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BENT'S FORT

David Lavender

 

Doubleday & Co., Garden City, N.Y., 1954, 450 pgs., index, notes, map

 
 

Reviewer comment -
This marvelous book is about much more than its title. Bent's Fort is the geographic locus for the story and the Bent family who built it is the human center, but the story is about the entire development of the south-west region from the central Rocky Mountains to the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers and from the northern border of Texas into Wyoming and Nebraska between 1820's and 1870. It is a history of the critical time of the Plains Indians (especially Cheyenne, Comanchee, Kiowa and Arapaho) and the Mexicans in New Mexico and the American "mountain men' fur trappers and the expanding commerce along the Santa Fe Trail. It is also about the exappropriation and confiscation of the Native Indian lands and property and destruction of their way of life by encroaching white American settlers with the encouragement and protection of their government.
Many famous individuals in addition to the Bent family make their appearance including Kit Carson, James Beckwourth, Thomas Fitzpatrick, John Fremont, Stephen W. Kearny, Lucien Maxwell, Sterling Price, Ceran St. Vrain, William Sherley Williams, and David Waldo and many others.
The Bents were a very extensive family and many members are included in the index. But it would have been very helpful if the author had provided a genealogical chart and chronology as an appendix. It is sometimes difficult to keep track of the dates of the events being described.
The fort is the main center of a web of individuals who pass through it, often repeatedly, interacting there but also in many other places from St. Louis to San Francisco and from Texas to Wyoming. William Bent has his main base at the fort but lives in other places as well. Charles's main home is Taos as is Kit Carson's, while Ceran's main home is Santa Fe. But they are only there periodically. This is real history, told at the level of its individual creators.

 
 

Personalities: The names of many individuals who pass through the narrative may be unfamiliar to the reader. Many others are known from their activities far from Bent's Fort. Here is an attempt to provide additional context by expanding the wider activities of some of these individuals or groups.

References:
An excellent web page is at {short description of image}. This one has some of the best photos of the present reconstruction and a satallite map as well as a text describing the history.
A very interesting book in which the author provides more information not included in Bents Fort, is Jolie Anderson Gallagher's Colorado Forts.A series of photographs of the reconstructed fort are at {short description of image}The NPS site is at {short description of image}The fort is described at the Legendsofamerica site at {short description of image}and the Wikipedia entry (brief) is {short description of image} There are many other books and Internet sites that include information on this famous national landmark.

 
 

Alvarez, Manuel
He was Spanish. He moved to Mexico in 1819 and to Santa Fe in 1824 to become a successful merchant and trader. In 1838 Ceran St. Vrain stepped down as the American Consul in Santa Fe and was succeeded by Alvarez. He performed his diplomatic duties well despite continual disputes with Governor Armijo and especially with Padre Antonio Jose Martinez (the opponent of every sign of American influence). Alvarez was an associate of Charles Bent and Ceran throughout the Mexican War and the Taos Revolt. He was the acting governor of New Mexico in 1850.

 
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American Fur Company
The company was founded by John Jacob Astor to organize and create a monopoly in the trade in beaver and other fur from the Rocky Mounains and western plains. At one point Astor was considered the wealthiest individual in the World. He competed with the British Northwest Fur Company and the Hudson's Bay Company for the North American fur trade and with both independent American trappers and several private partnerships and companies they organized. He created the port of Fort Astoria in the Oregon area because the furs from the western areas were to be exported to China in exchange for cheap Chinese manufactures to be sold in Europe and America. He also entered into cooperation with the Russian fur traders in North America (Alaska to California). And he established another center around St. Louis to compete with the French family trappers bringing fur east from the Rocky Mtns.
In the mid 1830's the fashion of English gentlemen for fur hats suddenly declined, greatly reducing the profits from beaver fur. Astor sold out at the height of the market and continued to expand his fortune in New York real estate.
The already 'cut throat' competition in the fur supply industry became even more so, resulting in many bankruptcies. That was the time astute traders such as Charles and William Bent switched to trade in buffalo hides and even more in the transport of goods between St. Louis and Santa Fe.

Note this early use of Chinese goods in a world wide trading system. Astor made his initial fortune not only on beaver fur but also on tea and silk from China. But he made the great majority of his huge future by investing in real estate in Manhattan. Then he became a great philanthropist.
The critical years (1833 - 1838) are well described by Bernard DeVoto in his extremely well illustrated book - Across the Wide Missouri.

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Armijo, Manuel (1798 - 1853)
He was born in New Mexico and was both soldier and statesman - 3 times governor of New Mexico. He suppressed the Revoltof 1837. In 1841 he successfully repelled the Texian Santa Fe Expedition. He favored granting land to American settlers and in 1841 granted 9,700,000 acres east of the Sangre de Cristo mountains to Charles Beaubien, Charles Bent and others. When Beaubien died, his will gave his part to his son-in-law, Lucien Maxwell. This was for a time the largest private land holding in America and is the origin of several famous ownerships today such as the Boy Scout summer camp. He also granted the Vigil - St. Vrain grant that comprises more millions of acres in what is now southern Colorado.
When General Stephen Kearny arrived in the Mexican War, Armijo realized he did not have the forces to fight, despite the desire of some subordinates. He fled south. So Santa Fe was taken without a shot fired, but the local fighting came a few months later.

 
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Ashley, William Henry (1778 - 1838)
He was born in Virginia and moved into Louisanna territory before its purchase. He lived in St. Louis after 1808. He was a fur trapper and business man. He was a brigadier general of Missouri militia in the War of 1812. He made a fortune from making gunpowder. He was elected the first Lt. Governor of Missouri, 1820 -24. He organized major fur trapping and exploration expeditions up the Missouri River and into the Rocky Mts.. He created the Rocky MountainFur Company in competition with Astor's American Fur Company. He discovered South Pass in 1824 and reached the Salt Lake basin in 1825. He discovered Lake Utah and build Fort Ashley there which then conducted fur trade valued at $180,000 in the following 3 years. He sold his fur business to Jedediah Smith when he turned to politics. He was elected representative to the U.S. Congress three times.

 
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Astor, John Jacob (1763 - 1848)
He began his fortune as an organizer of the fur trade in the western U.S. and beyond to Oregon territory; and invested in New York and other real estate. He has been declared the richest man in the world of his time.

 
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Autobees, Charles (1812 - 1882)
He was probably born in St. Louis. At age 16 he joined the trappers (mountain men). In 1829 he met William Bent in Taos and joined his trapping team north into Colorado along the Arkansas. This was the famous occasion during which William first met and became friends with the Cheyenne. Autobees began working with Cerain St. Vrain. He worked in the mountains with many of the famous trapper - hunters including the Bents; Carson, Bridger, Beckwourth and Indian tribes from the Navajo to the Lakota. He learned several Indian languages as well as Spanish and married several women from different Indian tribes. In 1847 he was in Taos and aided the other Americans during the Taos Revolt and then served on the jury that convicted its ring leaders. In 1853 he homsteaded a ranch on the Arkansas River in the Beaubien Sangre de Cristo grant. In Christmas 1854 his, Dick Wooten's, and other local's ranches were attacked by Ute's. He joined the counter attack that drove the Ute's out. During Chivington's infamous attack - the Sand Creek massacre - Autobees' half-Mexican sons managed to save Charles Bent (William's son). In 1861 he was a county commissioner. He acted as a guide for the government in Indian territories. But later his homestead right was declared invalid so he lost the property.

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Beaubien, Carlos (Charles) (1800 -1864)
He was a Canadian born American fur trapper and trader who moved to Taos and was awarded by the Mexican governor the immense land grant of 9,700,000 acres in northeastern New Mexico and south eastern Colorado known as the Beaubien-Miranda Land Grant. He was a successful business man in Taos and applied for and was granted Mexican citizenship (in order to own land). The grant was made by Governor Manuel Armijo. Beaubien signed away a quarter of the grant to Charles Bentfor help in settling the property. Settlement of the area was interrupted by the Mexican War in 1846. Then came the Taos Revolt in 1847 in which Beaubien's son, Narcisio, was killed along with Charles Bent and others. Beaubien turned to his sons-in-law, Lucien Maxwell and Jesus Abrejo to develop the huge property. In 1863 he sold the Colorado part of the grant to Governor William Gilpin..

This huge land grant made Beaubien the largest private land owner in America. It remained the largest private land holding after Lucien Maxwell inherited it from Beaubien - reaching 1.9 million acres. (Maxwell Land Grant) Today it has been divided into several still huge properties including the Boy Scouts of America training camp.

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Beckwourth, James (1798 - 1866)
He was a mulatto born in slavery in Virginia and released by his owner. He moved far west into the Rocky Mountains and became a 'mountain man', fur trapper, explorer and legendary figure. He lived for years with the Crow Indians and found (among other things) Beckworth Pass through the Sierra Nevada mountains south west of Reno. He also fought in the Second Seminole War and was with Chivington at the Sand Creek Massacre in 1864. He also fought in Red Cloud's War. Actually he was everywhere. He worked for Charles Bent from 1840 and built trading posts. And helped suppress the Taos Revolt. He also was involved in the development of Pueblo, Colorado. In 1848 during the Gold Rush he was at Sonoma and then Sacramento, California. He died in Denver and is buried at Crow Indian place in Laramie, Wyoming.

He dictated a biography that was published in English and French in 1856. Amazing, he had yet 10 more years of adventure. But this book itself became an historical reference for the lives of 'mountain men'.

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Bent, Charles (1799 - 1847)
He was born in Charleston, West Virginia. He moved with his parent's family to St. Louis. From there he established a remarkable frontier trading business with his brothers and CeranSt. Vrain. He traveled all over the plains from Texas and New Mexico to St. Louis and Wyoming. They built Bent's Fort on the Arkansas River. He and Kit Carsonmarried local sisters in Taos, Ignacia and Josefa. With his brother, William, operating the business from their fort, Charles had his home in Taos and an office in Santa Fe. When General Stephen W. Kearny used the fort as an intermediate supply point he and Charles did much business. Then, after Kearny had taken Santa Fe and New Mexico without a fight he appointed Charles as Civil Governor of New Mexico, while he continued on to California. Unfortunately the Army did not leave sufficient troops to suppress any rebels. In 1847 Mexican ring-leaders organized a revolt in which they obtained manpower assistance from the Pueblo Indians near Taos. The rebels attacked Americans over a wide area. Charles decided to go without military escort from Santa Fe to his home and family in Taos. There he was murdered by the Indians. (See Taos Revolt) His second in command, Sterling Price, soon brought artillery against the Pueblo town and suppressed the revolt. Besides those killed in the battle, the leaders were executed.

 
 

Bent, Charles (1847 - 1868)
He was William Bent's son by Owl Woman, who died in childbirth with his sister, Julia. He was raised by his father's second wife, Yellow Woman, a Cheyenne princess and Owl Woman's sister. Rather than spend more time as a child with the white side he lived with his step-mother as a Cheyenne. He was educated in Missouri, so joined the Confederate Army during the Civil War. He was present in the camp at Sand Creekwhen the massacre commanded by Chivington took place and as a result he joined the Cheyenne 'dog soldiers' in relentless warfare on the U.S. Army and travelers. He was the leader of the attack on Julesburg. He was wounded by Pawnee at the Battle of Summit Springs and died of malaria.

 
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Bent, George (1843 - 1918)
- William's Son - He was born at his father's base, Bent's Fort, Colorado. He was raised by his mother's sister, Yellow Woman (daughter of the Cheyenne chief), with her relatives, but he also attended boarding school in St. Louis. His mother died about 1847. In the Civil War he was a member of the Missouri state guard in the Confederate Army and fought at the Battle of Wilson's Creek, the First Battle of Lexington and the Battle of Pea Ridge. He left the army and returned to St. Louis and then to his mother's family in the Cheyenne village. He and his brothers were in Black Kettle'scamp at Sand Creek when Chivington conducted the massacre. From then on he and his brother, Charles, joined the Dog Soldiers and fought with the Cheyenne as they attacked white settlers throughout Colorado, Nebraska, Wyoming and beyond. They fought at the Battle of Julesburgand other battles and raids. In 1867 George quit fighting and became a valuable interpreter for the U.S. Army. He spent the remainder of his life on the Cheyenne reservation in Oklahoma. He was interviewed by anthropologists and authors and is cited as an important source for information about Cheyenne culture.. .

 
 

Bent, George (1814 - 1847)
William's and Charles's brother - He was raised in St. Louis and joined Charles and William at the fort in 1832. He married in Mexico and had a son, Robert (Elfego) and Daughter, Rumalda. He helped build Fort. St. Vrain and managed it, where he met Fremont and Gilpin in 1844. In 1845 he was in Santa Fe during the beginning of the local Mexican riots against the Americans. He served as a scout for General Kearny's expedition into New Mexico. He died of an illness at Bent's Fort.

 
 

Bent, Ignacia Jaramillo, she was Charles Bent's wife - from a distingished Mexican family in Santa Fe.

 
 

Bent, Robert (Cheyenne name - (Tovi-wee-his) (1816 - 1841)
He participated as the younger brother in the family business with brothers, Charles and William. In 1826 he is recorded as traveling with them to New Mexico. In 1832 he is recorded (age 16) as again traveling back from Taos across Raton Pass into Colorado. He was killed by Comanche while with a caravan on the Arkansas River.

 
 

Bent, Robert (1842 - d?)
He was William's son and named after his deceased uncle. He was forced at gun point by Chivington to lead the Colorado militia group to the Cheyenne camp on Sand Creek and see the massacre in which two of his brothers, Charles and George were survivors. He testified at the investigation held at Denver.

 
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Bent, Silas (1768 - 1827)
He was a judge on the Missouri Supreme Court 1817 - 1821. He was the father of Charles, William, Robert, and George, Bent, the entrepreneurs in opening the Santa Fe Trail to expanded wagon caravans and builders of Bent's Fort on the Arkansas River, and of John and Silas Jr. John was a lawyer who entered the Missouri legislature.
Silas Jr. became a naval officer (midshipman) in 1836. He became a famous hydrographer. He served with Sloat off California in the Mexican War and with Perry on the naval opening of Japan, and resigned at the beginning of the Civil War.
Silas Sr.'s daughter, Juliannah, married Lilburn Boggs, but died young in 1820. Lucy married Joseph Russell.

 
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Bent, William (1809 - 1869)
He with his brothers Charles and George and Ceran St. Vrain established a remarkable trading business across the plains between St. Louis and Santa Fe (and Taos) Mexico centered on the adobe fort they built on the north bank of the Arkansas River in what is now South east Colorado. He married into the Cheyenne Nation with Owl Woman and became a sub-chief. They had two sons and two daughters. He was responsible for many negotiations between the Cheyenne and Comanche and between the Indians and U.S. government. The Wikipedia entry on Owl Woman provides much more detail on life at Bent's Fort. After Owl Woman died in childbirth in 1847, William married her younger sister, Yellow Woman, with whom he had a daughter, Julia, in 1849 and a son, George. Another reference - {short description of image}that also describes detail about life at Fort Bent.

He is the central personality about whom David Lavender weaves a very complex yet clearly described story of the life and events in the opening southwest, north of Texas, between the 1820's and 1870. He continually exerted every effort to establish lasting peace between the competing Indian tribes and each other and between all of them and the U.S. government with little success. His house in Westport (now Kansas City) is a national landmark museum.

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Bent, St. Vrain Co.
This originated as a fur trading company collecting the furs trapped by 'mountain men' and then shifted into general trading between St. Louis and Santa Fe and with the Plains Indians for buffalo hides. They were second only to the American Fur Company in income across the plains. They moved their main operations from the north on the Platte River (but later built Fort St. Vrain there) to the south on the Arkansas River, where they built Bent's Fort and with depots and stores in Taos and Santa Fe. The company became the dominant one in southwest Colorado and on the Santa Fe Trail. The partners were Charlesand WilliamBent and Ceran St. Vrain.

 
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Bent's Old Fort (1833 - 1852)
The fort was built in south eastern Colorado on the Arkansas River, then the border between the U.S. and Mexico as a trading post and supply depot for the fur trappers ranging through the Rocky Mountains and the Indians trading in Buffalo hides. It was built by Charles and William Bent and Ceran St. Vrain in partnership, with William in charge on site. And he remained as the proprietor and real owner until he blew it up. The Wikipedia entry on Owl Womanprovides more detail about life at the fort. A Google search will find very many other references.

It has been restored and opened as a National Historic Landmark. There are excellent books describing the fort's role in the fur trade and commerce on the Santa Fe Trail. In addition to being a base for trappers it was a main transit post for the company shipping business between St. Louis and Santa Fe. A list of the famous and infamous individuals who visited and used Bent's Fort is a catalog of the creators of American society in the southwest - John Fremont, Stephen Kearny, Tom Boggs, Kit Carson, William S. Williams, David Waldo, Joseph Walker, Charles Warfield, Richen Lacy Wootton, Thomas Smith, John S. Smith, Lucien Maxwell; Susan, James and Samuel Magoffin; Thomas Fitzpatrick, Philip St. George Cooke, William Bransford, Carlos Beaubien, and more.

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Bent's New Fort (1852 - 1857)
William Bent burned his old fort and built a new one of stone a few miles down the Arkansas River at a better location and near the Cheyenne camping grounds at Big Timbers. This is the location on the Arkansas River William Bent chose to build his second fort, because it was a favorite place for the Cheyenne to camp since it had an unusual amount of trees as well as water. During the Mexican-American War the Army used it as a supply depot and then built a fort nearby.

Big Timbers is located on the eastern border of Colorado with Kansas, on the Arkansas River. There is a museum there.

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Black Kettle (1803 - 1868)
He was born in the Black Hills of South Dakota but moved into southern Colorado with his tribe. He was a great leader of the Southern Cheyenne who did his best to maintain peace between the Indians and white settlers and U.S. Army. In 1854 he was made president of the central council of the Cheyenne. The relations between the Cheyenne and U.S. were governed by the provisions of the Treaty of Fort Laramiewhich guaranteed extensive hunting lands to the Indians and which the U.S. Government ignored. The Southern Cheyenne had their main villages along the Arkansas River and traded extensively with William Bentat his Bent's Fort. But the government did not enforce the treaty and especially after gold was discovered in Colorado the area was flooded by prospectors rushing across into the mountains and decimating the critical buffalo on the way. In 1864 Colonel Chivington sought political advancement by conducting the infamous massacre of the Cheyenne at Sand Creek north of Fort Lyon on the Arkansas. Black Kettle barely escaped this outrage although his wife was badly wounded. The government convened an investigation at Denver which Black Kettle attended, still working for peace. He managed to obtain a new Treaty of the Little Arkansas River in 1865 but this again was broken by the U.S. Government. The Medicine Lodge Treaty of 1867 was also broken. General Sheridan sent Custer with the 7th Cavalry to attack Black Kettle. In 1868 while trying to escape the Battle of Washita River he was shot in the back by soldiers of the 7th Cavalry.

The Cheyenne obtained their revenge when they killed Custer and his entire detachment of the 7th Cavalry at the Battle of the Little Big Horn.

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Boggs, Lilburn (1796 - 1860)
He was born in Kentucky. He served in the War of 1812then moved to Missouri in 1816. There he married Julia Ann Bent (1801 - 1820) a sister of Charles and William Bent, and daughter of Judge Silas Bent. They had two children, Angus and Henry. In 1823, after Julia died, he married Panthea Grant Boone (1801 - 1880), a grand daugher of Daniel Boone. During a trading venture on the Santa Fe Trail his life was saved by Hamilton Carson, one of Kit Carson's brothers. In 1825-32 he was a Missouri state senator, from 1832 - 1836 he was Missouri Lt. Governor and from 1836 - 1840 he was Governor. After moving to California he was a member of that state's legislature. His son's Thomas and William worked with Charles and William Bent.

He is known in history as the Missouri govenor who issued the executive order in 1838 to 'exterminate' the Mormon's who had moved into the state or drive them into Illinois. In 1846 he moved with his family to California in the same caravan as the Donner Party, but split with them at the Little Sandy River before they took the disastrous route to their deaths. He then lived in Sonoma County - Bodega Bay.

 

Boggs, Rumalda Luna - Daughter of Ignacia Luna and step daughter of Charles Bent.

 
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Boggs, Thomas (1824 - 1894)
He was born in Missouri, the son of Lilburn Boggs who married (his second wife) Daniel Boone's granddaughter, Panthea, in 1823. Lilburn then was a fur trader along the Missouri River. Thomas was the eldest of Panthea's boys. Thus, Charles, William and the other Bent boys were his uncles. He lived with his uncle, Albert Boone, who was another trader. As a teen ager, Thomas learned several Indian languages, then at age 16 or 17 he set out with the Magoffin brother's caravan to Chihuahua, Mexico. Upon reaching Bent'sFort he remained there and entered their employment, also in their business in Taos. There he met Kit Carson, whose wife was Josefa Jaramillo, sister of Charles' wife, Ignacia. There he also met Rumalda Luna, Ignacia's daughter by a previous marriage and Charles Bent's step daughter. They were married in 1846. Then came the Mexican-American War. They fled to Bent's Fort, along with Charles's family and Josefa Carson. There Thomas met Stephen Kearnyand Susan and Sam Magoffin. Expecting to be under General Kearny's protection they all returned to Taos. In December 1846 Kearny sent Thomas to Fort Leavenworth with dispatches where he arrived in Feb. 1847. By the time he returned to Taos in April his uncle, Charles, had been murdered in the Taos Rebellion, along with several others, but Rumalda, Josepha, Ignacia and Teresia Bent survived.
Next, Thomas was asked to go to California, which enabled him to see his father and brother, William, at Bodega Bay. After the Mexican War and through the Civil War Thomas developed ranches on the huge Maxwell Land Grant. In 1866 he established Boogsville (now gone) near present day Las Animas. He became a leading business person in the region. With the opening of Fort Lyon the town prospered until bypassed years later by the railroad at Animas. Among the new residents was Kit Carson in 1867. Both Josepha and Kit Carson died in 1868 leaving their young children in Thomas' care.

William Boggs was one of his brothers, others were Albert, John, Theodore, George, and Joseph. His sisters were Minerva and Sophia..
There is much more to the story of Thomas Boggs than can be included here.

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Bridger, James (1804 - 1851)
He was a 'mountain man'. They were the independent trappers and explorers of the far west - Rocky Mountains clear to California and Oregon who later led American settlers west. In partnership with Louis Vasquez he built Fort Bridger in southwestern Wyoming as a rest stop and trading station on the routes to California and Oregon. He is one of the most famous of the explorers of the mountain west.

He particularly established good relations with the Shoshonee (unusual) and even brought their delegation to the signing of the Treaty of Fort Laramie.

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Cabanne, Jean Pierre (1773 - 1841)
He was born in France and became a merchant. He moved to Charleston, South Carolina, then New Orleans and finally St. Louis, Missouri, where he married Julia Gratiot in 1799. By 1801 he was becoming successful in the fur trade with Indians. For a while he worked with John Jacob Astor, and then formed his own company. He built a trading post - fort Robidoux - on the upper Missouri. As the fur trade declined he formed a company with Bernard Pratte. He became a wealthy banker and distinguished citizen in St. Louis

Many of his descendents still live in St. Louis.

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Carson, Kit (1809 - 1868)
His full name is Christopher Houston Carson. He was born in Kentucky and the family moved to Missouri when he was about 1 year old. They bought land for a farm. His father died when he was 8. He was sent to work in a saddlery located at the terminus of the Santa Fe Trail. In 1826 he ran away with a caravan of trappers to Santa Fe, whereupon Kit settled in Taos. By age 19 he was ready (having learned the languages and skills) to be a professional trapper in the mountains with such experienced men as Jim Bridger. In 1829 he was with a party that went as far as California from Sacramento to Los Angeles and back along the Colorado River. In 1831 he went north with a party through the Rocky Mountains. On occasion he had to contend with Indians, whom he killed and scalped, or Grizzly Bears which he often avoided. He particularly hated the Blackfoot, whom he shot on sight. But around 1840 the beaver pelt market collapsed when European male fashion switched to silk hats. So in 1841 he was hired at Bent'sFort where he switched to hunting buffalo, deer and antelope.
In 1842 he happened to meet John C. Fremont who was preparing to explore the routes clear to California, Fremont hired him at the magnificent sum of $100 a day. In Fremont's first expedition he led the party over South Pass. Fremont's published report made Carson famous. In 1843 he again led Fremont, this time to the Columbia River. In 1845 he again led Fremont to Oregon and California. This time Fremont helped instigate the separation of California from Mexico. After the Civil War he continued to serve in various capacities as a colonel (then brigadier general) in the U.S. Army campaigning in the Indian Wars. His last major battle was at Adobe Walls, a ruined Bent fort south of the Arkansas..

In 1843 he married Maria Josepha Jaramillo, sister of Charles Bent's wife, Ignacia. From 1847 on Carson became an international hero with the publication of numerous dime novels about him in many languages. During the Mexican War Carson helped General Kearny in California. During the Civil War he was commissioned a colonel of New Mexico Volunteers.
His home in Taos is now a museum with his belongings. He is buried in Taos. The Nevada capital, Carson City, is named for him. There are statues of him and other places named for him.

But of course with the current politically correct mania seeking to destroy all American heroes Carson has come under the usual violent attacks.

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Chivington, J. M, (1821 - 1894)
He was born in Ohio and became a Methodist minister. But then moved to Denver. He was an erstwhile politician in Colorado who used military campaigns for his personal aggrandizement. In 1862 he led Denver militia at the Battle of Glorietta Pass in which the Confederate offensive campaign toward Colorado was defeated. His part was in attacking and destroying the Confederate supply base behind the actual battle in the pass. In 1864 he, against orders, attacked the peaceful Cheyenne camp at Sand Creek. The event created a storm of denunciation including commissions and a court hearing in Denver and one at Ft. Riley. But Chivington escaped justice.

He was a thoroughly evil man who while seeking to enhance his political popularity in Denver conducted the surprise Sand Creek Massacreagainst an innocent Cheyenne camp killing mostly women and children. His later life, after the Civil War, went from bad to worse but with him still maintaining that he was right at Sand Creek.

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Chouteau, August Pierre (1786 - 1838)
He was born in St. Louis to Jean Pierre Chouteau and Pelagie Keirsereau. One of his brothers was Pierre Chouteau, Jr. The family were early founders of St. Louis and prominent in the fur trade on the Missouri River. He was appointed to the U.S. Military Academy by President Jefferson and graduated in the class of 1806. He resigned his commission to enter the fur business but was appointed Captain of militia in the War of 1812. In 1817 he was arrested by the Spanish for entering their territory in New Mexico and imprisoned for a while but then released. He was appointed Commissioner to the Comanche for 1837-38. He built trading posts in present-day Oklahoma in 1832, then a dangerous region. He established homes in both St. Louis and in Oklahoma where he died at Ft. Gibson. He had many children by 5 or more wives.

Chouteau Oklahoma is named for him.

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Chouteau, Pierre, Jr. (1789 - 1865)
He was born in St. Louis into a wealthy French fur trading family. For a time he was agent for the John J. Astor fur trading company, but did much on his own, including pioneering the use of steamboats on the Missouri River and building Fort Pierre in South Dakota and Fort Bentonin Montana.

 
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Cooke, Philip St. George (1809 -1895)
He was born in Leesburg, Virginia and graduated West Point in 1827. He is noted as the author of a manual on cavalry and is claimed as 'father of U.S. cavalry (although many give that title to Philip Kearny). His son, John Rogers Cooke, and his son in law, J.E.B. Stuart, went with the Confederacy but Philip Cooke remained a Union officer. During his long service prior to the war he fought and conducted many campaigns against the Indians and during the Mexican War he led an expedition to California. During the Civil War he commanded large cavalry units in the field through the Peninsula Campaign and then served in staff positions. After the war, as a general, he commanded several of the different Western departments, Arizona -New Mexico and then into the Dakotas. He is considered a leading Indian fighter.

He met with the Bents and St. Vrain repeatedly as a new Lt. and then captain commanding dragoon units. His experience with them influenced his post- Civil War career as a leader in the Indian Wars, as did his service with Colonel Henry Dodge..

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Dodge, Henry (1782 - 1867)
He rose in prominence when he commanded mounted troops in the Black Hawk War. He was second in command to Colonel Henry Leavenworth on the first official U.S. Army expedition into the southwest plains. It departed Fort Gibson in 1834 with John Gantt and some Indians along as guides and interpreters. The weather and terrain was terrible, 150 of the 500 men in the expedition died, including Colonel Leavenworth. The command continued, being lead by Colonel Henry Dodge. They campaigned to Bent's Fort where they conducted a meeting with the Araphoe and other tribes. They did succeed in establishing friendly relations with several local tribes. Later, he became a politician in Wisconsin.

George Catlin, the famous painter of the early west was among the party and painted scenes, including a portrait of Dodge. There were many others in this expedition as well; including Jefferson Davis, Stephen Kearny, Jessy Chisholm. Philip St. George Cooke, and John Burgwin. This was at the time when the eastern Indians -Creeks, Choctaw, Cherokee were being moved into Oklahoma, so establishing relations with the local Indians was very important.

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Doniphan, Alexander (1808 - 1887)
He was from Missouri. He commanded a unit during the Mexican- American War which campaigned in New Mexico against Navajo uprising and then into Mexico. He was at Santa Fe when Charles Bent was the civil governor, but did not leave sufficient troops as garrison while he conducted his campaign into Mexico.

 
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Fitzpatrick, Thomas (1799 - 1854)
He was born in Ireland and for a time was a seaman. He is first known to be in St. Louis in 1823. From then he was a 'mountain man' trapper and head of the Rocky Mountain Fur Company. With Jeddiah Smithhe discovered South Pass in Wyoming. He led the first two wagon trains to Oregon. In 1831 he participated in a dangerous trade caravan from Independence to Santa Fe where he signed up Kit Carson. That was the trade caravan in which Jedediah Smith was killed by Comanches. He was the official guide for John C. Fremont's second expedition and he led Philip Kearny's dragoon expedition into the plains to show off the howitzers to the Indians. He also led General Stephen Kearny. In 1851 he helped negotiate the Fort LaramieTreaty, the largest assembly of plains Indians. He was a staunch supporter of the Native Americans, well respected by them for his efforts to secure justice. In 1853-54 he went to Washington D. C. to work on treaties but died of pneumonia and was buried in Congressional Cemetery..

One specialist researcher on 'mountain men' has noted that Fitzpatrick is mentioned in more eye-witness diaries of his fellow participants than any other individual. He was everywhere and met everyone. He was at Bent's Fort many times.

 

Folger, Jared
He was a friend of Ceran St. Vrain and joined him in 1845 to travel to New Mexico and stay at Bent's Fort. He went with Ceran on the annual caravan between the fort and Westport, Kansas - Ft. Leavenworth. From there in 1846 he again joined the annual caravan back to New Mexico.

 
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Fontenelle, Lucien (1800 - 1840)
He was born in New Orleans. After his parents were killed in a hurricane he moved to enter the fur trade in Missouri. In the 1820's and 30's he led fur trading expeditions into the Rocky Mountains as far as Utah with Joshua Pilcher. In 1828 -38 he worked with the American Fur Company. He knew many of the famous mountain men. He was treated for Cholera by Dr. Marcus Whitman. . He operated a trading post at Bellevue on the Missouri River and later sold it to the government. When he died in 1840 he was attended by Father DeSmitt..

 
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Fremont, John C. (1830 - 1890)
He had a long and varied career as explorer, soldier and politician. He led many exploration trips across the Rocky mountains to California and was in Sonoma and then Monterey when the Mexican-American War began. He organized the Americans there to create the Bear Republic. He then turned over command to Commodore Sloat, when the U.S. Navy occupied Monterey. He made a fortune in the Gold Rush and eventually lost it all. He was the first senator from the new state of California.
In 1848 he led another expedition passing through Bent's Fort. He again asked for Kit Carson (who had been his guide for his first expedition) to lead him through the mountains in winter but Carson refused. Dick Wooten and Old Bill Williams agreed but they met a blizzard in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, whereupon Wooten advised them to turn back and did so himself. Fremont continued to refuse Williams' advice and became mired deep in snow by Christmas Day. (The place is called Fremont's Christmas Camp). A Ute Indian found and rescued Fremont and took him to Taos where Kit Carson and his wife nursed him back to life.
In the Civil War he was appointed general in command of the Western area based in Missouri and campaigned with some success. But insubordination to the policies of President Lincoln in Missouri resulted in his dismissal. But he was later given a command in Virginia and opposed Stonewall Jackson in the Shenandoah Valley.

He married the daughter of Senator Benton of Missouri. He was a candidate for President for the Republican Party in the election of 1856. {short description of image}

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Gantt, John (1790 - 1849)
He was born in Maryland and moved with his family to Kentucky. In 1817 he was appointed a Lt. in U.S. Army. As a captain he served under Colonel Leavenworth in the Arikara War of 1823. He resigned (or was court martialed) in 1829 and became a mountain man - fur trapper - forming his own company -in the 1830's to trap up the Missouri. In 1831 he met Thomas Fitzpatrick on the Laramie. In 1832 he traveled back and forth between the Laramie River and Santa Fe during which he met Kit Carson. In 1833 he and Kit Carson went on a northern trapping expedition. But soon after the fur business nearly collapsed. In 1834 to replace a more temporary stockade he had built at the confluence of the Arkansas and Purgatory Rivers, he built an adobe trading post on the upper Arkansas River about 6 miles below the confluence with Fountain Creek ( Fort Cass). Both of these were in direct competition with the Bents. In 1834 he was with William Bent at the new stockade on the Arkansas during which the episode in which Bent killed a visiting Shoshone took place. That ended Gantt's efforts in the fur trade and he abandoned his trading post. But he became friends of the Arapahoe. And in 1835 he guided Colonel Henry Dodge's campaign west up the South Platte River then south past Pike's Peak to the Arkansas River, down it to Bent's Fort. Gantt was sent to bring in Araphoe Indians for conference.. In 1838-39 he was Indian Agent at Council Bluffs. In 1843 he guided immigrants toward Oregon and then diverted to California. In 1844-45 he was involved with Mexican government there. In 1848-49 he built a sawmill but died that year in Napa. California.

 
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Garrard, Lewis Hector (1829 - 1887)
Ceran brought him west from St. Louis in 1846 and he stayed two months with William Bent. He wrote a journal that was published as a book, Wha-To_Yah, that has become an important eye-witness account of events at Bent's fort and at Big Timbers in the mid-1840's. He went on to Taos after Charles Bent was murdered. He described the response to the Taos Rebellion by William, Ceran and the other 'mountain men'. In April 1867 he joined a caravan back to Missouri. He stopped with Blackfoot John Smith to help build Fort Mann. Good thing he did, because between the fort and Walnut Creek the convoy was attacked by Comanche, several men were killed and Garrard's horses he had sent ahead were among the large losses. He became a doctor, land developer and member of the Minnesota State Legislature.

 
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Gilpin, William (1813 - 1894)
He was born in Pennsylvania, graduated the university in 1833, attended West Point 1834 - 1835 but did not graduate. He was commissioned a 2nd Lt. in 1836 and served in the Seminole War. He moved to Missouri and became a frontiers man. He met Fremont and went with him on his expeditions to Oregon, where he settled for a while. He returned east and promoted settlers to go to Oregon. In 1846 he was commissioned as major for the Mexican War during which he was distinguished in the campaign through New Mexico. He returned to Missouri and then realizing that he had found gold in Colorado years previously moved there. In 1861 President Lincoln appointed him governor of Colorado. He took up the post in Denver in 1861 and quickly organized a Union military militia to defeat Confederate supporters and the Texas offensive. His volunteers defeated the Texans at the critical Battle of Glorietta Pass.. . .

In 1863 with financial backing he purchased the enormous Charles Beaubien land grant. However law suits over this land persist to today.

 

Gray Thunder
He was a leading chief of a southern Cheyenne band and their keeper of the 'sacred arrows'. William Bent married his daughter, Owl Woman, thus becoming a member of the tribe with all the cachet that created. He was well known as a supporter of friendly relations between the Cheyenne and whites.

 
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Kearny, Stephen W. (1794 - 1848)
He was a U.S. Army officer mostly stationed on the Western frontier. He fought in the Mexican-American War, led military expeditions, founded frontier forts including Leavenworth. He was called 'the father of the U.S. cavalry'. During the Mexican War he led a small Army force through New Mexico to California. He occupied Santa Fe, New Mexico enroute to California and appointed Charles Bent as governor. He was at times governor of both territories. In California he disputed command with Admiral Stockton and John Fremont and then succeeded Stockton as governor of the territory.

Philip Kearny was his nephew. Many locations are named after him, including a street in San Francisco.

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Leavenworth, Henry (1783 - 1834)
He was born in Connecticut and admitted to the bar in 1812. He was commissioned as Captain in 1812 and then served in the War of 1812. He was wounded in the Battle of Niagara and breveted to rank of colonel in 1814. He served in the New York state assembly in 1816 but then returned to Army service. In 1820 he constructed Fort St. Anthonyand in 1823 commanded troops in the Arikara War, the first 'war' in the west with Plains Indians. He built Fort Leavenworth in 1827. He continued to lead expeditions throughout Indian territory and died in the field in 1834 either from sudden sickness or an accident while buffalo hunting.

 
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Lisa, Manuel (1712 - 1820)
He was born in New Orleans before the Louisanna Purchase and later lived in St. Louis. He was an Indian Agent (appointed in 1814 by Governor William Clark, during the War of 1812), explorer, land owner, fur trader - among the founders of the Missouri Fur Company. He organized and led fur trading operations on the upper Missouri and established friendly relations with local Indian tribes which helped him secure their alliance against the Indians allied with the British during that war. In 1807 he established Fort Raymondon the Little Bighorn River in Montana. In 1808 he built the first Fort Lisa in North Dakota. In 1813 he built another Fort Lisa in Nebraska which became the origin of Omaha.

After the War of 1812 Lisa became a very prominent citizen of St. Louis and well respected leader of the fur industry. But his main rival was the American Fur Company owned by John J. Astor. When Lisa died suddenly in St. Louis, the company was taken over by his partner, Joshua Pilcher. But eventually when the fur industry declined Pilcher dissolved it.

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Lupton, Lancaster P. (1807 - 1885)
He was born in New York and graduated West Point in 1829. He was commissioned and served in dragoons on the plains. In 1835 he participated in Colonel Dodge's campaign around the plains to insure peace with the various tribes. He visited Bent's Fort and the trading enterprises along the Platte River. He resigned and then opened a trading post - Fort Lancaster (also called Fort Lupton) - on the South Platte, at which he was a competitor of the Bent-St.... Vrain Company and the other more powerful companies. He held out until 1844 when his finances ran out and he abandoned his trading post. He later moved to Pueblo, Colorado and then to California during the Gold Rush, where he died.

Fort Lupton, Colorado is named for him. See also {short description of image}

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Magoffin, Susan (1827 - 1855), James (1799 - 1868) and Samuel (1801 - 1888)
James was born in Harrodsburg, Kentucky and sailed from New Orleans to northern Mexico in 1824 or 25. He became the American consul at Saltillo, Coahuila from 1825 to 1831. He became a wealthy trader on the Santa Fe Trail with headquarters at Matamoros. and then Chihuahua. In 1841 he lead a trade caravan to St. Louis and back via Santa Fe. There he found newspaper man George W. Kendall who accompanied the Texian expedition in 1841, determined to conquer New Mexico, and they were all captured and sent to prison. James Magoffin offered a ransom of $3,000 to free Kendall, but it was refused. In 1844 with war pending he moved to Independence, Missouri from which he continued to organize trade wagon trains to Santa Fe. In 1846 he met President James Polk in Washington who appointed him to go with General Stephen Kearny to arrange the conquest of New Mexico.
The Wikipedia entry is about his sister-in-law, Susan Magoffin, because she kept a diary that is a source of information on the era. In 1846 she accompanied James and her husband, Samuel, who was also a trader, on the trip to Santa Fe and suffered a miscarriage at Bent'sFort.
But James was successful in Kearny's taking Santa Fe without a shot. James also helped Colonel Alexander Doniphan's campaign into Mexico. In 1847 James returned to Washington to ask for payment, of which he obtained a part. He used that to organize another trade convoy from Independence to El Paso. From then on he became a leading merchant and citizen supplying U.S. government operations. He built Magoffinsville, out of which the government created Fort Bliss. But in 1861 he supported the Confederacy and supplied Henry Sibley's campaign to Santa Fe. After the war he had to petition President Johnson for an amnesty. He died in San Antonio.
Susan and Samuel continued on to Mexico City and then took ship back to New Orleans and returned to Kentucky.

Susan Magoffin's diary is an excellent reference for conditions in the southwest and the trade with the Mexicans and Indians taking place between St. Louis and Santa Fe and on into Mexico. For much more on James Magoffin see the Texas Historical Commission article and the Handbook of Texas entry.

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Maxwell, Lucien (1818 - 1875)
He was born in Illinois. In 1834 he moved west to explore. He became friends with Kit Carsonand in 1841 they both signed on with John Fremont for his expeditions. In 1844 he returned to Taos, married Maria de la Luz Beaubien whose wealthy father gave him 15,000 acres out of his million acre land grant. In 1847 he was at Fort Bent when Charles Bentwas murdered in the Taos Revolt. His wife survived but her brother was killed. In 1850 he moved to Cimarron, New Mexico. He inherited the land grant 1,714,765 acres. (Maxwell Land Grant, it grew to 1.9 million acres - twice the size of Rhode Island state). He was the largest land owner in the country. After the Civil War gold was discovered on his property, so he leased stakes to miners. In 1870 he sold out for over a million dollars. He moved to Fort Sumnerwhere he died in 1875. After he had sold, the area became the battleground for the Colfax County War.

In 1881 Pat Garett killed Billy the Kid at Maxwell's home at Ft. Sumner, then owned by Lucien's son, Pete. Billy the Kid was buried next to Lucien.
Today the huge land grant has been divided into many private holdings, some of them well known such as the PhilmontBoy Scout ranch, Ted Turner's ranch and the National Rifle Association center.
See Legends of America. for the story of the Land Grant, Lucien Maxwell, Kit Carson, The Colfax County war, Buffalo Bill Cody, Charles Beaubien and more.
The extensive ties over years between Lucien Maxwell, Kit Carson and the Bent brothers are well described in David Lavender's book -Bent's Fort.

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Maxwell Land Grant -see above

 
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Miranda, Don, Guadalupe (1810 - 1890)
He was a Mexican official. He was born in Cuidad Juarez and moved to Santa Fe. He was secretary of the area, collector of customs and captain of the militia. There are few records of his real business activities. But he was awarded by Governor Armijo (with his partner, Carlos Beaubien) the massive 1.9 million acre land grand in northern New Mexico which devolved to Lucien Maxwell, as heir of his father-in-law, Beaubien.

He registered himself as a merchant in the census, but appears to have been actually the government official who managed to obtain the immense land grant.

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Missouri Fur Company (1809 - 1830)
This was an important early fur trading company established by Manuel Lisaand others in St. Louis after Lisa's first expedition up the Missouri showed the profits possible from fur trading with the Indians. Among the other founders were the Chouteau brothers, Ruben Luis, James Wilkinson and William Clark. In 1810, however, they made the mistake of trapping and establishing a camp on Blackfoot territory without permission. The trappers were attacked several times and had casualties but some managed to return down river. The financial losses of these and several early expeditions resulted in the company being reorganized with new capital raised and Lisa became the major owner. Over the following years he was more successful, due to good relations with the several Indian tribes. After Lisa died in 1820 the company was controlled by Joshua Pilcher until he dissolved in in 1830 when the profitability of fur trading declined due to changing men's fashions in Europe..

 
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Owl Woman ( - d. 1847)
She was a Cheyenne princess, daughter of Grey Thunder. Her Cheyenne name was Mis-tan-ta. She married William Bentin 1835 or 37, and they had 4 children. These were Mary (1838) - Robert (1840-41) George (1843) and Julia 1847). She had two younger sisters. Yellow Woman and Island, who according to Cheyenne custom would live with them. After Owl Woman died in 1847 in childbirth with Julia, then Bent would marry Yellow Woman.

She was included in the Colorado Woman's Hall of Fame. The Wikipedia article has a much longer background description of Bent's Fort and William Bent's activities than of Owl Woman.

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Parkman, Francis
He was born in Massachusetts and entered Harvard at age 16. He made his life's work the study and writing about American History. Among his most famous works are 'The Oregon Trail' and his 7 volume France and England in North America.
In 1846 he departed Boston in 28 March. Passing through Fort Leavenworth, where he learned much from Colonel Kearny, he attached his small party to several emmigration convoys. Traveling up the Platte River, he reached Fort Laramie on 16 June.
He spend over a month living with Sioux tribal groups in the mountains west of Laramie. He returned to Fort Laramie on 3 August.
The following day he began his move south, along the Front Range to Bent's Fort on the Arkansas. He reached Pueblo and visited the Mormons who were preparing to travel west. He reached Bent's Fort in 25 August but the two Bent brothers (Charles and William) were absent. But he did learn much from the experienced mountain men present. On 27 August he started east along the Arkansas, following the well worn Santa Fe train. He passed numerous civilian and military convoys headed west, including units of Sterling Price's Missouri Volunteers headed to join Kearny at Santa Fe. He also met the Magoffin's and Marcellin St. Vrain on different days, both on their way to Bent's Fort and Santa Fe. He arrived back in St. Louis in 7 October. His diary is full of details that fill in information about conditions in the area he traversed in the momentous year, 1846.

Parkman devoted his life to the study of early American history, especially the three sided conflicts between the French British-Americans, and Native Indians. Throughout his he kept detailed daily journals f Scholars now rate Parkman's diary of his summer expedition in 1846 much the superior historical record of the events throughout the territory he traversed, than the more romanticized dewscription in his resulting book. The Oregon Trail.

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Pattie, James (1804 - 1851)
He was from Kentucky and explored in the Rocky Mountains in the 1830's while trapping. Then he accompanied his father to California. He wrote about his adventures and conditions there.

He Is included in the excellent List of Mountain Men. There are many editions of his book - Personal Narrative of James O. Pattie available from Amazon.

 

Pattie, Sylvester (1782 - 1828)
He was the father of James and worked with him as a 'mountain man' trapping and trading. In 1824 they obtained a license to trade with the plains and mountain Indian tribes. In 1828 he led the first party of Americans to San Diego over southern trails. He remained in and died in San Diego.

 
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Pike, Albert (1809 -1891) He visited Taos in 1831 and then settled in Ft. Smith, Arkansas. During the Mexican-American War he was a captain in Arkansas cavalry. In the Civil War he was a brigadier general in the Confederate Army and raised Indian cavalry that fought at Battle of Pea Ridge. After that he resigned.

 
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Pilcher, Joshua (1790 -1834)
He was born in Virginia and the family later moved to Kentucky and then St. Louis. He became a fur trader and was part-owner the the MissouriFur Company in 1819 with Manuel Lisa and others. In 1825 he was in partnership with the Bent Brothers. President van Buren appointed him to be Superintendent of Indian Affairs in St. Louis.

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Pratte, Bernard, General Sr. was the son of Jean-Baptiste Pratte (1729 - 1836). He served in militia in the War of 1812. His son was Bernard Pratte and he had 3 daughters.

 
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Pratte, Bernard (1803 - 1886)
He was the 8th Mayor of St. Louis, 1844- 46. His son was Bernard Antoine Pratte (1826 -1897) and he had 3 daughters. They formed the company, Pratte and Cabanne and Co. {short description of image}

There are well maintained memorials to the Pratte family members in St. Louis.

 

Pratte, Sylvestre (1793 - 1827)
He was born in Montreal and moved with family to St. Louis. He was the son of Bernard Pratte and worked with him as a 'mountain man' trapping and trading. He became sick and died while exploring and trapping in north-central Colorado. Ceran St. Vrain assumed leadership of the group

 
 

Pratte and Cabanne Co. It was a spin off of Astor's American Fur Company. In the 1820's they had warehouses and steam boats on the Missouri where Charles Bent and Ceran St. Vrain met. The company was a fierce competitor with the other companies and independents who struggled to make a profit out of the fur trade. They occupied Fort Laramie on the South Platte for a while..

Interesting - a Google search will find several of the court proceedings involving this company.

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Price, Sterling (1808 - 1867)
He was born in Virginia and admitted to the bar in 1830. The family moved to Missouri in 1831, where he ran a hotel. He was a member of the Missouri legislature and then elected to the U.S. Congress in 1845. In 1846 he resigned to become a colonel and raise a regiment of cavalry. He marched his regiment to New Mexico with Alexander Doniphan. When Stephen Kearny passed through Santa Fe en route to California, he appointed Price as the military governor with Charles Bent as the civil governor. In January 1847 when Charles Bent was murdered at Taos, Price led the Army force to suppress the Taos Rebellion. In July he was promoted brigadier general. He then led 300 men into Mexico and won the Battle of Santa Cruz de Rosales (after the war had actually ended). He was mustered out and returned to Missouri. He was elected Governor of Missouri. When the Civil War began he opposed the state joining the Confederacy. But when Union units entered and took control he switched and became commander of the state guard. He defeated the Union troops at the Battle of Wilson'sCreek on 10 August. For the remainder of the war he served as a Confederate Major General but under the command of others. His final campaign was a raid into Missouri, the last engagement of the war west of the Mississippi.

 
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Riley, Bennet (1787 - 1853)
He was born in Maryland. He volunteered to serve in the War of 1812 and was commissioned an ensign, but quickly rose in rank. He fought in engagements around the Great Lakes. Then he joined his commander, Henry Leavenworth, to move to the western frontier. He fought in the Arikara War in 1823. He was a major in 1829 leading the first military expedition along the Santa Fe Trail. He fought in the Seminole War and attained the rank of colonel. He fought in many battles in the Mexican War and was promoted brigadier general. In 1849-50 he commanded the department of Upper California. He was the sixth and last military governor of California.

Fort Riley, Kansas is named for him. Note that the nearby Fort Leavenworth is named for his former commander in the early days on the western frontier.

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Robidoux, Antoine (1794 - 1860)
He was born in St. Louis into the prominent French fur trading family. The whole family was involved from the father, Joseph RobidouxIII on. By the 1820's he was busy establishing trading and fur trapping in the mountains north of Santa Fe, where he established his residence and married the governor's young daughter. He was granted Mexican citizenship, which enabled him to trade and trap into what became western Colorado and Utah where in 1820's he built Fort Robidoux (also named Fort Uncompahgre) in the Uncompahgre Valley. This was the first white establishment west of the Rocky Mountains. The fort was burned by the Ute Indians in 1844. When the market for beaver fur ended he returned to St. Louis. In 1846 he enlisted as an interpreter in General Stephen W. Kearny's army campaign to California and was wounded at the Battle of San Pasqual.

 
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St. Vrain, Ceran (1802 - 1870)
His Grand father was Chevalier Pierre Charles de Hault de Lassus de Luziere a member of the council of King Louis XVI. (many entries at Google) He fled France during the Revolution and came to America with a contingent of other French in 1790 to settle on the Ohio River. That settlement failed so he moved to Spanish New Orleans where a relative was in the government. Ceran was the son of Jacques Marcellin Ceran de Hault de Lassus de St. Vrain (1770 - 1818) who followed his father to the U.S. to escape the French Revolution. The numerous family settled in St. Louis where Jacques built a beer brewery and entered the fur trade. One of Ceran's brothers was killed in the Black HawkWar in 1832. Ceran at age 22 began in the fur trade, trapping on the upper Missouri River but that activity was dying due to changes in European fashions for fur. Ceran formed a partnership with Charlesand William Bent who built Bent's Fort on the Arkansas River in what became south-east Colorado. Ceran moved to establish their company in Santa Fe and Taos Mexico. They also built Fort St. Vrain in north east Colorado on the South Platte River and stores in Santa Fe and Taos. They became famous throughout the Rocky Mountains and western plains and their company was very profitable as it collected fur and buffalo hides to sell at Independence Mo. and conduct trade caravans to Santa Fe. From 1834 to 1838 he was the American consul in Santa Fe. During the Mexican- American War - the TaosRevolt of Mexicans and Pueblo Indians killed his partner, Charles Bent. Ceran organized his 'mountain men' hunters to aid the Army suppression at the Siege of Pueblo de Taos during which they killed many of the rebels - and then to act as witness and translator during the trial of the remaining leaders. In 1855 he settled in Mora, New Mexico and built grist mills and stores. He supplied flour to the U.S. Army. He died in Mora and was memorialized with a very well attended funeral..

His most well known family include Felix, Louisa, Charles, Jacques, and Felicita

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St. Vrain, Felix August (1799 - 1832)
He was Ceran's brother. He was born in St. Louis and moved to Kaskaskia, Illinois to operate a sawmill. In 1830 he was appointed Indian Agent to the local tribes. When the Black Hawk War began he was stationed at Fort Armstrong. He was assigned to deliver messages but on 24 May, 1832 he and three members of his party were murdered by Sauk Indians. He was buried by Colonel Henry Dodge.

 
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St. Vrain Massacre 24 May, 1832
This Wikipedia entry provides more details about Felix St. Vrain's murder and its context as well as a map and details about the Black HawkWar.

 
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St. Vrain, Marcellin (1815 - 1871) He was born in Missouri, the 10th and last child of Marcellin Ceran de St. Vrain. He was the youngest brother of Charles, William and Felix St. Vrain. He joined his brother's company and in 1837 was appointed to manage Fort St. Vrain on the Platte river, their far northern outpost. He married an Indian known as Red with whom he had several children. When Fort St. Vrain was closed he moved to Bent's Fort on the Arkansas. In 1848 he fled the fort back to St. Louis ( reportedly after killing a Comanchee) There he married Elizabeth Murphy. In 1851 he sent for his two sons by Red, (Felix and Charles) abandoning her. She waited years for him but eventually married William Bransford. Felix and Charles both served in the Confederate Army.

 
 

St. Vrain - Vigil Grant
A very extensive grant of territory in south-eastern Colorado from the Arkansas River south to the Colorado-New Mexico border - estimate at 4 million acres - , given to Ceran St. Vrain and Cornelio Vigil (uncle of Ignacia Bent) (and murdered in the Taos Rebellion of 1847) by the Mexican governor, Manuel Armijo. They gave an interest in the property to Charles Bent. The Mexican idea was to grant land to speculators who would then bring in settlers and divide the huge area into ranches. Work progressed on this effort in 1846 when the Mexican War began. In 1857 the legality of the ownership of this and the other land grants was recognized by Congress, but in 1860 Congress decided to limit the sizes to 97,390 acres, thus reducing the size. The heirs protested in Congress and the courts for years. See- Las Animas Grant.

 
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Santa Fe Trail (1821 - 1880)
The Bent's Fort was located on purpose ideally to serve as a key point on this route. It was the transportation route from Independence Missouri to Santa Fe, New Mexico over which thousands of people and millions of dollars worth of goods were moved both ways. It was opened by William Becknell and was only superceded in 1880 by the Santa Fe Railroad. It crossed Kansas to the big northern bend of the Arkansas River near Dodge City, then followed it upstream and turned west through Raton Pass, while the other branch, called the Cimarron Cutoff, crossed desert to the southwest and then along the Cimarron River. This was shorter but much more dangerous, both due to lack of water and to exposure to Comanche raids as it crossed their territory.

 
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Sedgwick, John (1813 - 1864)
He fought in the Seminole War and the Mexican-American War. He led theArmy expedition against the Cheyenne in 1857. In the Civil War he was promoted major general, wounded at Antietam, fought in the major battles as a corps commander until killed in 1864 at Spotsylvania Court house.

 
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Smith, Jedediah (1798 - 1831)
He was born in New York and moved as a young man to St. Louis in search of adventure. And adventure he had. He was one of the first 'mountain men' and among the greatest. In 1822 he joined William Henry Ashley for a fur trapping expedition up the Missouri. He explored and mapped throughout the Rocky Mountains and first found SouthPass as the best route to California and led the first exploration across the MojaveDesert. He led the first exploration from Salt Lake to the Colorado River. He was twice arrested by the Mexican governor in California but freed. He was the first white American to travel by land up the California coast into Oregon. He survived several Indian attacks and one encounter with a large grizzly bear. His maps were used by John C. Fremont. He was killed by Comanchee near the Cimarron River and his body was never found.

The Wikipedia entry provides an extensive biography of Smith's extensive explorations and influence in the early days of the 'mountain men'. He worked with many of the famous people of the time. Unfortunately he was killed by the Comanches on the Cimarron River while leading a trade convoy from Independence to Santa Fe with William Sublette (which he did not make - and note the early date for that caravan).
Frederick Remington painted him on horseback.

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Smith, John Simpson (Blackfoot) (1812 - 1871)
He was born in Kentucky and became one of the greatest of the Rocky Mountain explorers and fur trappers. He spoke 4 Indian languages as well as Spanish and French and was employed as an interpreter at several major conferences, as well as guide. He married a Cheyenne woman with whom he had two sons. His explorations and trapping enterprises ranged from the Rio Grande to the Yellowstone Rivers. He frequently worked with William Bent at Bent's Fort. He was active in promoting friendship between white trappers and settlers and Indians. He was among the founders of Denver, Colorado. He tried hard in 1864 to prevent Chivington's massacre at Sand Creek, where he was with his wife and children and in which one of his sons was among the murdered. He testified at the subsequent commissions. He moved with his wife to the Cheyenne reservation in Oklahoma territory where he died.

 
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Smith, Thomas (Pegleg) (1801 - 1866)
He was born in Kentucky and moved to Missouri where he went to work as a trapper for John Jacob Astor. He lost his lower right leg to amputation after being shot and made himself a wooden 'peg leg' He explored throughout the Rocky Mtns and learned several Indian languages. Then he engaged in large scale horse thieving from Mexicans in California.

 
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Sublette, Andrew Whitley (1808 - 1854)
The brothers were all sons of Philip Allen Sublette (1774 - 1820) Andrew was with his brothers as an early mountain man exploring the Rocky Mounains. In 1835 he was one with the others who partnered with Louis Vasquez in building Fort Vasquez in Colorado. In 1840 he sold out and moved to Pueblo. He was killed by a grizzly bear in southern California.

 
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Sublette, Milton Green (1801 - 1837)
He was one of five investors to buy the Rocky Mountain Fur Company. He was a prominent trapper in the Rocky Mountains. In 1826 he injured a leg in battle with Indians in the southwest. It became inflected and was amputated. He had a cork leg made, but didn't fare as well as Peg Leg Smith. He learned to ride but the leg became infected again and caused his death at Ft. John on the Laramie River where he was buried.

 
 

Sublette, Pinckney (1804 - 1828) Another 'mountain man' fur trapper. He did his trapping around the Green River. He was killed by Indians in 1828 and is buried there.

 
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Sublette, Solomon Perry (1815 - 1857)
He participated with his brothers in years of fur trapping and exploring in the Rocky Mtns. In 1839 he moved to Santa Fe, to trap on the Arkansas River. In 1843 he joined William for an expedition to the Green River. In 1848 he married his brother, William's, widow. He retired and died on his Missouri farm.

 
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Sublette, William Lewis (1798 - 1845)
He was born in Kentucky. He became one of the most famous mountain men exploring, trapping, leading pioneers, and building in the Rocky Mountains. In 1823 he joined the Rocky Mountain Fur Company, which he later owned in partnership. He was wounded at the Rendezvousof 1832 and retired from trapping. He built Fort William - later called Fort Laramie, then Fort John at the eastern entrance to South Pass, where the major wagon train route to California and Oregon crossed the eastern Rocky Mtns. He sold that and retired to St. Louis.

 
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Vasquez, Pierre Louis (1798 - 1868)
In 1822 William Ashley and Andrew Henry organized the Rocky MountainFur Company and hired Vasquez. He soon was a partner with Andrew Sublette in building Fort Vasquez on the South Platte river in 1835. It was closed in 1842 due to intensive competition and decline in the beaver pelt trade. He became one of the leading 'mountain men' over the next decades. Vasquez and Sublette faced huge competition from Lupton, and especially Bent- St. Vrain. They switched from beaver to buffalo hides, but still could not profit. They sold the fort. Vasquez then became a partner to Jim Bridger and they built a new trading post (Fort Bridger) in south-west Wyoming to cater to the traffic along the Oregon and California trails. He retired to St. Louis.

{short description of image}This article is focused on Fort Vasquez, now rebuilt as a tourist attraction, but it describes the full context of the fur trade and mentions many of the leading participants.

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Vanderburgh, William Henry (1800 - 1832)
He was born in Indiana. He attended West Point in 1813 but did not graduate. In Missouri he worked for Manuel Lisa and Joshua Pilcher. Their Fort Vanderburgh was named for him in 1821. He was appointed a major in the military force that General Leavenworth led in the Arikara War in 1823. He then formed a new fur company in 1826 and spent winters in the camps on the Green River. He was a party leader for John J. Astor's American Fur Company and organized trapping teams along with Andrew Drips. They participated in the Battle of Pierre's Hole. They were at the annual rendezvous at Pierre's Hole in 1832. After the meeting, he was killed by Blackfoot Indians while trapping in Montana.

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This is the best description of Vanderburgh's final activities. They are also described well in Bernard DeVoto's -Across the Wide Missouri.

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Vigil, Cornelio - 1847
He was an uncle of Ignacia Bent. As a citizen, he could apply for a land grant from the New Mexico governor. So in 1843 he formed a partnership with Ceran St. Vrain and was approved for the Vigil-St.... Vrain land grant with northern border on the Arkansas River in southern Colorado and southern limit along the present Colorado- New Mexico border - estimated now at 4 million acres. It was thus just north of the huge Beaubien-Miranda grant. In 1844 they secretly conveyed to Charles Bent a 1/6th interest in the entire grant. The grant was strongly opposed by Father Martinez, the Bent's constant enemy. Cornelio was prefect of Taos during the rebellion. He was killed along with Charles Bent, Sheriff Steve Lee and Narcisio Beaubien.

This documentary reference describes the petition that Cornelio and Ceran St. Vrain submitted to the Mexican governor Armijo in New Mexico in 1843 to be granted a charter for an extensive land grant in northern New Mexico along the Arkansas and Las Animas Rivers. - the St. Vrain-Vigil grant - called Las Animas Grant. It was north of the Beaubien- Miranda grant. The Mexican purpose in creating these land grants was to enable the proprietors to bring in settlers and create ranches and villages - at the same time hoping to counter Indian raids. Both men were already prominent residents in Taos. Their land grant was across the Arkansas River (thus in Mexico) from Bent's Fort- the principal trading post on the Santa Fe Trail, thus the land was very valuable. In 2 months they assigned an undivided 2/3 interest in the grant to Charles Bent and several other prominent residents and politicians. William Bent and Richard Wooten established ranches but were overcome by Indian raids. The reference here describes the years of petitions to Congress and even to the Supreme Court by the heirs. The result was they lost most of the territory in question.

Waldo, David
He was a descendent of Cornelius Waldo (1647) but the family is recorded in England back to the 12th century. He studied medicine in St. Louis in the 1820's and had numerous government positions while doing so. In 1827 he began to practice as a doctor. In 1828 he took a 'vacation' to Taos, New Mexico where he met Ceran St. Vrain. There he became a Mexican citizen in order to sell merchandise far south to Chihuahua. From there he returned to St. Louis by spring 1829. There he helped organize the caravan for 1829 and nominated Charles Bent to be the 'captain'. They became life-long friends. This was an historic caravan as it was the first to have a U.S. Army detachment for protection. But the army had to stop as the Mexican border despite Waldo's strong requests that it continue. Waldo described the whole journey in writing. He entered into the trade routine full time. In 1831 he participated in a beaver trapping and horse buying expedition clear to California. By 1846 he was commanding a company in Kearny's army when it arrived at Bent's Fort. Arriving in Santa Fe he was employed, due to his knowledge of Spanish, in writing the new constitution for the American civil government. He continued to assist with the civil government .

 
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Walker, Joseph, R. (1798 - 1876)
He was born in Tennessee and moved to Missouri. He was a famous 'mountain man' who, among other exploits created a section of the California Trail from Fort Hall to the Truckee River. In 1820 he already was trapping out of Santa Fe in Spanish territory, so with Mexican independence in 1821 he and the others rapidly expanded their trapping.. He explored the Rocky Mountains in 1830 with "Old Bill" Williamsand Benjamin Bonneville. In 1843 he guided the first wagon train from Fort Laramie to California. In 1844 he was with Fremont at Bent's Fort and in 1845 he guided Fremont on his third expedition. In 1862-63 he led a successful gold hunting expedition in Arizona. He established his family home in Contra Costa County, California and is buried in Martinez.

John Fremont named Walker River and Walker Lake in Nevada after him. The Wikipedia entry has excellent maps showing Walker's many routes through the Rocky Mountains and the Sierra Nevada.

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Williams, William Sherley (Old Bill) (1747 - 1849)
"Old Bill" Williams was a famous 'mountain man' trapper and explorer in the very early days of American activity in the Rocky Mounains. He was born in North Carolina and as a youth enjoyed outdoorsman activities, trapping and hunting. In 1795 his father was invited by the Spanish to move to what became Missouri. There Williams became a master trapper and guide to the mountains. He learned several different Indian languages. During the War of 1812 he was a sergeant in the Mississippi mounted rangers. He lived with the Osage and later with the Ute Tribes. He translated the Bible into Osage. He married an Osage woman with whom he had two daughters. After 1822 he spent the years in the mountains and western plains as an expert trapper and Indian fighter. He went everywhere from the Pacific Coast to the plains of Colorado and Texas. He worked with many of the famous 'mountain men' including Kit Carsonand was a guide for John Fremonton Fremont's fourth expedition. In 1849 he was ambushed and killed by Ute warriors.

Several places in Arizona are named for Williams and a bronze statue of him is in one of them. His amazing exploits are described on many pages in David Lavender's incomparable book - Bent's Fort - which is a vivid description of the events and lives of the entire developing south west from the Texas border to the Dakotas and from the Mississippi west across the Rocky Mountains from the 1820's to 1870.

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Wootton, Richens Lacy (1816 - 1898)
Richens Lacy Wootton was born in Virginia, moved to Mississippi and then to Missouri, but spent most of his life in Colorado and New Mexico as a 'mountain man' fur trapper, explorer and guide. He worked out of Bent's Fort and Taos. During the Mexican-American War he served as a scout for Army expeditions. In 1866 he hired Ute Indians to build a toll road through RatonPass which he later sold to the railroad. He figures in many of the adventures of the 'mountain men' in the Rocky Mountains and across the western plains.

For more {short description of image}on this fascinating individual who explored and trapped from New Mexico to Idaho and California. {short description of image}.

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Yellow Wolf (1855 - 1935)
He was the Nez Perce warrior who fought in the Nez Perce War of 1875. After 1907 and for years he narrated his view of the war to tell the world the Nez Perce side of the events. It is not a pretty story. The Indians were trying to remain peaceful as the whites invaded their last valley home and the USG promoted this.

 
 

Yellow Woman ( - d. 1865)
She was a Cheyenne princess, daughter of medicine man and chief, Grey Thunder, and younger sister of Owl Woman. She went with her sister when Owl Woman married William Bent in 1837. After her sister died in child birth of Julia in 1847, she married William Bent. She saved the children during the terrible cholera epidemic in 1847 the year her sister's daughter, Julia, was born. She raised George and Charles Bent as Cheyenne. She was killed by a Pawnee raiding party in 1865.

 
 

Introduction - The Place Called Purgatory -
The author describes the place - the Purgatory River - and explains its name. The Purgatory River flows eastward out of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains through the Raton Pass in those mountains to join the Arkansas River, flowing south-east from the high Rockies behind Pike's Peak in what is now south-east Colorado, and then flowing north-east to a great bend in Kansas from which it again turns south east to flow across Oklahoma.. The Purgatory is the direct route from the wide expanse of the plains stretching from those mountains north and east to the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers through the pass to Santa Fe, capital of the Spanish (Mexican) territory of New Mexico. The name was Mexican (Spanish) in memory of a Spanish exploration party who, about the 1590's was destroyed there by Indians. Over a century later two brothers (Charles and William Bent with their partner, Ceran St. Vrain) came to this confluence of the Purgatory and the Arkansas and with the advice of their Cheyenne friends built the Fort - The amazing adobe fortress - the largest American structure west of the Missouri-Mississippi and east of California. If the fort had eyes it would have seen every significant and insignificant trapper, trader, hunter, soldier, merchant who passed through or tarried in the vast expanse the Bent brothers (especially William, for he is the one who designed and constructed it) controlled from this outpost. It saw the passing of the life of the Plains Indians also. This book is the story of that fort and much more.

 
 

Chapter I - The Town on the River -
The story begins in St. Louis in 1806 as everyone flocks to the river to cheer the arrival of William Clark and Meriweather Lewis just returned from their 2-year long exploration to the Pacific. Silas Bent has recently arrived from Virginia with wife and 4 sons, of whom Charles at 6 years is the eldest, The chapter is about Silas' family moving from Massachusets to Virginia to Ohio and to Missouri and about life in St. Louis. St. Louis was the river port and at that time most thoughts of opening the west meant travel up the Missouri past Independence and Council Bluffs and the treasure sought was beaver pelts in the mountains.

 
 

Chapter II - Those Bloody Waters -
By 1818 all eyes were on the Missouri River route west. And the various Indian tribes along it were resisting, and raiding. The chapter recounts the competition that expanded in the 1820's between the various American and British companies established to profit from beaver and the various Indian tribes who fought each other and the American trappers. Charles Bent had his initial experience in the wilderness as a trapper. A major competition was between the MissouriFur Company and John Jacob Astor's American Fur Company. Along the Missouri the competing companies built Forts Vandenburgh, Fort Recovery and Fort Kiowa. To no avail, the Blackfoot and Arikaras ambushed many trappers on the trail. By 1825 Charles Bent was so experienced along the river that he was taken into partnership with other fur trappers. By 1827 he was across the Continental Divide to the Green River. But by then Astor's American Fur Company had bought out or bankrupted all opposition.

 
 

Chapter III - The Trapper from Taos
The story turns to Ceran de Hault de Lassus de St. Vrain bringing his trapping expedition north from Santa Fe to the Green. We learn of his ancestors, among the high nobility of France before the Revolution and about their struggles after moving to the Ohio River and the Mississippi.

 
 

Chapter IV - Mountain Winter -
In the winter of 1827 Sylvestre Pratte died while trapping for his father, Bernard Pratte, and the St. Louis company in Colorado and Ceran St. Vrain was elected leader of the trappers to continue trapping throughout the winter.
The author describes the gear each trapper carried and their clothing and personal appearance. He also describes the methods and processes involved in trapping. He mentions individual veteran trappers such as "Old Bill" Williams and Tom Smith. As they continued trapping east along the North Platte, Tom Smith was shot in the leg from ambush which forced its amputation, without pain killers of course. Tom took a knife and almost completed the process before passing out. Milton Sublette finished it. Tom survived.
The trapper party turned back west into Wyoming. Ute Indians completed the medical work and Tom made his own wooden leg. From then on he was Peg Leg Smith. Meanwhile Charles Bent, his young brother William, and his team (without their stolen horses) were pushing through snow over South Pass to the Green. They built a shelter to wait out the weather.
The author continues his narrative and description as the various competing trapper bands met for the summer gathering at Bear Lake and then split into new teams or quit trapping. It had been a very disappointing winter.
Rather than risk trying to take their fur to St. Louis, Ceran led his team to Taos by May 23, 1828. Still the entire winter's trapping effort resulted in a net financial loss.
The author gives his readers the typical labor prices. A top trader would receive $1,000 for a year, the average laborer would receive $130 for the 10 months including the winter. Ceran decided to visit Chihuahua, Mexico, receiving a passport along with David Waldo.
Meanwhile Charles and William Bent, Fontenelle, Vanderburgh and the band recrossed South Pass and fought a Crow Indian party on the North Platte before reaching Council Bluffs. They found that the American Fur Company had gained a near monopoly on the trade. Even Joseph Robidoux had sold out and become an employee. William Vanderburgh gave in and joined Cabanne's company to lead trapping parties into the Rocky Mts.... He was killed in 1832 by Blackfoot. Charles learned that his father, Silas, had died, leaving him to care for the large family. So Charles and William turned attention to the trade with Mexico via Santa Fe.

This part of the story is also described in Bernard DeVoto's well illustrated "Across the Wide Missouri - 1832 - 1838.

 

Chapter V - Death on the Trail
The author describes the Indian attack on members of the 1828 trading caravan returning from Santa Fe to St. Louis. The inexperienced traders panicked and opened fire on some Comanchee Indians. This brought on expanded mass attacks on several caravans. A few survivors who reached Missouri demanded protection and retaliation. In 1829 Indian hater Andrew Jackson became president and ordered federal troop escorts for the spring caravan, to be commanded by Major Bennet Riley, one of Colonel Leavenworth's captains in the Arikara campaign of 1823. But the military escort was infantry, no cavalry then existed on the frontier. And their supply wagons were drawn by oxen rather than mules. There were few willing store keepers to brave the journey that year, but Charles and William Bent and David and William Waldo were ready and eager. They received advice from big Milton Sublette, who had dealt with many an Indian. So they purchased and outfitted their own trading caravan in St. Louis and moved the goods by river steamer to Independence.
Here the author again breaks his narrative to describe the scene and activity along the Missouri. The best mules and muleteers were from Mexico. And, again, he breaks to describe the details of what a caravan looked like and how it functioned. And again to describe the terrain through which the caravan passed.
Charles met again with Major Riley and newly with Lt. Philip St. George Cooke. Charles was elected 'captain' for the caravan, a post that held caravan authority like that of a ship's captain at sea. The caravan reached the U.S. Mexican border where the Army detachment was forbidden to cross. After lengthy pleading the merchants convinced Major Riley to continue a short distance, while asking for Mexican military protection to come from Santa Fe. The caravan was then attacked. Rather than Mexican soldiers, the fellow American trappers in Taos organized a rescue team of 95 mountain men. Among them were Ceran St. Vrain and Kit Carson. At that meeting Carson and William Bent became life long friends.

 
 

Chapter VI - The People of the Plains -
The caravan arrives in Santa Fe to be greeted with great excitement. But the opinion of the American traders soon turned derogatory at the 'miserable' condition of the town and its population - in their opinions. The author describes the scene very well. The 1829 traders did profit but Major Riley was impatiently waiting their return at the border on the Arkansas River. A ad hock group of volunteer mountain men and Mexicans (commanded by Colonel Viscarra) was organized and then the return caravan departed down the Cimarron River to the Arkansas and then for St. Louis. This time they were attacked by Gros Ventres and the mountain men prevailed. At the Arkansas the Mexican and American Army detachments exchanged friendly greetings and showed off.
But William Bent did not return with the caravan. Instead he joined a trapper group and set out northwards into the mountains of Colorado to the headwaters of the Arkansas. Meanwhile Kit Carson was exploring westward across Arizona to California. On the Arkansas William Bent's group met a party of Cheyenne out hunting Utes.
At this point the author again digresses into a detailed description of the plains Indians, especially the Cheyenne, with whom Bent was destined to live his life. He recounts the history of the Cheyenne, who were driven from Minnesota by the pressure of the powerful eastern tribes being in turn pushed westward by the white settlers. Very gradually the Cheyenne continued south and west. First they domesticated dogs, then they met horses brought north by plains Indians from the Spanish. Horses changed, not only their economy, but also their entire culture. Horses, in turn, enabled the Indian society to much more effectively hunt buffalo, which, in turn, enabled them to greatly improve both clothing and shelter. Horses also made war the major occupation of the Indian warriors. And war demanded courage and hardihood. War meant seeking personal glory and avoiding contempt, but individualism in motives prevented concerted action and led mostly to bands of raiders rather than armies organized for a strategic or even tactical purpose. As they moved south, the Cheyenne allies were the Araphoe and their perennial enemies were the Comanchee and Kiowa.
The author describes in detail the process by which a buffalo hide was made into a useful garment or cover. He also describes the method for capturing horses. Interesting side note - only the Nez Perce conducted selective breeding. Other Indian tribes treated their horses terribly. All the Indian actions were conducted with great attention to ritual and mysticism.
Here the author returns to the story of Bent's first meeting with Cheyenne. Two members of the above mentioned hunting party had remained in Bent's stockaded camp, when a notorious band of their enemy Comanchee arrived and demanded to know about them. Bent had hidden them and bluffed the Comanchee into departing. This unexpected and personal incident forever put William Bent into the highest place in Cheyenne approbation.

 
 

Chapter VII - The Night the Stars Fell
Ceran St. Vrain and Charles Bent were in the 1830 annual caravan from St. Louis to Santa Fe. This time the Mexicans greeted the merchant traders not only with a military escort but with customs inspectors who extracted duty that was, according to Ceran's comment to Bernard Pratte, 60% of the worth. Ever the business man judging the source of profits, Ceran promptly switched from retail trade to wholesale, establishing his company headquarters in Santa Fe and Taos. Ceran then outfitted goods and wagons for the St. Louis journey but remained in Santa Fe. Among his hired team was Andrew Carson, Kit's brother. Charles Bent, however, returned himself in the September caravan with his goods to sell. He was back in Santa Fe by December with yet another load of merchandise. In 1831 he made 5 trips. But once again William Bent remained in New Mexico, this time with four friends deciding to explore and trap south toward the Gila, despite the danger from the Apache who had killed previous trapping parties. They meandered south and west as far as present-day Phoenix. In mid December they were confronted by a large Indian band. It was five mountain men against 200 Indians. They were victorious and their exploits soon reached epic proportions clear to St. Louis.
William found Charles again considering the expenses of travel back and forth carrying goods obtained via credit from the stationary businesses, versus the profits possible from a well organized business operation. In January 1831 Charles and Ceran formed a partnership in which Ceran would operate the sales in New Mexico and Charles would operate the transportation between there and St. Louis. Ceran wrote to Bernard Pratte describing the new company.
By May 1831 Charles was loading another wagon train in St. Louis, after having put up the required bond and obtained a U.S. government license to trade with the Indians. That year there were two other caravans on the road ahead of him. The first became famous due to Josiah Gregg's published account informing the nation of western life. But the second turned into a disaster despite it being lead by three of the most experienced and accomplished mountain men, Jedediah Smith, William Sublette and David Jackson, along with Thomas Fitzpatrick who was planning then to return into the northern Rocky Mts. Jedediah Smith was already famous for having been the first man to cross the continent twice. Even so, these experienced explorers became lost in the wilderness desert between the Arkansas and the Cimarron. Somehow Smith was overwhelmed by Comanches - his body was never found. After unloading his merchandise, Charles returned to St. Louis while Tom Fitzpatrick hired Kit Carson (returned from California) to join his party back north. By September Charles Bent was moving another caravan out of Independence, this time the first wagon train to use oxen rather then mules and horses. They were impeeded by a snow storm in the Sangre de Cristo but made it through. Meanwhile William Bent was back on the upper Arkansas in 1832 considering how to establish more profitable trade directly with the Indians.
In another diversion the author describes how this barter trade was conducted.
William and Charles decided to build a permanent trading post somewhere on the Arkansas, as it was the official border with Mexico. This would enable them to trade with the Indians, supply trappers and explorers into the Rocky Mts. and facilitate the movement of the trade caravans between St. Louis (and Independence) and Santa Fe and Taos. For this they formed the partnership with Ceran St. Vrain. Charles brought trade goods back across the mountains over Raton Pass and down the Purgatory to Fountain Creek and the Arkansas.
This year, 1832, he was joined by two younger brothers, George (18) and Robert (16). There they found William's simple stockade. For Charles this would not do. At that point a large community of Cheyenne arrived, already the friends William had made. They all discussed the idea of a major fort, which concept amazed the Cheyenne. But their leader, Yellow Wolf, knew the entire region and recommended a location down stream at Big Timbers. It was ideal, as William recognized years later, but the Bents wanted a location nearer to the route to Taos over Raton Pass, so settled for a place down river from Fountain Creek but 40 or so miles upstream from Big Timbers. They set to work immediately,
The author describes the weather and terrain. Then he provides a virtual blueprint and photographic description of this remarkable fort. It was to be the only such building between the Mississippi and California for several decades - a legend of the west in itself. (But pictures and diagrams of Bent's Fort are in other books.) (See above for a web site.)
While Charles returned again to Independence for more goods and Ceran hired skilled Mexican adobe workers and supplies in Taos, William supervised the construction. Meanwhile another Bent brother, Felix, was appointed Indian Agent to the Sac and Fox and was murdered while on a mission during the Black Hawk War.
By fall of 1833 the fort was sufficiently completed to open for business as the headquarters for a chain of outposts as far north at Fort St. Vrain on the North Platte. Kit Carson joined as trail boss for supplying goods to there from Bents' fort.
On November 12, 1833 the major meteor shower occurred, for which this chapter is titled. All America witnessed this and drew various conclusions. For the Cheyenne it was especially ominous and the author explains why. But for William Bent it was serendipitous. The leading 'medicine man', keeper of the sacred four arrows, was Grey Thunder. And he had three lovely daughters, Owl Woman, Yellow Woman and Island.
The story digresses into a background explanation concerning the significance of the four sacred arrows and their loss in battle earlier that year with their regular enemy, the Pawnees, in Nebraska. So watching the stars fall from the sky terrified the Cheyenne. But when all was well the following morning they considered that they might benefit from friendly association with the white men who had this powerful fortress.

 
 

Chapter VIII - Robes, Alcohol, and Dragoons
The chapter opens with new competition. In 1834 Bill Sublette and Robert Campbell began construction of Fort Laramie in Wyoming. The Bent - St. Vrain Company had to compete. The critical factor was that these and other companies were seeking to entice various Indian tribes into a continual trading relationship that constituted a monopoly. This trade was not limited to the trading post - forts. Each company had its traveling salesmen who would receive an allotment on credit of goods the Indians wanted and would then travel around to the various camps and barter.
Another digression describes the ritual process. One interesting detail is that the plains Indians highly valued Navajo blankets and abalone shells, which had to be obtained by another trading operation into Arizona. One Navajo blanket could be worth 10 buffalo robes. The process took place during winter with its debilitating cold. The dickering was endless. The author also describes the entertainment including games.
Unfortunately, the well ordered process was disrupted when some unscrupulous traders introduced alcohol. The Indian constitution could not cope with it. The author provides a devastating picture of the results.
In 1834 the U.S. Government opened a new era on the western plains, as Charles reported at the fort. The government was forcing the remaining eastern forest Indians across the Mississippi into the plains of Oklahoma, Kansas and Nebraska. This in turn disrupted the resident Indian tribes. The author notes that between 1829 and 1837 the government signed 94 treaties with various Indian tribes but ignored them. A chain of forts was constructed from Minnesota to Arkansas. And of great interest to Charles the infantry escorts of Major Riley were replaced by the first mounted dragoons commanded by Colonel Henry Leavenworth and Colonel Henry Dodge - George Catlin, Lancaster Lupton, and Lt. Philip St. George Cooke were in the expedition that arrived at Bent's Fort.
Meanwhile Kit Carson and 5 other men had been attacked by Comanchee on the Cimarron River and beaten them off. Colonel Leavenworth fell ill and died that summer. Colonel Dodge continued on and met a Comanchee and Araphoe group with which he claimed to have established peace. This optimistic idea set William Bent the following spring of 1835 to taking a trading party south into Comanchee territory. Colonel Dodge, with John Gantt as interpreter and guide, continued to meet the many Indian tribes in Kansas and Nebraska and insist they all be at peace with each other. The possibility of peace set Grey Thunder to riding east to attempt to retrieve the sacred arrows from the Pawnee. Colonel Dodge continued to the mountain range foothills, turned south and reached Bent's fort. There he called for the Arapaho. John Gantt fetched them. As they arrived Charles Bent and Ceran St. Vrain entertained the army officers. The troops were amazed to find such an establishment in the wilderness. Suddenly William Bent appeared with thousands of horses back from his expedition far into Comanchee territory. He reported that at present at least all seemed peaceful.
This author does not write, but William may on that occasion have begin Fort Adobe. While Colonel Dodge assembled a large delegation of Indians from local tribes including Arapaho, Cheyenne and Pawnee, Grey Thunder was far north east at another Pawnee village seeking his arrows. His mission believed to have been accomplished. Colonel Dodge marched from the fort down the Arkansas to Big Timbers. There he witnessed without understanding it, Grey Thunder's triumphant arrival with one major arrow and a peace delegation of Pawnees and Arikaras who all celebrated in a boisterous party.
Conferences and parties over, Charles returned over Raton Pass to Taos. The author mentions his local friends, especially Charles Hipolyte Trotier, Sieur de Beaubien - known as Carlos Beaubien. And there was Maria Ignacia Jaramillo, the widow Luna, and her daughter, Rumalda. Charles and Maria Ignacia were married in 1835 or 1836. They had five children of whom 3 survived infancy.

Also described by Bernard DeVoto and Francis Parkman

 

Chapter IX - Adobe Empire
By spring of 1836 Charles was again in Independence loading another caravan with trading goods. It was for this trip that Charles hired Richens Lacy Wooten and Jim Hobbs. That summer another competitor brought his wagons west. He was Lancaster P. Lupton lately resigned from the Army who set up at the Fort Lupton he built on the South Platte a few miles upstream from where Fort St. Vrain was next built.. He was preceded during 1835 by Louis Vasquez and Andrew Sublette who set up a few miles downstream between the two forts. And the American Fur Company was already strongly in place at Fort Laramie in Wyoming. This generated multisided competition for sure. William Bent sent Doc Newell north with wagons of trade goods which generated significant quantities of robes and more brought back to the fort on the Arkansas. At this point the Bent, St. Vrain company had to add another permanent fort to the three already there. Their wagons loaded with adobe that same summer moved down the South Platte and north of Fort Lupton. The result was another formidable fortress with thick, high walls and corner bastions. George Bent named it Fort Lookout, but eventually it took the name Fort St. Vrain.
That same year (1837) William Bent decided it was time to marry and chose the eldest daughter of Grey Thunder, Owl Woman. The author uses this occasion to describe Indian marriage customs. Their first child, Mary, was born at Bent's fort in January 1838. They had four more children.

 
 

Chapter X - Texians
Ceran St. Vrain was the U.S. diplomatic representative in Santa Fe from 1834 to 1838 and in 1839 was succeeded by Manuel Alvarez, at which point Charles Bent appointed himself as Alvarez's assistant in northern New Mexico. They became close friends. They had to deal with officials of course, and the main one was governor Manuel Armijo (not too much of a problem). But the other was Father Antonio Jose Martinez, the parish priest of Taos who was a mortal enemy. But Governor Armijo sought power and benefited from the Mexican revolution of 1837-38.
Our author provides a vivid word picture of this worthy. In 1839 the governor raised an arbitrary custom's duty of $500 dollars per wagon regardless of its content. The small time traders and smugglers suffered. But Bent- St. Vrain simply reloaded their wagons at the border to pile much more goods on fewer wagons. Then the governor exempted Mexicans from city taxes and piled them all on foreigners - that is Americans. The Americans complained that all this was simply Armijo's method for hitting his American commercial competitors. Then the governor complained to Mexico City about the Bent fortress.
The author describes other incidents, over recapture of stolen horses and one over captured Indians.
In 1840 Charles lead another convoy to Independence and back in 1841. But by then a foolish group of Texians had conjured up the idea that they could expand their Republic into New Mexico, and were on the march west. Sam Houston strongly objected but the new governor, Mirabeau Lamar, was all for it. And New Orleans newspaper publisher George Wilkins Kendall was going along for who knows why.
In another digression we learn about the Bartleson-Bidwell and the Tom Fitzpatrick - Father de Smett missionaries expedition from St. Louis over South Pass to California.
Meanwhile, the Texians were moving westward, a combination of merchants and volunteer 'soldiers'. But governor Armijo already knew all about it and called out his militia. No real need. The Texians had only a vague idea of where they were going and practically none of where they were once into the western desert. Finally the Texians were about to reach New Mexico, and as their leading emissaries arrived they were arrested.
The author switches to tell us about the fate of the Bartleson-Bidwell party and a similar but successful trip of local Americans and Mexicans fleeing from Santa Fe to California. The former, much depleted, reached San Francisco and the latter did reach Los Angeles in better condition. Both were among the early arrivals of the following waves to come.
Back in Santa Fe the remaining Texians and George Kendall were in prison. The Mexican citizens were practically rioting to attack the resident Americans. But the provincial Secretary of State, Don Guadalupe Miranda, a friend of Carlos Beaubien and Charles Bent intervened. But Charles was arrested temporarily. James Magoffin's offer of $3,000 ransom for Kendall was refused.

 
 

Chapter XI - Kit Carson's Brother-in-Law
The Texian affair did have one favorable result, for the enterprising Miranda, Beaubien and Bents. Governor Armijo realized that his northern and north-eastern borders were vulnerable, indeed they already had for years been the scene of Indian raids. He came up with the idea of granting large territories to speculators on condition that they would then bring in many families of homesteaders to create ranches and farms. The grant would go to Mexican citizens, but they could include naturalized ones. The first application and grant went to Carlos Beaubien in partnership with the provincial Secretary of State, Guadalupe Miranda. (How convenient!) They thought BIG and asked for a wild territory twice the size of Rhode Island. It covered the head waters of the Cimarron and Canadian Rivers. Charles Bent was to have a share and this raised strong objections from Padre Martinez. He managed to have the grant withdrawn.
The tale turns to Kit Carson's marriage problems. He already had a child, Adaline, by a dead Araphoe, Waa-nibe (Singing Wind), and was married to a Cheyenne who caused nothing but trouble. Then he met Maria Josefa Jaramillo, sister of Charles Bent's wife, Ignacia, and fell in love. They were to be married, but part of the engagement was that Adaline was sent to St. Louis to a convent school. At this time their friend, Lucien Maxwell, was married to Maria de la Luz, eldest daughter of Carlos Beaubien. So in March 1842 Charles, Kit and Lucien crossed Raton Pass to the fort and there took Adaline to join the annual large caravan.
In another digression we learn more about daily routine on the Santa Fe trail. We learn that the company employed Shawnee and Delaware Indians as hunters and that these displaced eastern tribes also 'owned' the grazing land around Westport and on the river bank was William Sublette's town site (it is now Kansas City). The Bent-St. Vrain company bought and developed their own grazing operation (ranch) as well as the necessary repair facilities south west of Westport and placed their nephew, Angus Boggs, as local manager. .
The same year, 1842, the Bent-St. Vrain company, supervised by Baptiste Charbonneau, son of Toussaint Charbonneau and Sacagawea,, sent hides also down the Platte by boat from Fort St. Vrain. While on the river, Baptiste had occasion to host John Fremont riding west on his first expedition.
In another diversion the author describes the attempted assassination of Lilburn Boggs in Independence for which they blamed the Mormons. He also describes Kit Carson's view of St. Louis city life (he disliked it) and Charles Bent's enjoyment of it. After all, his family were among the local 'aristocracy'. That summer also saw the marriage of Lt. John Fremont to Senator Benton's daughter, Jessie. Fremont hired both Lucien Maxwell and Kit Carson as guides. Kit sent his Delaware Indians back to Taos with instructions to have his men meet the expedition at South Pass. When Fremont was ready to turn back east, Carson would take his crew south, trapping in the mountains until reaching the fort.
Meanwhile, Charles returned to the fort and found that a rival operation with fort was being built at Pueblo, nearer to the mountains. Among its operators was Jim Beckwourth and they were seducing Indians with whisky. Charles decided the best way to curtail this intrusion would be to ask for an army post to be established there, but his request was not favored. In December missionary Marcus Whitman, visited the fort. He was detouring around the Sioux on his way east from Oregon territory to try to raise financial support. He barely made it to join the caravan east from the fort. In December also, Kit Carson arrived from his mountain travel and was married to Maria on Feb 6, 1843. Soon after that Ceran St. Vrain married another of Carlos Beaubien's daughters, making him the brother-in-law of his 'nephew' Lucien..

The author does not describe to the readers the significance of the Delaware Indians. The Delaware (Lenape) people lived in New Jersey and along the Hudson when the Europeans arrived . They were gradually pushed into Pennsylvania, then they were made subordinate to the powerful Iroquois. They lost the land they had been promised by treaty to the Penn family. They were pushed into Ohio. Then when the entire Indian population of the NorthWest Territory was pushed across the Mississippi they were settled in eastern Kansas. Then they were strong enemies of all the plains Indian tribes and readily worked with the U.S. Army as scouts, hunters and guides. We find them mentioned repeatedly throughout the south west.

The mention of Marcus Whitman's 'detour" shows a typical travel route. The routes formed a triangle. The northern side was eventually the Oregon Trail, that is west from Independence or Fort Leavenworth up the Platte River to Fort Laramie and then through South Pass. The western side was the ancient Indian trading route - north - south along the Rocky Mtns foot hills between the upper Platte and the Arkansas enroute to Santa Fe and Taos. The eastern side was the route along the Arkansas from west to east to its 'big bend' in southern Kansas and then northeast to Westport and Independence.

 

Chapter XII - Land Beyond Imagining
The events during 1843 were numerous and complex, with Bent's Fort in the center of a swirling storm that the author is forced to jump through. We learn that this year the Texians were plotting revenge and another attempt on New Mexico. This time the instigator was Charles Warfield. A few volunteers were found and assembled, but the first result was that when word of the coming escapade reached Santa Fe and Taos the Mexicans again accused the Americans there, including Charles Bent, although they had nothing to do with it. Charles was brought to a trial and forced to pay $800, while a mob continued to threaten him. He escaped back to Bent's Fort.
The chaos continued as the Texians attacked both Mexicans and isolated American traders. Now Captain, Philip St. George Cooke led his dragoons with one convoy to the Arkansas and another from Westport to Santa Fe. Kit Carson rushed back and forth between flash points and then joined John Fremont at Bent's Fort and again at Fort St. Vrain for another expedition. William Bent had a new son, George. Charles and Ceran went back and forth leading caravans in both directions, sometimes under contract to Cooke to move supplies.
Governor Armijo reacted to the Texian intrusions. The total chaos in his frontier prompted him to again consider land grants. This time he agreed to one grant to Carlos Beaubien and Guadalupe Miranda that included Narcisio Beaubien and Steve Lee (whose wife was sister to Beaubien's wife). This grant north of Taos was for over 1 million acres on the Rio Grande along both sides of the Colorado -New Mexico border. Other grants followed. Soon, Ceran St. Vrain and Cornelio Vigil (Ignacia Bent's uncle) applied for a tract to the east, with north-eastern border the Arkansas River and southern border including most of southeastern Colorado - totaling about 4 million acres. In March 1844 they secretly conveyed 1/6th of this grant to Charles Bent. Padre Martinez was still creating trouble with letters to Mexican President Santa Ana, but apparently did not learn of this grant.
In April 1844 Charles and William took the annual caravan to visit St. Louis, leaving George to operate the fort. In July Fremont and Carson with Joe Walker, arrived back from California, at the fort. William Gilpin arrived soon after from his participating in Fremont's expedition and diverting himself to Oregon. On his travel from Oregon to Bent's Fort he thought he had found some gold in Colorado, which led him much later into further activities in 1862 when, as governor of Colorado, he bought part of the Sangre de Cristo land from Carlos Beaubien. Word that Santa Ana had reopened the border for trade generated great preparations to get a caravan going that year. But there was a new governor (Mariano Martinez de Lajanza) in Santa Fe. William rushed back to the fort.

 

Chapter XIII - Rumbles of Trouble
Sam Owens organized a large caravan at Council Grove and William Boggs joined for the excitement. His brother, Tom, already worked for the Bents at the fort. Behind them were other convoys including one each lead by Charles Bent and Ceran St. Vrain. The late caravans hit a blizzard on the Cimarron, between the Arkansas and Santa Fe. They finally made it to Santa Fe where William Boggs met Charles. Then, from Taos Charles outfitted Boggs to make it through the snow over Raton Pass to the fort. William took him along the Arkansas for his winter stay at his cabin at Big Timbers.
This leads the author to describe life there and the Cheyenne medicine methods that cured William of something, possibly diphtheria. Meanwhile the Cheyenne camp was in an uproar fearing retaliation from the Delawares for a previous attack. A new scare erupted from rumors that Texians were riding west in a foolish hope of conquering New Mexico. William and George; and Tom and William Boggs rode south to see what the Cheyenne would do. They found the Indians on the Cimarron, far south of their usual range. They all searched along the Cimarron and back north to the Arkansas without finding buffalo. William Boggs returned to Westport in Charles' caravan.
On March 1, 1845 President Tyler signed the law admitting Texas as a state. Then James Polk became President with a strong desire to acquire California and more. In June he sent Zachary Taylor with troops to occupy a piece of territory disputed between Texas and Mexico. He also ordered Colonel Stephen W. Kearny to start west with 200 dragoons, guided by Tom Fitzpatrick, up the Oregon Trail to South Pass and then south to the Arkansas to resupply with material Charles Bent would transport to his fort. Charles and Ceran greeted them with exceptional hospitality. It was the first time Captain Philip St. George Cooke saw the fort, although he had known Charles and Ceran for years as had Kearny. Charles filled Kearny and St. George Cooke with intelligence about conditions in Santa Fe. In August Fremont arrived leading another expedition west. And Lt. J. W. Abert led another to survey south into Texas. Fremont wanted Kit Carson again as his guide, but Kit was busy developing his ranch on the Little Cimarron. Lucien Maxwell, Tom Boggs and John Hatcher had begun to develop ranches, but were at the fort. William Bent sent Hatcher to guide Abert.
With this army expedition to the south Ceran and William decided to take advantage and organize a group of Mexican adobe makers to build them a new fort in Comanchee territory. This they brilliantly named Fort Adobe. By early 1846 conditions in Taos and Santa Fe were becoming dangerous and the Mexicans and Pueblo Indians were hearing rumors of war. .

 
 

Chapter XIV - War
In spring 1846 in Taos and Santa Fe a local, personal war broke out between Charles Bent and Spanish priest Antonio Martinez who had for years been enemies. That spring, Tom Boggs arrived and took a liking to Charles' stepdaughter Rumalda Luna. They were married right away. Trouble continued to escalate in Taos and Santa Fe, but Charles, Ceran and Jared Folger left to prepare their caravan to Westport. Meanwhile, they were expanding efforts to create cattle ranches on both the Beaubien and St. Vrain-Vigil land grants in June. On 12 June they hurried on to St. Louis. On the way they met special envoy George Howard riding west to inform all that Congress had declared war in May. He had been in Santa Fe years before with the ill-fated Texian captives. Next Charles and friends met Tom Fitzpatrick leading two companies of dragoons west. Their mission was to stop all the merchant caravans from entering New Mexico. Next, he met Sam Magoffin and his bride Susan Shelby, also headed for New Mexico. At Westport Charles, Ceran and Folger moved on to Fort Leavenworth to confer with Stephen Kearny. Kearny was already preparing, his supply convoy was underway to Bent's Fort, and his dragoons were organizing. Charles gave Kearny full information about what to expect in Santa Fe. That same spring Francis Parkman met Kearny at Fort Leavenworth.
Back in Taos George Bent and Tom Boggs, with John Hatcher's help, rushed their families and Kit Carson's out and to Bent's Fort.
That summer Lilburn Boggs with his family including Bill Boggs traveled over the Oregon and California trails to Sonoma.
William Bent kept business humming at the fort. In July the first dragoons began arriving. One detachment led by Tom Fitzpatrick and another commanded by David Waldo. Soon Kearny, St. George Cooke, Alexander Doniphan and William Gilpin arrived with the main body of dragoons and with Antoine Robidoux as guide and interpreter.
That July 31st Susan Shelby Magoffin had a miscarriage in William Bent's upstairs apartment. Sam Magoffin's, brother, James, arrived as a special envoy from President Polk to Mexican governor Armijo. Kearny asked William Bent to lead scouts to check out potential ambushes in the mountains, which he did, reluctantly. On 12 August James Magoffin and Captain Cooke arrived in Santa Fe to treat with the governor. On the 17th Charles Bent returned to the Fort and continued to Taos and then Santa Fe. On 18 August Kearny's troops entered Santa Fe. General (now) Kearny had to create an American civil government. He had assistance from Alexander Doniphan, Frank Blair, David Waldo and Charles Bent. Kearny had to take dragoons through a large surrounding area to inform the citizens of the change and suppress potential revolts. Soon Sterling Price arrived with reinforcements and Alexander Doniphan took a large detachment on south into Mexico, with side expeditions along the way to suppress Navajo attacks. Kearny appointed Charles Bent to be the civil governor of New Mexico, with Sterling Price as the military commander. Then, on September 25th, he departed west to California. Conditions in New Mexico were not only in flux but in chaos.
Meanwhile William Bent returned to his fort and the creation of his farm on the Purgatory with George Bent and Hatcher. William encouraged the Cheyenne chief, Yellow Wolf, to have his tribe take up farming. The Cheyenne were willing, but as usual the government failed in its promise to provide necessary implements and assistance.
On August 26 Parkman stopped a day at Fort Bent, then continued east. In August 1846 the government did create a new Indian agency and appoint Tom Fitzpatrick as the agent. At the time he was with Kearny guiding the dragoons to California. They met Kit Carson traveling east with dispatches from Fremont. General Kearny forced a switch. Carson would lead the army west, as he knew the route best, and Fitzpatrick would carry the dispatches back east. He arrived at the fort on 14 October to learn of his new appointment with headquarters at the fort. Later that month St. Vrain and Folger arrived with their caravan from Westport. Ceran had brought along another young adventurer, Lewis Garrard, whom he then sent with Blackfoot John Smith down river to Big Timbers. When William also moved as usual down to Big Timbers to be with Owl Woman and his children, he knew that their world had changed.

In the years after the end of the Civil War and the Indian Wars, the concept of raising herds of cattle for eastern markets was achieved, for a while, at least until the invention of barbed wire enabled farmers to take the open range from the cattlemen. This is all described in Walter Prescott Webb's excellent account - The Great Plains.

 

Chapter XV - Revolution
General Kearny was barely started west when he was informed that the Navajos were on the warpath again. He sent back orders to Doniphan to deal with this and Tom Boggs with some of the dragoons to alert Charles. Sterling Price with his troops arrived in 3 October. Charles went to Taos in an effort to stop the Navajo raiding. And the Apache were causing trouble to the south at Mora. The inexperienced soldiers were, themselves, causing trouble with the citizens in Santa Fe. The citizens were 'secretly' preparing their own uprising, led by Archuleta, and Martinez.
Colonel Price did react by expanding the military patrols and guards with artillery in Santa Fe but not elsewhere. Colonel Doniphan and Major Gilpin were out attempting to subdue the Navajo to little avail. Governor Charles Bent wrote reports to Washington describing the chaos in detail and recommending actions. He noted that the situation in the Indian Pueblo, with priest Martinez in charge was particularly dangerous. He specifically asked for regular troops with artillery to replace the untrained volunteers. He predicted that a revolution would take place, otherwise. At the same time Archuleta and others were deeply involved in preparing that revolution. Charles was alerted by a leak in the plotting. He attempted to arrest the ring leaders but they escaped town. At least he did manage to stop a pending order to send Meriweather Lewis Clark's artillery battalion south to Doniphan.
Further trouble came from the Comanchee war to the east that blocked supply trains from the Arkansas via the Canadian River. Then a mistake, on 2 January 1847 Charles released Clark's artillery to join Doniphan. Word of the danger at Taos reached Santa Fe with arrival of Steve Lee, James Leal and Cornelio Vigil. Despite strong protests from his officers in Santa Fe, Charles decided to go to Taos himself both to help his family there and to reduce the threat of an uprising. So on 14 January 1847 Charles returned through deep snow with Ignacia's brother, Pablo Jaramillo, and Narcisio Beaubien to his home in Taos. There he had his wife, Ignacia, and children, plus Kit Carson's wife Josefa, and Tom Bogg's wife, Rumalda.
Immediately the revolutionary leaders, Pablo Montoya and Tomas Romero called forth the Pueblo Indians to join the local Mexicans. Sheriff Steve Lee and Prefect Cornelio Vigil were quickly 'butchered'. Circuit Attorney James Leal was filled with arrows. Other Americans were also killed and their homes or stores burned. The young boys, Narcisio Beaubien and Pablo Jaramillo, were found hiding in a barn and cut to pieces. Then came the attackers chief purpose. They attacked Charles Bent's home, broke through and scalped him before murdering him. Friendly Mexicans managed to rescue the women.

 
 

Chapter XVI - Retribution
The revolt's leader hurried to take advantage of their surprise victory. They sent messengers throughout the territory urging revolt. But several Americans also managed to slip out. Charley Towne made it to Santa Fe to Jim Beckwourth's hotel and Jim then alerted Colonel Price.
Charley Autobees rode east to alert isolated Americans and continue to Big Timbers. At Turley's distillery the few workers there were alerted but surrounded and finally killed, except for John Albert, who walked the 140 miles through the snow to the Arkansas at the Pueblo fort and Mormon battalion camp. There, half dead, he told the story, Dick Wootton began leading a party of mountain men toward Taos. A messenger was sent to William Bent.
Revolutionaries meanwhile attacked Mora and a caravan there and killed David and William Waldo's brother, L. L. Waldo. There army troops from Las Vegas quickly counter-attacked (See First and Second Battle of Mora).
On January 24th rebels attacked the Bent - St. Vrain ranches on the Ponil and Vermejo creeks and stole much of the animal stock.
At Bent's Fort Autobees informed Lucien Maxwell that his brother-in-law, Narcisio, had been murdered. There, the local army commander, Captain Jackson, sent messengers north to Captain Brown at the Mormon battalion and Louis Simonds south to Big Timbers, but would not commit his own troops to counterattack. There Simonds first found Blackfoot John Smith and Lewis Garrard. William was immediately informed.
So were the Cheyenne chiefs. They decided go on the warpath and to send the entire Cheyenne warriors to Taos.

But William refused to allow it. The following day William and Lewis Garrard rode up river to the fort. There he found that Captain Jackson was still unwilling to participate or even lend anyone. But further north the Mormons were drilling and preparing. William found that all his men volunteered and was prepared to lead them. But a strong rumor that a Mexican rebel army was approaching to attack the fort forced him to remain there to take charge. Instead, he appointed William Bransford to lead the force west. He rode to learn from Albert at the Mormon camp more details about the Taos events and then back. Bransford led his volunteers up the Timpas through a snow storm. They found the men at the Purgatory ranch well fortified.
In Santa Fe, after the alert from Charley Towne, Colonel Price quickly responded.
He asked Ceran St. Vrain if Ceran could organize volunteer mountain men. Of course. Ceran was commissioned a captain to lead the 65 experienced mountain hunters including Carlos Beaubien and Jim Beckwourth.
The rebels from Taos were advancing south. Colonel Price decided to attack them directly, departing Santa Fe on 23 January.
The author gives his readers an excellent detailed description of the ensuing campaign including the culminating battle at the Taos Pueblo. Ceran's mountain men played a significant role in the victory, as did Dick Wootton's group who arrived in time. They practiced the 'law' of dealing with hostile Indians - NO quarter.
Then came execution of some leaders on the spot and others after a 'trial' in Santa Fe. It was run mostly by Bent-St. Vrain men.

 
 

Chapter XVII - Destruction
The plains Indians knew the American army was busy with the Mexican-American War, so 1847 turned out to be a bloody year. It was the beginning of the heightened warfare that lasted for over 40 years. The Bents' and St. Vrain led their annual caravans from the Arkansas to Independence. The lead caravan was hit by Comanchee who killed many of the whites and stole much livestock. Ceran's following caravan made it through to St. Louis by 12 June, where he had discussions with army officers on what strategy to pursue. He was also very busy taking care of Charles Bent's estate, its extensive holdings. Traveling the opposite way, Tom Fitzpatrick headed for Santa Fe and then his post as Indian Agent at Bent's fort. He traveled with a dragoon escort, but they were hit by Comanchee who killed or wounded dragoons and stole livestock. Fitzpatrick had to detour to Santa Fe with the dragoons and then backtrack over Raton to the fort.
The author provides statistics on the relatively large number of killed, wounded and losses to wagons and animals. Not only were the Comanchee on the war path but also Pawnee, Kiowa, Apache and Navajo. Even the southern Cheyenne and Arapaho were restless but kept in check by William Bent.
The government in Washington decided on taking strong measures, but was divided on what strategy to use - build a full chain of forts or conduct more mounted expeditions throughout the plains. They did build For Mann at the big bend of the Arkansas and Fort Marcy next to Santa Fe. Ceran, sensing an opportunity, offered to sell Bent's Fort to the Army. But the offer was refused.
That year Owl Woman bore her fourth child and died doing so. William named the boy, Charles, in memory of William's dead brother. Owl Woman had a standard Cheyenne funeral and William followed Cheyenne custom in marrying her younger sister, Yellow Woman.
Meanwhile the Comanchee drove John Hatcher off the new ranch on the Purgatory. That greatly delayed the Bent- Ceran company from creating ranches in their real estate grant area. Finally, in August Tom Fitzpatrick's small caravan reached the fort with Blackfoot John Smith.
In October 1847 George Bent died at the fort from an unknown sickness and was buried next to his brother, Robert. In November Lt. Colonel William Gilpin arrived with two companies of dragoons after leaving three companies of infantry at Fort Mann. Gilpin moved his dragoons up the Arkansas for winter quarters near Pueblo.
In March 1848 the dragoons moved south east, through Raton Pass to Mora in preparation for a punitive expedition down the Cimarron and Canadian rivers against the Comanchee. At that, the Apache and Ute attacked Lucien Maxwell and his friends in Raton Pass, three were killed and Maxwell was wounded. Dick Wootton led a rescue party that saved them. Old Bill Williams acted as guide for the army sortie to quell the Ute and was wounded. The 1848 Bent-St. Vrain convoy managed to get back to the fort by defeating a Comanchee attack along the way.
Meanwhile Fitzpatrick managed to go north along the mountains to the Platte and then down it to St. Louis to file an official report charging Gilpin with failure. But on the contrary, Gilpin had conduced a successful campaign, killing several hundred Pawnee, Comanche, Apache and Osage along the Canadian and Cimarron Rivers. But Gilpin recognized that such temporary excursions would not suffice to defeat the mobile Indians. In August 1848 he wrote Washington warning that both forts and mobile patrols would not be enough and a major Indian uprising was likely for 1849 but some forts would at least help, and the government should purchase Bent's Fort.
During their stop in St. Louis William Bent and Ceran St. Vrain met with city entrepreneurs who were planning a transcontinental railroad and had hired John Fremont to do a survey through the mountains. Fremont was determined to do it that very winter, despite William's and Ceran's warning that winter travel would be too dangerous. He wanted to use the southern route, via Bent's Fort and New Mexico. By October William, Ceran and Tom were back at the fort. Soon Fremont arrived with his team. They enjoyed witnessing Tom's distribution of agency presents to the 3,500 or so Indians gathered all around the fort. Kit Carson refused to guide him in winter, so did Hatcher, Dick Wootton agreed to go but then changed his mind when he saw the level of snow. At Pueblo Fremont found Old Bill Williams, age 61, and recovering from his wound. He also warned Fremont but reluctantly agreed to guide. They were isolated north of Taos in the mountains in deep snow, many of the party died and Ute Indians managed to get the survivors to Taos where Kit Carson and his wife cared for them.
Fitzpatrick wanted to use the good will created by his gift giving to organize a full, prairie- wide Indian conference including all the tribes from north to south.
As a test of conditions he appointed Kit Carson, recently returned from Washington, to take a team including Lucien Maxwell, Blackfoot John Smith, Robert Fisher and others south to reopen Fort Adobe. But at that fort, the Apache ran off all the animals save a couple mules. They buried their trade goods and then had to walk back to Bent's Fort, fending off a Kiowa attack on the way. William arranged for Dick Wootton to take another team back to Fort Adobe to trade and recover the goods Carson had been forced to hide. This group also came under fire at Fort Adobe but managed to get back to Bent's with some of the goods. The following year William tried again and again faced Comanchee attack, so he used gunpowder to destroy the walls.
With things in general deteriorating Marcellin killed an Indian in a wrestling match. With a 'price' on his head from the Indians, Marcellin was forced to flee to St. Louis. Ceran moved to Mora to open a mill. He dissolved the partnership with William Bent by Feb. 1849. That was a complex process with Charles', George's estate interests also involved. Everything was divided except the interest in the St. Vrain-Vigil land grant. At this point the government decided to buy Bent's Fort but William refused the offer. Instead, in August he abandoned it, moving all his goods and belonging down to Big Timbers and then blowing up his second fort.
In 1849 the emigration to California became a flood. The largest part was through Fort Laramie and South Pass. But considerable numbers of eager seekers went directly up the Canadian River to Santa Fe, and others continued up the Arkansas past the ruin of Bent's Fort to Pueblo.
The author describes the influence of gold hunting on various individuals and the general public. The Indians were astounded at the sight of thousands of wagons bearing thousands of whites across their hunting grounds, and appalled at the destruction of the buffalo it created. Much worse, the white travelers brought Cholera, which killed thousands of the susceptible Indians. They thought this was a magic curse brought on them by the whites. At least half of the Cheyenne at Bent's Fort died. William was in Westport, His wife, Yellow Woman, barely managed to save his young children, Mary, George and Charles, on the Arkansas.

 
 

Chapter XVIII - Turn Back the Clock
Now at Big Timbers William Bent built himself a new headquarters, first a log stockade and several years later a stone fort. He was correct in seeing that Big Timbers was actually a better location for his trading business. Tom Fitzpatrick arrived, still determined to organize a plains wide Indian peace conference. It was too late in the year, so 1850 was designated as the time. Fitzpatrick went to Fort Laramie over the winter to discuss the conference with the Sioux and northern Cheyenne, who were much in favor. He returned to Big Timbers in January 1850 where the local Indians were also in favor. But Congress did not pass the necessary legislation to finance it.
That summer as the wave of emigration to California and Oregon expanded even more, the traders switched from catering to Indians to bringing supplies from New Mexico and the south north to the Platte to supply the emigrants. William and Kit also joined in this new business. It soon switched again from supplies to horses and mules driven north. William decided to repair and reopen Fort St. Vrain as a base for these northern operations.
In May 1851 Congress approved the pending Indian conference to be held at Fort Laramie. William assembled his friendly Cheyenne and Arapahoe on the Arkansas who readily agreed to journey north. But the Comanchee, Apache and Kiowa refused on the grounds that they would be unsafe while in the lands of their hereditary enemy, the Sioux. By September the Indians were gathering around Fort Laramie and so were the traders, William included. Fitzpatrick was the main host and Blackfoot John Smith was an interpreter. August came and went, but the government agents with their 'gifts' and troops did not show. They were stuck at Westport, as usual not knowing how to do things.
Then, as the author dramatically describes it, Jim Bridger brought in 'his' Shoshone warriors in a spectacular demonstration of precision mounted drill that stunned the Army dragoons. He gives the total as 10,000 Indians with tens of thousands of their horses. The vast assemblage had to move due to depletion of local grass and supplies (and although the author does not mention it, no doubt also due to the abysmal sanitary situation.) Then more tribes arrived, Crow, Assiniboins, Arikaras, Minetarees with their missionary Father De Smett. He had a missionary's field day baptizing Indian children.
The wagons loaded with 'gifts' finally arrived on 20 September. Much was theoretically decided at this famous meeting. The entire open plains was divided and specific areas allocated to each tribe. A delegation of tribal chiefs was dispatched to meet President Fillmore with Blackfoot John Smith as their interpreter. The conference concluded on 22 September.
In July 1852 William had a brief conflict with the Comanchee near Fort Atkinson. But in fall 1852 he ventured south to attempt to trade with them. That fall Fitzpatrick was expected to bring gifts and arrange for the Comanchee and Kiowa to sign the Laramie treaty. That encouraged William to build a new, stone, fort at Big Timbers. Over the winter of 1852-53, after returning from his southern expedition, William began the foundations of the new stone fort. He went again to Westport for supplies, where he also signed a contract with the army by transporting their supplies to New Mexico.
By June 1853 he was back at Big Timbers and continuing construction. He also had to go to Santa Fe to deliver the army freight and then back over Raton to the new fort. That fall he took his three eldest children; Mary, Robert and George, to Westport for education under the supervision of his relatives. The children would also be with Louis Vasquez's children on his and Jim Bridger's ranches. William returned again to his new fort to distribute the annual government 'gifts'.
The author describes the protocol for this in detail. It had a very destructive result. As the Indians became more and more dependent on govenment handouts and less able to survive on the dwindling buffalo and prairie life, they became less and less self reliant and also were acutely aware of the loss of their own dignity.
At the same time the mass population building in California could not feed itself. The merchant traders from El Paso such as Maxwell, Wootton and Carson drove thousands of sheep across the desert to California. The demand for railroads increased. John Fremont was determined to regain prestige, lost during his Christmas debacle, by leading another survey party through the mountains. Meanwhile transport of increased loads of freight required more and larger wagons with more teams of oxen. William Bent prospered now on the freight business, both military supplies and 'gifts' to the dependent Indians on the way south and buffalo hides on the winter way north.
In another digression the author describes an Indian antelope hunt. Then he describes William's solution to stop a coming small pox epidemic.
Still, in 1854 the Ute continued to attack whomever they could. They destroyed the old post at Pueblo. They attacked Dick Wootton's and Charley Autobees' ranches at Huerfano Creek. Governor Meriweather Clark commissioned Ceran St. Vrain and Kit Carson to lead a retaliatory raid. In 1854 conditions worsened on the plains. The Army began an unofficial policy of shooting Indians on sight. Conflict spread to the Sioux and northern Cheyenne. Retaliations escalated with killing of individuals and groups of whites and Indians who had nothing to do with any earlier incident. By fall, when William again called in the Cheyenne for their handouts, he was despondent over his realization that there would be no turning the clock back. The warfare in Kansas between the slave proponents and the abolitionists escalated also with John Brown's attacks. That forced the recall of Army troops from the western plains.
In May 1857 army cavalry rode out of Fort Leavenworth up the Arkansas and North Platte Rivers to encircle the Cheyenne whom they thought were on the Republican River. The cavalry commander, Colonel Sumner attacked and dispersed some Cheyenne and then destroyed their annual subsidy at Big Timbers. Before he could do more damage he was called to participate in the Mormon War in Utah. William used the lull in winter 1857 to move across the Arkansas to continue building his ranch on the Purgatory in the St. Vrain-Vigil land grant.
That winter Blackfoot John Smith dug out some gold near where the present Colorado State capitol is located. With California gold rush ended the new gold rush in Colorado generated excitement across the Midwest.
In June, 1858 William Russell brought both whites and his Cherokee friends to Big Timbers on their way to Colorado gold. Another party led by John Easter soon followed. At the same time William went to Kansas City. He returned to his fort that September. The gold fever had spread. .

 
 

Chapter XIX - The White Tide
For sure, while California had created the mass migrations across the plains largely confined to the two narrow Oregon and Santa Fe Trails, gold in Colorado generated the 'White Tide' that swept across it. And Denver was still IN the plains. The Governor of Kansas was Denver so the capital of the new western territory would be Denver and the new settlers carried his edict. His 'Arapaho Country' was actually (according to the Laramie treaty of 1851) owned by the Sioux, Arapaho and Cheyenne. But by winter the horde of settlers had begun 'towns' such as Colorado Springs, Pueblo, Fort Collins, Boulder and Denver.
In December William wrote to the Superintendent of Indian Affairs urging that the govenment take action to settle affairs. This resulted in William himself being appointed by President Buchanan in 1859 as the local Indian Agent, against William's will. But he carried out his new duties as best he could. Enroute home he stopped in Denver where Dick Wootton was now a leading citizen known as "Uncle Dick'. And Ceran was bringing goods from his own properties in New Mexico to sell at good profit to the thousands of newcomers. Louis Vasquez and Jim Beckwourth soon joined the trade, bringing goods from Missouri.
In September William started back to St. Louis with an unsuccessful visit to the Comanchee and Kiowa. There, in October he wrote another report to Washington, urging prompt efforts to separate and protect both sides. But the Army was already preparing a new punitive expedition commanded by Major John Sedgwick.
In July 1860 William was back at his fort at Big Timbers to distribute the annual subsidy. There were 3,000 Cheyenne, Arapahoe and Apaches waiting. The Comanchee and and Kiowa were boycotting. Major Sedgwick had attacked them. Sedgwick needed as safe place to store his gear over winter and talked William Bent into leasing the stone fort for $65 a month. This turned out to be a big mistake for William, as he didn't get paid for years. After that, in September he resigned and recommended Albert Boone as the new Indian Agent.
In February 1861 Boone arrived and made many mistakes in his dealing with the Cheyenne. William moved to develop his ranch on Purgatory Creek with Robert assisting and his daughter, Mary Bent Moore with husband and child arrived as well. He was hoping that George and Charles would finish their schooling in St. Louis and join.
But then the Civil War began and George and Charles enlisted in the Confederate Army. Missouri was the center of border war between Northern and Southers adherents. But William was loyal to the North and engaged in contracts to transport Union military supplies. In 1861 Ceran St. Vrain was appointed commander of the New Mexico volunteers, but being 61 years old resigned the command to his Lieutenant Colonel, Kit Carson. In 1862 Colorado volunteers with Colonel Chivington drove the Texas invasion back. Carson was largely busy forcing the Apache and Navajo to surrender.
The Confederates appointed Albert Pike to raise cavalry from among the 'civilized tribes in Indian Territory and the plains. William managed to keep the Arapaho and Cheyenne from joining and preserved Forts Lyon (renamed Fort Wise) and Larned for the Union. In 1862 Cheyenne and Arapaho chiefs visited Washington to assure their loyalty. But Pike did recruit several 'regiments' of Cherokee. Against Pike's advice, however, the Cherokee did participate in the Battle of Pea Ridge, as did George Bent. He was captured in 1862 messages the battle of Corinth. He was released due to the great influence of his father and sent to William's stockade. Charles also returned, in 1863, but then departed to live with his mother's Cheyenne kinsmen. Charles and Julie soon followed.
Meanwhile, the Sioux had opened warfare in Minnesota. The western frontier forts were nearly deserted of troops due to the demands for them in the battles further east. This created panic throughout the plains to Denver and other Colorado towns as well as in Nebraska and Kansas.
In 1863 Tom Boggs returned from a 5-year stay with his father in California and decided to work with Lucien Maxwell on a new idea, raising cattle for market. (See The Great Plains)
In 1864 William led another of his caravans to Westport and on the way discovered American cavalry units were attacking Cheyenne camps without warning. Chief Black Kettle was still urging the young warriors to remain peaceful, despite the killings and appealing to William for help. He sent his convoy on to Westport and returned to Ft. Lyon to attempt to avert all out warfare. But, there he met Colonel Chivington, with his volunteers, eager to gain political stature throughout the plains by killing off the various Indian tribes. William went alone across the prairie to deliver messenges to Cheyenne.

 
 

Chapter XX - The Last Agonies
The Cheyenne responded to William's urging and began assembling on the Arkansas. Charles and George Bent were with them. William managed to restore a fragile peace. But, again, several soldiers killed Kiowa and attacked Cheyenne. War began. The attacks began on the caravans along the northern route to Oregon and in the white settlements in Colorado and Kansas. The Indians knew how to perpetrate atrocities on the whites with scalping the least of them. Panic ensued, travel across the plains ended. Food shortages began in Denver. At William's urging a delegation of Cheyenne chiefs went to Denver in hopes of concluding peace. Chief Black Kettle went from the camp on Sand Creek to Fort Lyon assuring peace. But Chivington wanted war. At Fort Lyon he ordered at gunpoint to Robert Bent to guide his force to Sand Creek. Robert's brothers, George and Charles, and sister Julia were there as was Blackfoot John Smith. At dawn Chivington launched a surprise attack on the sleeping camp. Black Kettle raised an American flag and a white one. Many of the old chiefs were killed. Charley Autobees's sons saved Charles Bent. George was severely wounded. Chivington proclaimed victory over many Indian warriors. Actually the camp held mostly women and children, who were most of the dead. The warriors were away on a hunt.
Result? Even more wide spread warfare along the Platte, the chief area in which the whites were most vulnerable. The Cheyenne warriors 'dog soldiers' with Charles and George as leaders struck again and again. So did the Sioux, Arapaho and more of the Northern Cheyenne. They sacked Julesburg twice.
In summer 1865 Congress reacted to public opinion and opened investigations against Chivington. William Bent and Brigadier general Kit Carson testified. Both urged that they could still bring about a lasting peace. Meanwhile, the Pawnee scouts working for the Army in Wyoming killed William's wife, Yellow Woman. The government confessed to the Sand Creek Massacre crime and offered reparations and future subsidies but noting more.
Charles Bent continued and expanded attacks in northern Kansas, Colorado and eastern Wyoming. In 1868 he was wounded by Pawnees and died of malaria.
Back in New Mexico Lucien Maxwell worked to control the entire Beaubien-Miranda grant. He bought out the heirs except Charles Bent's two daughters and son, Alfred. Alfred was murdered in Taos in 1865. The courts forced Maxwell to pay the Bent children $18,000 in 1866. Four years later he sold the huge grant for $650,000.
William Bent continued in the long distance freight hauling business while Lucien Maxwell set up a entire town with gristmill and ranches and farms at the entrance to Raton Pass. Ceran St. Vrain, William, Kit, Lucien, Dick Wootton, Tom Boggs, Charles Ritz, and John Powers all settled in the area and began business for the new era. Tom Boggs created Boggsville, now Las Animas. William and Kit both traveled to Washington on business and back. In 1867 William may have married Adalina Harvey at Westport. Kit Carson died in 1868 and William Bent followed him in 1869.

 
 

Notes and Bibliography - Considering the peripatetic life the individuals who populate this story led, it is amazing how much written documentation was created and still exists. Of course in those days writing letters was a standard activity and many families kept the correspondence. As government officials, off and on, or as supplicants to the government their letters and reports were kept in the National Archives or other repositories. Some of them, such as Kit Carson, became national heroes and even legends in their own time so generated much public press and even books. David Lavender has found this material in many places and provides excellent detail on where one can find it now. The end notes for each chapter are important in providing dates and more background on the families of the principle actors.

 
 

Reviewer's Epilogue - The shift from the Native Americans hunting buffalo on the southern plains to large scale cattle raising that the author's protagonists considered in the last years described here did come to pass. It is a major theme in Walter Prescott Webb's account - The Great Plains. At its peak hundreds of thousands of cattle raised on open ranges were driven north to be transported east by railroad. But this, too, didn't last, as farmers occupied the ranges and used the newly invented barbed wire to fence off their farms.

 

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