Kit Carson Jr. : My Least Favorite Relative

This is an interesting story about my dear relatives.  A true story, but one that most people will have a hard time understanding.   The bazaar part can be posed as a question:  Would you go back to a husband who murdered your mother?

This story was never talked about in the family, which is understandable.  That is, until my grandfather passed away.  I don’t remember hearing a thing about it until he was deceased.

My grandfather was sixteen years old when this incident took place on December 10, 1891 at the family home in Las Animas, Colorado.  Guadalupe (Lupe) Richards, my grandfather’s sister, married Kit Carson Jr. in 1891, but left him a short time later and went back home to her parents, William (Billy) and Manuelita Lujan Richards.  Kit Jr. showed up on his horse demanding that Lupe go back home with him.

Billy and Manuelita went outside, it is assumed, to tell him that their daughter wasn’t going with him, and he became angry.  He shot Billy in the legs and as Manuelita turned to run back in the house he shot her in the back of the head killing her instantly.  At this time Manuelita had 11 children, ages 23 to 15 months.  Kit Jr. was arrested for murder, was convicted and sentenced to 19 years in prison, but never served any time.  The case went to an appeals court but was thrown out because too much time had elapsed between the arrest and the appeal.  So Kit Jr. was released and never went to prison for the murder.

It’s hard to believe that Lupe went back to Kit Jr., even after he killed her mother.  And, unbelievably, bore eleven children with him!  No doubt fearing for her own life and knowing his level of violence played into it.  On July 21, 1913 Kit Jr. was arrested in Trinidad, Colo. for wife desertion.  He had left Lupe three weeks prior, deserting her with their five children, all under the age of 16.  Alas, she again returned to Kit and had another six children.  I have no idea what they did with wife deserters at that time, but since she went back to him I’m guessing he also did not go to jail for that charge.

I know that if my husband killed my mother I would leave him, no if’s, and’s, or but’s about it.  Did Lupe love Kit Jr. that much or was she in fear for her own life?  I assume that if you murder one, it would be easier to take another life.  In those days there was no welfare or homes for battered women, but why wouldn’t she go back to her home and care for her younger siblings since it was her husband who murdered her mom?  It seems to me that’s the least she could do, but she returned to the murderer and had 11 children with him!  If I had to do such a thing for fear of my life, it would be temporary; just long enough to doctor his food!

Although this type of injustice surely would not happen today (in civilized countries), there are yet women who stay with such lowlifes in fear of their lives.

I have pictures of Lupe in our family album at a Richards’s family reunion in 1953.  She would have been 83 at the time and she passed away in April of 1957.  Kit Jr. is not in the picture, so I am not sure if he was alive at that time or not.  But one thing for sure is that not one family member would have allowed him there.  Several children vowed to kill Kit Jr. but that never happened.

As an aside, our son Matthew took one of these articles to school for a “show and tell” (second grade) since we thought it would be interesting.  However, the teacher didn’t view it historically and said to Matt, “I’m sorry your relatives were such terrible people.”

The newspaper articles are interesting, especially this sort of “Wild West” story getting to the New York Times.  Although the article has some names wrong and also who was shot and killed, it shows that news did travel far in those days as well.   But also like today, the paper doesn’t always have the correct information.

Since the original articles were not in the best shape to read, I retyped them exactly as they were printed, bad spelling and all.


The New York Times

Published:  December 11, 1891

Copyright   The New York Times




    DENVER, COL., Dec 10. – A special from La Junta to the Republican says:  “Kit Carson, Jr., a son of the famous old scout, to-day killed his father-in-law and mother-in-law and then made good his escape.  About a year ago Carson married Miss Susie Richardson, but because of his drunkenness and cruelty she was compelled to return to her father’s home, which is in “Nine-Mile Bottom.’ twenty-five miles from here.

“To-day Carson went to Mr. Richardson’s house and demanded his wife.  The old man re-fused the request, when Carson shot at him, the ball passing through both hips.  Mrs. Richardson, who was in the kitchen, heard the shots and hurried to the room where Carson was, and was shot directly through the forehead, dying instantly.  The murderer then mounted his horse and escaped into Bent Canyon, headed for New Mexico.   “This is not the first shooting affair Carson has been implicated in, and if captured this time there is every reason to believe that this one will be his last.



DECEMBER 11, 1891


Young Kit Carson Starts Out to

Make a Record of


Special to the News:

Las Animas, Colo., Dec. 10

The quiet valley of the Nine Mile Bottom, about twenty-five miles south of Las Animas, on the Purgatorie River, was today the scene of one of the most cold blooded murders committed in recent years in Bent County.  The tragedy was enacted at the home of old Billie Richards, as he is commonly called, at the lower end of the bottom, and just a few hundred yards inside of the Bent county line, and tonight aged William Richards lies mortally wounded and his wife dead.  At about 1:30 this afternoon Kit Carson came up to the residence of old Billie Richards as he was hitching up his team and said:

“You are the cause of my wife’s leaving me,” to which Richards replied:  “You are a liar.”


            Carson then drew his six-shooter and fired at Richards, but missed him.  Richards wife, who stood by, started to run into the house and Carson fired again, the ball entering the back of her head, coming out over the left eye, and killing her instantly.

Richards had also started to run into the house but seeing his wife fall, stopped to assist her when he was shot through the hips and fell beside his wife.  Carson then started to go into the house where his wife was but finding inside an old man, whose name has not been learned, he turned and rode away south.  It is thought that he has gone to Mustang, where his brother Charlie has a ranch.


            Old Billy Richards is one of the oldest settlers of Bent County, coming here in the early days.  His wife was a daughter of Andres Lujan. Their daughter Lupie married Kit Carson, the murderer, ten days ago.  It seems she left her husband, then residing in New Mexico, and came to reside with her parents.  Her life was probably spared by the fact of the presence of the old man.

The murderer is the second son of Kit Carson, the noted scout, who was well known throughout this part of Colorado, and for a time, lived here at Boggsville.  His famous father married a Mexican woman, who was the mother of the younger Kit Carson to-night is fleeing from justice in the canons of southeastern Colorado.  Old Billy Richards is still alive, but being about 65 years of age and crippled with rheumatism, can hardly survive.  Mary Richards, youngest daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Richards is attending school at a convent in Denver, and their other daughter, Lupe, wife of Kit Carson, is watching over her father who was shot at the hand of her husband.






       La Junta, Colo. July 22 – Kit Carson, son of the well known pioneer scout of that name, was arrested at Trinidad yesterday for wife desertion, and an officer from La Junta is on his way to bring him back here.  He left his wife and five children, all under 16 years of age, three weeks ago.

Ten years ago Carson shot and killed his mother-in-law, Mrs. J.R. Richardson, and wounded his father-in-law, on a ranch near Higbee.  The case was tried in Las Animas County, and he was found guilty and sentenced to nineteen years in the penitentiary.

After being taken to the court of appeals, the case was thrown out because three terms of court had been allowed to pass without any action being taken.  He returned to La Junta after his release from prison, and has lived here since.


  1. I have heard the brothers tried to kill him. One moving to KS. It was a very interesting story told to me by a relative

  2. Barbara Richards Buskirk says:

    According to my Grandfather, Samuel Taylor Richards (the Kansas one), Great Grandfather William George asked his sons not to seek revenge. All, but Uncle Will, did. Uncle Will left. Some reward-seeking men tried to get the Richards boys riled up to kill Kit,jr., becuse there was a bounty on any Richards that killed him. An old Mexican sheep herder took my
    grandfather aside and said, “Samuelito, do not listen to them. There is a price on your head!”

    Many years later, my 19 yr. old Father went to La Junta to visit his relatives, including Aunt Lupe. He entered a small diner, sat down on a stool,and asked the waiter if he knew where Lupe Carson lived. “Ask him,” he replied, pointing to a dried up little old man sitting on the next stool. “Why?” the shriveled one rasped. “I’m the son of her brother,Sam,” replied my father, William Alexander “Elic” to what was by that time, the back of his “uncle” disappearing through the kitchen door and out the back, not to be seen again until Dad’s LaJunta visit was over. As far as I know, none of the grandsons had signed off on their fathers’ original vow. However Kit, jr., apparently lived the rest of his life in fear that one was going to get him.

    Great Aunt Lupe used to give public talks about “The Old Scout,” as she called her father-in-law. Both Kits and their wives are buried together at Taos village, I think. I do know that they are fenced in, for whatever reason.

    Some of the other eastern newspaper reports refer to Jr. as a “drunken scoundrel,” etc.

    My parents and I went to the 1948 Richards Reunion in “The Valley.” I have a felt hat on which I have autographs of Aunt Lupe, Kit III,Allen, and many others that are now beyond the veil.

    Vaya con Dios,

    Barbara B.

  3. Jeannie Cordova says:

    We are related to Amanda Richards my husbands Grandmother who married Juan Cordova. I would love if you could share some of the photos from the reunion in 1953 my husband said he was there. I have just started gathering all the Genealogy for our son. Some very interesting stories.
    Please contact us.
    Jeannie Cordova

  4. Devon Anderson says:

    I am in some way related to them! I would love to no more about my family history. My family is from La Junta and my grandpas last name is Richards. I’ve been told stories about Kit murdering his in-laws and didn’t no if it was true. The whole thing has really excited me and I wish I could see pictures or some kind of historical facts!!

  5. Donna DePew says:

    Manulatia was my great great aunt on my mothers side. (Lopez) Rebecca Richards was her sister. I would love more family info and I do not have the family info for my tree . Any info I would love thank you

  6. Barbara Richards Buskirk says:

    Morris F. Taylor from Trinidad State Junior College, wrote an informative book about TheValley. “Pioneers of the Picketwire” was published in 1964 and is now out of print, but available on Amazon.
    Rebecca (Richards) Lopez (Mrs. Elfido Lopez) was Mandalita’s daughter and my grandfather’s dearest sister. I loved her, too. But that’s another, longer story.

    The Spanish that my grandfather and my father spoke was “Old Spanish.” Shortly before his death in 1988, Dad told me that it was the language spoken at the time of the Inquisition in Spain. I recently remembered what he said and “googled” it. When Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand got control over Spain in the late 15th century, they forced all Jews and followers of Islam to convert to Roman Catholicism or get out of Spain or be killed. “Los Conversos,” (those who converted) had to take new family names from an approaved list. I found the list online. It includes Lujan and Jaramillo. My Great Great Grandfather, Andres Lujan, married a Jaramillo, according to the records. There are no headstones, (unless they were added recently) where they are buried. In the typewritten transcrilption of the handwritten records his name is spelled “Audez Lejon ” The sexton in 1995 showed my Mother and me a tree in the older part of the cemetery and informed us that there was a Lujan on one side of it and a Jaramillo on the other.

    N.B.: “The Old Scout” Kit Carson was married to a Jaramillo.

  7. Howdy,
    Family history brings out the real living history. Thanks for sharing.
    I would like to find out more information on one of kit Carson’s daughters who got sick and died up by mono lake……she was about 19. There is a grave site by highway 395 .


  8. LilSassy says:

    Does anyone know if he was ever in the military?

  9. None of the historical information, or family history, we have read indicates any military involvement, however it might be something to research.

  10. I’m a librarian in Albuquerque and I’ve read the Hampton Sides account of Kit Sr.’s life (Blood and Thunder: The Epic Story of Kit Carson and the Conquest of the American West). Recently I had a patron ask me if I could locate obituaries for Kit Jr. and Lupie. Might anyone here know if these exist, and if so, where I might find them?

  11. Sorry for the delay in responding. All I have are hand written records of my mother Susie Richards who was the niece of Lupe, Kit Jr.’s wife. One account by a family member states that Kit Carson Sr., and Kit Carson Jr. are buried together with their wives (Lupe) in Taos, NM. We have not seen any printed obituary.

    Pat Dodd

  12. I was raised on the Box Ranch, North of Branson, Colorado. The foreman of the ranch was Joe Lopez. His mother was Rebecca Richards Lopez. (Married to Elfido)
    When my brother and I would go to Trinidad with Joe he would always stop and visit his mother. She was such a sweet lady. She loved us and would tell us the most interesting stories of the early days. She would tell us about when they lived in the Cave house in Chaquaco Canyon. In fact, My Dad, brother and I accompanied Morris F. Taylor and a Mr. Galen Baker on a trip through the Canyon and showed them many points of interest having to do with the Lopez and Richards families.
    Joe Lopez was a true gentleman, Cowboy, Rancher, Cattleman. As honest as the day is long and quite a good role model for us boys. (As was our Dad, Louie Cusimano)
    Joe was a U. S. Marine in the first World War and Dad was a U. S. Marine in the Second World War. Joe had told a little bit of the story of the Kit Jr. saga. but he didn’t seem to want to expound on the subject. God bless the Pioneers!!

  13. Laura Lopez Kelso says:

    I am the great great granddaughter of Manuelita Lujan and William Richards. I grew up in the area and when we had Lopez Family(Rebecca Richards married Elfido Lopez SR) reunions the Kit Carson descendants were always in attendance.
    Time heals all wounds. I would love to connect with family!

  14. Jeannie Cordova says:

    Laura Lopez was Rebecca Richards a sister to Amanda and Lupe or Manuita’s siter?
    Dorman Nelson I drive by Mono lake often on my way to Mammoth Lakes I will have to stop sometime to see the gravesite.

  15. Jasmyne chavez says:

    My name is jasmyne chavez i live in trinidad co with my grandparents my mom has done alot of reaserch and it apears to be that manuelita is one of my great grandmothers.

  16. Joyce Buckland says:

    I am trying to help my son-in-law find his roots. I believe he is a great-great of Kit, Jr. but I am having a hard time tracing anything after Kit, Jr.- many of his children’s children are hard to find! Does anyone know of a connection between a Dallas Anderson of Colorado or Kansas and Carson? My son-in-law’s grandfather was Dallas Anderson.

  17. Christopher Alec Cordova says:

    To my relatives,
    I am the great, great, grandchild of Juan Benito Cordova, husband to Manuelita Richards. My grandfather, Alejandro Gilberto (Gilbert Alex) Cordova has held and kept much of the family’s photos and genealogy concerning the Cordova’s since c. 1750. I am now in possession of this information and would very much like to share this with all! Please to all who still visit this page, contact me 🙂

  18. Christopher Alec Cordova says:

    P.S. – Contact information –

    Email –
    Phone – (559) 736-4050

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