1837 Sketchbook

For enthusiasts of the western fur trade, there are precious few articles of clothing and personal gear of the trappers.  Accurate re-creation of the period becomes difficult, especially since late 19th and early 20th century artists greatly stereotyped the image of the “mountain man.”

Fortunately, there was an able and talented artist who was there – Alfred Jacob Miller.

Miller was a classically trained artist. Upon being hired by William Drummand Stewart, A Scottish Nobleman. Miller captured Stewart’s journey visually. As a result it was a literal grand tour of the Western fur trade including an American Fur Company caravan.  Miller was the only artist known to have sketched and painted a rendezvous and pre-1840 mountaineers.

The purpose of this sketchbook is to bring together the most usable information about the clothing and accoutrements of the original mountaineers.

2023 Rocky Mountain Fur Trade Journal – Volume 17

Killing Competition with Kindness: Jedediah Smith, George Simpson, and the Aftermath of the Umpqua Massacre
by Thomas H. Holloway

In 1828, Jedediah Smith arrived at Fort Vancouver, the regional headquarters of the Hudson’s Bay Company on the Columbia River, to report that Indians had attacked his camp on the Umpqua River. Everything of value was gone and most of his men were dead. Why did the Hudson’s Bay Company, a competitor, help him?

Jedediah Smith’s Search for Melish’s River
by Sheri Wysong

To some historians, Jedediah Smith’s actions during his southwest expeditions of 1826-28 made little sense. This article discusses geography, contemporary geopolitics and cartography to hypothesize Smith’s real goals.

Mountain Men and Shoshone: Two Cultures Intersect During the Fur Trade
by Jim Hardee

Using period dairies and writings of trappers, the author investigates ways in which the values and customs of mountain men and Shoshone Indians overlapped and, at least from the mountain man’s point of view, both societies seem to have found mutual benefits from working together.

Ambush in the Coriacan Defile: Unlocking the Secrets of a Fur Trade Mystery
by George Capps

Sometime in the 1830s or 1840s, Indian raiders ambushed a Hudson’s Bay Company pack train in today’s O’Keefe Canyon, outside of Missoula, Montana. During the attack, a young Hawaiian employee was slain. This article looks at the cross-cultural connections of the Rocky Mountain and Pacific maritime fur trade enterprises that were influenced by Polynesian, English, Russian, and Alaskan Native peoples and their languages.

“Destroying the Pious Monster”: The Collapse of the US Indian Factory System
by James C. Auld

Decades before the rendezvous era, the US government had created a federal program to control trade with indigenous people living throughout the wilderness of America’s new boundaries. This article looks at the role Ramsay Crooks played in the demise of the US government’s Indian factory system to create opportunities for private enterprise.

148 Pages

Sublette County Historical Society, 2023

A Majority of Scoundrels

By Don Berry
6″ x 9″ Paperback
432 Pages
Oregon State University Press, 2006 Reprint
ISBN 0870710893

An Informal History of the Rocky Mountain Fur Company

An invigorating narrative captures the peak years (1822-1834) of the fur trade in the Mountain West, the period in which the the Rocky Mountain Fur Trade Company grew to be “the greatest name in the mountains.”

This lively prose brings to life the principle trappers – colorful figures including Jim Bridger, Hugh Glass, James Beckwourth, Joe Meek, Jed Smith, and many more. Using their journals, business records, and other sources, Berry laces his back-country narrative with an analysis of the power struggle between St. Louis businessmen who controlled the trade and the trappers.

A Name of Her Own by Jane KirkPatrick

During the fur-trapping era of the early 1800’s, with two rambunctious young sons to raise, Marie Dorion refuses to be left behind in St. Louis when her husband heads west. Faced with hostile landscapes, a untried expedition leader, and her volatile husband, Marie finds that the daring act she hoped would bind her family together may in the end tear them apart.

History records that on the journey, Marie meets the famous Lewis and Clark interpreter, Sacajawea, who-like Marie-is pregnant, married to a mixed-blood man of French Canadian and Indian descent, and raising a son in a white world. Together, the women forge a friendship that will strengthen and uphold Marie long after they part, even as she fights for her children’s very survival. With courage and faith that can only be fueled by a mother’s love, she endures. Her story reminds us that women are bound together in history, now and forever.

ISBN – 978-1-57856-499-6

388 Pages

WaterBrook Press, 2002

A Pronghorn Year

“In A Pronghorn Year, Dick Kettlewell has condensed many years of observation and photography to create a book of singular insight into the biology and behavior of a treasured American icon. This thoroughly researched, nicely written, and beautifully photographed book will delight and enlighten those who love nature and who photograph wildlife, and particularly those lucky enough to have encountered pronghorn on the open lands of the American West. Most important, the book serves as a resource for those who seek to understand and protect the important place pronghorn occupy in the ecological landscape.” – George D. Lepp, Field Editor Outdoor Photographer Magazine

ISBN – 978-1-56037-601-9

80 Pages

Farcountry Press, 2014

A Rendezvous Reader

A Rendezvous Reader

Tall, Tangled, and True Tales of the Mountain Men 1805-1850

Edited by James H. Maquire, Peter Wild, and Donald A. Barclay

Paperback, 348 pages, 9 x 6 inches

University of Utah Press 1997

ISBN: 0874805392

The accounts of the mountain men are spun from the experience of a nation moving westward: a trapper returns from the dead; hunters feast on buffalo intestines served on a dirty blanket; a missionary woman is astounded by the violence and vulgarity of the trappers’ rendezvous. These are just a few of the narratives, tall tales, and lies that make up A Rendezvous Reader.

The writers represented in this book include dyed-in-the-wool trappers, adventuring European nobles, upward-gazing Eastern missionaries, and just plain hacks who never unsheathed a Green River knife or traveled farther west that the Ohio River. What these writers have in common is that all helped create a uniquely American icon – the mountain man.

A Rendezvous Reader brings together the liveliest, most readable accounts by and about the mountain men. Whether you sample or devour this anthology of mountain horrors and delights, it is a book guaranteed to entertain.

A Taste of Wyoming

A Taste of Wyoming: Favorite Recipes from the Cowboy State is a divine blend of Wyoming’s rich culinary heritage and contemporary cuisine.  This exquisite cookbook features sophisticated interpretations of Western dishes from Wyoming’s finest restaurants, lodges, and bed-and-breakfasts–as well as classic Cowboy State favorites.

ISBN – 978-1-56037-458-9

126 Pages

Farcountry Press, 2008

After Lewis & Clark

After Lewis & Clark  highlights more than sixty paintings, drawings, and prints in the collection of  one of America’s finest museums of American art, the Gilcrease Museum in Tulsa, Oklahoma. This richly illustrated book presents and places in thematic and historic context many of the priceless portraits, striking scenes, and grand landscapes inspired during the sixty-five years after the Corps of Discovery completed its epic journey.

ISBN – 978-0-8061-9959-8

96 Pages

Gilcrease Museum, Tulsa Oklahoma, 2006

All Together in One Place

For Madison “Mazy” Bacon, a young wife living in southern Wisconsin, the future appears every bit as promising as it is reassuringly predictable. A loving marriage, a well organized home, the pleasure of planting an early spring garden. These are the carefully tended dreams that sustain her heart and nourish her soul.

But when her husband of two years sells the homestead and informs her that they are heading west, Mazy’s life is ripped down the middle like a poorly mended sheet forgotten in a Midwestern storm. Her love is tried, her boundaries stretched, and the fabric of her faith tested. At the same time, she and eleven extraordinary women are pulled toward an un-certain destiny, one that binds them together through reluctance and longing and into acceptance and renewal.

Bent’s Fort

Bent’s Fort was a landmark of the American frontier, a huge private fort on the upper Arkansas River in present southeastern Colorado. Established by the adventurers Charles and William Bent, it stood until 1849 as the center of the Indian trade of the central plains. David Lavender’s chronicle of these men and their part in the opening of the West has been conceded a place beside the works of Parkman and Prescott.

Bill Sublette

Renowned as a hardy mountain man, he ranged the Missouri, Big Horn, Yellowstone, and Sweetwater River country between 1823 and 1833. He hunted beaver, fought Indians, and unwittingly opened the West for settlers by proving that wagons could be used effectively on the Oregon Trail. But financial success and silk hats, which strangled the fur trade, eventually led him to take up a less adventuresome life in St. Louis as a gentleman farmer, businessman, and politician.

Sublette helped develop the rendezvous system in the fur trade and blazed the first wagon trail through South Pass. He also established the post later renamed Fort Laramie, helped lay the foundation for present Kansas City, and left a large fortune to excite envy and exaggeration. One of the most successful fur merchants of the West, he also helped to break John Jacob Astor’s monopoly of the trade.

Broken Hand

Known by the Indians as “Broken Hand”, Thomas Fitzpatrick was a trapper and a trailblazer who became the head of the Rocky Mountain Fur Company. With Jedediah Smith he led the trapper band that discovered South Pass; he then shepherded the first two emigrant wagon trains to Oregon, was official guide to Fremont on his longest expedition, and guided Colonel Phil Kearny and his Dragoons along the westward trails to impress the Indians with howitzers and swords. Fitzpatrick negotiated the Fort Laramie treaty of 1851 at the largest council of Plains Indians ever assembled. Among the most colorful of Mountain Men, Fitzpatrick was also party to many of the most important events in the opening of the West.

ISBN: 0-8032-7208-1

359 Pages

University of Nebraska Press, 1981

Bucka Beaver Jr., Stuffed Animal

The beaver is North America’s largest rodent.  It is one of the most important animals in the history of western expansion in North America.  Beavers were hunted by Indians, European settlers and trappers. Mountain men hunted the beaver to meet the European fashion demand. By the mid-19th century the beaver had become nearly extinct. Fortunately, it was saved when the demand for silk hats replaced the desire for beaver felt hats.

Bucka Beaver Jr. measures 5 1/4 inches tall from the sitting position and 3 inches at the widest part.

Cooking Backyard to Backcountry

Cooking Backyard to Backcountry is a unique approach to memorable outdoor cooking. Whether you use a gas grill, a new charcoal grill, or a wood fire, you’ll find special techniques-some new, some ancient-that will enhance your cooking experience.

ISBN – 978-1-60639-000-9

196 Pages

Riverbend Publishing, 2009