Explorers & Frontiersman List

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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. See Article HERE.

Rufus B. Sage (1817-1893) – A frontiersman, mountain man, and author, Sage was born at Cromwell, Connecticut, where he became a newspaper man 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. </style=”margin-top:>

John Sayer (1750-1818) – An experienced trader with many years 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. See Article HERE.

Hiram Scott (1805-1828) – Mountain Man, trapper, and trader, he grew ill and died at Scotts Bluff, Nebraska. The historic monument is named for him. See Article HERE.

George Sibley

George Sibley

George C. Sibley (1782-1863) –  Explorer, soldier, Indian agent, politician, and educator who led the 1825 Sibley Survey team of the  Santa Fe Trail. See Article HERE.

Alexander Sinclair (1790-1832) – Probably born in Tennessee, he grew up tobecome 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.

Jedediah Strong Smith (1799-1831) – A hunter, trapper, fur trader and explorer of the Rocky Mountains, the west coast, and the southwest during the nineteenth century. See Article HERE.

Captain John Smith (1580-1631) – An English soldier, explorer, admiral, and author, Smith established the first permanent English settlement in North America at Jamestown, Virginia in 1607. See Article HERE.

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.

Ceran St. Vrain (1802-1870) – Trader, frontiersman, businessman, and soldier, St. Vrain established Bent’s Fort, Colorado along with William and Charles Bent. See Article HERE.

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. See Article HERE.



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. Afterwards, he worked as a railroad contractor. He settled finally at Graham, Texas where he died on November 1, 1905.

Tom Tobin, frontiersman

Tom Tobin, frontiersman

Tom Tate Tobin (1823-1904) – A frontiersman, trapper, mountain man, and scout, he explored and scouted in the New Mexico and Colorado areas. See Article HERE.


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. A short-lived Fort Vanderburgh, North Dakota, was named for him in 1821. He took part in the Arikara War in 1823. In 1826, he and several others formed a fur trading company to succeed the Missouri Fur Company and the following year was wintering on the Green River in Wyoming. In the winter of 1828, he was trading with the Ponca Indians in Nebraska. Later, he worked under Kenneth McKenzie of the American Fur Company at Fort Union, North Dakota and led 50 men to the Green River in the summer of 1830. He continued to trade through the mountains and took part in the Battle of Pierre’s Hole, Idaho against Gros Ventre warriors on July 18, 1832. Later that year, he and another trapper named Alexis Pilou, while in the vicinity of Alder Gulch, Montana were killed in an Indian ambush on October 14, 1832. His body was never recovered.

Pierre (Luis) Louis Vasquez (1798-1868) – Born in St. Louis, Missouri on October 3, 1798, Luis Vasquez (later called Louis) grew up to become a fur trapper and trader, receiving his first license to trade with the Pawnee Indians. By the early 1830’s he had moved westward into the Rocky Mountains where he established one of the first trading posts at the mouth of Clear Creek in Colorado in 1835. Working with Andrew Sublette, the post did a brisk business for fur pelts with the Indians. Soon, however, three more trading posts were established in the region and the competition became fierce. In 1841, he sold out his interest in Fort Vasquez and soon met up with Jim Bridger. Two years later, the pair built Fort Bridger on the Black Fork of the Green River in Wyoming. The operation was not only an active trading post but soon became a popular stopping point on the Oregon Trail. In 1846, Vasquez returned to St. Louis, where he married a widow by the name Narcissa Land Ashcraft. The pair returned to Fort Bridger for a time before moving on to Salt Lake City, Utah in 1855, where Vasquez opened a store. He and Bridger sold the fort in 1858. Vasquez retired back in his home state of Missouri and died in Westport on September 5, 1868.



Voyageurs – Voyageurs were French Canadians who engaged in the transporting of furs by canoe during the fur trade years. Voyageur is a French word, meaning “traveler”. See Article HERE


Ezekiel Williams (1775-1844) – Fur trapper, frontiersman, and soldier, Williams worked with such men as Manuel Lisa and the Missouri Fur Company. See Article HERE.

William Sherley “Old Bill” Williams (1787-1849) –  A Mountain Man, explorer, army scout, and frontiersman, Williams was born in Rutherford County, North Carolina on June 3, 1787. He moved with his family to St. Louis, Missouri in 1795. When he grew up, he became a traveling preacher, before moving on to become a trapper and frontiersman, where he earned the nicknames of “Old Solitaire” or just “Old Bill Williams.” Early on, he lived among the Osage Indians, where he met and married his Indian wife. Early in the War of 1812, he served as a sergeant and scout with the Mounted Rangers. Working as a trapper and a trader, he also lived with the Ute Indians for a time and mastered several Indian languages. Moving all over the west he worked as far as Yellowstone country and California, and south in Texas. By 1835, he was working mostly along the Santa Fe Trail. By 1837; however, he was in Arizona, exploring the Colorado River. In 1848, he joined John C. Fremont’s fourth expedition at Bent’s Fort, Colorado as a guide and was one of Fremont’s favorites. Though Williams was well respected by Fremont, the latter disregarded the advice of Williams and led his group toward the headwaters of the Rio Grande River, where most of the party perished of cold and starvation. In 1849, while retracing parts of the expedition, Williams was killed by Ute Indians on March 21st.  More ….

Richens Lacey “Uncle Dick” Wootton

Richens Lacey “Uncle Dick” Wootton

Richens Lacy “Uncle Dick” Wootton (1816-1893) – American frontiersman, mountain man, trapper, and guide, Wootton was born in Mecklenberg County, Virginia on May 6, 1816. At the age of 7, the family moved to Kentucky, where Richard stayed until he was 17. He then moved to Mississippi where he worked on his uncle’s cotton plantation for two years before making his way to Independence, Missouri in 1836. See Article HERE.

Nathaniel Jarvis Wyeth (1802-1856) – Explorer, and inventor in the American West.


Compiled and edited by Kathy Weiser/Legends of America, updated August, 2017.

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