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Albino Tais

Albino Tais on Chester. Frazer Creek, Circa 1950
photo courtesy of Paul and Maxine Sweeney

Albino Tais (1890's-1960)

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 Vaquero.

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 last long.

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 Company).

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 Marvel)

"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." (Tom Pedroli)

"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 Chapin)

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 of fun".

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 animals.

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.