James Aird (1757-1819) – A Scottish fur trader, Aird spent nearly 40 years among the Dakota Sioux in what is now Iowa and Minnesota becoming a prominent fur trader at Mackinac, Michigan, and Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin.
John David Albert (1810-1899) – John David Albert was a mountain man who made his way west from Pennsylvania and was friends with other important frontiersmen of the time including Jim Baker and Charles Autobees.
Captain Juan Bautista de Anza II (1736-1788) – A Mexican-born trailblazer and explorer, de Anza was the first person of European descent to establish an overland trail from Mexico to the northern Pacific coast of California.
John Jacob Astor (1763-1848) – Astor, who formed the American Fur Company, was the head of the Astor family dynasty and the first millionaire in the United States.
Francois Xavier Aubry (1824-1854) – Aubry was a French Canadian merchant, wagon train captain, and explorer of the American Southwest. His achievements include speed records riding the Santa Fe Trail and early exploration of the 35th parallel northwest of the North American continental divide.
Charles Autobees (1812-1882) – Trader, trapper, and mountain man, Autobees worked with such notable men as William Bent, Ceran St. Vrain, Kit Carson, James Bridger, and James Beckwourth, as well as a number of Indian tribes.
Vasco Nunez de Balboa (1475?-1519) – Spanish conquistador and explorer, Balboa who was the first European to see the eastern part of the Pacific Ocean in 1513 after crossing the Isthmus of Panama.
Jefferson Blackwell – A fur trader who worked with John Gannt in the upper Rocky Mountains.
Daniel Boone (1734 – 1820) – An American Pioneer, Daniel Boone was a frontiersman, surveyor, and Indian Fighter who blazed the trail known as the Wilderness Road in 1775. He fought in the French and Indian War and in the American Revolution.
Etienne Veniard de Bourgmont (1679-1734) – Bourgmont was a French explorer who documented his travels on the Missouri and Platte Rivers in North America and made the first European maps of these areas in the early 18th century.
Francis Ziba Branch (1802-1874) – Francis Ziba Branch was a sailor, trapper, and trader who worked across the United States.
Elias Brevoort (1822-??) – Frontiersman, trader, and author, Brevoort was well acquainted with the Santa Fe Trail and southwest.
Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo (?-1543) – A Spanish or Portuguese explorer, Cabrillo was the first European to explore the California coast
Sebastiao Melendez Rodriguez Cermeno (1560?-1602) – A Spanish navigator and explorer, Cermeno was Portuguese by birth.
Francois Auguste Chardon (1795-1848) – A fur trader, Chardon fought in the Battle of New Orleans, the final major battle of the War of 1812.
William Clark (1770-1838) – Explorer and geographical expert who co-lead the Lewis and Clark Expedition.
Christopher Columbus (1451-1506) – Christopher Columbus was an Italian explorer, navigator, and colonizer who discovered* the “New World” of the Americas on an expedition sponsored by King Ferdinand of Spain in 1492.
Comancheros (1780s-1874) – An ethnically mixed group of New Mexican traders who made their living by trading with the Comanche, Kiowa, and other Plains tribes in the late 18th and 19th centuries mostly in northeastern New Mexico and West Texas.
Hernando Cortes (1485-1547) – He was a Spanish Conquistador who led an expedition that caused the fall of the Aztec Empire and brought large portions of mainland Mexico under the rule of the King of Castile in the early 16th century.
Edward De Morin (1818-1902) – Trapper and Trader who worked for the American Fur Company. Born in Montreal Canada in 1818, De Morin grew up to be a trapper, particularly on the Illinois River. In 1836, he went to work for the American Fur Company and later traded for other firms in the Upper Missouri River country. By 1844, he had made his way to California but later returned to the Midwest, where he lived near Fort McPherson, Nebraska around 1863. He often worked as an interpreter in the vicinity of Fort Robinson, Nebraska. He died at North Platte, Nebraska on June 16, 1902.
Hernando De Soto (1496?-1542) – Hernando de Soto was about 36-years-old when he was appointed adelantado of Florida. He was “a gentleman by all four descents,” and had recently been created by the Emperor, a knight of the order of Santiago.
Joseph Dickson (1775-1844) – One of the first known mountain men, he, along with Forrest Hancock, followed Lewis and Clark up the Missouri River in 1804.
Joseph Bainbridge Doyle (1817-1864) – Doyle was a trapper, Indian trader, businessman, and Colorado pioneer and politician.
Estevanico (1500?-1539) – He was the first known person born in Africa to have arrived in the present-day continental United States.
Russel Farnham (1784-1832) – Explorer and fur trader, Farnham was an agent of John Jacob Astor’s American Fur Company.
Mike Fink (1770-1823) – A keel boatman and fur trader, he was also a renowned marksman, roisterer, and champion rough-and-tumble fighter. He joined William Henry Ashley’s first fur-trapping and trading expedition to the upper Missouri River country and was killed in a quarrel the next year.
Thomas Fitzpatrick, aka: Broken Hand (1799-1854) – A mountain man and Indian agent, Fitzpatrick was involved in many of the most important events in the opening of the West.
Lucien Fontenelle (1800-1839) – A fur trader, Fontenelle, was associated with several fur companies before becoming part of the American Fur Company.
John Charles Fremont (1813-1890) – Was an explorer, military officer, and politician who led multiple surveying expeditions through the western territory of the United States.
Juan de Fuca (15??-1601?) – A Greek navigator who sailed for Spain under a Spanish name.
Joseph Goff Gale (1807-1881) – Joseph Goff Gale was a trapper, trader, pioneer, and politician.
Hugh Glass (1780?-1833) – A trapper and trader in the American West, he was killed by Arikara Indians.
John W. Gunnison (1812-1853) – After serving in the Florida War of 1837-1839, Gunnison spent the next ten years surveying the lakes and harbors of the great northwestern United States.
Alexander Harvey (1808-1854) – Harvey was one of the boldest men and most reckless desperadoes known to the fur trade. Despite his fierce temper and known cruelty, he worked in the fur industry for years.
Valentine Johnson “Rube” Herring (1812-1883) – Herring was a trapper in the American West that settled down to become a government official. In trapping circles, he was universally known as “Old Rube.”
Captain James Hobbs (1819-1880) – Also known as Comanche Jim, Hobbs was the Great-grandson of renowned Shawnee Indian Chief, Tecumseh. He spent a number of years roaming the Southwest with the likes of Kit Carson. He would also become a Texas Ranger, and fought in the Mexican-American War, and the Civil War.
Henry Hudson – An English explorer, Hudson is best known for his explorations of present-day Canada and parts of the northeastern United States.
Hudson’s Bay Company (1670-present) – Chartered on May 2, 1670, the Hudson’s Bay Company (HBC) is the oldest commercial corporation in North America and is one of the oldest in the world. Its trappers and traders were some of the first explorers of the North American continent.
Louis Jolliet (1645-1700) – A French Canadian explorer known for his discoveries in North America. Jolliet and Jesuit Father Jacques Marquette, a Catholic priest and missionary, were the first non-Natives to explore and map much of the Mississippi River in 1673.
Charles Keemle (1800-1865) – Born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in October 1800, Keemle grew up to become a journalist. He moved briefly to Vincennes, Indiana, before heading to St. Louis, Missouri in 1817. He joined the Missouri Fur Company in 1820 and was soon trapping on the Yellowstone River. On May 31, 1823, he barely survived a Blackfoot Indian attack that killed seven and wounded four other trappers. Later, that year, he took part in Colonel Henry Leavenworth’s indecisive attack on the Arikara Indians. That winter, he wintered with Crow Indians before returning to civilization for good. He died in St. Louis, Missouri on September 28, 1865.
Simon Kenton (1755-1836) Simon Kenton was a legendary frontiersman and soldier in West Virginia, Kentucky, and Ohio. A big man in stature and strength, his stamina was often tested as he endured the worst that was known to the frontier.
Father Eusebio Francisco Kino (1645-1711) – A Jesuit priest, missionary, explorer, map-maker, mathematician, and astronomer, Kino founded many missions and explored areas in southwestern North America, including areas in what are now northern Sonora, Mexico, southern California, and southern Arizona.
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.
Rene 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.
Meriwether Lewis (1774-1809) – Explorer, soldier, and public administrator, Lewis was best known for his role as the leader of the Corps of Discovery, whose mission was to explore the territory of the Louisiana Purchase.
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.
Manuel Lisa (1772-1820) – Frontiersman, explorer, and fur trader, Lisa founded the Missouri Fur Company.
Tristan de Luna y Arellano (1519-1571) – A Spanish conquistador of the 16th century, Arellano served with Vasquez de Coronado on his expedition to the Seven Cities of Cíbola and established Pensacola, one of the earliest European settlements within the present-day United States.
Jacques Marquette (1637-1675) – Sometimes known as Père Marquette or James Marquette, Jacques was a French Jesuit missionary who founded Michigan’s first European settlement, Sault Ste. Marie, and later founded St. Ignace, Michigan.
William E. Mathewson (1830-1916) – Though not as well known in history as the more famous “Buffalo Bill” Cody, the first man to hold the moniker of Buffalo Bill was William E. Mathewson, a daring explorer, hunter, Indian scout and fighter, who did much to prepare the pathway for western expansion.
Lucien B. Maxwell (1818-1875) – The owner of the largest land grant in American History, a friend of Kit Carson, and a frontier scout and guide, Maxwell, who has been called the “Emporer of the Old West,” died in poverty in New Mexico.
Donald McKenzie (1783-1851) – McKenzie was a Scottish-Canadian explorer and fur trader, who owrked for several fur companies from the Great Lakes to the Pacific Northwest.
Owen McKenzie – (1826-1863) – The son of famed fur trader, Kenneth McKenzie and an Indian woman, he and Kenneth McKenzie’s other children were sent to the Red River settlement in Canada for schooling. Afterward, Owen returned to the upper Missouri River, and in 1843 was working as a hunter at Fort Union, North Dakota. He was said to have been a skilled horseman and a first-rate shot. He then was placed in charge of a fur trade post on the White River. In the winter of 1862-63, he was in charge of a small post for the La Barge, Harkness and Company on the Missouri River above Fort Union. In the summer of 1863, he was sent to take charge of Fort Galpin at the mouth of the Milk River in present-day South Dakota. There, he got into a dispute with Malcolm Clarke and his son, Horace over money matters, which soon turned into a brawl. Malcolm Clark then shot and killed McKenzie, before fleeing the area to escape the revenge of McKenzie’s many friends. Clarke was later killed by Piegan Indians
Missouri Fur Company (1808-12, 1819-24) – First established as the St. Louis Missouri Fur Company by several famous explorers and traders, the company prospered until the War of 1812, at which time it folded. It was resurrected; however, in 1819, then becoming simply the Missouri Fur Company, which went bankrupt in 1824.
David Dawson Mitchell (1806-1861) – Born in Louisa County, Virginia on July 31, 1806, he grew up to become a trapper and trader for the American Fur Company. He had a long and honorable career in the fur trade, first as a clerk and then as a partner in the Upper Missouri Outfit. He was the builder of Fort McKenzie in 1832. He became United States Superintendent of Indian Affairs in St. Louis, Missouri in 1841, and held the position at intervals until 1852. He entered the volunteer service during the Mexican-American War and became a Lieutenant-Colonel of a Missouri regiment raised by Sterling Price. He also served with Colonel Alexander Doniphan during the war and commanded the detachment that captured Chihuahua. Later, he promoted the Fort Laramie Peace Council which led to the Fort Laramie Treaty in September 1851. He helped to organize the Missouri and California Overland Mail and Transportation Company in 1855, and for a time, served as president of the organization. He died in St. Louis, Missouri on May 31, 1861.
Luis de Moscoso Alvarado (1505-1551) – A Spanish explorer and conquistador, he participated in the conquest of present Mexico, Guatemala and El Salvador, and assumed command of Hernando De Soto’s expedition after he died.
Panfilo de Narvaez(1478?-1528) – Spanish explorer and soldier, Narvaez helped conquer Cuba in 1511 and led a Spanish royal expedition to North America in 1527.
North West Company (1779-1821) – A Canadian-based fur company, the competition with Hudson’s Bay Company was so fierce it caused armed conflicts and they were forced by the British authorities, to merge with Hudson’s Bay Company in 1821.
Robert “Doc” Newell (1807-1869) – A trapper, trader, and frontier doctor, he became a politician in Oregon.
Pacific Fur Company (1810-1813) – Founded in June 1810 by John Jacob Astor, who also owned the American Fur Company, it was short-lived when it lost two ships, were attacked by Indians, and were forced out by the War of 1812.
Archibald 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 the 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.
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 the 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. Afterward, he turned to farming in Washington Territory. He died at Cowlitz, Washington in 1900 at the age of 100.
Juan Ponce de Leon (1460?-1521) – A Spanish explorer and soldier, he was the first European to set foot in Florida. He also established the oldest European settlement in Puerto Rico and discovered the Gulf Stream.
John Reed (17??-1814) – Mountain man and explorer, Reed hailed from Ireland but made his way to America somewhere along the line. He joined with the John Jacob Astor’s American Fur Company and went west with the Hunt overland Party. After having reached Astoria, he and several other men were sent on March 30, 1812, with dispatches for Astor to cross the continent again to New York. However, the group arrived back at the post on May 11th, after having been attacked by Indians, whole stole their provisions as well as the dispatches. In early 1813, Reed explored the Willamette Valley, Oregon and spent that winter In southern Idaho. On January 10, 1814, he and several other trappers along the Boise River, were killed by Snake Indians.
Moses B. Reed – A frontiersman who was a private in the Lewis and Clark Expedition, he soon found that he hated life along the trail and was reprimanded several times for small infractions. On August 4, 1804, he deserted the Corp, trying to make his way back to civilization. However, George Drouillard was sent to track him down and bring him back “dead or alive.” He was soon dishonorably discharged and sent back to St. Louis, Missouri in disgrace in 1805. He was never heard from again.
Jean “John” Baptiste Richard, Sr. (1810-1875) – A French trapper, trader, and entrepreneur, Richard managed several trading posts in Wyoming, ranched, built bridges, and worked briefly in the Colorado goldfields.
Rocky Mountain Fur Company (1822-1833) – Sometimes referred to as Ashley’s Hundred, the Rocky Mountain Fur Company was organized in St. Louis, Missouri in 1822 by General William Henry Ashley and Major Andrew Henry.
Sacagawea (1790?-1812?) A Shoshone Indian woman, she was captured by an enemy tribe who eventually sold her to a French Canadian trapper she later married. In 1804, Lewis and Clark, her husband, Touissant Charbonneau, was hired by the expedition as an interpreter. Sacagawea became an integral part of the expedition.
Rufus B. Sage (1817-1893) – A frontiersman, mountain man, and author, Sage was born at Cromwell, Connecticut, where he became a newspaperman when he grew up. Somewhere along the line, he made his way to Independence, Missouri. In September 1841, he left with Lancaster P. Lupton, headed to Fort Platte, Wyoming where they stayed for the winter before returning to Missouri the next summer. Before long, he was off to the mountains again, where he lived as a mountain man and traveled from Fort Hall, Idaho to Texas, studiously taking notes all the while. In 1844, he went to Ohio, where he wrote the book Scenes in the Rocky Mountains. He died on December 23, 1893.
John Sayer (1750-1818) – An experienced trader with many years of experience, John Sayer became a wintering partner of the North West Company in the 1790s. In 1804 he established the North West Company Fur Trading Post near Pine City, Minnesota.
Alexander Sinclair (1790-1832) – Probably born in Tennessee, he grew up to become a trapper. In 1830, he joined with George Nidever and others, forming the Bean-Sinclair trapping party at Fort Smith, Arkansas. Leading the party, Sinclair and his men joined the rendezvous at Pierre’s Hole in 1832. In the Battle of Pierre’s Hole, he was killed on July 18, 1832.
Prewett Fuller Sinclair (1803-1882) – The younger brother of Alexander Sinclair, he was probably born in Tennessee. Along with his brother, he joined the Bean-Sinclair trapping party at Fort Smith, Arkansas in 1830. His older brother was killed two years later at the Battle of Pierre’s Hole in present-day Idaho. Prewett remained in the mountains until 1837 when he became a partner in Fort Davy Crockett at Brown’s Hole, Colorado. He then went to California in 1843. In 1846 he briefly joined one of John Charles Fremont’s expeditions, before settling at Corralitos, California. There, he became a prominent pioneer and businessman. He died in 1882.
John Simpson Smith, aka: Uncle John Blackfoot Smith (1812-1871) – Trader and frontiersman, Smith ranged from the Yellowstone River to the Gila River, and from the upper Missouri River to the Rio Grande.
William L. Sublette (1799-1845) – An explorer, fur trapper, trader, and mountain man, Sublette was part of William Henry Ashley’s trapping group referred to as Ashley’s Hundred. he went on to acquire part of the business.
Levi Talbot (??-1823) – A trapper for the Rocky Mountain Fur Company, nothing is known of Talbot’s early life However when William Henry Ashley called for “one hundred young men” to ascend the Missouri River to trap beaver in 1922, Talbot responded. Talbot, along with friends Mike Fink and Bill Carpenter wintered with the Rocky Mountain Fur Company before traveling to Fort Henry, Montana in the spring of 1823. There, Fink killed Bill Carpenter in a “game,” the two were fond of playing shooting cups of whiskey off each others heads. When Talbot found out a few weeks later that Fink had deliberately killed Carpenter, Levi shot Mike Fink through the heart. Later that year, Talbot took part in Colonel Henry Leavenworth’s operation against the Arikara tribe in early August. Ten days later; however, on August 25, 1823, Talbot died while attempting to swim across the Bad River, a Missouri River tributary in South Dakota.
Edward S. Terrell (1812-1905) – Pioneer, trader, and lawman, Terrell is thought to have hailed from Kentucky or Tennessee before making his way to Texas, where he is said to have been the first white man to have camped on the site of what would later become Fort Worth, Texas. After a treaty with the area Indians in 1843, Terrell became an Indian trader and trapper working at the mouth of the Clear Fork on the Trinity River. He was later captured by the Indians and held for more than a year. He would eventually become city marshal of Fort Worth, Texas in 1873 and late that year, its first chief of police. Afterward, he worked as a railroad contractor. He settled finally at Graham, Texas where he died on November 1, 1905.
Pierre Gaultier de Varennes, Sieur de La Verendrye(1685-1749) – A French Canadian military officer, fur trader and explorer, in the 1730’s he and his four sons opened up the area west of Lake Superior and thus began the process that added Western Canada to the original New France in the Saint Lawrence basin. He was also the first European to reach North Dakota and the upper Missouri River.
William Henry Vanderburgh (1800-1832) – Born at Vincennes, Indiana, he grew up to attend West Point but did not graduate. He then went to work for the Missouri Fur Company near Council Bluffs, Iowa under Manual Lisa and Joshua Pilcher.
Pierre (Luis) Louis Vasquez (1798-1868) – Pierre Louis Vasquez, also spelled Luis Vázquez, was a mountain man and trader who was involved with other famous frontiersmen of the time including Jim Bridger, Manuel Lisa, Kit Carson, and Andrew Sublette. He was a partner in Fort Vasquez, Colorado and Fort Bridger, Wyoming.
William Sherley “Old Bill” Williams (1787-1849) -Better known as “Old Bill”, was a Mountain Man, explorer, army scout, and frontiersman.
Nathaniel Jarvis Wyeth (1802-1856) – Explorer, and inventor in the American West.
Ewing Young (1796-1841) – A fur trapper and trader from Tennessee, he made his way to Santa Fe, New Mexico, then worked as a livestock trader in California, before becoming one of the first Americans to permanently live in Oregon.