Albert H. Pfeiffer
(October 7, 1822 - April 6, 1881)
Albert Hinrich was born in Bangstede, Germany, the son of Pastor Hinricus and Wilhelmina Pfeiffer. Before 1850 he was living in Santa Fe in the New Mexico Territory. Pfeiffer worked as a clerk for Joseph Hersch, a Jewish merchant. Then he was offered a position as a Sub-Indian Agent at Abiquiu, north of Santa Fe, serving under Indian Agent Christopher "Kit" Carson. Carson and Pfeiffer developed a very close relationship that lasted the rest of their lives.
Pfeiffer enlisted in the New Mexico Volunteers and served under Colonel Kit Carson. Although Colonel Carson and command had not arrived as planned, the recently widowed1 Captain Pfeiffer and his command of New Mexico Volunteers entered Cañon del Muerto and defeated the Navajo. Carson was devastated when he arrived and was informed that Pfeiffer was in the Cañon, he was sure his dear friend and all his men had been annihilated. Carson was shocked and rejoiced when the men emerged victorious from the Cañon.
Pfeiffer, standing 5 foot, 5 inches, is the legendary victor in the battle with the "giant" Navajo, over the sacred Pagosa Hot Springs in southwestern Colorado Territory. The two nude combatants, each armed with a Bowie knife, would fight to the death of one.
Amazingly, Pfeiffer, his body worn out and covered with scars from numerous wounds, died in bed. He requested to be buried on his "ranch and farm."
Pfeiffer's grave is located west of Del Norte, Colorado go west on US Highway 160 about 8.4 miles, turn right on Rio Grande County road 18, go 1.3 miles, turn left go .4 miles. A large sign is on the right side of the road and a path goes up the hill to the grave.
1 While bathing in the hot springs near Fort McRae, the Mescalaro Apache attacked, seriously wounding Pfeiffer. They captured Antonia, his pregnant wife, Maria, their adopted Navajo daughter, and Mrs. Mercardo. Later the women were found shot; when the military came upon this heartbreaking scene, they returned them to Fort McRae for medical treatment. Antonia and Maria died; they were buried at Fort McRae cemetery, later the bodies of the military and civilians were moved to Fort Leavenworth, Kansas.
Information compiled by Ann Oldham