Andrew Henry - Mountain Man

Major Andrew Henry 1775-1832

He was an American fur trader who, with William H. Ashley started the Rocky Mountain Fur Company in 1822. Born circa 1775 in Fayette County, Pennsylvania, Henry was tall, slender, with dark hair, blue eyes and a reputation for honesty. He went to Nashville, Tennessee in his twenties but moved on to Louisiana in 1800 (before the Louisiana Purchase) to the lead mines near present-day Potosi, Missouri; in 1806 he bought a share of the mine.

In 1809 he joined with Manuel Lisa, Jean Pierre Chouteau and William Clark to found the Missouri Fur Company; he led an expedition to the Three Forks, in the Montana mountains, where he built a fort. In 1811, Henry explored the Montana-Idaho wilderness and discovered Lake Henry; he built a post near present-day Saint Anthony, Idaho.

After many difficulties, especially with the Blackfoot Indians, Henry returned to Saint Louis in January, 1812; when the War of 1812 was declared, he enrolled in the army, rising to the rank of Major.

In 1818 Henry married Mary Flemming, daughter of one of the owners of the lead mine. Mary Flemming was of French birth and considerably younger than Henry; the marriage was a happy one for them both and produced four children. Henry returned to lead mining.

In 1822, he started the Rocky Mountain Fur Company with William H. Ashley. The new company tried to send three keelboats up the Missouri River. Henry led an expedition of 150 men, 60 horses and one keelboat to the mouth of the Yellowstone River and built a post that came to be known as Fort Henry. The next boat, under the command of Daniel Moore, sank, along with ten thousand dollars worth of provisions. Ashley equipped a third boat and was able to get through to Henry, and then returned to Saint Louis.

In 1824, after a profitable season and many harrowing adventures, Andrew Henry retired from Lisa's company and returned once more to lead mining. He died, intestate, January 10, 1832.