EXPLORERS AND EXPLORATIONS
|Early Explorations in America Chiefly Along the Coast—Coronado's Expedition—On to Quivira—Other Spanish Expeditions—Verendrye—Lewis and Clark—Hancock and Dixon—Lieutenant Pike—Ezekiel Williams—Long's Expedition—Nathaniel J. Wyeth—Wyeth's Second Expedition—Captain Bonneville—Father De Smet—John C. Fremont—His Second Expedition—Captain Stansbury—Warren's Expedition—Captain Raynolds ... 109|
|In an earlier chapter of this work reference is made to the early European explorations in America, and the conflicting claims to territory that arose, based upon the discoveries made by these explorers. Most of these early Europeans confined their efforts to the lands along the Atlantic coast, though at least two Spanish expeditions penetrated far into the interior about the middle of the Sixteenth Century. One of these was the expedition of Hernando de Soto, who discovered the Mississippi River in the spring of 1541, an account of which is given in the previous chapter mentioned, and almost contemporary with it was an expedition from Mexico, led by Francisco Vasquez de Coronado. Neither of these expeditions touched what is now the State of Wyoming, but they exerted an influence upon subsequent events, in that they gave the first information concerning the interior of the American continent.|
| The leader of this expedition, a native of Salamanca, Spain, was appointed governor of New Gallicia. one of the northern provinces of Mexico, about 1533 or 1534. He has been described as "cold and cruel, ambitious, and always looking for an opportunity to distinguish himself and win favor with his royal master." .Such an opportunity came to him shortly after he had been appointed governor, when four men reached the City of Mexico, after having spent some time in wandering among the Sierra Madre Mountains and the sandy plains farther to the northward. One of these four, called Estevan or "Stephen the Moor." gave a circumstantial account of an expedition of some four hundred men which left Florida eight years before, but had been reduced by hardships, toil and captivity among the natives to the four men who had at last escaped and found their way to the Spanish settlements in Mexico. This Estevan also told of opulent cities, known as the "Seven cities of Cibola."' of which he had heard frequent mention while among the Indians, but which he had never seen.|
In these reports Coronado saw a chance to win fame and establish himself more firmly at court. He sent out a small expedition under Father Marcos de Niza, a Franciscan friar, to reconnoiter the seven cities, Estevan acting as guide. The Moor, with a few men, went on in advance and afterward claimed to have reached the cities before the friar and the main body had covered half the distance. Incited by that avarice which was a distinguishing characteristic of the early Spanish explorers in America, Estevan and his companions proceeded to plunder the houses and killed some of the natives who refused to give up their property. The entire population then took up arms against the invaders, with the result that the Moor and his associates were compelled to abandon their loot and beat a hasty retreat.
Upon meeting Father de Niza, they told him of what had happened and advised him to proceed no farther. From this point accounts of the expedition differ. The friar, doubtless for the purpose of retaining the good will of the governor, reported that he went on until he came to an eminence, from which he could see plainly the cities of Cibola, the lofty houses, the abundant evidences of the great wealth of the inhabitants, etc., but some of the private soldiers who accompanied him reported that he turned back in great fright. In the light of subsequent events, the latter report seems to be the most plausible.
Coronado, however, did not abandon the idea of leading an expedition to the fabled cities and appropriating their great wealth. Accordingly, in the spring of 1540, with 300 Spanish soldiers and 800 natives, he left new Gallicia and took up his march for the seven cities. Three accounts of the expedition were afterward published—one by Coronado himself, one by his Lieutenant, Jaramillo, and the third by a private soldier named Castaneda. While the reports do not harmonize in many essential particulars, all agree that they reached the cities of which they had heard so much and found only seven insignificant native villages, with no lofty buildings, no gold and silver, no jewels. Some writers have attempted to show that the cities of Cibola were located northeast of Zuni. N. M., and that the Zuni ruins are the remains of the cities of which Coronado was in search. It is also asserted by some that a detachment of Coronado's troops under Lopez de Cardenas, discovered the grand canyon of the Colorado in August, 1540.
Fearing the ridicule of his friends if he returned to New Gallicia empty-handed, Coronado asked the natives of the villages if there were not other cities within reach that it might be profitable to visit. Glad of the opportunity to rid themselves of the Spaniards, they told him of a rich province about one hundred leagues to the eastward. To this province Coronado led his followers, only to meet with another disappointment. True, he found some Indian villages, but the inhabitants were no more opulent than those he had just left. In his chagrin he made war upon the natives of these villages and practically annihilated their dwellings. Castaneda's account says they spent the winter at this place, which he calls Cicuye, and which archaeologists have located in the Pecos Valley, not far from the present Town of Puerto de Luna.
|ON TO QUIVIRA|
| While the expedition was at Cicuye an Indian, who claimed to be a prisoner, came to Coronado with an air of great mystery and gave a glowing account of a country called Quivira, some three hundred leagues farther to the northeast, in which there was a great river, nearly three leagues wide, with fish in it as large as horses. He said the ruler of this country was an old man named Tartarrax, quite wealthy, who worshiped the image of a woman and a cross of gold, and who prayed by means of a string of beads. He told his story in an impressive manner and proposed to Coronado that if the Spaniards would connive his escape he would guide them to this rich province. The offer was accepted and on May 5, 1541, the expedition left the Pecos Valley for the realm of Tartarrax.|
The Spaniards called their Indian guide "the Turk," because of some real or fancied resemblance to that people. Some of the more observing members of the expedition noticed that when they met some wandering party of Indians on the plains, if the guide was the first to talk to them, they confirmed his story of Quivira, but if the white men were the first to question them they knew nothing of such a province. This has led to the theory that the Turk was not a prisoner at Cicuye, but that his story was concocted for the purpose of luring the Spaniards away from that place, the guide being a member of the tribe who was willing to sacrifice his life, if need be, for the safety and comfort of his people. His life was sacrificed, for when Coronado reached the conclusion that the guide had deceived him he ordered the Indian to be hanged. Just before his death the Turk insisted that the cities to which he was guiding the expedition were "just a little farther on."
A great deal of speculation has been indulged in regarding the location of Quivira. In his own report, Coronado says he went as far north as the fortieth degree of north latitude. If he was correct in his estimate, the northern limit of his travels was somewhere near the boundary line between Kansas and Nebraska. Attempts have been made to show that Quivira was somewhere near the head of the Gulf of California, and several places in Colorado claim the honor. Some think that the ruins called "Gran Quivira,'' in New Mexico, mark the site of the mythical province of Tartarrax. Near Junction City, Kan., a monument has been erected to mark the northernmost point of Coronado's wanderings. The engineers engaged in building the Union Pacific Railroad found near the mouth of the Loup River, in Nebraska, mounds and other evidences of once populous villages, which support to some extent the dying statement of the Turk, that the cities of which he had spoken were "just a little farther on."
|OTHER SPANISH EXPEDITIONS|
| In 1599 Don Juan de Onate led an expedition from New Mexico in search of Quivira. The reports of his movements are conflicting and unreliable. He says he reached the "City of Quivira, which is on the north band of a wide, shallow river." Some historians think the river mentioned is the Platte, and the location described by Onate corresponds fairly well to the ruins found by the Union Pacific engineers.|
Certain Spanish writers tell of an expedition that left Mexico some time prior to 1650 and established a settlement on a large tributary of the Missouri River, where they found gold mines, stone-built houses, arrastres for reducing the ore, but the entire party was killed by Indians about 1650. The story is probably largely traditional, as at that time the Spaniards had all they could do to hold their own in New Mexico, though in 1865 ruins were found in the Powder River Valley–foundations of houses and what appeared to be the remains of an arrastre–that give color to the story.
Another Spanish expedition into the Missouri Valley was that of the so-called "Duke of Penalosa" in the spring of 1662. Friar Nicholas de Freytas, who accompanied the expedition as chronicler, says that at the end of three months they came "to a wide and rapid river," where they made friends with a large party of Indians, who accompanied the expedition to Ouivira. After a march of several days they reached another large river and saw "a stream of considerable size entering it from the north." Along this tributary, De Freytas says, could be seen "a vast settlement or city, in the midst of a spacious prairie. It contained thousands of houses, circular in shape for the most part, some two, three, and even four stories in height, framed of hard wood and skilfully thatched. It extended along both sides of this second river for more than two leagues."
Penalosa encamped on the south side of the large river (which may have been the Platte), intending to cross over the next morning and visit the city. During the night his Indian allies stole out of the camp, crossed the river and attacked the city. All the inhabitants who were not killed fled in fright, hence Penalosa did not meet a single occupant of that fabled province which had so long commanded the curiosity of the Spanish adventurers of New Spain. This is a rather fanciful story, but it doubtless served to increase Penalosa's importance with the Spanish authorities, which was probably the chief purpose for which it was invented.
| In the early part of the Eighteenth Century a belief existed among the Europeans that there was a river which flowed to the South Sea, as the Pacific Ocean was then called. This belief was based upon reports given to traders by Indians, who said that near the mouth of the river the surface was so rough that it was dangerous to try to pass over it in canoes, while farther up the stream were great falls and rapids, unsafe for canoes. This description answers the Columbia, then unknown to white men. In the spring of 1731 Pierre Gaultier de Varennes. Sieur de la Verendrye. received authority from the French officials in Canada to discover the river. On June 8, 1731, Verendrye, with his three sons, a nephew and a number of Canadian voyageurs. left Montreal on his mission. Not much can be learned of his first effort to find the fabled river, as the expedition met with a war party of Indians and a fight ensued in which Aerendrye's youngest son and a number of the voyageurs were killed, and the project was for a time given up.|
In January, 1739, after repeated failures, Verendrye reached the Maiidan villages on the Missouri River, near the present City of Bismarck, N. D. There his interpreter deserted him and he was forced to turn back. With his two sons, two Canadians and an interpreter, he again visited the Mandan villages, arriving there some time in the spring of 1742. From the Mandan villages he pressed on toward the West until he arrived at the Black Hills, where his interpreter again deserted him. Trusting to luck, he went on, and on January 1, 1743. the party came within sight of the Big Horn Mountains, somewhere near the northern boundary' of Wyoming. One account says that after his interpreter deserted him at the Black Hills he found a friendly Indian, who acted as guide and interpreter, while he explored the Assiniboine, Upper Missouri, Yellowstone and Big Horn rivers. He then ascended the Shoshone River and crossed over to the Wind River. From the Indians living in the Wind River Valley he learned of a river farther west, which flowed in southerly direction (probably the Green River), but the same Indians warned him that a hostile tribe inhabited the country about the pass through the mountains and that it would be dangerous to attempt to proceed farther in that direction. Verendrye then retraced his steps and in May, 1744, arrived at Montreal, having spent thirteen years in seeking for a passage by water to the South Sea.
Verendrye and his associates were no doubt the first white men to set foot upon the soil of Wyoming. After his last expedition no further efforts were made by the French to discover the river. A few years later came the French and Indian war. at the conclusion of which Canada passed into the hands of the English, who left the matter of exploration to the fur traders.
|LEWIS AND CLARK|
| After Verendrye, no exploring expeditions were sent into the Great Northwest for more than half a century. In the summer of 1803 President Jefferson began making plans to send an expedition up the Missouri River to discover its sources, ascertain the character of the country, and whether a water route to the Pacific coast was possible. The Treaty of Paris, however, was not ratified until the fall of that year and the expedition was postponed until the spring of 1804. Mr. Jefferson selected as leaders of this expedition Capt. Meriwether Lewis and Capt. William Clark, officers of the regular United States army.|
Captain Lewis was born near Charlottesville, Va., in 1774, and was not quite thirty years of age when he received his appointment as one of the leaders of the expedition. He entered the army in 1795. received his commission as captain in 1800. and from 1801 to 1803 was President Jefferson's private secretary. In 1807 he was appointed governor of Louisiana Territory, which office he held until his death. He died near Nashville, Tenn., in 1800, while on his way to Washington.
Clark was also a Virginian and a brother of Gen. George Rogers Clark, who distinguished himself during the Revolution by the capture of the British posts in the Northwest. In 1784 he went with his family to Kentucky and settled where the City of Louisville now stands. In 1792 he was commissioned lieutenant and served under Gen. Anthony Wayne in the campaigns against the Indians of Ohio and Indiana. He resigned from the army in 1796 on account of his health, and settled at St. Louis. Regaining his health, he again entered the army, and in 1813 was commissioned captain. In 1813 he was appointed governor of Missouri Territory and held the office until the state was admitted in 1821. The next year he was appointed superintendent of Indian affairs for the St. Louis district and remained in that position until his death at St. Louis in 1838. Ten years before his death he founded the City of Paducah, Kentucky.
Such, in brief, was the character of the men chosen to conduct the first official explorations in the new purchase of Louisiana. The expedition consisted of nine young Kentuckians, fourteen regular soldiers, two French voyageurs or boatmen, an Indian interpreter, a hunter, and a negro servant belonging to Captain Clark. The equipment embraced a keel-boat fifty-five feet in length, two pirogues and two horses, which were to be led along the bank, to be used in hunting game or in towing the keel-boat over rapids. The large boat was fitted with a swivel gun in the bow, a large square sail to be used when the wind was favorable, and twenty-two oars that could propel the boat forward when there was no wind. It also had a cabin in which were stored the most valuable articles, scientific instruments, etc.
On May 14, 1804, the little company left the mouth of the Missouri River and started up that stream on their long journey. As they went along they named the creeks that entered the river, the names often being derived from some animal killed in the neighborhood, such as Antelope Creek, Bear Creek, etc. Near the northeast corner of Kansas is a stream which still bears the name of Independence Creek, because the expedition spent the Fourth of July near its mouth. The three rivers that united to form the Missouri they named the Jefferson, Madison and Gallatin, after the President and two of the leading statesmen of that period.
At the Mandan villages, in what is now North Dakota, Lewis and Clark employed Toussaint Charboneau and his wife to accompany the expedition as guides and interpreters. Mrs. Charboneau was an Indian woman, a member of the Snake tribe, who had been captured a few years before and sold to Charboneau, who married her. Her Indian name was Sac-a-ja-wea (the bird woman). She proved an invaluable guide, especially on the return trip through the Bozeman Pass. On the return from the Pacific coast the expedition divided on the east side of the Bitter Root Mountains, one party under Captain Lewis descending the Missouri River and the other, under Captain Clark, crossing over to the Yellowstone and descending that stream. They met at the mouth of the Yellowstone and on September 23, 1806, about noon, they arrived at St. Louis, having explored the Missouri River to its source, crossed over the divide and followed the Columbia River to the Pacific.
Numerous accounts of the Lewis and Clark expedition have been published. The explorers did not touch the present State of Wyoming, but their report acquainted the people of the United States with the nature of the country purchased from France, encouraged the organization of the Missouri and Rocky Mountain fur companies, and hastened the day when white settlements were extended west of the Missouri River.
|HANCOCK AND DIXON|
|Two Illinois men named Hancock and Dixon were engaged in trapping beaver on the Yellowstone in 1804, when the Lewis and Clark expedition was on its way to the coast. Two years later, as Clark passed down the Yellowstone, his party encountered the two trappers, who persuaded John Colter, one of the private soldiers with Clark, to join them. Colter was granted his discharge when the expedition was near the Mandan villages, and was supplied with the necessary outfit for his new venture. In the spring of 1807 Colter, and possibly one or both of his companions, passed through the Pryor Gap of the Big Horn Mountains to Clark's Fort; thence by way of the Stinking Water Pass to the Yellowstone; thence to the headwaters of Green River; back to the head of the Wind River, which he mistook for the Big Horn, and finally found his way back to the camp of the previous winter. An account of Colter's wanderings is given in the chapter on the Yellowstone National Park.|
| On August 9, 1805, Lieut. Zebulon M. Pike left St. Louis for the purpose of ascending the Mississippi River to its source and holding councils with the Indian tribes that dwelt upon its banks. He returned to St. Louis in April, 1806, and soon afterward was commissioned to lead an expedition to the Rocky Mountain country south of where Lewis and Clark crossed over to the western slope.|
With twenty men he passed westward through what is now the states of Kansas and Colorado, and discovered the lofty peak near Colorado Springs that bears his name. It was Pike's intention to descend the Arkansas River, cross over to the Red River and go down that stream to the Mississippi, but he made a mistake, struck the Rio del Norte instead of the Red River and got into Spanish territory. He and his men were arrested and taken to Mexico. His men were not disarmed and Pike saved most of his notes by concealing them in the barrels of the guns. When he explained his error to the Spanish authorities, the expedition was escorted to Natchitoches, on the Red River, where all were released. Pike's report of his expedition, although part of his notes were confiscated by the Spanish, gave the country the first official information regarding the southwestern portion of the Louisiana Purchase.
| As Lewis and Clark were returning to St. Louis in 1806, they induced one of the Mandan chiefs to accompany them to that city and from there to Washington. In 1807 Ezekiel Williams was employed by the Government to escort the chief back to his tribe. Williams took with him twenty men, and after the chief had been safely conducted to the Mandan villages on the Missouri River, he went on up the river to the Blackfoot country to hunt and trap. The men were divided into two parties of ten men each. Near the mouth of the Yellowstone one party was attacked by the Blackfeet and five were killed. The five survivors then joined the other party and the fifteen turned southward to the country inhabited by the Crow Indians.|
One of the party, a man named Rose, remained with the Crows, and Williams and the others went on toward the southwest, aiming to get to California by way of the South Pass. On the headwaters of the North Platte they were attacked by a Crow war party and lost five men. The remaining nine cached the furs and went on to the South Platte. One by one they were cut off by the Comanche bands wandering over the plains, until only Williams, James Workman and Samuel Spencer were left. After many difficulties they reached the Arkansas River and passed down that stream into Kansas. In 1809 Williams returned with a party to the upper Platte and got the furs cached two years before, but they were in such a condition that they hardly repaid the expenses of the trip.
|On .May 3, 1819, the steamboat Western Engineer left Pittsburgh, Pa., carrying Maj. Stephen H. Long and his party of topographical engineers, for the purpose of ascending the Missouri as far as the mouth of the Yellowstone. On September 15, 1819, the Western Engineer passed the mouth of the Platte River, being the first steamboat to ascend the Missouri to that point. Long tied up at Fort Lisa, a few miles above the present City of Omaha, where he spent the winter. In the summer of 1820 he explored the Platte River as far as the junction of the North and South forks, but did not reach Wyoming. His expedition demonstrated that the Missouri River was navigable for boats of light draft, a knowledge that had a great influence upon the fur trade during the next few years and upon the ultimate settlement of the West.|
|NATHANIEL J. WYETH|
| Nathaniel J. Wyeth was born at Cambridge, Mass., January 29, 1802. His father, Jacob Wyeth, was a graduate of Harvard. Nathaniel was fitted for college. after which he was engaged in various occupations until he was about thirty years old. After the failure of Astor's enterprise on the Columbia, Hall J. Kelley, a Boston schoolmaster, wrote a number of articles concerning Oregon. Many of the statements contained in these articles were incorrect, but they caused young Wyeth to become interested in the Great West and he read everything on that subject that he could find. In the winter of 1831-32 he undertook to organize an expedition of fifty men to engage in the fur trade, and made the following announcement:|
"Our company is to last for five years. The profits are to be divided in such a manner that if the number concerned is fifty, and the whole net profits are divided into that number of parts, I should have eight parts, the surgeon two, and the remaining forty parts should be divided among the forty-eight persons."
Under this arrangement Wyeth was to furnish all the necessary capital. On March 1, 1832, the company of twenty men left Boston and at St. Louis met Sublette, McKenzie and other veterans of the fur trade. Says Chittenden : "With his perfect knowledge of conditions in the mountains, Sublette saw that he had nothing to fear from this new company and might very likely draw all the men and the outfit into his own business before he got through with them. He therefore lent them a ready hand, set them on their feet, and offered them the protection of his own party as far as he should go.'"
Under Sublette's guidance the two parties left Independence on May 12. 1832, and on the 8th of July arrived at Pierre's Hole, the annual rendezvous of the traders. Here eleven of Wyeth's men decided to return east, and later two others withdrew, reducing the number of the party to eleven. With this little handful Wyeth went on to Oregon. Upon reaching the coast he learned that the vessel laden with supplies, which he had sent from Boston around Cape Horn, had been wrecked on a reef while coming northward in the Pacific. The trading post of the Hudson's Bay Company at Vancouver gave the wanderers a cordial welcome and provided them with supplies for the return journey.
|WYETH'S SECOND EXPEDITION|
| In 1833, while on his way east, Wyeth made a contract with Mihon G. Sublette and his associates to bring out to them their supplies in 1834. He then went back to Boston, where he organized the "Columbia River Fishing and Trading Company." Early in the year 1834 another vessel left Boston for Oregon, and on the 7th of March Wyeth left St. Louis on his second trip to the Rocky Mountain country. He was accompanied on this expedition by the naturalist, John K. Townsend, who afterward wrote an account of the journey across the plains.|
On May 18, 1834, the expedition reached the Platte River and on June ist was at the Laramie Fork. On the 19th Wyeth encamped on the Green River and spent the balance of that month in exploring the Green River Valley. On July 4th he left Ham's Fork and crossed over to the Bear River, which stream he descended for four days, encamping on the 8th at a place called the "White Clay Pits." On the 11th the expedition encamped near the Three Tetons, and on the 14th began the construction of Fort Hall. The old Fort Hall, built by Wyeth, was named for the senior member of the firm that furnished him the money to equip his second expedition. It was located about forty miles southwest of the Government post called Fort Hall, which was established in 1870. When Wyeth left Ham's Fork he passed beyond the boundaries of the present State of Wyoming and his subsequent movements have no bearing upon the state's history.
| Contemporary with Wyeth was Capt. Benjamin L. E. Bonneville, who spent some time in the Northwest and explored a large part of the country included in what is now the State of Wyoming. Captain Bonneville was born in France in 1796. His father was a printer, who, during the American Revolution, printed and circulated a number of pamphlets that awakened sympathy for the colonists in their struggle against British oppression, and he was a member of a republican club in Paris organized by Thomas Paine. After the French Revolution he printed something that was displeasing to Napoleon, who ordered him to be imprisoned. His wife and son were then brought to this country by Thomas Paine, who secured for the boy an appointment to West Point as soon as he was old enough to enter that institution. In the meantime the father had been released from prison, but was forbidden to leave France. He managed to make his escape, however, and joined his family in America. Young Bonneville graduated at West Point in 1819 and entered the army. When Lafayette visited this country in 1824 he made inquiries about the Bonneville family, and Lieutenant Bonneville was assigned his escort. He then returned with Lafayette to France for a visit. Upon coming back to America he was commissioned captain in the Seventh New York Infantry.|
In 1831, having become interested in the West, he asked for leave of absence, which was granted, his leave to extend to October, 1833, and he was instructed by Maj.-Gen. Alexander Macomb to provide suitable instruments, the best maps of the country he could obtain, and to make report as to the number of Indians in each tribe he visited, their manner of making war, etc.
Although Bonneville s object in asking for a leave of absence was to engage in the fur trade. General Macomb's order made him more of an explorer than a fur trader. On May i, 1832, with no men, he left Fort Osage on the Missouri River, taking with him twenty wagons laden with provisions, ammunition and goods for the Indian trade. His destination was Pierre's Hole, the rendezvous of the fur traders. On the 26th of the same month he encamped on the Laramie River. The next six weeks were spent in examining the country along the North Platte and Sweetwater rivers, and on July 20th he came in sight of the Wind River Mountains. Here he met Lucien Fontenelle with a party of American Fur Company trappers and went with him through the South Pass to the Green River. His wagons were the first to go through the South Pass.
While on the Green River an incident occurred that caused an estrangement between Bonneville and Fontenelle. From the Osage Mission Bonneville had obtained several Delaware Indians as hunters. Fontenelle saw that these Indians were skilful in bringing in game and lured them away from their employer by offering them better wages. Bonneville knew that Fontenelle was waiting for a party of free trappers to join his party, and intercepted them. He then opened a keg of whisky, treated the trappers to a banquet, and persuaded them to join his expedition instead of going on to Fontenelle's camp.
About five miles above the mouth of Horse Creek, in what is now the eastern part of Lincoln County, Wyoming, in the fall of 1832, he built Fort Bonneville. Trappers called this fort "Bonneville's Folly" and "Fort Nonsense." W. A. Ferris, in his "Life in the Rocky Mountains." gives the following description of the fort:
"It is situated in a fine open plain, on a rising spot of ground, about three hundred yards from Green River, on the west side, commanding a view of the plains for several miles up and down that stream. On the opposite side of the fort, about two miles distant, there is a fine willowed creek, called Horse Creek, flowing parallel to Green River and emptying into it about five miles below the fortification. The fort presents a square enclosure, surrounded by posts or pickets of a foot or more in diameter, firmly set in the ground close to each other, and about fifteen feet in length. At two of the corners, diagonally opposite to each other, blockhouses of unhewn logs are so constructed and situated as to defend the square outside of the pickets and hinder the approach of an enemy from any quarter. The prairie in the vicinity of the fort is covered with fine grass and the whole together seems well calculated for the security of both men and horses."
It was not long until it became apparent that the trappers had good grounds for calling the place "Fort Nonsense." They were no doubt better acquainted with the character of the Indians in that section than was Captain Bonneville. The hostility of the tribes near the fort compelled, him to evacuate it almost as soon as it was completed, and he went over to the headwaters of the Salmoij River, where he established his winter quarters.
Captain Bonneville spent nearly three years in the mountains. Most of that time he was on the move, making maps and notes, trying to carry out the instructions given him by General Macomb. When he went to Washington to make his report, he was informed by General Macomb that, as he had greatly over-staid his leave of absence, it had been taken for granted that he was dead and his name had been dropped from the rolls of the army. He then appealed to President Andrew Jackson, who ordered him to be reinstated with his original rank of captain, but the war department refused to accept and publish his report. He then began the work of rewriting his report, with a view of publishing it himself. While engaged in this work he met Washington Irving, to whom he submitted his manuscript, and gave Mr. Irving the privilege of publishing it in such manner as he might deem most advisable. The result was Irving's volume giving an account of Bonneville's adventures. In February, 1855, Captain Bonneville was made colonel of the Third United States Infantry. He remained in the army until September 9, 1861, when he was retired, and died at Fort Smith, Ark., June 12, 1878.
|FATHER DE SMET|
| Early in the Seventeenth Century Jesuit missionaries were among the Indian tribes inhabiting the country about the Great Lakes. As the traders and settlers pushed their way farther westward these missionaries always formed part of the advance guard, far into the Nineteenth Century. Pierre Jean de Smet was born in Belgium on the last day of January, 1801. He came to America in boyhood, joined the Jesuit Society at an early age, and was sent as a missionary to the tribes living along the Missouri River, in what are now the states of Missouri, Kansas, Iowa and Nebraska. His labors on the frontier so impaired his health that when he was about thirty years old he returned to his native land.|
In 1837 he came back to America and soon afterward was appointed as missionary to the Flathead Indians. On April 5, 1840, he left St. Louis with an American Fur Company party bound for the Northwest. This party reached the Green River on June 30, 1840, and on the following Sunday (July 5th) Father De Smet celebrated the first mass ever observed in what is now the State of Wyoming, his audience being a motley crowd of trappers and Indians gathered at the rendezvous, the improvised altar being decorated with the wild flowers of the prairie. The place where this mass was celebrated was for a long time known as "The Prairie of the Mass."
The next day, with an Indian called Ignace as guide. Father De Smet set out for the Flathead country. He met the main body of the tribe at Pierre's Hole and shook hands with the Indians, after which Chief Big Face addressed the priest thus:
"Black Robe, my heart was glad when I heard that you were coming among us. Never has my lodge seen a greater day. As soon as I received the news of your coming I had my.big kettle filled to give you a feast in the midst of my people. I have had my best three dogs killed for the feast. They are very fat. You are welcome."
After some time amoiig the Flathead Indians, Father De Smet went to the Blackfeet and established missions in what is now Montana. He then visited the Crow tribe, but their chief was rather skeptical and determined to put the missionary to a test. Pointing out an old buffalo bull near the encampment, the chief asked Father De Smet to go out and put his hand on the buffalo's head. Here was a dilemma. The priest realized the danger of approaching a wild buffalo, but at the same time he knew that if he refused he would be looked upon by the Indians as an impostor. Slowly he approached the bull, who raised his head and gazed with astonishment at the intruder. Upon his breast the missionary wore a golden crucifix, which seemed to exert some sort of hypnotic power upon the beast, and as his eyes were fixed upon the glittering emblem, Father De Smet came nearer, finally laying his hand upon the bull's head. He then returned to the Indians, who had been intently watching his movements. The chief grasped him by the hand and acknowledged that he had been sent by the Great Spirit.
Father De Smet remained among the Indians of the Northwest for several years. On horseback he traveled over Montana, Wyoming, Idaho. Oregon. Washington and that part of the Dakotas west of the Missouri, and it has been said he "knew every foot of the country." In 1842 he made a trip to Europe to solicit aid for his Indian missions. He came back in 1842, accompanied by one Belgian and two Italian priests and some sisters of Notre Dame as teachers of the Indian children. A little later he was taken from his labors among the red men and sent to St. Louis, where he wrote a number of interesting letters regarding his travels and missionary work. In 1868 he visited the mountains and spent several days at Cheyenne. He discovered and named Lake De Smet, in the northern part of Johnson County, and it is said that he was the first white man to find gold in Wyoming.
|JOHN C. FREMONT|
| John Charles Fremont was born in Savannah, Ga., January 21. 1813. In 1818 his father died and his mother removed to Virginia, where he was educated. At the age of thirteen years he began studying for the ministry, but being of a mathematical turn of mind, became a surveyor instead. In the spring of 1833 he was appointed teacher of mathematics on the sloop of war Natchez, and in July of the same year was commissioned second lieutenant in the topographical engineers. In 1837 he was employed on the survey of a railroad from Charleston to Cincinnati, and in 1840 he was on the geological survey of the Northwest. He then went to St. Louis, where on October 19, 1841, he married Jessie, daughter of Thomas H. Benton, one of the United States senators from Missouri.|
Senator Benton was not altogether friendly to the marriage of his daughter with a young lieutenant, but when in 1842 the Government decided to send an expedition to the Rocky Alountains. he secured the command of the expedition for his son-in-law "over the heads of all his superior officers of the engineer corps." The principal object of the expedition was to select sites for a line of military posts from the Missouri River to the mouth of the Columbia, the purpose of which was two-fold: First, to protect the fur traders from the encroachments of the English fur companies, and second, to encourage immigration to and settlement of the Pacific slope by protecting emigrant trains from Indian attacks.
Fremont organized his expedition at Chouteau's trading post on the Kansas River, six miles above its mouth. He left there on June lO, 1842, with twenty-two men, and Kit Carson as guide. Carson at that time was thirty-three years of age and had lived the greater part of his life in the West. His home was then at Taos, N. M. He was of slender build, but possessed greater physical strength than many men who were his superiors in height and weight. His courage was proverbial and he was well acquainted with the country through which the expedition was to pass. Ruxton calls him "the paragon of mountaineers."
Accompanying the expedition were Henry Brant, a youth of nineteen years and a son of Col. J. B. Brant of St. Louis, and Randolph Benton, Fremont's twelve-year-old brother-in-law. Fremont first went to St. Vrain's Fort on the South Platte, not far from the present Town of Greeley, Colorado, arriving there on the afternoon of July loth, just a month after leaving Chouteau's post on the Kansas. From St. Wain's he followed the mountains in a northwesterly direction and on the 13th arrived at old Fort Laramie. Two days later the expedition was at Fort Platte, the trading post of Sabille, Adams & Company, at the junction of the Platte and Laramie rivers. On the 28th he came to the place where the trail is crossed by the Platte River and on the 30th he came to the Sweetwater. Moving up the Sweetwater Valley, he passed Independence Rock and Devil's Gate, and on August 8th reached the South Pass. On the 15th he unfurled the Stars and Stripes from the top of the most lofty peak of the Wind River range ( 13,570 feet) which mountain he christened "Fremont's Peak." Concerning this achievement, Bancroft says :
"Considering that the Government paid all the costs, and that he had an experienced mountain man. Kit Carson, for a guide, it must be admitted that the eternal mountains might be put to nobler use than to perpetuate such achievements.
This was the farthest point west reached by the expedition. Soon after naming Fremont's Peak, the explorer started upon the return trip. He arrived at St. Louis on October 17, 1842, and after a short stay there went on to Washington, where he made a report of his explorations and received authority to conduct another expedition to the mountains the following year.
|THE SECOND EXPEDITION|
| Fremont decided upon Kansas City, Mo., as the rendezvous and starting point of his second expedition and sent word to a number of the men who were with him in 1842 to meet him there in May. In making his preparations early in the year 1843, he obtained from the arsenal at St. Louis a twelve-pounder howitzer and a quantity of ammunition. This came very near getting him into trouble. After he had left St. Louis a letter came from Washington summoning him to that city to explain, as the expedition was "to be scientific rather than military." Mrs. Fremont did not forward the letter containing the order, but instead wrote to her husband to lose no time in starting on his expedition.|
On May 29, 1843, he left Kansas City with thirty-three men, several of whom had been with him the preceding year. Kit Carson was again his guide, and the naturalist, John K. Townsend, accompanied the expedition. Following the route of 1842, Fremont reached St. Vrain's Fort in time to celebrate the Fourth of July there. Some three weeks were then spent in Colorado, exploring the country. On the 26th the men were divided into two companies. Fremont, with thirteen men, moved directly to the Big Laramie River, and Thomas Fitz-patrick, with the remainder of the expedition, was to go by way of Fort Laramie, the Sweetwater and South Pass to Fort Hall.
On August 1, 1843, Fremont arrived at the Medicine Bow Mountains and encamped on the Medicine Bow River. He then moved toward the North Platte River, up the Sweetwater Valley to South Pass, where in his report he says he met on August 4th "a war party of Arapaho and Cheyenne Indians, who had surprised one of the Shoshone villages at Bridger's Fort on Ham's fork on Green River." From the South Pass he followed "the emigrant road to Oregon," until he struck Green River, where he despatched Kit Carson to Fort Hall to make arrangements for a supply of provisions. From the Green River to the Bear River he followed the route taken by Ezekiel Williams in 1807 until he arrived at Salt Lake.
Turning his course northward again, he met Fitzpatrick's party at Fort Hall on September 19, 1843, and on the 22d the entire party left that post for Oregon. They struck the Columbia River and followed that stream almost to the mouth. when they turned southward and on March 8, 1844, arrived at Sutter's fort on the Sacramento River. There Fremont obtained some much needed supplies and after a brief rest resumed his journey. He arrived at St. Louis on August 6, 1844, having been gone for a little more than fourteen months. Nothing had been heard from him for some time prior to his return, and the secretary of war offered to send a company of dragoons in search of him, but Mrs. Fremont declared it was unnecessary, as. if he could not find his way out the dragoons would not be likely to find their way in.
Fremont afterward conducted two expeditions to the Pacific coast, but as neither of them touched Wyoming they form no part of the state's history. Through his explorations he acquired the sobriquet of the "Pathfinder."
| In 1849 Capt. Howard Stansbury was commissioned by the United States Government to explore the Great Salt Lake Valley and make a report on its topography, etc. After performing that duty he was to make a reconnaissance for a railroad route from Salt Lake City to Fort Bridger, and from Fort Bridger eastward to some point in the Platte Valley near Fort Laramie. When the Union Pacific Railroad was built some years later, it followed in general the route suggested by Captain Stansbury, but passes over the south end of the Laramie Mountains instead of going through Cheyenne Pass as he recommended.|
At the time of Captain Stansbury's explorations in Wyoming the California gold fever was at its height, and in his report he gives considerable attention to the companies of gold hunters that he saw crossing the plains. The first mention of the Wyoming coal beds may be found in his report, coal being the only mineral mentioned.
|Lieut. G. K. Warren of the United States topographical engineers, afterward a general in the Union army in the Civil war, made an exploration of Wyoming from Fort Laramie to the western slope of the Black Hills in 1857. At the Black Hills he was stopped by the Sioux Indians. His report deals largely with the geology of the section through which he passed, particularly the deposits of building stone. He was probably the first man to advance the theory that the valleys of Northeastern Wyoming could be made profitable for farming purposes by irrigation. His report also states that he found gold in paying quantities in places.|
| In July, 1859, under orders from the war department, Capt. W. F. Raynolds left Fort Pierre on the Missouri River to explore the country in the vicinity of the Black Hills. In the party were the following scientists: Lieut. H. E. May-nadier and J. H. Snowden, topographers; J. D. Hutton, topographer and artist; H. C. Fillebrown, meteorologist and astronomer; Antoine Schonbarn, meteorologist and draftsman; F. V. Hayden, geologist; Dr. F. E. Hayden, surgeon; M. C. Hines, assistant surgeon. The escort was commanded by Capt. John Mullan.|
After exploring and making maps of the Black Hills region, the party pushed on westward and explored the valleys of the Powder and Big Horn rivers. The winter was passed on the Platte River and the next spring Captain Raynolds submitted his report, in which he refers to Jim Bridger as guide and gives an extended account of the geology of the country. He states that gold was found in several places, but as the escort was composed chiefly of adventurers the matter was kept secret for fear they would desert. In his report he also gives the description of the "Portuguese Houses" quoted in another chapter.
Through the reports of the explorers above mentioned, the people living east of the Mississippi River obtained a better idea of the character of the western country than they had before entertained, as the earliest maps designated practically all the region west of the Missouri as the "Great American Desert." The success of the Mormons in the Salt Lake Valley, with the opinions of Warren and others that farms could be profitably cultivated in the valleys of the western rivers, taught many that the "Great American Desert" was largely a myth and hastened the day of settlement.