accompanied Lewis and Clark on their expedition, 1804-1806.
then traveled the mountain wilderness alone for months, being considered the first "mountain man."
became the first person of European descent to see the
Teton Mountain Range
and traverse the area that became known as
Yellowstone National Park.
His description of bubbling mudpots, geysers and steaming pools of water, resulted in the area being named
In 1809, hundreds of Blackfeet captured
His friend, John Potts, was riddled with bullets and hacked to pieces.
Wanting to make a sport out of killing
Indians stripped him naked and forced him run the gauntlet.
He was chased by dozens of young warriors across miles of prairie.
After running for his life nearly five miles, bleeding from his nose,
grabbed the spear from his closest assailant and killed him.
As the other warriors stopped to see their dead friend,
raced ahead to the chilly Madison River, where he dove in and swam under a beaver dam.
Washington Irving wrote in
(1836, chapter 15), that
"... swam below water until he succeeded in getting a breathing place between the floating trunks of trees ... He had scarcely drawn breath after all his toils, when he heard his pursuers on the river bank, whooping and yelling like so many fiends. They plunged in the river ...
The heart of Colter almost died within him as he saw them, through the chinks of his concealment, passing and repassing, and seeking for him in all directions ... He remained until nightfall ... finding by the silence around that his pursuers had departed ... Colter dived again and came up ... then swam silently down the river."
Colter then walked naked and exposed to the weather for 11 days to a trading fort on the Little Big Horn.
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Other famous mountain men of the early 19th century included:
-John "Grizzly" Adams,
-John "Liver-Eating" Johnson,
-Thomas L. "Pegleg" Smith,
-"Blackfoot" John Smith,
-William Henry Ashley,
-Jean Baptiste Charbonneau,
-John C. Fremont,
-Robert "Doc" Newell,
-Black mountain man James Beckwourth,
travels were exceeded only by
Lewis and Clark.
expeditions up the Missouri River
with such characters as keelboatman
-- the notorious brawler and braggart.
Smith was a renown frontiersman, hunter, trapper, and map-maker.
He explored the Rocky Mountains, from the Northwest to the Southwest.
Smith helped discover the
"South Pass" through the Rockies
the first land route to California
, which opened the door for
the largest voluntary mass migration in world history of nearly 400,000.
Leading settlers across the Santa Fe Trail, Smith's party were the first white Americans to cross the the Mojave Desert into California.
Returning east, Smith and his party were the first U.S. citizens to cross the treacherous Sierra Nevada and Great Basin Desert.
His was the first documented exploration from the Salt Lake to the Colorado River.
Smith and his companions were also the first U.S. citizens to travel by land up the California and Oregon coast.
Born JUNE 24, 1798,
adventurous career began at age of 22, when he answered an add in the
, place by Missouri's Lieutenant Governor, William H. Ashley, seeking:
"Enterprising Young Men ... to ascend the river Missouri to its source ... to be employed for ... three years."
was known to carry two books, the
and a copy of
Lewis & Clark's Expedition
He never drank, never used tobacco, and never boasted.
wrote in his Journal:
"Then let us come forward with faith, nothing doubting, and He will most unquestionably hear us."
entered into a fur trapping partnership,
"Smith, Jackson and Sublette,"
and in 1827 sold furs at a rendezvous near the Great Salt Lake.
When fellow trapper John Gardner died,
gave the eulogy, as recorded by expedition member Hugh Glass:
, a young man of our company made a powerful prayer which moved us all greatly and I am persuaded John died in peace."
As captain of his second expedition,
was attacked by a Grizzly bear, as Jim Clyman described:
"The Grissly did not hesitate a moment but sprang on the capt taking him by the head first pitching sprawling on the earth ...
breaking several of his ribs and cutting his head badly ...
... The bear had taken nearly all his head in his capacious mouth close to his left eye on one side and close to his right ear on the other and laid the skull bare to near the crown of the head ...
... One of his ears was torn from his head out to the outer rim ..."
had Jim Clyman sew his scalp back on, but the ear was too cut to save.
insisted he try, as Clyman wrote:
"I put my needle sticking it through and through and over and over laying the lacerated parts together as nice as I could with my hands."
After two weeks of rest, Smith resumed leading the expedition.
On December 24, 1829, from the Wind River on the east side of the Rocky Mountains,
wrote to his parents in Ohio:
"It is a long time since I left home & many times I have been ready, to bring my business to a close & endeavor to come home; but have been hindered hitherto ...
... However I will endeavor, by the assistance of Divine Providence, to come home as soon as possible ... but whether I shall ever be allowed the privilege, God only knows ..."
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"I feel the need of the watch & care of a Christian Church. You may well suppose that our Society is of the roughest kind.
Men of good morals seldom enter into business of this kind -- I hope you will remember me before the Throne of Grace ...
May God in His infinite mercy allow me soon to join My Parents is the Prayer of your undutiful Son,
Jedediah S. Smith
In a letter to his brother, Ralph, December 24, 1829,
"Many Hostile tribes of Indians inhabit this Space ... In August 1827, ten Men who were in company with me lost their lives by the Amuchabas Indians ...
... In July 1828, fifteen men who were in company with me lost their lives by the Umpquah Indians ... Many others have lost their lives in different parts ...
My Brother ... I have need of your Prayers ... to bear me up before the Throne of Grace."
sold his shares in the
Rocky Mountain Fur Company
in 1830 and retired, buying a townhouse in
However, he had agreed to go on one last trip for the
Sublette and Jackson Company
, leaving in the spring of 1831.
On May 27, 1831, while looking for water along the
Santa Fe Trail
in southwest Kansas,
was ambushed by
Just four months earlier, January 26, 1831,
had written to his brother Ralph in Wayne County, Ohio:
"Some, who have made a profession of Christianity & have by their own negligence caused the Spirit to depart, think their day of grace is over; but where did they find Such doctrine?
I find our Saviour ever entreating & wooing us."