Johnson" Garrison 1824-1900
John 'Jeremiah' Johnson's
real name was John Garrison. Based on Dr. McLelland's research and interviews,
John Garrison changed his name after striking a lieutenant and deserting
the US Navy. Since desertion was a capital offense, John Garrison became
John Johnston. The alias was Johnston and not Johnson.
Much legend has been written about John Garrison and most of these tales
Born in Little York, New Jersey and of Scottish descent, John started
his career as a mountain man about 1843. His adventures during these early
years are typical of fur trappers (i.e. grizzlies, indians and mother
In 1846, he married a Flathead woman who was later killed by Crow indians.
This is where the legends begin. He probably killed a few Crows, not the
300 the tall tales report. There certainly would have been something in
the Crow history to reflect this magnificent feat. There is none. Also,
the legend of him extracting the liver of his victims and eating it is
Later, Garrison was a sharp shooter for the Colorado Cavalry, a deputy
sheriff in Custer County, Montana and turned down an offer from Buffalo
Bill to appear in his Wild West show.
In between those various jobs, he would return to the wilds he loved where
his movements and purpose are not known. In 1895, his health failing (he
was 72), he left the mountains and in 1899, entered a Veterans Hospital
in Los Angeles.
Originally, John Garrison was buried in the hospital cemetery in Los Angeles,
but was moved (with Robert Redford as one of the pallbearers) to Old Trail
Town in Cody, Wyoming.
John Garrison was portrayed by Robert Redford in the movie Jeremiah Johnson.
To learn much more about John Garrison and his life go to: