Charles H. Beaubien

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Charles H. Beaubien
Alexis Beaubien

(1800-10-22)October 22, 1800
DiedFebruary 6, 1864(1864-02-06) (aged 63)
Other namesCarlos Beaubien, Charles Trotier
OccupationFur trader
Known forBeaubien-Miranda Land Grant

Charles H. Beaubien (October 1800 – 1864), also known as Alexis Beaubien, Carlos Beaubien and Charles Trotier, was a Canadian-born American fur trader who was one of two investors who owned 2,700,000 acres (11,000 km2) of northeastern New Mexico and southeastern Colorado in the Beaubien-Miranda as well as the Sangre de Cristo land grants.

Early life[edit]

Beaubein was born in Saint-Jean-Baptiste de Nicolet, Quebec. His birth name was Alexis Beaubien (Sieur de Beaubien is a title, his birth surname is most likely Trotier).[1]

He studied for the priesthood, and was tonsured in 1820. When he dropped out of the priesthood he changed his name to "Charles" in 1820 and moved to the United States (probably at St. Louis, Missouri where he worked in the fur business with the Chouteau family). There are numerous stories about how he moved west. It is believed he was licensed by William Clark to enter Indian Territory in 1823.

From another New Mexico History we have that Charles Hipolyte Trotier, Sieur de Beaubien, left the Dominion of Canada for the United States during the War of 1812, and came to New Mexico in 1823, in company with a number of French Canadians who were making investigations in New Mexico.

Beaubien went beyond the Territory controlled by the United States and moved into territory controlled by Mexico and eventually settled at Taos, New Mexico where he applied to become a citizen of Mexico. As it was the custom for administrators, notaries and scriveners to translate Christian names, his name was recorded as "Carlos" instead of "Charles," and so he often appears as Carlos Beaubien in all New Mexico records.

In 1827 he married Maria Paula Lobato in Taos in a ceremony conducted by Antonio José Martínez who would later become his nemesis. He started a business in Taos.

Beaubien-Miranda Land Grant[edit]

In 1840 New Mexico Governor Manuel Armijo imposed a tax on non-native residents in New Mexico and Beaubien's businesses were regularly raided.

Beaubien, hoping to open businesses away from direct Mexican control, enlisted Guadalupe Miranda, the secretary of the government, to petition for a grant of 1,700,000 acres (6,900 km2) on the eastern side of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. Armijo approved the grant on January 4, 1841 with the provision that the land be settled within two years.

Settlement was delayed by incursions from Texans. In 1843, Beaubien and Miranda signed away one-fourth of their grant to Charles Bent in exchange for help in establishing ranches along the Ponil, Vermejo, Cimarron and Rayado rivers.

Sangre de Cristo Land Grant[edit]

Later in 1843 Beaubien applied for another 1-million-acre (4,000 km2)[2] grant in the San Luis Valley along the Costilla, Culebra, and Trincheras Rivers in southern Colorado. Since he already had one grant, the new grant went to his 13-year-old son Narciso and a Taos business associate Stephen Louis Lee.

Armijo approved the grant on January 12, 1844.

Settlement was delayed by the Mexican–American War in 1846 changed the political landscape. When Stephen W. Kearney set up government in Santa Fe, New Mexico in 1846 and established Charles Bent as governor. Beaubien was named one of the judges on the Supreme Court. The Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo that ended war affirmed the legality of Beaubien's grant.

Beaubien agreed to sell his land but the payment was not received.

Taos Revolt[edit]

Beaubien was holding court in Tierra Amarilla, New Mexico when the Taos Revolt erupted in January 1847. In the revolt, Beaubien's son Narciso (freshly arriving from school in Cape Girardeau, Missouri) and his partner Stephen Louis Lee, and Governor Bent were killed.

After Sterling Price put down the rebellion, Beaubien was to be the judge to overseeing the trial of his son's murderers prompting Father Martinez to accuse him of "endeavoring to kill all the people of Taos."

Beaubien turned to his sons-in-law Lucien Maxwell and Jesus Abreu to develop the land grant.

In 1851 he semi-retired from public service.

In 1863 he sold the Colorado land grant to Colorado Governor William Gilpin for approximately four cents an acre ($41,000).


Further reading[edit]

  • LeRoy Reuben Hafen; Janet Lecompte (1997). French Fur Traders and Voyageurs in the American West. U of Nebraska Press. pp. 29–. ISBN 0-8032-7302-9.
  • David J. Weber (1980). The Taos Trappers: The Fur Trade in the Far Southwest, 1540-1846. University of Oklahoma Press. pp. 181–. ISBN 978-0-8061-1702-7.

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