Explorers & Frontiersman List

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Marcelino Baca (1808?-1862) – Born in New Mexico in about 1808, Baca was a 19th century fur trader. A native of Taos, New Mexico, Baca first learned beaver trapping while accompanying American groups, as the Spanish government required Mexican citizens to accompany any foreign commercial operation. After the fur trade in the American Southwest declined, Baca trapped in the northern Rocky Mountains, and eventually settled near Pueblo, Colorado. Under increasing threat from local Indian tribes, Baca moved his family to the small village of Rio Colorado, in New Mexico in 1854. With the advent of the Civil War, Baca joined the New Mexico Volunteers and was killed in a battle with invading Texans on February 21, 1862.

Jim Baker, mountain man

Jim Baker, mountain man

Jim Baker (1818-1898) – One of the most colorful figures of the Old West, Baker worked as a trapper, scout and guide and  was a friend of Jim Bridger and Kit Carson. He was also one of  General John C. Fremont’s favorite scouts. Born at Belleville, Illinois on December 19, 1818, he was recruited by Jim Bridger as a trapper for the American Fur Company when he was 21. Leaving St. Louis, Missouri with a large trapping party in May, 1838, he spent two years in the Rocky Mountains before briefly returning to Illinois in 1840. He soon returned westward, accompanying an emigrant train. In August of 1841 he was involved in a desperate fight at the junction of Bitter Creek and the Snake River when 35 trappers beat off a large band of Sioux, Cheyenne, and Arapaho. He spent the next several years in the mountains before he was hired as chief scout for General William S. Harney of Fort Laramie, Wyoming. He guided Randolph Marcy from Fort Bridger, Wyoming to Fort Union, New Mexico, in late 1857. In 1859, he settled in Denver and guided numerous parties into the mountains. However, in 1873 he moved to a homestead near Dixon, Wyoming, where he raised livestock until his death on May 15, 1898. He was buried at Savery, Wyoming. During his lifetime, he was married six times, each time to an Indian woman, and sired numerous children. See More HERE.

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. See More HERE.

William Becknell blazes the Santa Fe Trail

William Becknell blazes the Santa Fe Trail

William Becknell (1788-1856) – A frontiersman and trader who established the Santa Fe Trail. See Full Article HERE.

James Pierson Beckwourth (1798-1860) – Generally known as Jim Beckworth, he was was an American mountain man, fur trader, and explorer.

Charles Bent (1799-1847) – One of the famous Bent brothers who helped “open the West,” by building Bent’s Fort in Colorado in 1833.

William Bent (1809-1869) – One of the famous Bent brothers who helped “open the West,” by building Bent’s Fort in Colorado in 1833.

Bartholomew Berthold (1780-1831) – A prominent St. Louis fur trader, Berthold was born Berthelemi Antoine Marthias Bertolla de Moncenigo near the city of Trent, Tyrol, Italy in 1780. When Napoleon invaded Italy, Bartholomew joined the opposition and was wounded in battle. After the French conquered Italy, he left his homeland and arrived in the United States in 1798. At that time he anglicized his name to Bartholomew Berthold. After a short stay in Philadelphia, he settled in Baltimore, but in 1809 he moved to Missouri.  There, along with Rene Paul, he engaged in the mercantile business. In 1811 he married Pelagie Chouteau, the only daughter of Major Pierre Chouteau, Sr., and the couple would eventually have seven children. He formed a partnership with his brother-in-law, Pierre Chouteau, Jr., and conducted a successful business for several years. Later, he and Chouteau, along with John P. Cabanne and Bernard Pratte, became associated with John Jacob Astor in the American Fur Company. The business was very profitable, and Berthold became one of the wealthiest citizens of St. Louis. He died in St. Louis, Missouri on April 20, 1831, at the age of 57. His widow survived him 44 years, dying in 1875, at the age of 85.

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. Born in Pennsylvania on November 2, 1734, In May, 1750, Boone’s father moved the family to North Carolina. Boone fought in the French and Indian War in 1755 and in 1765 began to explore as far south as Pensacola, Florida. When the Revolutionary War began in 1775, Boone fought on both sides. See Full Article HERE.

Benjamin Louis Eulalie de Bonneville (1796-1878) – A French-born army officer, frontiersman and explorer of the American West, Bonneville is best known for blazing portions of the Oregon Trail. Daniel Boone (1734-1820) – Frontiersman, pioneer, surveyor and Indian Fighter who blazed the trail known as the Wilderness Road in 1775. See Full Article HERE.

James Bowie

James Bowie

James “Jim” Bowie (1796-1836) – An American frontiersman and explorer, James was born in Kentucky in 1796 before his family moved to Missouri, then Louisiana. Bowie was a knife wielding adventurer who quickly gained a reputation for his bold and fearless disposition. The long knife he carried in his adventures seeking silver and gold, soon began to bear his name. Bowie moved to Texas in 1828 and joined the fight against Santa Anna for independence. He was the commander of the volunteers at the Alamo and was killed on March 6, 1836, along with 189 defenders.

Alexander K. Branch (1798-1841) – Frontiersman and trapper, Branch was born in Virginia. However, when he grew up, he went west and was in Taos, New Mexico by 1825. He then spent several years trapping beaver in the south west and the Rocky Mountains. In 1829 he was baptized a Catholic and took the name, Jose de Jesus. Somewhere along the line he married a native woman, with whom he had seven children. He later became a merchant in Santa Fe, New Mexico. He died in January, 1841.

Francis Ziba Branch (1802-1874) – Sailor, trapper and trader, Branch was born on July 24, 1802 in Cayuga County, New York. When he grew up, he became a sailor working on the Great Lakes. In 1830, he joined a caravan headed for Santa Fe, New Mexico. Later that same year, he joined William Wolfskill on a trapping expedition to California. Along the way, the group was instrumental in opening what became known as the Old Spanish Trail from New Mexico to California. On his arrival, Branch spent years hunting sea otter. Later he became a businessman at Santa Barbara, California, before moving to a ranch in San Luis Obispo County. He died on May 8, 1874 of bronchitis.

Elias Brevoort (1822-??) – Frontiersman, trader, and author, Brevoort was well acquainted with the Santa Fe Trail and southwest.

James Bridger (1804-1881) – An accomplished trapper, scout, and mountain man, Bridger was one of the first non-Indians to see the natural wonders of what would become Yellowstone Park. See Full Article HERE.

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