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, 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 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 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.
Samuel de Champlain (1567-1635) – Samuel de Champlain was an explorer, navigator, map maker, soldier, French colonist, and diplomat. He made between 21 and 29 trips across the Atlantic Ocean and founded Quebec and New France on July 3, 1608.
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-led 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 near Fort Robinson, Nebraska. He died in 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 also became a Texas Ranger and fought in the Mexican-American War and the Civil War.
Henry Hudson – An English explorer, Hudson is best known for exploring 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.
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 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 (1798-1838) – Fur trader Daniel Lamont was 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.
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 worked for several fur companies from the Great Lakes to the Pacific Northwest.
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 became simply the Missouri Fur Company, which went bankrupt in 1824.
Luis de Moscoso Alvarado (1505-1551) – A Spanish explorer and conquistador, he participated in the conquest of present Mexico, Guatemala, and El Salvador. He 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, was attacked by Indians, and was 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 went 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 company employees were said to hold him in awe because he took a bath and wore 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 several 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 in 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 returned to work for the American Fur Company, near the White River, South Dakota, until about 1842. He then went to Fort Laramie, Wyoming, before working near Fort John, Nebraska. He married a French woman somewhere along the line, 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 the Columbia Fur Company. After its union with the American Fur Company, he formed the French Fur Company in 1827. When it was sold to the American Fur Company in 1830, he went to work for their Upper Missouri Outfit, where he remained for some 20 years. He became a partner and finally became influential in the company’s affairs. During this time, he married a Sioux woman and gained much 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 Hudson’s Bay Company had absorbed the North West Company. Somewhere along the line, he married an Indian wife, who died in childbirth in 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.
Charles Preuss – Mapping the Oregon Trail – (1803 – 1854) John C. Frémont’s cartographer was the German Immigrant George Karl Ludwig Preuss, who helped create the original Oregon Trail Map. Historian and author Stephen Schell writes of his important work and the search for a grave almost lost.
John Reed (17??-1814) – Mountain man and explorer Reed hailed from Ireland but made his way to America somewhere along the line. He joined John Jacob Astor’s American Fur Company and went west with the Hunt overland Party. After reaching 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 11, after having been attacked by Indians, they stole their provisions and 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 Corps, 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 dishonorably discharged and returned 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 in 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, and 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. In 1844, he went to Ohio and 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 of Talbot’s early life is known. However, Talbot responded when William Henry Ashley called for “one hundred young men” to ascend the Missouri River to trap beaver in 1922. Talbot and 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 shooting cups of whiskey off each other’s heads. When Talbot discovered that Fink had deliberately killed Carpenter a few weeks later, 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 in 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 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.