Mariano Medina was a tough hombre.
My first knowledge of this Mexican Mountain Man came from the book Crow Killer, which is a highly unreliable compendium of fact and legend about John “Liver-Eatin”” Johnson. That book is such a tangled mess of fact/fiction/folklore that it’s impossible to know what’s authentic. Was Mariano a deadly friend of the Crow Killer? Maybe. What we do know is that he was a real-deal Mountain Man, a pioneer and an entrepreneur, a pipe-smoker and the owner of one very fine Hawken Rifle.
That rifle is owned by collector Jim Gorden and housed in an old WPA schoolhouse museum in New Mexico. The rifle is in excellent condition, which made it possible for master gunmaker Steve Lodding to make an exact recreation of the piece that Medina called “Old Lady Hawkens.”
Rock Island Auctions noted in its prospectus that:
Medina was born in Taos of mixed heritage and was a contemporary and associate of Jim Bridger, Kit Carson, the Bents and many of the other famous mountain men during the height of the Rocky Mountain fur trade and also served as a guide/scout for expeditions by John C. Fremont and others. He was the first settler on Big Thompson Creek in 1858 near present day Loveland, Colorado, and established a well-known trading post there. Shortly before his death in 1878, he gave the rifle to General A. H. Jones with the instruction to “Keep her clean, General!” Jones was a captain in the Governor’s Guards and then the Inspector General of the Colorado Militia. He became a prominent businessman and was one of the founders of the Denver Club.
She’s a beauty, ain’t she?
The very apogee of the art of the muzzleloading rifle in the 19th Century. Makes the heart sing, it does.