Gun of the Week: Tom Tobin’s Colt Model 1878 ‘Frontier’ Revolver
So many have heard of mountain men like Jeremiah Liver-Eating Johnson or Grizzly Adams (even though their real names were...
So many have heard of mountain men like Jeremiah Liver-Eating Johnson or Grizzly Adams (even though their real names were John Johnston and James Adams), but I love finding more obscure mountain men and giving them their 15 minutes of fame.
In our embellished gallery (an unexpected place for a mountain man’s gun, I might add) is a .45 caliber Colt Model 1878 ‘Frontier’ Double Action Revolver with checkered ivory grips. An engraving on the back-strap of this firearm reads: “MAJOR W.M. DUNN U.S.A.; TO THOMAS T. TOBENS 1883”.
But who is Thomas T. Tobens? Well his real name is Thomas Tate Tobin and he lived from 1824 to 1904. (The 19th century wasn’t much for standardization of spelling.) Tobin was a mountain man, guide, US Army scout, fur trapper, and a bounty hunter. His most noted mission was the execution of the Espinosa Outlaws.
In 1863, near the San Luis Valley, Felipe and Jose Espinosa murdered more than 30 people to avenge family members killed in the Mexican-American War. Colonel Sam Tappan, commanding officer of Fort Garland (a fort in Colorado established to protect San Luis Valley hired Tobin to end the rampage. The story goes: he deployed soldiers to Tobin’s aid, but the mountain man took to the assignment alone. He followed the Espinosa’s to their camp. There, he shot and decapitated them, and carried their heads in a sack back to Colonel Tappan.
Don’t you just love how dramatic stories in the American West can get?
This presentation firearm was given to Tobin in appreciation for his service to the United States. And I think it’s great that mountain men, stereotypically associated with rough and tough lifestyles, sometimes still have room for a little bling in their lives.
To see the previous Gun of the Week, a Walch 10-Shot Double Hammers pocket revolver, click here. Stay tuned for a new gun next week. For more information, check out the Cody Firearms Museum page here, or follow the Cody Firearms Museum on Facebook and Twitter.