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Kate Tuttle

James P. Beckwourth, born of mixed-race parentage in Fredericksburg, Virginia, escaped an apprenticeship to a St. Louis, Missouri blacksmith and went west, taking a job with the Rocky Mountain Fur Company. He became an experienced trapper and fighter in the sparsely settled western territories. In 1824 the Crow Indian tribe adopted Beckwourth, who then married the daughter of the chief and earned such renown in battle that he was renamed Bloody Arm. Although he left the tribe after several years—and after earning honorary chief status—he continued a lifelong friendship with the Crows.

Criss-crossing the western and southern frontiers, Beckwourth worked as a guide, prospected for gold, served as a United States Army scout during the third Seminole War and was a rider for the Pony Express He also worked with California s Black Franchise League in an effort unsuccessful at the time to repeal a law barring blacks from ...

Article

Lisa E. Rivo

mountain man, fur trapper and trader, scout, translator, and explorer, was born James Pierson Beckwith in Frederick County, Virginia, the son of Sir Jennings Beckwith, a white Revolutionary War veteran and the descendant of minor Irish aristocrats who became prominent Virginians. Little is known about Jim's mother, a mixed-race slave working in the Beckwith household. Although he was born into slavery, Jim was manumitted by his father in the 1820s. In the early 1800s, Beckwith moved his family, which reputedly included fourteen children, to Missouri, eventually settling in St. Louis. Some commentators suggest that Beckwith, an adventurous outdoorsman, was seeking an environment less hostile to his racially mixed family.

As a young teenager, after four years of schooling, Jim Beckwourth as his name came to be spelled was apprenticed to a blacksmith Unhappy as a tradesman he fled to the newly discovered lead mines in Illinois s Fever ...

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Peter D. Fraser

was born on either 5 June or 15 August 1803 in Demerara, British Guiana, now Guyana. He was the second of three children and the younger son of John Douglas, a merchant from Glasgow, Scotland, and the “Creole,” almost certainly a free colored woman, Martha Ann Ritchie, later surnamed Telfer (?–1839?). The two were never married. Genealogical research suggests that Martha Ann Ritchie was born in Barbados. Ritchie and her mother were both slave owners until slavery was ended in 1834. His father married in 1809, but moved Douglas and his siblings to Scotland, where he attended preparatory school in Lanark and learned French. Douglas and his elder brother Alexander then went to Canada, where they were apprenticed to the North West Company, which soon merged with the Hudson’s Bay Company—both were fur-trading concerns. Moving westward, he reached the Pacific Coast for the first time in 1826 ...

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Georges E. Fouron

freedman who became a pioneer and fur trader and who is now hailed as the founder of the city of Chicago, was probably born in 1745 in the town of St. Marc in the French colony of Saint-Domingue (today, Haiti). Du Sable (sometimes rendered as du Sable or DuSable) was the son of a black captive from the Congo named Suzanne, and a French mariner and swashbuckler from Marseille, making him a mulatto in Haitian racial nomenclature. It is believed his father’s name was originally Point Dessaible and he later changed it to Du Sable. As was the practice during that period, to elevate their social status in the French colony, many French expatriates would place a “de” or “du” before their name to connote their high-class lineage.

Another much contested version by the historian Milo Milton Quaife claims that his father s name was Pierre He was born in ...

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Anthony Stevens

first name spelled “Jan” in Dutch documents, was a black or mulatto man from the island colony of Santo Domingo who arrived at the mouth or estuary of what is now New York’s Hudson River in 1613 onboard a Dutch merchant ship The vessel apparently came from the Caribbean in what seems to have been an exploratory expedition seeking to engage in fur trading with the Native Americans of the area By then the Dutch like their French Portuguese and British counterparts had a decade long history of intense involvement in smuggling or illegal trading with the inhabitants of the island of Santo Domingo also called La Española or The Spanish One and known in English as Hispaniola The Dutch had been taking advantage of Spain s limited military governmental and commercial presence there as a result of the greater attention it paid to its mainland possessions in Mexico ...