Legendary Lawman Sought His Own Kind of Justice

Elfego Baca meted out his own version of law & order.

In 1863 Francisco and Juanita Baca traveled to Kansas in search of work and a new life. During the trip, their infant Elfego, was taken by Navajo Indians. To the relief of his parents, their baby was safely returned four days later. After spending his formative years in the Midwest, the once former Navajo captive, returned to New Mexico in 1880. He met and and married Francisquita Pohmer in Albuquerque. The couple settled in in Old Town. That was the beginning of life for the legendary lawman, Elfego Baca.

Sheriff, Judge & Jury

During his tenure the lawman often became the judge and jury as he pursued criminals. During one escapade he led a posse to the Manzano Mountains south of Albuquerque in search of a suspect that had robbed a ranch in La Joya, twenty miles from Socorro. When Baca captured the criminal he meted out his own sentence. Once he questioned the man he ordered him to leave New Mexico and never return.

A Promise Never Kept

Elfego Baca did his part in preserving law and order during the early part of the 20th century. In doing so, he offended some people. The infamous Pancho Villa was added to that list. The Mexican revolutionary collected hand-carved pistols. Baca was in possession of a pistol made from the finest wood. Word got back to Villa and an arrangement was brokered for the soldier to purchase the gun. But Baca failed to deliver on his promise. As a way of saving face with Villa, Baca helped one of his men escape from jail.

Please support Ana Pacheco's work at:

Buy Me a Coffee

Our nation’s history would not be complete without the story of Santa Fe. Experience the ultimate Santa Fe tour with local historian Ana Pacheco.