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Explorers, Trappers, Traders & Mountain Men - C

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Jean Pierre Cabanne home in St. Louis, MissouriJean Pierre Cabanne (1773-1841) - A merchant and fur trader, Cabanne was born to Jean Cabanne and Jeanne Dutilh in Pau, Bearne, France on October 18, 1773. After receiving a good education and training in the merchandise business, he traveled to the United States with considerable capital. He first established himself in the sugar trade in Charleston, South Carolina. Though he was initially profitable, he met with disaster when he lost two of his trading vessels at sea. He then made his way to New Orleans, Louisiana for a brief time before moving to St. Louis, Missouri and entering the fur trade business. On April 8, 1799, he married Julia Gratiot, the daughter of a successful area merchant, and the pair would eventually have nine children.


By 1801, he was actively trading with the Kanza Indians and was illegally involved in operations with John Jacob Astor by the following year. Four years later, he obtained the licenses to officially trade with tribes as far north as Sioux country along the Missouri River. Though, he remained a permanent resident of St. Louis, he spent part of each year in the wilderness and was associated with a number of well known fur traders including Bernard Pratt, Pierre Chouteau, Jr., Bartholomew Berthold, Manuel Lisa and others. 


Along with the American Fur Company, he established Cabanne's Trading Post on the Missouri River between Omaha and Fort Calhoun in 1822. It later became Fort Robidoux near present-day Dodge Park in North Omaha, Nebraska. For several years he was a partner in the Pratt, Chouteau & Co. and entered into a succession of companies, that eventually merged into the American Fur Company in 1826. During this time he amassed a large fortune in the fur trade business, but by the early 1830s, the fur trade on the lower Missouri River had began to decline. He then became briefly involved in the Santa Fe trade and retained his interest in the American Fur Company until about 1840, when he and Bernard Pratte formed an opposition company.


Over the years, he also parlayed his business skills to become a commissioner for the Bank of St. Louis and founded and the Bank of Missouri. He was also one of the first incorporators of the City of St. Louis and served as a member of the first Public School Board. A leading citizen of St. Louis, his death on June 27, 1841 was mourned by many. Many of his descendants still reside in the city.


Robert Campbell (1804-1879) - Fur trader, merchant and Indian Commissioner, Campbell was born in Ireland on February 4, 1804. He immigrated to America in 1822 and two years later was in St. Louis, Missouri There, he was advised to lead an outdoor life because of tuberculosis and joined Jedediah Smith on an expedition to the Rocky Mountains in late 1825. In 1832, he joined with famed trapper, William L. Sublette in a partnership, directly competing with the American Fur Company. That same year, he participated in the Battle of Pierre's Hole in present-day Idaho. Suffering reverses, they confined their activities to the mountain territory and dissolved the partnership in 1842. He then returned to St. Louis, where he began to work as a merchant. He attended the Fort Laramie treaty gathering in 1851 and during the Mexican-American War, helped form a regiment which he commanded. Diversifying his business interests, he soon became involved in real estate and banking. He prospered until his death in St. Louis, Missouri on October 16, 1879.


Francois Auguste Chardon (1795-1848) - A fur trader, Chardon was born at Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. By 1815 he was living in Louisiana where he fought in the Battle of New Orleans, the final major battle of the War of 1812.  In 1817 he was working for Bartholomew Berthold, a prominent fur trader in St. Louis, Missouri. Working with the Osage Indians, he learned their language, took a wife in the tribe and fathered a son.


He was transferred to the upper Missouri River in 1827 where he became part of the Upper Missouri Outfit of the American Fur Company. There, he went through a series of Indian wives including an Arikara woman with whom he had two children. Next he married a 15 year-old Sioux girl, and then another Sioux woman. All left him within short periods. Chardon remained in the upper Missouri River area for the rest of his life, becoming one of the best known and best paid fur traders in history. He worked out of various trading posts including Fort Pierre, Fort Union, For Clark, and in 1833 built and ran Fort Jackson. In 1843, he was working out of Fort McKenzie. However, by this time, he had also began to drink heavily and often left the operation of the post to Alexander Harvey, a callous and violent man. In late 1843, a band of Blackfoot stole some cattle from the post and killed a black servant. In retaliation, Harvey killed an innocent band of Blackfoot Indians in February of the following year in a cannon ambush, while Chardon was too drunk to pay attention. Before long the Blackfoot took their revenge and burned Fort McKenzie to the ground. Later, Fort Francis Chardon was built at the mouth of the Judith River to take its place. Chardon then moved on to Fort Clark and then helped to establish Fort Berthold, where he was ordered out of the Indian country for selling liquor to the natives. He died, purportedly of rheumatism on April 21, 1848 and was buried at Fort Pierre, South Dakota.





Touissant Charbonneau (1767-1843) - A French-Canadian explorer and trader, and a member of the Lewis and Clark Expedition, best known as the husband of Sacagawea. See full article HERE.

William ClarkWilliam Clark (1770-1838) - Explorer, soldier, Indian agent, and territorial governor of Missouri, William Clark was born on August 1, 1770 in Caroline County, Virginia. He moved with his family to Louisville, Kentucky in 1785 and joined the militia in 1789. In 1796 he left the army and in 1803, Captain Meriwether Lewis invited him to share the leadership in the Corps of Discovery. For the next three years, they and their men explored the vast uncharted area newly acquired in the Louisiana Purchase, with Clark acting as mapmaker and artist. After Clark's successful return from the Pacific coast three years later, President Jefferson awarded him 1,600 acres and made him brigadier general of militia for the Louisiana Territory as well as superintendent of Indian affairs. From 1813 to 1832, Clark served as governor of the Missouri Territory. Clark died of natural causes in St. Louis on September 1, 1838. See Full Article HERE. 

John Colter (1774?-1813) - Frontiersman, explorer, fur trapper, mountain man, and army scout credited with the being the discoverer of the Yellowstone area. - See full article HERE.


William Craig (1807-1869) - A frontiersman and trapper, Craig was born in Greenbriar County, West Virginia in 1807. Allegedly, he left home after killing a man in self-defense, and soon headed to the Pacific Northwest, probably with William Sublette and other fur traders. He also trapped with Jedediah Smith in the Blackfoot country until he joined Joe Walker's California Expedition of 1833-34. In 1836, he and others established a trading post known as Fort Davy Crockett in Brown's Hole, Colorado. He acted as a guide to a missionary party to Fort Hall, Idaho and on the the Whitman Mission near Walla Walla, Washington. He then established a farm near Lapwai, Idaho. Somewhere along the line, he married a Nez Perce woman and was friendly with the tribe. In 1856, he became the Indian Agent for the Nez Perce tribe and occasionally scouted for the army. He died of  a stroke in 1869.


Davy CrockettDavid "Davy" Crockett (1786-1836) - A frontiersman, explorer and pioneer, David de Crocketagne was born on August 17, 1786, near Limestone, Kentucky. Crockett  fought in the Creek Indian War under Andrew Jackson, before taking up the life of a politician. He represented Tennessee in the state legislature and then as a representative in the U.S. Congress.  However, when he lost the re-election in 1835, he said "you may all go to hell, and I will go to Texas." He joined the Texas Revolution in the fall of 1835 and in February, 1836, he arrived at the Alamo with his group of Tennessee Mounted Volunteers. Fighting against Santa Anna during the siege of the Alamo, he lost his life on March 6, 1836, along with 189 defenders. More ...


Alexander Culbertson (1809-1879) - Born at Chambersburg, Pennsylvania in May, 1809, he lived with his parents on their farm until 1826. At that time, he went with an uncle to the Florida Indian campaigns. From there, he traveled to New Orleans and thenSt. Louis, Missouri, where he joined the American Fur Company in 1830. He worked with Kenneth McKenzie and William Laidlaw, but, was popular among his peers, lacking the arbitrary manner that was characteristic of McKenzie and Laidlaw. He rose steadily and became the company's most important man when McKenzie and Laidlaw retired. For a long while, he was at the head of Fort Union, North Dakota and for a time also of Fort Laramie, Wyoming. He built Fort Alexander, Montana on the Yellowstone River near the mouth of the Bighorn River. His knowledge of the Indians and the western country was considered superior to anyone of the time and his ability as a horseman and buffalo hunter was unequalled. He married a Blackfoot Indian woman, with whom he had several children who were well educated. By 1870, he was living at Fort Benton, serving as an interpreter for various agencies. He died at Orleans, Nebraska on August 27, 1879.




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