Reader's Guide to The Mountain Men of the American West

Compiled and Annotated by Stuart K. Wier

November 24, 2013


Antoine Clement, by Alfred Jacob Miller, 1837.
    This is a guide to the best books about the mountain men of the American west which I know about. Anyone can find a book here to suit them: casual readers, students, enthusiasts, reenactors, and historians. I include a few less distinguished books, too, when they are the only thing about a topic.

For some fifteen years -- roughly speaking, 1823 to 1838 and beyond -- the western U.S. was the domain of the mountain men, fur trappers who spent years traveling and living in the wilderness. Long before wagon trains, settlers, gold rushes, cavalry, Indian wars, cowboys, wild west towns, or railroads, mountain men were the first from the U.S. to see the Rocky Mountains and the lands from the plains to the Pacific. Their life was highly free and adventuresome, and often dangerous and short, lived in a shining wilderness.

Where to begin? Many books, many choices. For a readable and short introduction try Give Your Heart to the Hawks by Winfred Blevins. The personal journals and narratives written by the mountain men are good, such as Osborne Russell's "Journal of a Trapper," Lewis Garrard's "Wah-To-Yah and the Taos Trail", and the fictionalized "Life in the Far West" by George Frederick Ruxton. For detailed histories try A Life Wild and Perilous by Robert M. Utley or, best of all, the classic history Across the Wide Missouri by Bernard DeVoto. Try some of the best biographies, such as Westering Man The Life of Joseph Walker by Bil Gilbert, or Jedediah Smith and the Opening of the West by Dale L. Morgan.

Contents

    Histories of The Mountain Men     Journals and Personal Narratives     Biographies
    Hafen's "Mountain Men"     Mountain Men Exploring     Histories of the Fur Trade
    Forts and Rendezvous     Library of Western Fur Trade Historical Source Documents     Mountain Men in Colorado
    The Santa Fe Trail     Canadian Fur Trade     Tools and Skills of the Mountain Men     Language and Sign Language, or, Was You Ever up a Stump?
    Artists out West     Periodicals     "Novels" by Mountain Men
    Modern Paintings and Photographs     Modern Novels     Movies


    Recently Added (August 2013)

    So Rugged and Mountainous: Blazing the Trails to Oregon and California, 1812-1848.
    Will Bagley. Univ. Oklahoma, 2010. 458 p.

    The Red Man's Bones: George Catlin, Artist and Showman.
    Benita Eisler, W. W. Norton & Company (July 22, 2013), 480 p.

    new section: Language and Sign Language, or, Was You Ever up a Stump?


Histories of The Mountain Men

Across the Wide Missouri. Bernard DeVoto. Houghton Mifflin, 1947. A classic. The classic. With truly deep knowledge and understanding, and writing unlikely to be surpassed. Inspirational. Homeric.

A Life Wild and Perilous: Mountain Men and the Paths to the Pacific. Robert M. Utley. Henry Holt 1997. A really excellent recent history of the entire era, based on extensive research which only a few have equaled. The emphasis is on key mountain men, the fur trade, and geographical discoveries. This is the big view: don't expect campfire stories. (Also published as "After Lewis and Clark Mountain Men and the Paths to the Pacific," to ride on the coattails of the Lewis and Clark bicentennial, I reckon).

Give Your Heart to the Hawks. Winfred Blevins. Los Angeles: Nash, 1973; and other editions. A short, enjoyable, and very readable history.

Jedediah Smith and the Opening of the West. Dale L. Morgan. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1953; 1964. A biography of Smith, and in effect a history of the mountain men up to 1831 when Smith died. A standard of fur trade history. "the ultimate authority;" "impeccable scholarship."

The Taos Trappers The Fur Trade In the Southwest 1540-1846. David J. Weber. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1970.

This Reckless Breed of Men: The Trappers and Fur Traders of the Southwest. Robert Glass Cleland. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1992.

The Beaver Men: Spearheads of Empire. Mari Sandoz. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1978. 342 pages.

So Rugged and Mountainous: Blazing the Trails to Oregon and California, 1812-1848. Will Bagley. Norman: Univ. Oklahoma, 2010. 458 p.

A Majority of Scoundrels: An Informal History of the Rocky Mountain Fur Company. Don Berry. New York: Harper & Co., 1961; Sausalito: Comstock Editions.

Tales of the Mountain Men: 17 Stories. Lamar Underwood, editor. Guildford CT: Lyons Press, 2004.

Across the Great Divide : Robert Stuart and the Discovery of the Oregon Trail. Laton McCartney. New York: Free Press, 2003.

Heroes to Me. Mike Moore. Macon Georgia: Historical Enterprises, 2003. Topics about the life of mountain men illustrated by selections from their writing and stories. order from amm1616 at comcast dot net

Many Tender Ties: Women in Fur Trade Society 1670 - 1870. Sylvia Van Kirk. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1980. Marriages of trappers to Indian women; womens' roles; & resulting culture

Daughters of the Country: Women of the Fur Traders and Mountain Men. Walter O'Meara. New York: Harcourt, 1968.

Journals and Personal Narratives by Mountain Men and Travelers in the Mountains

Journal of a Trapper. Osborne Russell. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1965. "...perhaps the best account of the life of a fur trapper in the Rocky Mountains when the trade there was at it peak."

Life in the Rocky Mountains ... on the Sources of the Rivers Missouri, Columbia, and Colorado from February, 1830 to November, 1835. Warren A. Ferris. Paul C. Phillips, ed. Denver: Old West Publishing Company, 1983. Another detailed account, one of the best by a mountain man. Includes one of very few maps of the Rockies made by a mountain man which survives in its original form, probably the best one.

Journal of a Mountain Man. James Clyman. Linda M. Hasselstrom, ed. Missoula: Mountain Press, 1984.

Adventures of a Mountain Man: The Narrative of Zenas Leonard. Zenas Leonard. Milo M. Quaife, ed. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1978; also printed as Adventures of Zenas Leonard, John Ewers, ed. (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1959).

The River of the West: Life and Adventure in the Rocky Mountains and Oregon.... Frances Fuller Victor. vol. 1: The Mountain Years, Winfred Blevins, ed.; vol. 2: Oregon. Missoula Montana: Mountain Press Publishing Co., 1983, 1987. Joe Meek's account.

Wah-To-Yah and the Taos Trail. Lewis H. Garrard. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1974.

"Dear Old Kit": The Historical Christopher Carson With a New Edition of the Carson Memoirs. Harvey Lewis Carter. Norman: Univ. of Oklahoma Press, 1968; reprinted 1990. Carson's own short memoir, which he dictated in 1859, corrected where errors appear. "...Carter's [edition of the memoirs] is the only one that overcomes Carson's faulty memory for dates and places in his life, in an accurate chronological framework. In addition the work is annotated with data and insights from Carter's lifelong study of Carson." - Robert Utley. The 1990 edition has a detailed discussion (Chapter 1) about all the previous sources. This supercedes Milo Quaife's edition (1964, Univ. Neb.), Sabin, Vestal, etc.

Rocky Mountain Life, Or, Startling Scenes and Perilous Adventures in the Far West During an Expedition of Three Years. Rufus B. Sage. Boston: Wentworth & Company, 1857; facsimile: Lincoln: Univ of Nebraska Press, 1982. Another very detailed personal account.

The Southwest Expedition of Jedediah S. Smith: His Personal Account of the Journey to California, 1826-1827. Jedediah Smith. George Brooks, ed. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1989. "superbly edited."

The West of Alfred Jacob Miller. Alfred Jacob Miller. Marvin Ross, ed. Norman: Univ. of Oklahoma, 1968. Black and white reproductions of Miller's paintings and sketches made in the west, plus Miller's own descriptions of each scene.

'The Adventures of Captain Bonneville, U.S.A., in the Rocky Mountains and the Far West.. Washington Irving. edited by Edgeley W. Todd. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1961 & 1986. (original 1837). Bonneville's account of the key years 1832-1835.

Astoria ... An Enterprise Beyond the Rocky Mountains. Washington Irving. edited and introduced by Edgeley W. Todd. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1964. "Irving's work still is indispensable."

The Journal Of Jacob Fowler ... From Arkansas Through The Indian Territory, Oklahoma, Kansas, Colorado, And New Mexico . . . 1821--1822. Jacob Fowler.. Elliott Coues, ed. Minneapolis: Ross & Haines, 1965.

Across the Rockies to the Columbia. James Kirk Townsend. Intro. by Donald Jackson. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1978. This is the account by a naturalist who traveled with Wyeth's train to rendezvous and the Pacific in 1834.

The Rocky Mountain Journals of William Marshall Anderson: The West in 1834. Dale L. Morgan and Eleanor Towles Harris, eds. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1987.

From Pittsburgh to the Rocky Mountains: Major Stephen Long's Expedition, 1819-1820. Stephen Long; Maxine Benson, ed. (Niwot, 1988). A one-volume abridgement of Long's account, with a bibliography. Long met a party of "French trappers" at Pikes Peak in 1820, and did not remark that this was unusual -- who were they?

The Discovery of the Oregon Trail: Robert Stuart's Narrative of His Overland Trip in 1812-1813. Philip Ashton Rollins. New York, 1935; Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1995.

A Narrative of Colonel Robert Campbell's Experiences in the Rocky Mountain Fur Trade from 1825 to 1835. Drew Allen Holloway, ed. Fairfield Washington: Ye Galleon Press, 1991.

Travels to the Rocky Mountains Between 1833 and 1872. Charles Larpenteur, Michael M. Casler editor. Fur Press, 2007. (an improvement over the older edition of Larpenteur's journal titled 'Forty Years a Fur Trapper on the Upper Missouri.)

Chardon's Journal at Fort Clark, 1834-1839. Francis Chardon. Annie Heloise Abel, ed. Lincoln: Bison Books, 1997.

Personal Narrative of James O. Pattie of Kentucky. James O. Pattie. 1833. The original tale is highly suspect or clearly invented in parts: "an extraordinary mix of fact and fancy." To sort it out see the edition by Richard Batman, Missoula: Mountain Press, 1988.

Life, Letters and Travels of Pierre Jean de Smet. Hiram M. Chittenden and Alfred T. Richardson, eds. New York: Lathrop C. Harper, 1905.

The Autobiography of John Ball. John Ball Grand Rapids Michigan, 1925.

Three Years Among the Indians and Mexicans. Thomas James. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1984.

George C. Yount and His Chronicles of the West. Charles L Camp, ed. Denver: Old West Publishing Co., 1966.

The The Blazed Trail of Antoine Leroux, Forbes Parkhill. Westernlore Press, Los Angeles, 1965.

The "The D. T. P. Letters." Charles L. Camp, in Essays for Henry R. Wagner, San Francisco, 1947. The Daniel Potts letters.

The West of William H. Ashley. Dale L. Morgan, ed. Denver: Old West Publishing Company, 1964. A monumental compilation of period documents and letters with extensive annotation.

A Trappers Life in the Rocky Mountains and Oregon from 1829 to 1839. George W. Ebberts. Bancroft Library, UC Berkeley.

The Journals of Jules De Mun. Thomas M. Marshall. Miss. Hist. Soc. Collections Feb - June 1928. De Mun a very early Colorado trapper.

Rocky Mountain Album A Fur Trade Sampler. Mike Moore. Macon Georgia: Historical Enterprises, 2004. A day by day account of a year in the mountain man's west, with journal entries for most days of the year from early writers on that day. (order from amm1616 at comcast dot net; 303 - 238 - 4656).

Life in the Early West. Mike Moore. Macon Georgia: Historical Enterprises, 2003.

"First Journey to North America in the Years 1822 to 1824." Paul Wilhelm, Duke of Wurttemberg. Wm. G. Bek, ed. So. Dakota Hist. Colls., vol. 19, 1938.

People of the First Man: Life Among the Plains Indians in Their Final Days of Glory: The Firsthand Account of Prince Maximilian's Expedition Up the Missouri River, 1833-34. Prince Maximilian zu Wied (Author), Davis Thomas (Editor), Karl Bodmer (Illustrator) E. P. Dutton, 1976. 256 p.

Travels in the Interior of North America. Maximilian Prince of Wied-Neuwied. [visited the upper Missouri in 1832 to 1834, as far as Ft. Union] Reuben Thwaites, ed. Cleveland: 1905. 2 vols.

A Tour on the Prairies. Washington Irving. John McDermott, ed. Norman: Univ. of Oklahoma, 1956.

Journal of An Exploring Tour beyond the Rocky Mountains... in the years 1835, 1836, and 1837. Samuel Parker. Ithaca: 1842. Parker was a missionary who traveled across the west of the mountain men.

A Journey to the Rocky Mountains in 1839 (or, Memoir of a Tour to Northern New Mexico). Frederick A. Wislizenus. Glorieta New Mexico: Rio Grande Press, 1969.; Fairfield CT: Ye Galleon Press, 1989. Translated from German; Wislizenus was a physician and naturalist.

Prairie and Mountain Sketches. Matthew Field. Kate L. Gregg and John Frances McDermott, eds. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1957. Field was one of a party of excursionists in William Drummond Stewart's last trip to the mountains in 1843.

Persimmon Hill: A Narrative of Old St. Louis and the Far West. William Clark Kennerly. Norman: Univ. Oklahoma 1948. Kennerly was another member of Stewart's 1843 excursion.

The Oregon Trail, Sketches of Prairie and Rocky Mountain Life. Francis Parkman. 1849. Many editions. Account of Parkman's visit to Wyoming in 1845. Parkman was a top nineteenth-century historian, and thought highly of his mountain man guide Henry Chatillon.

A Rendezvous Reader. Maguire. J. H. et al. eds. Univ. Utah. Selections from histories and personal accounts

Journal of a Fur Trading Expedition on the Upper Missouri, 1812-1813. John C. Luttig. Stella M Drumm, ed. New York: 1964. Luttig's journal contains the only witness to the death of Sacagawea ('Sacajewea').

Views of Louisiana Together with a Journal of a Voyage Up the Missouri River in 1811. Henry M. Brackenbridge. Pittsburgh: - , 1814. also in Thwaites, Early Western Travels, Cleveland, 1904.

Travels in the Interior of North America in the Years 1809, 1810, and 1811. John Bradbury. Liverpool: Smith and Galway, 1817; reprinted Thwaites, in Thwaites, Early Western Travels (next).

Early Western Travels. Reuben Gold Thwaites. Cleveland: Arthur H. Clark Co., 1904-1905. Collected original accounts in thirty volumes.

Biographies

Jedediah Smith: No Ordinary Mountain Man. Barton H. Barbour. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 2009. 290 p.

Westering Man: The Life of Joseph Walker. Bil Gilbert. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1985. Gilbert has distilled a very impressive range of knowledge into one of the top books of the western frontier. You are guaranteed to be impressed by new and important insights in frontier history. Along the way you meet one of the best mountain men. "An excellent biography, perhaps the best biography of any mountain man"- Robert Utley

Jedediah Smith and the Opening of the West. Dale L. Morgan. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1964. An excellent biography of Smith, and in effect a history of the mountain men up to 1831 when Smith died. A standard work in fur trade history. "the ultimate authority;" "impeccable scholarship."

Broken Hand: The Life of Thomas Fitzpatrick, Mountain Man, Guide and Indian Agent. Leroy R. Hafen. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1973.

Ewing Young, Master Trapper. Kenneth L. Holmes. Portland Oregon: Binfords and Mort, 1967. (about Young, see also the article in Hafen's Mountain Men, below).

James James Pattie's West: The Dream and the Reality, Richard Batman. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1986.

James Clyman, American Frontiersman, 1792-1881; the adventures of a trapper and covered-wagon emigrant as told in his own reminiscences and diaries. Charles L. Camp. Portland: Champoeg Press, 1960. This edition is rare. Clyman's writing was reprinted without Camp's notes by Tamarack Books, in 1998.

Bill Sublette Mountain Man. John E. Sunder. Norman: Univ. Oklahoma, 1959. Very throughly researched and documented.

Joshua Pilcher, Fur Trader and Agent. John E. Sunder. Norman: Univ. Oklahoma, 1968.

John Colter: His Years in the Rockies. Burton Harris. Lincoln: Univ. of Nebraska Press, 1993. Introduction by David Lavender. "heavily speculative in his reconstructions. " For more details, see the chapter "John Colter" in Hafen's Mountain Men (below): vol. 8, pp 73-85.

The Saga of Hugh Glass. John Myers Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1976.

Shadow on the Tetons: David E. Jackson and the Claiming of the American West. John C. Jackson. Missoula: Mountain Press Publishing Co., 1993.

The Life and Adventures of James P. Beckwourth, written from his own dictation by Thomas D. Bonner[in 1856]. Bernard De Voto, editor and introduction. Lincoln: Univ. of Nebraska Press, 1972.

"Dear Old Kit": The Historical Christopher Carson With a New Edition of the Carson Memoirs. Harvey Lewis Carter. Norman: Univ. of Oklahoma Press, 1968; reprinted 1990. Carson's own short memoir, which he dictated in 1859, corrected where errors appear. "...Carter's [edition of the memoirs] is the only one that overcomes Carson's faulty memory for dates and places in his life, in an accurate chronological framework. In addition the work is annotated with data and insights from Carter's lifelong study of Carson." - Robert Utley. The 1990 edition has a detailed discussion (Chapter 1) about all the previous sources. This supercedes Milo Quaife's edition (1964, Univ. Neb.), Sabin, Vestal, etc.

Kit Carson a Pattern for Heroes. Thelma S. Guild and Harvey L. Carter. Lincoln: Univ. Nebraska, 1984. A good biography based on Carter's long study of Carson.

Kit Carson and the Indians. Tom Dunlay. Lincoln: Univ. of Nebraska, 2000. Much longer than the biography by Guild and Carter, but less on fur trade period.

The Short Truth about Kit Carson and the Indians. Marc Simmons, Taos, 1993.
Kit Carson and His Three Wives: a Family History. Marc Simmons. Albuquerque, University of New Mexico Press, 2003.
"a study of Carson's home life." "would be of interest to devotees of Carson. I enjoyed it, but would not put it in the top 20 books."

Blood and Thunder The Epic Story of Kit Carson and the Conquest of the American West. Hampton Sides. New York: Random House, 2006. Mostly about events after 1840.

David E Jackson Field Captain of the Rocky Mountain Fur Trade. Vivian Linford. Jackson: Jackson Hole Historical Society and Museum, 1996.

Halfbreed: The Remarkable True Story Of George Bent - Caught Between The Worlds Of The Indian And The White Man. David Fridtjof Halaas and Andrew E. Masich. Da Capo Press 2004. 496 pages.

Life of George Bent: Written from His Letters. George E. Hyde. Norman: University of Oklahoma, 1980. 280 pages.

George Drouillard: Hunter and Interpreter for Lewis and Clark and Fur Trader. M. O. Skarsten. Arthur H. Clark Co. 1964; Bison Books, 2005. 336 pages.

Bon Appetit! Georges Drouillard's List of Fine Dining Establishments Along the Lewis and Clark Trail. Shawnee Hunter

The Life and Times of Georges P. Drouillard. Richard Gaffney. 2006.

Life and Adventures of George Nidever 1802 - 1883. Wm. Henry Ellison, editor. Nidever traveled through Texas and New Mexico in 1830. In 1832, he was at the rendezvous at Pierre's Hole and took part in the famous battle with the Blackfeet. The following year, he joined a section of Bonneville's company under command of Joseph Walker and crossed the upper Sierra Nevada into California. Several editions, all out of print now.

Jim Beckwourth: Black Mountain Man and War Chief of the Crows. Elinor Wilson. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1972.

Manuel Lisa and the Opening of the Missouri Fur Trade. Richard E. Oglesby. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1963.

Scotsman in Buckskin: Sir William Drummond Stewart and the Rocky Mountain Fur Trade. Mae Reed Porter and Odessa Davenport. New York: Hastings House, 1963.

Ruxton of the Rockies. Collected By Clyde and Mae Reed Porter. Leroy R. Hafen, ed. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1979.

Old Bill Williams, Mountain Man. Alpheus H. Favour. 1936. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1962.

Antoine Robidoux 1794-1860. William S. Wallace. Los Angeles: 1953.
For more Robideaux books see http://www.clyderabideau.com/2robidoubooks.html

Jim Bridger Mountain Man a Biography. Stanley Vestal. Univ. of Nebraska, 1970. See also Cecil Alter's biography of Bridger; neither is entirely correct but there is no other Bridger biography. Vestal's book does make good reading. "Given a choice between fact and folklore, Vestal was a man who would choose the folklore every time." -- Harvey Carter.

James The Avenging Fury of the Plains: John "Liver Eating" Johnston. Dennis John McLelland. Infinity Publishing, 2008. (reviews) "a different take on John Johnston"

Mike Fink King of Mississippi Keelboatmen. Walter Blaire and Franklin J. Meine, New York: 1933.

Hafen's "Mountain Men"

The Mountain Men and the Fur Trade of the Far West. Leroy R. Hafen, editor. Glendale: Arthur H. Clark, 1965-1972. 10 volumes. A fundamental reference for the lives of 292 mountain men. Individual biographies were written by Hafen and the leading historians of the time.

The names of all 292 persons in the ten volumes are indexed online in the Guide to the Hafen Biographies; which also lists which biographies are selected in the six books below.

Selections from Hafen's "The Mountain Men and the Fur Trade of the Far West" are published in these books:

Mountain Men and Fur Traders of the Far West. Harvey L. Carter(introduction) and Leroy Hafen(editor). -, 1982. 401 pages. 18 selections from Leroy Hafen's The Mountain Men.

Fur Traders Trappers and Mountain Men of the Upper Missouri. Leroy R Hafen; Scott Eckbert intro. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1995. Selected from Hafen's Mountain Men

French Fur Traders and Voyageurs in the American West: Twenty-five Biographical Sketches. selections from Hafen's Mountain Men. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1997.

Fur Trappers and Traders of the Far Southwest, USU Press, 1997.

Trappers of the Far West, Bison Books, 1983

Mountain Men Exploring

Jedediah Smith and the Opening of the West. Dale L. Morgan. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1964. A biography of Smith and in effect a history of the mountain men up to 1831 when Smith died.

Exploring the Fur Trade Routes of North America: Discover the Highways That Opened a Continent. Barbara Huck. Heartland Publications. 2000; 256 pages.

Early Fur Trade on the Northern Plains: Canadian Traders among the Mandan and Hidatsa Indians, 1738-1818. W. Raymond Wood. University of Oklahoma Press.

The Explorations of William H. Ashley and Jedediah Smith. Harrison C. Dale. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1991 (original printing: Cleveland, 1918).

The Travels of Jedediah Smith. Maurice S. Sullivan. Santa Fe, 1934; Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1992.

Mapping the Trans-Mississippi West, 1540-1861. 6 vols. Carl I. Wheat. San Francisco: Inst. of Historical Geography, 1957 - 1963. A classic reference about maps and mapping the west.

Jedediah Smith and His Maps of the American West. Carl I. Wheat. San Francisco: California Historical Society, 1954.

Prologue to Lewis and Clark: The Mackay and Evans Expedition [1797]. W. Raymond Wood. University of Oklahoma Press; March 2003.

Notes on General Ashley, The Overland Trail, and South Pass. Donald McKay Frost. Worcester: 1945.

The Old Spanish Trail. Leroy R. Hafen and Ann W. Hafen. Glendale: 1954. Despite the name, the "Old Spanish Trail" was neither old nor Spanish; it was largely opened by American mountain men in the 19th century.

Colter's Hell and Jackson's Hole The Fur Trappers Exploration of the Yellowstone and Grand Teton Park Region. Merrill J. Mattes. Yellowstone Library and Museum Association, 1962. 1976. 87 pages.

The Discovery of Yellowstone Park. N. P. Langford. St. Paul: 1923.

Histories of the Fur Trade

Fur, Fortune, and Empire: The Epic History of the Fur Trade in America. Eric Jay Dolin. New York: W. W. Norton & Company; July 2010. 464 pages.
"It has a couple of chapters about mountain men. Dolin is the author of the highly acclaimed history of American whaling, Leviathan. "Nobody writes about the link between American history and natural history with the scholarly grace of Eric Jay Dolin. Fur, Fortune, and Empire is a landmark study filled with a cast of eccentric Western-type characters. Not since the days of Francis Parkman has a historian analyzed the fur trade industry with such brilliance. Highly recommended!"- Douglas Brinkley, professor of History at Rice University, author of "The Wilderness Warrior: Theodore Roosevelt and the Crusade for America."

Fur Trade and Empire. Frederick Merk. Cambridge: 1931. "one of the most significant contributions to the literature" - Dale Morgan.

Fur Trade on the Upper Missouri, 1840-1865. J. E. Sunder. University of Oklahoma Press, 1993, 295 pages.

Astoria and Empire. James P. Ronda. Lincoln: Univ. of Nebraska Press, 1991. "a deft and intriguing examination of Astor's formative experience in the fur trade of the Far West."

The Fur Trade of the America West 1807-1840. David J. Wishart. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1979. "an excellent overview of the Rocky Mountain trapping system."

The Fist in the Wilderness. David Lavender. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1964. A big history of the Astor fur trade empire, known to mountain men as "American Fur."

The West of William H. Ashley. Dale L. Morgan, ed. Denver: Old West Publishing Company, 1964. A monumental compilation of period documents and letters with extensive annotation.

History of the American Fur Trade of the Far West. 2 vols. Hiram Martin Chittenden. Stanford: 1936; 1954; Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1986. A standard reference, more than 900 pages.

When Skins were Money A History of the Fur Trade. James A. Hanson. Chadron Nebraska: Museum of the Fur Trade, 2005. Covers the entire period from the 16th to 20th centuries; not a great deal on the Rocky Mountain period. Many period illustrations.

Jackson Hole, Crossroads of the Western Fur Trade, 1807-1840 M. J. Mattes. Jackson Hole Historical Society, 1994.

Montana's Fur Trade Era. F. L. Graves. American World Geographic, 1994, 63 pages.

Otter Skins, Boston Ships & China Goods: The Maritime Fur Trade of the Northwest Coast, 1785-1841. J. Gibson. University of Washington, 1992, 448 pages.

Papers of the St. Louis Fur Trade. W. Swagerty et al. University Publications, 1991.

Keepers of the Game: Indian-Animal Relationships and the Fur Trade. C. Martin and N. Lurie. University of California, 1985.

"The Myth of the Silk Hat and the end of the Rendezvous." James A. Hanson. Museum of the Fur Trade Quarterly 36, Spring 2000. 2-11.

The Whiskey Trade of the Northwestern Plains: A Multidisciplinary Study. Margaret Kennedy. published by Peter Lang, 1997.

John Jacob Astor and the Fur Trade. Lewis Parker. Powerkids Press, 2003.(juvenile)

For more, including historians' and archaelogists' reports, see Fur Trade Reference Books (http://www.digitalpresence.com/histarch/ref/furtrade.html; Megan Springate 1998-2009), The Fur Trade and Historical Archaeology (http://www.digitalpresence.com/histarch/furtrade.html; Michael Pfeiffer 1998), and the very extensive and complete Fur Trade Bibliography by Gerhard J. Ens. (online at http://www.members.shaw.ca/CanoeBC/heritage/biblio.htm).

Forts and Rendezvous

Most of the "forts" of the early west in the time of the mountain men were private commercial trading posts, not military fortifications. The owners wanted to have good relations with the natives and peace between the tribes, since those were the customers. These posts looked like forts: they were walled with wooden stockades or high adobe walls, to discourage raids by Indians.

For first-person descriptions of rendezvous, see the personal accounts and narratives listed above, and for the 1836 rendezvous see also William Gray, History of Oregon, 1870, pp. 121-129.

Pierre's Hole the Fur Trade History of Teton Valley Idaho. Jim Hardee. Museum of the Mountain Man. 2010.

Rocky Mountain Rendezvous: A History of the Fur Trade Rendezvous 1824-1840. Fred R. Gowans. Layton Utah: Gibbs Smith Books, 2005. Maps and photos of all annual rendezvous sites as seen today.

Bent's Fort. David Lavender. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1954, 1972, 2003.

Fort Union and the Upper Misssouri Fur Trade. Barton H. Barbour. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press; 2nd ed. 2002.

Bent's Fort: Crossroads of Cultures on the Santa Fe Trail. Melvin Bacon. Filter Press 2002. Ages 9-12.

Competitive Struggle: America's Fur Trading Posts 1764 - 1865. R. G. Robertson. Tamarack Books, Boise, Idaho, 1999. 329 pages. Historical figures as well as places are depicted.

Antoine Robidoux and Fort Uncompahgre. Ken Reyher. Ouray, Colorado: Western Reflections Inc., 1998. First American outpost in Colorado.

Forts of the West. Robert W. Frazer. Norman: Univ. of Ok., 1977.

Fort Bridger: Island in the Wilderness. Fred R. Gowans. and E. Campbell. Provo: Brigham Young University, 1975.

Forts of the Upper Missouri. Robert G. Athern. University of Nebraska Press, 1972.

Fort Laramie and the Pageant of the West. LeRoy R. Hafen. Glendale: 1938.

"Forts Robidoux and Kit Carson." Albert B. Reagan. New Mexico Hist. Review, vol. X, April 1935. pp. 121-132.

"Fort Davy Crockett, Its Fur Men and Visitors." LeRoy Hafen. Colorado magazine, vol. XXIX, January 1952. pp. 17-33.

"Early Fur Trade Forts on the South Platte." LeRoy R Hafen. Mississippi Valley Historical review, vol. XII, December 1923. pp. 335-341.

Old Fort Saint Vrain. Diane Brotemarkl. Boulder: Johnson Books, 2001.

Historic Forts of Colorado. Dick and Wendy Spurr. Grand Junction Colorado: Centennial Pubs. 1994.

Rivalry at the River. Seletha Brown. Boulder: Johnson Publishing, 1972. Trading forts on the South Platte.

Bent's Old Fort. State Historical Society of Colorado. Colorado Springs: Williams Printings, 1979.

"Gantt's Fort and Bent's Picket Post." Janet S. LeCompte. Colorado Magazine, XLI, Spring 1964, pp 111-125.


The Library of Western Fur Trade Historical Source Documents

A remarkable online collection of original documents; accounts of the Rocky Mountain fur trade during the first half of the 19th century, assembled and provided by the American Mountain Men.

The Library of Western Fur Trade Historical Source Documents (http://www.xmission.com/~drudy/mtman/mmarch.html)

"These documents have been transcribed from printed or manuscript form. The resulting text files have been manually checked and edited to conform to the original source. In most cases, any spelling or grammatical errors from the original have been retained."
(If the links don't work, copy the book title with a mouse drag, and insert it into Google, to see the book.)

Documents include:

     Ashley, William H. 1825 Rocky Mountain Papers.
     Ball, John. Across the Plains to Oregon, 1832.
     Beall, Thomas J. Recollections of Wm. Craig.
     Becknell, William. Selected letters.
     Beckwourth, James P. The Life and Adventures of James P. Beckwourth, written from his own dictation by T. D. Bonner
     Brackenridge, Henry Marie, Journal of a Voyage up the Missouri River, in 1811.
     Bradbury, John. Travels in the Interior of America.
     Campbell, Robert. Rocky Mountain Letters.
     Catlin, George. Letters and Notes on the Manners, Customs, and Conditions of North American Indians.
     Clyman, James. A Short Detail of Life and Incidents of my trip in & through the Rockey Mountains.
     Dudgeon, Anthony. Ramsey Crooks' letter regarding Who Discovered South Pass?
     Fayel, William. A Narrative of Colonel Robert Campbell's Experiences in the Rocky Mountain Fur Trade from 1825 to 1835.
     Ferris, Warren Angus. Life in the Rocky Mountains.
     Franchère, Gabriel. Voyage to the Northwest Coast of America.
     Hunt, Wilson Price. Account of the Journey of the Overland Party.
     Irving, Washington. Astoria, or Anecdotes of an Enterprise Beyond the Rocky Mountains.
     Irving, Washington. The Adventures of Captain Bonneville.
     James, Thomas. Three Years Among the Indians and the Mexicans.
     Larpenteur, Charles. Forty Years a Fur Trader.
     Leonard, Zenas. Narrative of the Adventures of Zenas Leonard, fur trader and trapper, 1831-1835.
     Luttig, John C. Journal of a fur-trading expedition on the Upper Missouri, 1812-1813.
     Meek, Stephen Hall. The Autobiography of Stephen Hall Meek.
     Menard, Pierre. Reports of Missouri Fur Co. activities at Three Forks of the Missouri, 1810.
     Newell, Robert. Travels in the Teritory of Missourie.
     Ogden, Peter Skene. Snake Country Journals.
     Pattie, James O. The Personal Narrative of James O. Pattie, of Kentucky.
     Potts, Daniel T. Rocky Mountain Letters.
     Rogers, Harrison G. Journals of Harrison G. Rogers, member of the company of J. S. Smith.
     Ross, Alexander. Journal of Snake Country Expedition, 1824.
     Ross, Alexander. Adventures of the First Settlers on the Oregon or Columbia River.
     Russell, Osborne. Journal of a Trapper.
     Ruxton, George Frederick. Wild Life in the Rocky Mountains.
     Sage, Rufus. Rocky Mountain Life.
     Spalding, Eliza. Diary, June 15 - July 6, 1836
     Spalding, Henry H. Letter From The Rocky Mountains, 1836.
     Smith, Jedediah S.Journals of California Expeditions
     Stuart, Robert. Voyage from the mouth of the Columbia to Saint Louis, on the Mississipi
     Thomas, William H. Journal of a Voyage from St. Louis, LA. to the Mandan Village
     Townsend, John Kirk. Across the Rockies to the Columbia.
     Victor, Frances Fuller. The River of the West: Joe Meek's Years in the Rocky Mountains.
     Whitman, Narcissa Prentiss. 1836 Letters and Journal.
     Wislizenus, F. A., A Journey to the Rocky Mountains in 1839
     Work, John. Journals while in the service of Hudson's Bay Co.
     Workman, W. Letter dated Feb. 13, 1826
     Wyeth, John B. Oregon, or a Short History of a Long Journey.
     Wyeth, Nathaniel. The Journals of Captain Nathaniel J. Wyeth's Expeditions to the Oregon Country and Selected Letters.
with additional links to: 
     Gregg, Josiah. Commerce of the Prairies. 
     Lewis and Clark Journals 
     Marcy, Randoph Barnes. The Prairie Traveler: A Hand-book for Overland Expeditions 
     Parkman, Francis Jr. The Oregon Trail 

Mountain Men in Colorado

This list is from 'The Fur Trade in Colorado: A Selected Bibliography,' compiled by Ben Fogelberg (online at www.coloradohistory.org/publications/Fur_Trade_Bib.pdf) with some additions by me.

Books

Beckwourth, James P. The Life and Adventures of James P. Beckwourth as Told to Thomas D.  Bonner. Reprint. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1972.
Carson, Christopher. Kit Carson's Autobiography. Edited by Milo Milton Quaife. Chicago: R. R.  Donnelley and Sons, 1935.
Carter, Harvey L. Dear Old Kit: The Historical Christopher Carson. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1968.
Chittenden, Hiram M. The American Fur Trade of the Far West. Vol 1. 1902. Reprint. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press Bison Books, 1986.
Clyman, James. Journal of a Mountain Man. Mountain Press, 1984.
De Voto, Bernard. Across the Wide Missouri. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1947.
Old Bill Williams, Mountain Man. Alpheus H. Favour. 1936. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1962.
Fowler, Jacob. The Journal of Jacob Fowler: Narrating an Adventure from Arkansas through the Indian Territory, Oklahoma, Kansas, Colorado, and New Mexico, 
   to the Sources of Rio Grande del Norte, 1821-22. Edited, with notes, by Elliott Coues. New York: F. P.  Harper, 1898.  
Gates, Zethel. Mariano Medina: Colorado Mountain Man. Boulder: Johnson Publishing Co., 1981.
Hafen, LeRoy, ed. Mountain Men and Fur Traders of the Far West. 10 volumes. Glendale, Calif.: A. H. Clark Co., 1965-1972.
Hafen, LeRoy. Fur Trappers and Traders of the Far Southwest. Logan, Utah : Utah State University Press, 1997.
Hafen, LeRoy. Colorado Mountain Men. The Westerners, Denver Posse 1952.
Hafen, LeRoy and W. J. Ghent. Broken Hand: The Life Story of Thomas Fitzpatrick, Chief of the Mountain Men. Denver, Colo.: Old West Publishing Co., 1931.
Halass, David Fridtjof, and Andrew E. Masich. Halfbreed: The Remarkable True Story Of George Bent - Caught Between The Worlds Of The Indian And The White Man. Da Capo Press 2004. 
Hyde, George. Life of George Bent: Written from His Letters. Hyde. Norman: University of Oklahoma, 1980. 
James, Thomas. Three Years Among the Indians and Mexicans.  Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1984.
Lavender, David. Bent's Fort. Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday & Co., 1954.
Laycock, George. The Mountain Men. Danbury, Conn.; Harrisburg, Penn.: Outdoor Life Books, 1988.
Lecompte, Janet. Pueblo, Hardscrabble, Greenhorn: The Upper Arkansas, 1832-1856. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1978.
Marshall, Thomas. Journals of Jules De Mun.  Miss. Hist.  Soc. Collections Feb - June 1928.
Morgan, Dale. Jedediah Smith and the Opening of the West. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1964.
Morgan, Dale. The West of William H. Ashley. Denver: Old West Publishing Co., 1964.
Mumey, Nolie. The Life of Jim Baker, 1818-1898. New York: Interland Publishing Co., 1972.
Parkman, Francis. The Oregon Trail. Boston: Little Brown and Co., 1899.
Ruxton of the Rockies. Collected By Clyde and Mae Reed Porter. Leroy R. Hafen, ed. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1979.
Quaife, Milo, ed. Adventures of a Mountain Man: The Narrative of Zenas Leonard. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1978.
Utley, Robert. A Life Wild and Perilous: Mountain Men and the Paths to the Pacific. New York: Henry Holt & Company, 1997.
Van Kirk, Sylvia. Many Tender Ties: Women in Fur-Trade Society, 1670-1870. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1980.
Vestal, Stanley. Jim Bridger, Mountain Man: A Biography. New York: W. Morrow & Company, 1946.
Antoine Robidoux 1794-1860. William S. Wallace. Los Angeles: 1953. 
Weber, David J. The Taos Trappers: The Fur Trade in the Far Southwest. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1961.

Articles

Fynn, A. J. "Furs and Forts of the Rocky Mountain West," The Colorado Magazine (November 1931 and March 1932): 209-222, 45-57.
Gray, John S. "Young Fur Trapper: Phillip Covington Travels to the Rockies with William Sublette," Colorado Heritage 1 (1982): 11-25.
Hafen, LeRoy R. "Bean-Sinclair Party of Rocky Mountain Trappers, 1830-32," The Colorado Magazine (July 1954): 161-171.
_____. "Colorado Mountain Men," The Colorado Magazine (January 1953): 14-28.
_____. "Fort St. Vrain," The Colorado Magazine (October 1952): 241-255.
_____. "Fort Vasquez," The Colorado Magazine (Summer 1964): 198-212.
_____. "Fraeb's Last Fight and How Battle Creek Got Its Name," The Colorado Magazine (May 1930): 97-101.
_____. "Mountain Men -- Andrew W. Sublette," The Colorado Magazine (September 1933): 179-184.
_____. "Mountain Men -- Louis Vasquez," The Colorado Magazine (January 1933): 14-21.
_____. "Old Fort Lupton and Its Founder," The Colorado Magazine (November 1929): 220-226.
Hanson, Charles E., Jr., "Thoughts on the Mountain Man and the Fur Trade," Museum of the Fur Trade Quarterly 35 (Winter 1999): 2-8.
Judge, W. James. "The Archaeology of Fort Vasquez," The Colorado Magazine (Summer 1971): 181-203.
Muldoon, Daniel D. "Trappers and the Trail: The Santa Fe Trail from the Trappers' Perspective," 
Smith, E. Willard. "With Fur Traders in Colorado: The Journal of E. Willard Smith," The Colorado Magazine (July 1950): 161-188.
Wilson, William E. "Louis Vasquez in Colorado and the Uncertain Histories of Fort Convenience and a Hunter's Cabin," Colorado Heritage (Winter 2003): 3-15.

Primary Source Material in Colorado

Thomas Fitzpatrick collection, MSS #240, Colorado Historical Society, Denver, Colorado.
Lancaster P. Lupton collection, MSS #398, Colorado Historical Society, Denver, Colorado.
Elias Willard Smith collection, MSS #580, Colorado Historical Society, Denver, Colorado.  

The Santa Fe Trail: Original Accounts

This is a short selection from a large literature.

The Prairie Traveler, a Hand-Book for Overland Expeditions. Randolph Barnes Marcy. London: , 1863

Down the Santa Fe Trail and into Mexico: the Diary of Susan Shelby Magoffin, 1846-1847. Susan Shelby Magoffin; Stella M Drumm ed. Bison Books 1982.

The Road to Santa Fe The Journal and Diaries of George Sibley. Kate L. Gregg, editor. University of New Mexico Press, 1968.

Expedition To The Southwest Lt. James William Abert. Univ. Of Nebraska Press, 1999.

Commerce of the Prairies. Josiah Gregg. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press 1990.

Matt Field on the Santa Fe Trail. Matt Field. John Sunder, ed. Norman: Univ. of Oklahoma, 1995.

Canadian Fur Trade, Voyageurs, Hudsons Bay Company, and the North West Company

Adventurers in the New World: The Saga of the Coureurs des Bois. Georges-Hebert Germain. Hull, Quebec: Canadian Museum of Civilization, 2003. Hardcover, large format, 160 pp. "Originally published in French, this beautiful book contains hundreds of color illustrations, including the incomparable reconstructions of Francis Back. The canoe men, the missionaries, the traders, the Indians, and the Metis; this volume encompasses the entire scope of the French in the fur trade." - Illinois Brigade newsletter, 2011.

Hudson's Bay Company Adventures: The Rollicking Saga of Canada's Fur Traders. Elle Andra-Warner. Heritage House, 2003.

The Bourgeois Frontier: French Towns, French Traders, and American Expansion. Jay Gitlin. New Haven: Yale University Press; 2010. 288 pages.

    "This is one of those rare books that makes immensely important and original arguments of its own while also synthesizing a massive and far-reaching scholarly literature. I cannot overemphasize the importance of such a study."-Peter Kastor, Washington University, St. Louis
    "Jay Gitlin's comprehensive portrait of mid-America's Francophone merchants demonstrates their importance as fur traders, town builders and advance agents ... belongs on every western American history bookshelf."-William E. Foley, coauthor of The First Chouteaus: River Barons of Early St. Louis

Remaking the Voyageur World: Travelers and Traders in the North American Fur Trade. Carolyn Podruchny. Norman: University of Nebraska, 2006.

My First Years in the Fur Trade 1802-1804. George Nelson. Minnesota Historical Society 2002.

Indian Women and French Men. Susan Sleeper Smith. U. Mass., 2001.

Voyageurs, Robes Noires, et Coureurs de Bois: Stories from the French Exploration. Charles Clark. New York: Columbia University Press, 1934.

Peter Skene Ogden and the Hudsons Bay Company. Gloria G. Cline. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1975.

Peter Skene Ogden, Fur Trader. Archie Binns. Portland: Binfords and Mort, 1967.

Peter Skene Ogden's Snake Country Journals. E. E. Rich.

Sources of the River: Tracking David Thompson Across Western North America . by Jack Nisbet. Sasquatch Books; second Edition ed., 2007.

The Fur Trade and the Northwest to 1857. E. E. Rich. Toronto: McClelland and Stewart, 1967.

The Fur Trade. 2 vols. Paul C. Phillips. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1961.

The North West Company. Marjorie Wilkins Campbell. Macmillan Company of Canada, 1973.

The North West Company. Gordon C. Davidson. Berkeley: 1918.

The History of Hudsons Bay Company 1670 - 1870. E. E. Rich. 2 vol . London: Hudsons Bay Record Society, 1947.

See also the very extensive and complete Fur Trade Bibliography by Gerhard J. Ens. (online at http://www.members.shaw.ca/CanoeBC/heritage/biblio.htm)

Tools and Skills of the Mountain Men

Firearms, Traps, and Tools of the Mountain Man. Carl P. Russell. Univ. New Mexico Press, 1977.

Guns on the Early Frontiers A History of Firearms from Colonial Times through the Western Fur Trade. Carl P. Russell. University of Nebraska Press, Lincoln, 1957; 1980.

The Hawken Rifle the Mountain Man's Choice. John D. Baird 136 illus., 95 pages.

Fifteen Years in the the Hawken Lode. John D. Baird. Gun Room Press, Highland Park, NJ, 1976. 76 illus., 120 pages.

The Plains Rifle. Charles E. Hanson, Jr. Harrisburg: Stackpole, 1960.

The Hawken Rifle: Its Place in History. Charles E. Hanson, Jr. The Fur Press. Chadron, NE. 1979.

The Northwest Gun. Charles E. Hanson, Jr. Chadron, Nebraska: Museum Assoc. of the Am. Frontier, 1992.

Success in the North American Fur Trade. Barry Conner. "picks up where Hanson left off and is what I consider to be the best in-depth book ever written on the trade gun." - Mike Moore

For Trade and Treaty Firearms of the American Indian 1600-1920. Ryan R. Gale. 2010. Elk River, Minn., Track of the Wolf. 201p.

Indian Trade Guns. T. M. Hamilton, ed. 80 illus., 258 pages.

Flintlock Fowlers The First Guns Made in America 1700-1820. Tom Grinslade. (with several British style)

Muskets of the Revolution and the French and Indain War. Bill Ahearn.

The Great Lakes Fur Trade. Carolyn Gilman. Minnesota Historical Society Press, Chicago, Illinois, 1982. photos of original artifacts, and detailed text by a top scholar. 136 pages.

The Canoe: A Living Tradition. John Jennings. Firefly 2005.

The Keelboat Age on Western Waters. Leland D Baldwin. 1941.

Steamboats on the Western Rivers: An Economic and Technological History. Beatrice Jones Hunter and Louis C. Hunter. 2008. The first steamboat up the Missouri was in 1820 -- before the central mountain man period.

The Western River Steamboat. Adam I. Kane and Alan L. Bates. 2004.

~~~ ~~~ The following books and articles are used by reenactors for information about equipment in the early west. ~~~ ~~~

"Trade Goods for Rendezvous." Charles Hanson. The Book of Buckskinning V. Wm. Scurlock, ed. Texarkana Tx: Scurlock Publishing, 1989. 65-80.

Fur Trade Cutlery Sketchbook. James Austin Hanson. 1994, Fur Press (Crawford, Neb). 48 pages.

"Clothing of the Rocky Mountain Trapper 1820-1840." Allen Chronister and Clay Landry. The Book of Buckskinning VII. Wm. Scurlock, ed. Texarkana Tx: Scurlock Publishing, 1995. 2-41.

Dress and Equipage of the Mountain Man 1820-1840. Jeff Hengesbaugh and Wes Housler. Cloudcroft NM.: Rocky Mountain College Productions, 1997.

"The History and Trade Ledgers of Fort Hall 1834-1837." Clay Landry. The Book of Buckskinning VIII. Wm. Scurlock, ed. Texarkana Tx: Scurlock Publishing, 1999. 176-197.

"Recreating the Western Trapper." Rex Allen Norman. Muzzleloader, vol , no. , March-April 2002. 55-.

"Recreating Trapper Camps." Rex Allen Norman. Muzzleloader, part I May-June 2002. 52-55; part II Jul. - Aug. 2002. 65-68.

"Butchers and Scalpers" Rex Allen Norman. Muzzleloader, vol , no. , Sep. - Oct. 2003. 21-25. About trappers' knives.

"Rambling around Rifles." Rex Allen Norman. Muzzleloader, vol , no. , May-June 2004. About trappers' long guns.

"Writing the Old Fashioned Way" T. C. Albert. Muzzleloader, vol , no. , May-June 2010. 29-.

"A Quick Second Shot." Rex Allen Norman. Muzzleloader, vol , no. , Sep.-Oct 2010. 33-. About trappers' pistols.

"Myths that just won't die." Rex Allen Norman. Muzzleloader, vol XXXVII, no. 5, Nov.-Dec. 2010, 332-35. About causes of end of beaver trapping in the Rockies, trappers' clothes, knives, guns, axes, enamelware, shrub.

"What Money Tells Us: Robert Campbell's 1832 Account Book." Raymond I. Bruen, in Fur Trade Symposium, Pinedale Wyoming, 1992.

Checkering and Carving. Monty Kennedy.

The 1837 Sketchbook of the Western Fur Trade. Rex A Norman. Scurlock Publishing Co., Texarkana TX, 1996. An examination of the paintings and sketches by Alfred Jacob Miller of actual scenes and mountain men in 1837. Modern drawings of costume & equipment based on the work of Miller. 29 pages.

In the Image of A J Miller. Shawn Webster. Historical Enterprises; 2005.

The Book of Buckskinning. book series. For example, see: vols. III (hunting pouches, moccasins, shelters); IV (blankets, lighting devices, backwoods knives, smoothbores, blacksmithing, rawhide); V (trade goods); VI (horse gear, powder horns); VII (clothing of the Rocky Mountain Trapper 1820-1840, writing implements, trunks, wardrobe for the frontier woman 1780-1840, bark tanning); and VIII (gear of the Rocky Mountain trapper; beaver hunting; beadwork; Fort Hall ledgers). William H. Scurlock, ed. Scurlock Pub. Co., Texarkana, Texas, to 1995.

Sketch Book on the Tents of the Fur Trade. Samuel Darby. 1700s to early 1800s. 48 pages.

Shining Time The Fur Trade A Sketchbook of the American Mountain Man. Ted Spring. 130 pages.

The Buckskinner's Cook Book. James A Hansen and Kathryn J Wilson. The Fur Press, 1979.

Plains Indian Knife Sheaths. Zaglov.

Hide Glue Historical and Practical Applications. Stephen A Shepherd. fullchisel.com, 2009.

The Trade Cloth Handbook. Carolyn Corey. St. Ignatuius, Montana, 2001.

Diary of an Early American Boy. Eric. Sloane, 1975. circa 1805 life. Shows the life and tools on a pioneer farm around 1805, such as many mountain men would have known in their youth. Excellent detailed drawings.

Frontier Living: An Illustrated Guide to Pioneer Life in America . Edwin Tunis. Lyons Press. Another book about life on the frontier then.

The Mountain Man. William H. Goetzmann. Cody Wyoming: Buffalo Bill Historical Center, 1978. 64 pages. Includes photographs of period artifacts, and paintings from the period.

Accouterments. 3 volumes. James R. Johnson. Golden Age Arms, no date. [ca. 2000]. Excellent photos of all kinds of equipment of the fur trade era but oddly lacking any provenance: any indication of date or place of origin of the artifacts, which greatly reduces the usefulness of these books for answering any particular question.

The Kentucky Rifle Hunting Pouch: Its Contents and Accouterments as used by the Frontiersman, Hunter, and Indian. Madison Grant. 207 pages. published by the author, 1977

Language and Sign Language

    Was You Ever Up a Stump?

The mountain men were a polyglot crew, speaking one or another dialect of English, French, Spanish, native languages, and sign language. Being mostly from the U.S., the common language was English, varying widely, for example, from New England forms, to tidewater Virginia, to the speech of the "old South-West" around New Orleans. The most common form of English among the mountain men may have been that spoken by men raised in or coming from the mid Mississippi Valley, upriver and downriver from St. Louis. This dialect was called "Pike County" from a county in Missouri on the Mississippi River. It was spoken over a wide region.

By good forture there is an excellent and detailed depiction of Pike County speech in Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain. Twain was raised near Pike County and worked on river boats as a young man, so knew his material first hand. Twain used several dialects in the novel, which appears to take place about the year 1840, approximately. Huckleberry Finn himself, the narrator, speaks Pike County, as do the characters Pap, Ben Rogers, and Judith Loftus. Tom Sawyer and Aunt Polly speak a dialect identical with Huck's, except Tom throws in a lot of garbled high-falutin' phrases from books. Altogether about three-quarters of the speech in Huckleberry Finn is Pike County. (To linguists: yes, I am simplifying here, just a little. Don't git yer feathers ruffled. I ain't after tenure.) And the world described in Huckleberry Finn is the rural society along the mid Mississippi Valley, the world many mountain men knew. (see "The Dialects in Huckleberry Finn." David Carkeet. American Literature, Vol. 51, No. 3 Nov. 1979, pp. 315-332.)

Most mountain man reenactors know some 'mountain man words,' which is just Pike County, mostly, and throw them into modern standard English. You can do better than that. Don't trust movies and novels for language when you can have Huck Finn for teacher.

So if you want to create the persona of a mountain man from the mid Mississippi Valley, get yourself a copy of Huckleberry Finn, read it, mark the speeches of Huck and them other characters named above, and get it all by heart. Tear off the covers and modern bits and shove it among your other truck and study it when times is slow.

A good reading of Huckleberry Finn is available on CD, to aid with pronunciation and emphasis (narrated By Dick Hill, Brilliance Audio, 2001).

    Sign Language

Indian Sign Language. W.P. Clark. 1885; reprinted, University of Nebraska Press, Lincoln. 1982.

    "The most authoritative, work on Indian Sign Language was by Captain W.P. Clark, U. S. Second Cavalry. He was with the army in the Indian country from 1875 to 1880, and made a deep study of Indian signs. In 1880 he was directed by General Sheridan to produce a book on sign language for use by Army Officers assigned in the West. He worked steadily on its preparation until 1884, when he died. [...] It is the most complete book ever done on signs and their origin. Unfortunately it was not illustrated..."

    "...many an entry is a mini-essay on some aspect of Indian culture... Under each tribe he discusses the general signs for the tribe and then follows with an essay on everything he can discover about the tribe or related groups, often several pages' worth. "

    "Especially useful will be the sections on the various Indian Nations, which launch in each case with the sign and then extend into origins of the sign and then variations, connections, and finally quite often details of daily life, beliefs, history, &c. There is a great deal in a small space on I think all of the tribes along the Lewis and Clark tail, details which bring them to life and which I think will make that aspect of the L&C story easier to understand and absorb. And sometimes a little side remark is so telling as to bring the Journals to life, as in this observation: 'ENEMY: one's enemy or enemies would be expressed by the sign for PEOPLE or MEN against whom one went to war or people one did not shake hands with; signs for FRIEND and NO. The Mandans, Gros Ventres, and Arickarees simply make the sign for Sioux.' "

Sign Talk of the Indians. Ernest Thompson Seton, Doubleday, 1918.

Universal Indian Sign Language. William Tomkins. Dover reprint of 1931 edition.
"Tomkins was a friend of Ernest Thompson Seton and you will see many similarities between their two books. Tomkins' book is the one book you should own for learning sign language and should be the basis for all your signing ... then branch out and try using Clark's and Seton's books"

The Visual Record - Artists in the Early American West

No photographs were made in the west of the mountain men. The first camera, for the Daguerreotype process, was taken west in 1842 by John Charles Fremont, but no known photographs survive from that occasion. By good fortune several excellent artists traveled to the west before 1840. Three greats were George Catlin, Karl Bodmer and Alfred Jacob Miller. Their sketches and paintings are accurate, historically valuable, and artistically satisfying too. Miller painted scenes with the mountain men, and the others largely confided themselves to natives, except for some charming and often amusing small sketches of explorers done by Catlin, such as his "Solicited to come ashore" showing three grizzly bears looking at men in a canoe. For more, see Early Painters of the American West. A Reader's Guide.

The Red Man's Bones: George Catlin, Artist and Showman. Benita Eisler, W. W. Norton & Company (July 22, 2013), 480 p.

George Catlin and His Indian Gallery by George Catlin, Brian W. Dippie, George Gurney. W. W. Norton & Company (October 2002). 288 pages. 275 illustrations, 150 in color. Impressive and informative.

The West of Alfred Jacob Miller. Alfred Jacob Miller. Marvin Ross, ed. Norman: Univ. of Oklahoma, 1968. Black and white reproductions of many of Miller's sketches made in the west, plus six color reproductions, plus Miller's own descriptions of each scene.

Alfred Jacob Miller: Artist on the Oregon Trail. Ron Tyler. Fort Worth, 1982.

Braves and Buffalo: Plains Indian Life in 1837. Hugh A Taylor. Toronto: 1973. A J Miller's Indian paintings in moderately good color reproductions.

People of the First Man: Life Among the Plains Indians in Their Final Days of Glory: The Firsthand Account of Prince Maximilian's Expedition Up the Missouri River, 1833-34. Prince Maximilian zu Wied (Author), Davis Thomas (Editor), Karl Bodmer (Illustrator) E. P. Dutton, 1976. 256 p.

Sentimental Journey: The Art of Alfred Jacob Miller. Lisa Strong. Amon Carter Museum of American Art, 2008. 238 pages. The latest work on A J Miller, and with high quality reproductions. However, it has few illustrations and a lot of high-academic talk which has nothing to say about the real west experienced by the mountain men. Do you care about European perceptions of gender and race in 1850?

Periodicals

Museum of the Fur Trade Quarterly. Chadron, Nebraska. For information and contents of all issues see http://www.furtrade.org/6quart.html. "Begun in 1965, the quarterly has provided over 450 scholarly articles on virtually every aspect of fur trade history."

Rocky Mountain Fur Trade Journal. Pinedale, Wyoming. see http://www.museumofthemountainman.com/journal/home.htm. Volumes in 2007, 2008, 2009, and 2010 so far.

"Novels" based on personal experience with the Mountain Men

Two accounts, written by men who knew the mountain man's life, were published as what would today be regarded as novels.

Edward Warren. William Drummond Stewart. Missoula: Mountain Press, 1986. Introduction By Winfred Blevins. Stewart, the famous British captain, attended six rendezvous, from 1833 to 1838, and returned for another visit in 1843. Written by a man who lived the life and saw the times.

Life in the Far West. George Frederick Ruxton. ed. Leroy Hafen. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1951. Reads like a first-person narrative, but it is fiction(several events did not occur as described). Based on life in the mountains. Not history, but many authentic details of life. "no work excels in color, charm, or authenticity."

Modern Paintings and Photographs

The Western Paintings of John Clymer. John Clymer. New York: Peacock Press/Bantam, 1988. Clymer is one of the first of the modern painters of mountain men. 40-some paintings

The Charles Fritz, the Complete Collection: 100 Paintings Illustrating the Journals of Lewis and Clark. Charles Fritz. Farcountry Press; First edition (May 1, 2009).

Rendezvous Country. Photos by David Muench; text by Donald G Pike. Palo Alto: American West Publishing Co., 1975. Excellent modern photos of the scenes in the mountains; also 32 high-quality prints of Alfred Jacob Miller paintings but only in sepia tones, not color worse luck.

Modern Novels

Wolf Song. Harvey Fergusson. University of Nebraska Press, 1981.

Mountain Man. Vardis Fisher. University of Idaho Press.

The Big Sky. A. B. Guthrie. Mariner Books.

Medicine Calf. Bill Hotchkiss. New York: W W Norton, 1981.

By Terry C. Johnston:
Dance on the Wind;    Buffalo Palace;     Crack in the Sky;     Carry the Wind;
BorderLords;     One-Eyed Dream; Ride the Moon Down;     Death Rattle;     Wind Walker.
Bantam Books, 1996-2001.

Lord Grizzly. Frederick Manfred. University of Nebraska Press, 1983.

The Untamed Breed. Gordon D. Shirreffs. Leisure Books, 1994.

The Long Rifle. Stewart Edward White, circa 1934.

Movies

Across the Wide Missouri. 1951. Clark Gable. Which is not based on the book of that name.

The Big Sky. 1952. Kirk Douglas.

Man in the Wilderness. 1971. Richard Harris.

Jeremiah Johnson. 1972. Robert Redford.

Centennial. 1976. TV miniseries, parts 1 & 2. Robert Conrad.

Mountain Men. 1980. Charlton Heston.


Good recent editions are listed, where more than one edition occurs, not the original or other old editions.

Finding some of these titles is not always easy. Your local book store may not have what you want on hand, but they may be able to order some books in print for you. Some titles are out of print. For hard-to-find books try the online second-hand book services ABE Books and Alibris. You also can try Amazon.com for in-print books and some second hand-books. Michael Bond runs Prairie Creek Books and may have or find a book you want. Call 307-532-3495 or email prairiecreekbooks@gmail.com.

Have I read all these books? Nope, this is my reading list. I aspire to read many of these, some day. I have looked around enough to be pretty sure not too many strays are on the loose.

Boulder County, Colorado. 2013


Copyright © Stuart K. Wier 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2013. Reuse, retransmission, or reproduction prohibited without prior written permission from the compiler.

Individuals are welcome to print one copy for their own use.


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