Albino Tais on Chester. Frazer Creek, Circa
photo courtesy of Paul and Maxine Sweeney
Tais was born in northern Mexico in the late eighteen hundreds, and it
is believed he was a full blood Yaqui Indian. During the days when Pancho
Villa was fighting in the Mexican Revolution and across the border in
the Southern US, the Yaqui Indians, among others, were pressed into service
in Pancho Villa's army. Part or all of Tais' immediate family was killed
by Pancho Villa in Mexico during this period. Tais escaped to California
but not before he was shot in the leg. He retained an annoying scar, just
above his ankle, for the rest of his life. He had very little if any formal
education. At the turn of the century, and at the time of Pancho Villa
in Northern Mexico, staying alive had a higher priority.
It was in California, during the late teens and early 1920's, that Tais
learned to be a very accomplished horseman in the style of the old Spanish
During the ‘20's he worked for (HH ) Miller and Lux on ranches in California,
Nevada and Oregon. At the beginning of the Great Depression, when jobs
were almost nonexistent, he spent a short stint on a chicken ranch. However,
this Spanish Vaquero wasn't cut out for chicken house duty so he didn't
In the mid ‘30s he and Tex Bouscal, his long time friend, gathered, purchased
and traded for horses in Nevada and trailed them to horse markets in California
as far south as San Francisco. They made several trips, one of the last
being in the summer of 1935 and it was during this time that he and Tex
ran a dude operation/riding academy near Seigler Springs, California for
a short time.
For the most part of the 1930's he rode for the Quarter Circle A Ranches
(owned by Abel and Certner) in Paradise Valley, Nevada. In 1939 or 1940
he went to work for the (25) Twenty Five Ranch (owned by George Russell)
near Battle Mountain, Nevada. At the Twenty Five he rode the rough string
and broke colts. In 1945 he went to work for Jenkins. Shortly after Jenkins
purchased the Twenty Five and so again he rode for many years under the
Twenty Five iron. Then again the Twenty Five was sold and he moved to
the St Johns field and continued to work for Jenkins/Marvels. During the
20 years at the Twenty Five he spent a lot of the spring and falls repping
for the Twenty Five on the Pitchfork wagon (owned by Ellison Ranching
Tais never made a bad horse, but he made a lot of bad horses good. All
were trained in the old Spanish Vaquero way. He may not have had a show
horse, but wherever he rode all of his string of 10 to 15 horses were
top notch. Tais was always a horseback, on a horse that could do far better
than most, no matter what he needed to do, roping, working cattle, on
circle, etc. In those years when he was riding the rough string he would
often hobble his stirrups if he had a horse that was hard to ride. One
measure of a man is the comments that his peers make:
"He was a beautiful rider and all through the years I never saw him get
bucked off. He was one of the finest ropers until the day he died." (Tom
"Tais showed me he had a brand on him. He told me when he was a kid, Pancho
Villa"s gang, branded him up on his shoulder like on a cows hip bone."
"When the ranch (Circle A) was sold in 1941, we had the nicest string
of horses as there was in the whole state and Tais was responsible for
starting them all" (George Abel)
He was a beautiful roper and rider until the day he died. Heeling calves
is an art in itself; heeling calves on a brush strewn rodear ground there
was no one better than he and Lola Munoz (Inducted to the Buckaroo Hall
of Fame in 1995). As many a roper can attest it is not uncommon to lose
a thumb in the dallys. On Tais right hand there was a stub, where a thumb
used to be.
He had that old time Spanish personality, everything was funny no matter
the situation, the bigger and harder the wreck the funnier it was.
There was never any doubt as to Tais' ability as a buckaroo, he could
do it all exceptionally well. He braided rawhide reatas and made all the
repairs on his saddle and other tack. However, one of his greatest attributes
was Tais as a person.
"He was a fun loving person with a great sense of humor. He was a gentleman
and very, very respectful around the ladies." (Maxine Sweeney and Rita
Tais died as he lived, on horseback, June 29, 1960 at the St Johns Field
in Elko County, Nevada.
Albino Tais was inducted into the Buckaroo Hall of Fame in September 2002.
MEMORIES OF TAIS Written by Claude Bryson
A Mexican Buckaroo who was a Yackie Indian, he claimed he rode with Pancho
Villa when he was a young man of 16 years. I got acquainted with him in
the late 1940's Tias was an excellent cowboy and worked at the 25 Ranch
at Battle Mountain, Nevada. He lived and worked at the 25 Ranch for many
years like most all cowboys he went to town once in a while. One of his
expressions was" You go to town get drunk mess your pants and have a lot
He had a good sense of humor but did not buddy up with many, and for some
reason he didn't let me ride some of his horses. He had a little gray
gelding he asked me to ride but I never did. No one had ever ridden that
horse but him and he was his pet horse that is why I never rode him. Tais
showed me how to show a horse tied down, I've seen quite a few horses
shod hog-tied but his way was the best. Thankfully we don't have that
kind of horses now.
He rode horses that not many would want to ride he rode with his right
stirrup hobbled to the cinch. He liked to rope and play with wild cattle.
The 25 at that time had 12,000 head. He told me he and his brother learned
to ride bucking cattle by tying their feet under the bellies of their
MEMORIES OF ALBINO TAIS from Lawrence Jackson
One of the cowboys, Albino Tais, a Mexican, so I thought, hated Fred Castro,
the Cowboss, because he was always making bad remarks about Mexicans.
Albino told me he wasn't Mexican, but was a Yaqui Indian from Mexico.
After taking a closer look I could tell the difference.
He told me that during the Pancho Villa uprising, the Yaquis received
very bad treatment. When Villa moved into his village, he took over the
horses, cattle, hogs, chickens, food and young women; then forced all
the young men to join his rebel army. Albino escaped to Texas where he
was put on a chain gang. He and a partner, Walupi Ortego, got away one
night and made it to California. No wonder he was so bitter. He lost his
whole family in the war.
He was a good guy to work with. We got along fine, but I would hate to
be his enemy.
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