An Honest Man

Resarch often turns up stories or information that is not related to the search subject but is too good to pass up. Such is the case with this story adapted from Ralph C. Taylor’s book Colorado, South of the Border (Sage Press, 1963).
          In 1868, W.T. “Tom” Sharp built an adobe trading post near the mining town of Malachite in Huerfano County, Colorado Territory. Sharp’s Post became known as Buzzard’s Roost Ranch for the large birds that frequented the cottonwood trees nearby. Ouray and Chipeta, along with their family group, often visited the area in late summer to hunt and to trade with “Sharpy.” The two men and their wives became friends. On one visit, Chipeta gave Mrs. Sharp a gift of beaded moccasins made from fawn skin with elk hide soles.
            Taylor tells about a horse race that took place after a hunt near Buzzard’s Roost. Ouray sent word as far away as Pueblo that there would be a horse race at the Francisco Manzanares Ranch. The Utes would pit one of their horses against the best horse the white men could bring.     
          Manzanares asked Tom Sharp to serve as judge for the race. When Sharp agreed, Manzanares offered him a cow if he would decide the race in favor of the Utes. It was sure to be a popular event with heavy betting. If the Utes won, they would have money to spend in the trading post. Sharp said “no”. Manzanares offered two cows. Sharp was so offended he threatened to whip Manzanares for trying to bribe him.  
            On race day, people came from long distances to bet cash and property. When it was time to choose a judge, the white participants suggested a man called Baldy Scott. Ouray said, “I want my friend Sharpy.” The surprised white crowd happily accepted Ouray’s choice of one of their own. The race was run and the two horses crossed the finish line almost neck and neck. The white crowd called for a “tied” decision. But Sharp had watched carefully and called the race as he saw it. “It is the Indian’s race,” he said.
            Afterward, Sharp learned that Ouray had put Manzanares up to the bribery attempt in order to test Sharp’s honesty.

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