Explorers & Frontiersman List

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Rocky Mountain Fur Company

Rocky Mountain Fur Company

David Edward Jackson (1790-1837) – Pioneer, explorer, trader and fur trapper Jackson was born in Randolph County, West Virginia in 1790 and spent his early life west of the Shenandoah Mountains. He participated in the Battle of new Orleans in the War of 1812 In the spring of 1822, he responded to an ad in the St. Louis Enquirer for a job with William Ashley’s fur company. While in present-day  South Dakota, Arikara warriors attacked the expedition on June 2, 1823. The U.S. Army retaliated in what is now known as Arikara War, the first  military conflict between the United States and the western Native Americans. In 1826, he and two other fur trappers, Jedediah Smith and William Sublette, bought out Ashley’s operations and Jackson then managed part of the business. In 1828-29, Jackson wintered among the Flathead Indians and explored the area around Jackson Hole, Wyoming, which is named for him. By 1830, Jackson, Smith and Sublette had made a good profit and sold the company to the Rocky Mountain Fur Company. with the same partners, Jackson then entered the Santa Fe Trail trade, reaching New Mexico in July, 1831, after Jedidiah Smith had been killed by Comanche Indians. He then traveled onto California before returning to Missouri. Ailing, he lived in Paris, Tennessee, where he died on December 24, 1837.

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 at 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 at St. Louis, Missouri on September 28, 1865.

Mathew Kinkead (1795-18??) – Merchant, trader, and rancher in New Mexico and Colorado, Kinkead finally found wealth in the California goldfields.

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.

James Kipp (1788-1880) – A fur trader who worked for the North West Company and Columbia Fur Company. He built Fort Piegan, Montana, the first post in the Blackfoot territory.


William Laidlaw (1798?-1851) – A fur trader, who next to Kenneth McKenzie was said to have been one of the best.

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 Salle

Rene Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle

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.

Joaquin Antoine Leroux (1810-1881) – Also known as Watkins Leroux, Antoine was a celebrated 19th-century mountain man, scout, and trail guide based in New Mexico.

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.

Stephen Harriman Long (1784-1864) – An engineer, explorer, and military officer, Long led what’s known as the Long’s Expedition through the Great Plains.

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.

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