COBWEB CORNERS: The sheepherding ‘judge’
By Mel McFarland
A few weeks ago I mentioned Judge Baldwin, and quite a few asked for more about him. He was an Irishman who got here the hard way! He came from Ireland via Australia and South America, arriving in Colorado City in 1867. He was out of work, but found a job as a sheepherder on one of the area farms. After doing a bit of this, he worked his way into having his own herd and located on a spot of land near Austin's Bluff.
He was not really one for the solitary life. He would regularly make the trip over to Colorado City for liquid refreshment.
He was over 60 when he arrived in Colorado. He had been caught by Indians in South America and scalped. In addition to that, one arm was almost useless because of injury caused at the same event. He got to be known as quite a local character! He walked with an uneasy saunter, even before visiting the local watering holes. He would ride his gray mare over to Colorado City, followed by his shepherd dog. He had a reputation for disdain of bathing and use of any kind of water!
Baldwin was herding sheep near present-day downtown Colorado Springs when marauding Plains Indians came across him in September 1868, shooting him in the neck. The Indians were upset to find he had already lost his hair and left him to die after cutting him pretty severely. A traveler found him and carried him to Colorado City. It took several weeks, but he recovered.
Though not an actual judge, it was said he was well educated and could hold his own in debates over a variety of subjects, sober or not! He supported General Palmer's founding and development of his new town, but insisted (unsuccessfully) in 1873 that Colorado City should retain the county seat.
His end was quite inglorious. His mare was found standing at a well on the road to his home. A neighbor investigated and saw the judge at the bottom. The coroner failed to record the possible cause, but it was assumed he went for a drink of water and fell in. His friends, of which it was said he had many, wondered about this due to his dislike for that beverage! Perhaps it was for his horse!