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The Mountain Men

Fur trade, trappers and explorers

This is roughly the period from 185 to 1840.

The trappers were either employed by a fur company (most) or free trappers.

There were mainly two trapping areas the Rocky Mountain which was almost beaver and mainly trapped by mountain men working in groups. At their yearly rendezvous their pelts were sold to the fur companies as British Hudson's Bay Company of 1670 which dominated the Northern Canade and Oregon, The Pacific Fur Company by J.J. Astor at the Columbia River, the French North West Company which was in competition for Astor.

These mountain men worked in larger groups of 40 to 60 individuals. It is estimated that there were about 1000 trappers during the period of 1820 to 1830.

The other trapping area was the Upper Missoury mainly Indian trappers who brought their buffalo skins to trading posts. These buffalo skins were sent down to St. Louis.

Trapping by the mountain men were fall and spring. The spring trapping was more lucratif as the pelts still had their winter thickness and lasted until the pelt quality bassed. The fall trapping period finished in November.

In the later days of trapping (1825 the first rendezvous was organized by the Rocky Mountain Fur Company) the pelts were exchanged at the rendezvous for supplies. In generally these rendezvous were helt during the month of July and not only commercial but also a great fest.

Some of those Mountain men, trappers, fur traders, explorers

Name Details
Benjamin Bonneville Exlorer, military man - assigned to fort Smith in 1821 -, trapper, fur trader.
French native born April 14, 1796 in Paris, died in 1878 at Fort Smith, Arkansas.
Maintained or build a trading post on the Green River, participated at the Walker expedition to California, made trips to the Columbia River in Oregon.
He fought the Mexican War and in the Civil War.
Jim Bridger
Old Gabe, Blanket Chief
Born March 17, 1804 in Richmond, Virginia, died July 17, 1881 on his farm near Kansas City, Missouri.
Trapper, Mountain man, Scout. At the age of 18 he signed with William Ashley for beaver trapping on the upper Missouri River. He was the first white man to see the Great Salt Lake in 1824 / 1825. He became a partner of the Rocky Mountain Fur Company in 1830. Most probably he also had seen geysers at the Yellowstone. In 1842 he built Fort Bridger and guided prospectors to the gold mines of Montana. In 1867 Jim returned to Missouri.
Toussaint Charbonneau Born 1767, French Canadian origine from Quebec, died 1843.
He traded for the North West Company. His two wifes were Shoshones and that was why he was engaged as a translator for the Lewis & Clark Epedition in 1804. He was concidered as incompetent and was on the origin of at least two incidents with on of Lewis & Clarks's pirogues.

In 1812 he worked at Fort Manuel, South Dakota. In 1816 he was captured by the Spanish at the upper Arkansas River and iprisoned at Santa Fe. He was interpreter for Prince Paul of Wurttemberg, Germany when the DUke traveled the Upper Missouri County. The year later he did the same for Prince Alexander Philipp Maximillian of the Prussian pricipality Wied-Neuwied of which the painter Karl Bodmer assisted. in 1834 he was factor or superintendent of Fort Clark (American Fur Company) and came to St. Louis in 1839 after the Mandans had been decimated by a smallpox epidemic.
Kit Carson Christopher Carson was born either in 1809 or 1811 in Kentucky and died in 1868 in Buggsville, Colorado.
He was an apprentice of a saddler in Franklin, Missoury but ran away at the age of 15. He was a trapper, scout, buffalo hunter. From 1842 to 1846 he was hired by John C. Fremont as guide for expeditions to the Northwest and California.
During the Mexican War he was a scout of Stephen W. Kearny.
In 1853 he became Indian agent for Taos, New Mexico .
During the Civil War he joined the 1st New Mexican Volunteers of the Union Army.
After the war he became comander of the Fort Garland garrison in Colorado.
John Colter Born 1775 near Stounton, Virginia, died 1813 on a farm near New Haven, Missouri.
He was a farmer, explorer, trapper, mountain man, scout. Member of the Lewis and Clark expedition. In 1808 he was captured by Indians and escaped in the famous run for his life from Blackfeet wariors. In 1809 John left the mountains and went to Missouri.
George Drouillard Born 1775, died May 1810 killed by Blackfeets. His body was decapitated and disemboweled and hacked apart
Member of the Lewis and Clark Expedition at 25$ per month. In 1807 he joined the Missouri Fur Company. He made trips south on the Bighorn River to Wyoming. Coming back to St. Louis in 1808 he was indicted for the murder of Antoine Bissonnette but acquitted. From 1809 to 1810 he worked for the St Louis Missouri Fur Company and trapped beavers at the Free Forks on the Missoury where they were attacked by Blackfeets.
Thomas Fitzpatrick
nickname :
Broken Hand
Born February 7, 1799 in County Caven, Ireland, died in 1854 of pneumonia and buried int the Congressional Cemetery.
With age of 17 he arrived 1816 in America.
He was a Mountain man, fur trader, Indian trader, Indian agent. In 1823 he went up the Missouri. Leading an overland party to the Wind River valley. In 1830 he purchased the Rocky Mountain Fur Company from J. Smith, W. Sublette and D. Jackson. In 1841 he guided a wagon train of emigrants from Missouri to Oregon. In 1843 he became a guide for Fremont's second expedition. Oganization of the 1851 Fort Laramie Treaty conference, necotiations with Arapahoes, Cheyennes, Shoshones and Sioux, leadea an Idian delegation to Washington.
David Edward Jackson Born 1788 and died 1837.
Fur trader, mountain man, explorer, became a partner of the Rocky Mountain Fur company in 1826, explored the Yellowstone in 1826 together with Sublette. He was one of those who discovered the Oregon Trail. In 1822 he advertised in the St. Louis Enquirer for 100 young man for hunting in the Rocky Mountains and proposed a per annum compensation of $200. In 1830 he sold his rights on the Rocky Mountain Fur Company to T. Fithpatrick.
Lewis and Clark Expedition in 1804 - 1805. Their reports on fur animals in the Rocky Mountains interested many fur companies
Manuel Lisa Born September 8, 1772 in New Orleans, Louisiana, died August 12, 1820 in St. Louis, Missouri, buried in Bellefontaine Cemetery
Fur trader and explorer, indian trader. One of the most famous fur traders. He was one of those who foundet the Missouri Fur Company. As of 1807 he orgainzed annual fur gathering expeditions. In 1809 he was co-founder of the St. Louis Missouri Fur Company. Manuel sellted in Nebraska building Fort Lisa in 1812.
Jedediah Smith Born January 6, 1799 in Bainbridge or Jericho, New York, killed May 1831 by Comanches along the Cimarron River when searching for wather for his huntign party. His body was never found.
He was a mountain man, fur trader and explorer. In 1822 he joined the William Ashley's Rocky Mountain Fur Company.
When traveling from the Great Salt Lake to California he discovered the South Pass.
William Sublette Born September 21, 1799 in Lincoln county, Kentucky, died July 23, 1845 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
He was a fur trader, Mountain man, explorer. In 1826 he entered the Rocky Mountain Fur Company as a partner. In the same year he explored with David Jackson the Yellowstone (park). He developed the rendezvous (annual event for mountain men). In 1830 he purchased his Sulfur Sping farm on the River Des Peres nearby St. Louis, Missouri.