Fango’s desperate, starving mother left him in the crook of a tree when he was three when she could no longer carry him. The sons of Henry and Ruth Talbot, English-speaking settlers, found him. The family adopted Gobo Fango. Or maybe they simply claimed him as property. In either case, they probably saved his life.
The Talbots became converts to the LDS religion. Records of their baptisms exist, though none such for Fango. They smuggled Fango out of the country and into the United States where they found their way to Utah in 1861.
Gobo Fango worked for the Talbots as an indentured servant, by some accounts, as a slave by others. He lived in a shed near their home. When a teenager he was sold, or given to another Mormon family.
Eventually Fango was on his own and working for a sheep operation near Oakley, in Idaho Territory. He was even able to acquire a herd of his own.
Cattlemen viewed sheep as a scourge that was destroying the range. Range wars broke out all over the West between sheep men and cattlemen.
It was one of those conflicts that brought an end to Gobo Fango.
The Idaho Territorial Legislature had passed a law known as the Two-Mile Limit intended to keep sheep grazers at least two miles away from a cattleman’s grazing claim. Early one day cattleman Frank Bedke and a companion rode into Fango’s camp to tell him he and his sheep were too close to Bedke’s claim and that he should leave. Fango resisted. Exactly what happened will never be known, but the black man ended up with a bullet passing through the back of his head and another tearing through his abdomen.
The cattlemen rode away. Gobo Fango, who, incredibly, was still alive, began crawling toward his employer’s home, holding his intestines in his hand as he dragged himself four and half miles.
Gobo Fango lived four or five days before succumbing to his wounds. He made out a will leaving his money and property to friends. Frank Bedke would be tried twice for his murder, with the first trial ending with a hung jury. The second time he was acquitted on the grounds of self-defense.
The headstone of Gobo Fango can be seen today in the Oakley Cemetery.