"Jim" Beckwourth 1798-1866
For a number of years Beckwourth
took part in a series of trapping expeditions with the American Fur Company
and the Rocky Mountain Fur Company where he learned the frontiersman skills
he would use for the rest of his life. He also met and worked with such
well-known mountain men as Jim Bridger, Jedediah Smith, Jim Clyman and
Edward Rose. He participated in the first Mountain Man Rendezvous at Henry's
Fork on the Green River in 1825. The location of the rendezvous changed
every year, and it quickly became the best-known social and business institution
of the American mountain men.
If everything in Beckwourth's autobiography can be believed, he played
a leading role in virtually every recorded event in the Rocky Mountains
in the late 1820's. He seemed to have a bit of a problem with numbers.
If 50 trappers were attacked by 50 Blackfeet, Beckwourth might report
10 trappers attacked by 500 Blackfeet. And, of course, it was always Beckwourth's
skill and bravery that saved the day.
In spite of his tendency to exaggerate, however, many of Beckwourth's
tales have been confirmed from other sources. It is clear that, at the
very least, Beckwourth actually witnessed many of the incidents he described.
In other cases, his role was confirmed by independent accounts from other
During this period of his life, while operating a trading post with the
Blackfeet, Beckwourth had the first of what was to become a long string
of "affairs of the heart," although pragmatism seemed to be
more of a driving force than his heart. His marriage to two Blackfoot
women apparently lasted for the duration of the trading post -- about
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