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Explorers, Trappers, Traders & Mountain Men - P

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A trappers' campfireArchibald Palmer, aka: James A. Hamilton (??-1840) - Thought to have been from England, he was well-educated and many thought him to have been of noble descent. However, when he arrived in United States, he was going by the name of James A. Hamilton, which led many to suspect, he had something to hide. He went to work for the American Fur Company, though he was said to have hated Indians, a strange attitude given his occupation. Other employees of the company were said to hold him in awe because he took a bath and put on a clean shirt every day. He was in charge of Fort Union, North Dakota during much of the 1830s, where he was said to have elegantly hosted a number of intellectual and titled guests. By 1840; however, he was living prosperously in St. Louis, Missouri, where he died in February, 1840.


Pierre Didier Papin (1798-1853) - Born at St. Louis, Missouri on March 7, 1798, he grew up to work for the American Furn Company. In 1829, he formed his own company to compete with his former employer, but soon sold out to his rival. He then went back to work for the American Fur Company, working near the White River, South Dakota until about 1842. He then made his way to Fort Laramie, Wyoming, before working near Fort John, Nebraska. Somewhere along the line he married a French woman, and the pair had four children. He died at Fort John, Nebraska in May, 1853.  

Honore Picotte - A French-Canadian, Picotte came to the Missouri River in about 1820 and joined with the Columbia Fur Company, but after its union with the American Fur Company he joined with others in forming the French Fur Company in 1827. When it sold to the American Fur Company in 1830, he went to work for their Upper Missouri Outfit where he remained for some twenty years. He became a partner and finally rose to an influential standing in the company's affairs. During this time he married a Sioux woman and gained a great deal of influence among the tribe. He was stationed for many years at Fort Pierre.  

Zebulon Pike, early 1800sZebulon Pike (1779-1813) - A military man and explorer, Pike was born on January 5, 1779 in Lamberton, New Jersey.  Pike’s father was a military man and young Zeb grew up on military posts and started his own military career in 1794, at the age of 15. In 1803, when President Thomas Jefferson sent Lewis and Clark to explore the Northwest, General James Wilkinson sent Pike to explore the Mississippi River to discover its headwaters. Two years later, he was sent to discover the headwaters of the Red and Arkansas Rivers in what is referred to as the Pike Expedition, the rivers of which some thought might provide a water route to the Pacific Ocean. He was also tasked with determining the extent of Spanish fortifications along the Texas-New Mexico Spanish border. This route  took him across the Southwest where he first spied the 14,110 feet Mountain on the Colorado plains that would eventually bear his name.  Though he attempted to climb it, the peak proved to be too high. When he crossed over the Sangre de Cristo Mountains into New Mexico, Spanish troops arrested his expedition for trespassing and escorted them to Santa Fe. After several months of negotiation, Pike and his men were released and returned to Washington, D.C., bringing valuable information about the land and its resources. During the War of 1812, he led a successful advance on York (now called Toronto), Canada, in which he and 52 of his men were killed by a hidden mine. Pike died on April 12, 1813. See Full Article HERE.


Joshua Pilcher (1790-1843) - Trapper, trader, and Indian agent, Pilcher was born in Culpeper County, Virginia on may 15, 1790. After receiving an education in Kentucky, he entered the fur trade business and in 1819, partnered with manual Lisa and others in the Missouri Fur Company. He worked primarily in Nebraska, where he traded with the Omaha tribe. When Manuel Lisa died in 1820, he became the president of the company. However, competition from the Hudson's Bay Company and the Rocky Mountain Fur Company was increasing, causing financial difficulties for the company.



On May 31, 1823, a large Blackfoot war party ambushed Pilcher’s men, killing seven of them and wounding four others. Their traps, pack horses and pelts were stolen  Resulting in a loss of about $15,000, Joshua Pilcher pulled his men back from the Northwest, but the ambush caused a death blow for the company. They never returned to the northwest and by the spring of 1824, the Missouri Fur Company  was bankrupt. By 1833 he was working for the American Fur Company and the following year, became the Upper Missouri Indian Agent. He later succeeded William Clark as Superintendent of Indian Affairs at St. Louis in 1838, a position he held until September, 1841. He died at St. Louis, Missouri on June 5, 1843.


Simon Plamondon (1800-1900) - A frontiersman and adventurer, Plamondon was born on the St. Lawrence River in Canada in 1900. When still a mere boy, at the age of 15, he began to range along the Mississippi River, and soon spent time on the Great Plains and Rocky Mountains. by 1818, he had made his way to the Pacific Northwest and joined the North West Company as a voyageur, trapper and trader. He explored the Columbia River and worked out of Fort Vancouver, after the North West Company had been absorbed by Hudson's Bay Company. Somewhere along the line he married an Indian wife, who died in childbirth about 1827. He then wandered north as far as Eskimo country and the Arctic plains. Afterwards, he turned to farming in Washington Territory. He died at Cowlitz, Washington in 1900 at the age of 100.



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