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Explorers, Trappers, Traders & Mountain Men - L

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Fort Pierre Chouteau, South DakotaWilliam Laidlaw (1798?-1851) - Born in Scotland, Laidlaw, he was trained in the service of the British Fur Companies, before immigrating to America. First arriving in Canada, he made his way to St. Louis, Missouri in 1822, where he joined the Columbia Fur Company. He was soon assigned the post of Fort Tecumseh, which later became Fort Pierre Chouteau in present-day South Dakota, the largest and most important post next to Fort Union, North Dakota. When the firm merged with the American Fur Company in 1827, he stayed on and in about 1834 became a partner in the Upper Missouri Outfit. Sometimes in charge of Fort Union, he was said to have been a severe task master, and his tyrannical temper often made him unpopular. A great lover of hunting he spent much time in the buffalo chase. Like Kenneth McKenzie, he was a good letter writer and evidently was considered a be one of the most able fur trappers in the business. Somewhere along the line, he married a Sioux woman and the two would have five daughters. Remaining always faithful to her, they retired to Liberty, Missouri, where he built a house. He kept an open door to his friends as long as his money lasted, but when he died in October, 1851, he was a poor man.


Daniel Lamont - One of three partners of the Upper Missouri Outfit of the American Fur Company and one of the original company men of the Columbia Fur Company. Very little is known of his life, but it is thought that he originated from Scotland. In 1834 when John Jacob Astor sold the Western Department of the American Fur Company to Pratte, Chouteau & Co. and reorganized the Upper Missouri Outfit, several men quit including Lamont and Laidlaw. Lamont became a partner in Powell Lamont & Co., which bought and sold to the Arkansas Valley and Santa Fe market. Lamont had a long career in the fur trade, but, what became of him, we were unable to determine.


Charles Larpenteur (1807-1872) - A fur trader, Larpenteur was born in Fontainebleau, France, and while just a boy came to the United States where his family settled in Maryland. At the age of 21 he traveled west to St. Louis, Missouri where, in 1833, he went to work for William Sublette and Robert Campbell and accompanied them on an expedition of the Rocky Mountains. They arrived at the Green River Rendezvous in Wyoming in July. The men then built Fort William (later Fort Laramie) at the mouth of the Yellowstone River to compete with the American Fur Company. Sublette sold out to the American Fur Company that winter and Larpenteur then went to work for them. He left the company in the spring of 1848 and became a free trader to the Flathead tribe near Fort Benton, Montana. In about 1850, he settled down on a farm near Little Sioux, Iowa. However, he would continue to venture back out in the fur trading business for several years until 1871, when he returned to his farm for good. He died on November 15, 1872 in Little Sioux. Over the years he kept numerous journals and memoirs that documented his years in the fur trade business.


Rene Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La SalleRene Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle (1643-1687) - A French explorer, LaSalle explored the Great Lakes region of the United States and Canada, the Mississippi River, and the Gulf of Mexico. La Salle claimed the entire Mississippi River basin for France.


Born in Rouen, France, November 22, 1643. Came to Canada in 1666. Founded a first settlement near Montreal. Led several expeditions on the Great Lakes and the Ohio exploration of the Mississippi River, 1682. On July 24, 1684 La Salle sailed from France to establish a colony at the mouth of the Mississippi. He landed at Matagorda Bay on February 15, 1685 and there, established Fort St. Louis. While on his way to Canada he was murdered near the Trinity River, March 19, 1687.

La Salle's colony on Matagorda Bay gave the United States its first claim to Texas as a part of the Louisiana Purchase. A gentleman but not a courtier, a proud independent yet timid nature, and explorer of bold vision and untiring energy. "America owes him an enduring memory, for, in this masculine figure, she sees the pioneer who guided her to the possession of her richest heritage."

One of La Salle's four ships was discovered at the bottom of Matagorda Bay in 1995. "La Belle" is one of the most important shipwrecks ever discovered in North America.


Meriwether Lewis (1774-1809) - The official leader of the Lewis and Clark Expedition, Meriwether Lewis has been called "undoubtedly the greatest pathfinder this country has ever known." See full article HERE.


Benjamin "Ben" Vernon Lilly (1856-1936) - Often called the "last of the mountain men, Ben Lilly was known as the greatest lion and bear hunter in the southwest. See full article HERE.


Stephen H. LongStephen Harriman Long (1784-1864) - An engineer, explorer, and military officer, Long led what's known as Long's Expedition through the great plains. He was born at Hopkinton, New Hampshire on December 30, 1784, a son of Moses and Lucy (Harriman) Long. When he grew up he graduated at Dartmouth College, receiving a bachelors degree in 1809, before continuing his education at the same institution and gaining a masters degree in 1812. Two years later he was commissioned as a lieutenant of engineers in the United States Army, and from 1815 to 1818 was a math professor in the military academy at West Point.


In April, 1819, he was became a brevetted major and was appointed to lead an expedition to explore the territory between the Mississippi River and the Rocky Mountains. (See: Long's Expedition) Just a month before receiving this appointment, he married Martha Hodgkins of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on March 3, 1819. After returning from the expedition he spent several years surveying and building the Baltimore & Ohio and other railroads. He also became an inventor, receiving a number of patents for steam locomotives. When the United States Topographical Engineers' Corps was organized in 1838, Major Long was given an important position in connection with it. After several years of service in this corps he retired from the army and died at Alton, Illinois on September 4, 1864.



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