to Charles Goodnight and others.[1][8][4] He had at least four children and probably died about 1913, when his will was filed, bequeathing his house to his second wife, Teresa Baca de Tafoya.[3][8][4]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g Anderson, H. Allen. "Tafoya, Jose Piedad" . The Handbook of Texas Online. Texas State Historical Association (TSHA). Retrieved 4 August 2017.
  2. ^ a b Anderson, H. Allen. "Comancheros" . The Handbook of Texas Online. Texas State Historical Association (TSHA). Retrieved 4 August 2017.
  3. ^ a b c d "El Principe De Los Comancheros, Jose Piedad Tafoya" . More Thoughts from New Mexico. Retrieved 4 August 2017.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i Ellis, Mark R. "Tafoya, Jose Piedad" . Encyclopedia of the Great Plains. University of Nebraska - Lincoln. Retrieved 4 August 2017.
  5. ^ a b Fenn, Forrest. "Scrapbook One Hundred Seventy Three - The Prince of the Comancheros" . Fenn Scrapbook. Retrieved 4 August 2017.
  6. ^ Dooley, Claude; Dooley, Betty (1978). Why Stop? A Guide to Texas Historical Roadside Markers (2nd ed.). Houston, Texas: Gulf Publishing Company. p. 408. ISBN 0-88415-922-1.
  7. ^ a b Haley, James L (1976). The Buffalo War - The History of the Red River Indian Uprising of 1874. Norman, Oklahoma: University of Oklahoma Press. pp. 175–176. ISBN 0-8061-1957-8.
  8. ^ a b c Bowser, David (3 August 2007). "NM Ranch Includes Comancheros, Ownership Disputes In History" . Livestock Weekly. Retrieved 4 August 2017.
  9. ^ Fehrenbach, T. R. (1974). Comanches - The History of a People (1st Anchor Books ed.). Anchor Books. p. 541. ISBN 1-4000-3049-8.
  10. ^ a b Dan L. Thrapp (1 June 1991). Encyclopedia of Frontier Biography: P-Z . University of Nebraska Press. p. 1397. ISBN 0-8032-9420-4. Retrieved 6 August 2017.
  11. ^ Leckie, William H. (1967). The Buffalo Soldiers - A Narrative of the Negro Cavalry in the West . Norman, Oklahoma: University of Oklahoma Press. pp. 157-160 . ISBN 0-8061-1244-1.
  12. ^ Debra J. Sheffer Ph.D. (24 March 2015). The Buffalo Soldiers: Their Epic Story and Major Campaigns . ABC-CLIO. p. 104. ISBN 978-1-4408-2983-3.
  13. ^ Sandoz, Mari (1954). The Buffalo Hunters . Lincoln, Nebraska: University of Nebraska Press. pp. 291-312 . ISBN 0-8032-5883-6.
  14. ^ Porter, Kenneth Wiggins (January 1952). "The Seminole-Negro Scouts". The Southwestern Historical Quarterly. LV (3).


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