Like a candle which burns way too quickly, his life came to an end way too soon.
Francois (Francis) Xavier Aubry died on Aug. 18, 1854 when he was only 29.
Aubry was born on Dec. 3, 1824 on a farm near Maskinonge, Quebec, Canada. At the age of 18 he moved to St. Louis taking a job as a store clerk. Here, he learned of the profitability of hauling goods along the Santa Fe Trail.
The entrepreneur saved his money and got a loan. On May 9, 1846, the 21-year-old Aubry made his first trip on the Trail from Independence, MO with a trader's caravan. After selling his goods in Santa Fe he paid off his loans and, in 1847, moved to Independence to work full-time as a trader on the Trail.
Perhaps it was his sense of adventure, an ego-trip or just to make money, but he concluded faster was better.
On Dec. 22, 1847, he left Santa Fe arriving in Independence only 14 days later surpassing the record time for the journey by 10 and a half days. This he did despite Indian troubles, highwaymen and winter weather.
In March of 1848, he left for Santa Fe having to haul corn to feed his stock because the grass was not yet growing. The return trip took only eight days and 10 hours shattering his record from the year before. But it cost the lives of three horses and two mules killed by "hard riding."
On his second trip in 1848, he positioned horses along the trail on his way to Santa Fe for his journey back to Missouri. Leaving Santa Fe on Sept. 12, and despite rain and mud, he arrived in Independence in an amazing five days and 16 hours. He strapped himself into his saddle for the last 40 hours to prevent him from falling off in exhaustion. For this, he won $5,000 in wages and the moniker, "Skimmer of the Plains."
He figured there was no way to beat this record so he took on new challenges. He moved to Santa Fe and, in Feb. 1849, led a caravan to Chihuahua, Mexico. To save on expenses, he bought goods along the way in Victoria, Texas. The trip to Chihuahua brought in profits but proved arduous and he only made the journey one more time.
In late 1851, he discovered a route, "Aubry Cutoff," that shortened the Santa Fe Trail by 52 miles.
In 1852, he turned his attention westward taking 3,500 sheep, 100 mules and 10 wagons of supplies to California. On his trip back, his party encountered attacking Indians. Though nearly everyone was wounded, they were able to repel the attack killing 25 Indians and wounding many others. Skirmishes continued all the way to New Mexico.
He made a second trip to California with 50,000 sheep in late 1853. He returned to Albuquerque on Aug. 18, 1854. The trip went without any troubles. Unfortunately, the trouble came at the end of the journey.
On the date of his return from California, Aubry entered a store to have a drink and encountered Richard H. Weightman, a former congressman and editor of Albuquerque's Amigo Pais, newspaper. Apparently, Aubry didn't like something Weightman had written about him and a physical altercation ensued. Though Aubry had a gun and the editor had a knife, the gun misfired and Aubry died of stab wounds inflicted by Weightman. Weightman was acquitted on grounds of self-defense.
Francis X. Aubry was buried at Rosaria Cemetery in Santa Fe.