Into the Wild Frontier


January 16, 2023

This past weekend I had the opportunity to watch an 8-episode series titled Into the Wild Frontier on Fox Nation.  If you have a computer or smart TV and have not subscribed to this program, I strongly recommend you take a look at it.  It is not totally right winged political leaning as the owner “Fox News.” This TV Channel has a ton of educational shows, movies and documentaries that celebrate our great country – America.  It is commercial free and the cost is very reasonable:  $5.99 per month, $64.99 per year or $99 for two years – and it provides a 7-day free trial.  If you happen to be Military, Veteran or First Responder the first year is absolutely free.

With these rates I see no reason why you should not sign up and start learning some things they never taught you in school.  This past weekend I was able to learn a lot about 10 men that had a tremendous impact on our history.  You can read some essays I wrote about them below … but I do encourage you to go to Fox Nation and watch the documentary about them.

First up …

Daniel Boone:

Daniel Boone was an American frontiersman, explorer, and pioneer who played a significant role in the exploration and settlement of Kentucky. Born in Pennsylvania in 1734, Boone spent much of his early life hunting and trapping in the Appalachian Mountains. He became an expert woodsman and scout, and his skills and knowledge of the wilderness would serve him well in his later career as an explorer and settler.

Boone’s most famous accomplishment was his role in the exploration and settlement of Kentucky. In 1775, he led a group of settlers through the Cumberland Gap, an important pass through the mountains that had previously been considered impassable. This journey opened up the region to further exploration and settlement, and it established Boone as a respected leader and guide.

Once the land was open to settlers, Boone helped establish the first settlements in Kentucky, including Boonesborough, which he founded in 1778. He also served as a militia officer during the American Revolutionary War and helped negotiate treaties with Native American tribes.

Boone’s life and legacy have been celebrated in literature, film, and popular culture. He is often remembered as a symbol of the American frontier spirit, a rugged individualist who pushed westward in search of new opportunities and adventure. However, it is important to note that Boone’s actions also had a negative impact on the native people and the environment of the land he explored.

Despite this, Boone’s legacy is undeniable. He was a skilled and resourceful explorer who played a key role in the expansion of the American frontier. His achievements have been celebrated and remembered for centuries, and he remains one of the most iconic figures in American history.

Boone’s life was not without its share of tragedy, however. His family was often caught in the crossfire of conflicts with Native Americans, and several of his children were killed during these incidents. He also lost his land and wealth multiple times due to legal disputes and financial difficulties.

But even in the face of these challenges, Boone never gave up. He was a determined and resilient individual who always found a way to persevere. He was a true American hero, and his legacy lives on to this day.

In conclusion, Daniel Boone was a legendary figure in American history. His exploration and settlement of Kentucky opened up a new frontier for the young nation, and his leadership and courage continue to inspire generations. He is remembered as a symbol of the American spirit, a true pioneer who pushed westward in search of adventure and opportunity. Despite the negative impact his actions had on the native people, his achievements and impact on the American nation and its expansion can’t be denied.

Second, lets take a look at the …

Lewis and Clark Expedition:

The Lewis and Clark Expedition, also known as the Corps of Discovery Expedition, was a United States expedition of explorers, led by Captain Meriwether Lewis and Second Lieutenant William Clark, to explore the western portion of the Louisiana Purchase and the Pacific Northwest. The expedition began in May 1804 and lasted until September 1806. The explorers traveled up the Missouri River, across the Rocky Mountains, and to the Pacific coast, documenting their discoveries and interacting with the Native American tribes they encountered along the way.

The expedition was commissioned by President Thomas Jefferson, who sought to explore and document the western region of the country, with the goal of finding a water route to the Pacific Ocean. Jefferson was also interested in learning more about the plants, animals, and Native American tribes that lived in the region. He selected Lewis, his personal secretary, to lead the expedition, and Lewis in turn chose Clark as his co-leader. The two men had previously served together in the military.

The expedition set out from St. Louis, Missouri, in May 1804, with a team of about 40 men, including soldiers, frontiersmen, and a French-Canadian fur trader named Toussaint Charbonneau and his wife Sacagawea, a Shoshone woman. The team traveled up the Missouri River in a keelboat and two smaller boats, encountering many challenges along the way, including treacherous currents and hostile Native American tribes.

Despite these challenges, the expedition made important discoveries and achieved many of its goals. They explored and mapped the Missouri River, and in August 1804 they reached the Mandan and Hidatsa villages in present-day North Dakota, where they spent the winter. There, they met Sacagawea, who would become an invaluable member of the team as a translator and guide.

In the spring of 1805, the expedition set out again, and they reached the Rocky Mountains by July. They spent the next several months crossing the mountains, often facing difficult terrain and harsh weather. They also encountered many Native American tribes, including the Nez Perce, Shoshone, and Blackfoot.

After crossing the mountains, the expedition reached the Pacific coast in November 1805. They built a fort, which they named Fort Clatsop, and spent the winter there. In the spring of 1806, the expedition began their journey back home. They retraced their steps across the mountains and down the Missouri River, arriving back in St. Louis in September 1806.

The Lewis and Clark Expedition was a significant achievement for the United States. It helped to expand American knowledge of the western region of the country and provided valuable information about the plants, animals, and Native American tribes that lived there. The expedition also helped to establish the United States’ claim to the western region and opened the way for further exploration and settlement.

The expedition was not without controversy, however. They had a number of conflicts with native tribes, as the expedition was seen as a invasion by the native nations and the contact caused the spread of disease. Additionally, the expedition’s treatment of the Native Americans they encountered has been criticized by some historians as exploitative and disrespectful.

Overall, the Lewis and Clark Expedition was an important event in American history. It expanded our knowledge of the western region of the country, helped establish the United States’ claim to the region, and paved the way for further exploration and settlement. Despite its achievement, it should also be remembered that it had negative impacts on the native nations they encountered.

Third we have …

John Colter:

John Colter was a true American frontiersman, explorer, and member of the Lewis and Clark Expedition. Born in 1774 in Virginia, Colter’s adventurous spirit led him to join the Lewis and Clark Expedition in 1803 as a private. The expedition was tasked with exploring the newly acquired Louisiana Territory and finding a water route to the Pacific Ocean. During the expedition, Colter proved to be a valuable member of the team, often serving as a hunter and scout. He also demonstrated his courage and resourcefulness on several occasions, including when he saved the life of a fellow expedition member who had been attacked by a bear.

After the Lewis and Clark Expedition, Colter joined a group of fur traders and began to explore the western United States. He is most famous for his explorations of present-day Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho. His explorations in these areas were the first by a European American and helped to open up the west to further exploration and settlement.

In 1807, Colter became the first European American to see the geysers and other natural wonders of the area that is now known as the Yellowstone Park. His descriptions of the geysers, hot springs, and other geological features were so vivid and accurate that many people did not believe him. It was only later, when other explorers confirmed his accounts, that the true beauty and uniqueness of the area was recognized.

In addition to his explorations of Yellowstone, Colter also became the first European American to explore the Teton Range and the Grand Teton mountain. He was also known for his encounters with the Native American tribes, such as the Crow and the Blackfeet. His relations with these tribes were generally peaceful, and he often acted as a mediator between them and the fur traders.

Despite his many accomplishments, Colter’s explorations were not without danger. He was nearly killed several times, including when he was captured by the Blackfeet and forced to run for his life in what became known as the “Colter’s Run.” He managed to outrun his pursuers and escape to safety, but the experience left him with a deep respect for the dangers of the west.

After several years of exploration, Colter retired from his adventures in 1810. He settled in Missouri, where he died in 1813 at the age of 39. Despite his relatively short life, his contributions to the exploration and settlement of the west were significant. He helped to open up the west to further exploration and settlement, and his vivid descriptions of the natural wonders of the area helped to attract the attention of other explorers and settlers. Today, his legacy lives on in the many place names and landmarks that bear his name, including Colter Bay in Grand Teton National Park and Colter Run in Yellowstone National Park.

Next we must talk about …

Jim Bridger:

Jim Bridger was a prominent American frontiersman, explorer, and mountain man who played a significant role in the western expansion of the United States during the 19th century. Born in 1804 in Richmond, Virginia, Bridger began his career as a trapper and trader at the age of 18, and quickly became one of the most accomplished and respected figures in the American West.

Bridger’s early years were spent working for various fur trading companies, where he quickly gained a reputation for his skill and knowledge of the western wilderness. In 1824, he joined the Ashley-Henry trapping expedition, which was one of the first American expeditions to explore the Rocky Mountains. During this expedition, Bridger discovered and named many of the region’s most prominent landmarks, including the Bridger Mountains in Wyoming, and the Great Salt Lake in Utah.

In the following years, Bridger continued to explore the western wilderness, working for various fur trading companies and leading expeditions on behalf of the US government. He was one of the first whites to see the Great Salt Lake, and the first to explore the region west of the Rockies. He also discovered the South Pass, which was the key passage through the Rockies for the Oregon Trail and other trails westward.

Bridger’s knowledge of the western wilderness was unmatched by any other explorer of his time. He was able to navigate the rugged terrain with ease, and had a deep understanding of the plants, animals, and natural resources of the region. He was also able to communicate with Native American tribes and establish peaceful relationships with them, which was vital to the success of the fur trade and the expansion of the American West.

Despite his many accomplishments, Bridger’s legacy is not without controversy. He was known to have killed many Native Americans, and his actions were often in violation of treaties and laws of the time. He also played a role in the forced relocation of the Shoshone people from their ancestral lands.

Despite these controversies, Jim Bridger remains an important figure in American history. His exploration and mapping of the western wilderness opened up the American West to settlement and expansion, and his knowledge and understanding of the region was vital to the success of the fur trade and the growth of the American economy. He was a true pioneer and adventurer, and his legacy lives on today in the many landmarks and places that bear his name.

In conclusion, Jim Bridger was a legendary American frontiersman, explorer and mountain man of the 19th century. His exploration, mapping and knowledge of the western wilderness opened up the American West to settlement and expansion, and his understanding of the region was vital to the success of the fur trade and the growth of the American economy. Despite his controversial actions, his legacy continues to be an important part of American history.

Of course we cannot forget …

Jedediah Smith:

Jedediah Strong Smith was a pioneering American explorer, hunter, and trapper, known for his role in opening up the West to American expansion. He was born in 1799 in New York state, and at a young age he became interested in the wilderness and the opportunities it presented.

In 1822, at the age of 23, Smith set out on his first expedition, traveling westward through the Great Lakes region and into the vast expanse of the American West. He quickly became known for his skill as a hunter and trapper, and he quickly amassed a fortune from the furs he collected.

Smith’s expeditions took him through the Rocky Mountains, the Great Basin, and the California coast. He was the first American to cross the Sierra Nevada mountains, and he was the first to explore the region that is now the state of Nevada. He also explored the Great Salt Lake, and he was one of the first white men to see the Grand Canyon.

Smith’s expeditions were not without danger, and he faced many challenges along the way. He was attacked by Native Americans, and he had to contend with harsh weather, rugged terrain, and limited supplies. Despite these challenges, Smith persevered and continued to push westward, driven by his curiosity and his desire to discover new lands.

Smith was also a skilled map maker and he made many maps of the regions he explored. He was also a gifted naturalist and he made many observations about the plants and animals he encountered on his expeditions. He was a big influence in the scientific community and his observations were used by many scientists in their research.

Despite his many accomplishments, Smith’s life was cut short when he was killed by Comanche warriors in 1831. He was only 32 years old at the time of his death, but his legacy lived on. Smith’s expeditions had opened up a vast new region to American expansion, and his maps and observations had greatly expanded knowledge of the American West. He is remembered as one of the greatest explorers in American history, and his contributions to the exploration and settlement of the West are still celebrated today.

In conclusion, Jedediah Strong Smith was an American explorer who played a key role in opening up the West to American expansion. He was known for his skill as a hunter and trapper, and he amassed a fortune from the furs he collected. He was the first American to cross the Sierra Nevada mountains, and he was the first to explore the region that is now the state of Nevada. Despite many challenges, he persevered and continued to push westward, driven by his curiosity and his desire to discover new lands. He is remembered as one of the greatest explorers in American history and his contributions to the exploration and settlement of the West are still celebrated today.

Then, we learn about …

Tom Fitzpatrick:

Tom Fitzpatrick, also known as “Broken Hand,” was a prominent frontiersman and explorer in the early 19th century American West. Born in Ireland in 1799, Fitzpatrick immigrated to the United States as a young man and eventually made his way westward, joining a group of fur traders in the 1820s.

Fitzpatrick quickly proved himself to be an adept and resourceful trader, and he quickly rose through the ranks of the company. He quickly became known for his ability to navigate the rugged terrain and hostile native populations of the West, earning him the nickname “Broken Hand” due to an injury he sustained during a skirmish with a band of Blackfeet warriors.

Despite his injury, Fitzpatrick continued to push westward, leading expeditions into the uncharted wilderness in search of new trading opportunities. He was one of the first Americans to explore the Rocky Mountains, and he played a key role in opening up the region to American trade and settlement.

In addition to his exploits as a trader, Fitzpatrick also played a key role in American-Indian relations in the West. He was a skilled diplomat and often served as a mediator between the US government and various Native American tribes. He was known for his ability to understand and navigate the complex political landscape of the West, and he played a key role in negotiating treaties and agreements between the US government and various tribes.

One of Fitzpatrick’s most notable achievements was his role in the 1825 Treaty of St. Louis, which established a formal peace between the United States and several tribes of the Great Plains, including the Sioux, Cheyenne, and Arapaho. The treaty was seen as a major step forward in American-Indian relations and helped to pave the way for further expansion into the West.

In addition to his diplomatic work, Fitzpatrick also served as a guide and scout for several prominent explorers, including Zebulon Pike and John C. Fremont. He was a wealth of knowledge about the West, and his guidance and expertise were invaluable to these explorers as they mapped out the uncharted territories of the American West.

Despite his many accomplishments, Fitzpatrick’s life was not without its setbacks. He had several run-ins with the law, and he struggled with alcoholism for much of his life. Nevertheless, his contributions to American history are undeniable, and he is remembered today as one of the most prominent and influential figures of the early American West.

In conclusion, Tom Fitzpatrick, also known as “Broken Hand,” was a prominent frontiersman and explorer of the early 19th century American West. He was a skilled trader, diplomat, and explorer, who played a key role in opening up the American West to trade and settlement. He also served as a guide and scout for several prominent explorers and helped to pave the way for further expansion into the West. Despite his many accomplishments, Fitzpatrick’s life was not without its setbacks, but his contributions to American history are undeniable, and he is remembered today as one of the most prominent and influential figures of the early American West.

One that is really worth mentioning and one of the most colorful I found to be …

Jim Beckworth:

Jim Beckworth, also known as James Beckworth, was a frontiersman, mountain man, and explorer who lived in the early 19th century. He was born into slavery in Virginia in 1798, but was freed by his owner and eventually made his way west to the Rocky Mountains.

Beckworth quickly adapted to the rugged mountain lifestyle and became known as a skilled hunter, trapper, and trader. He spent much of his time living among Native American tribes, learning their ways and even becoming a respected member of some of them. Beckworth also played a key role in opening up new areas for American exploration and settlement, including the South Pass in Wyoming, which became an important route for pioneers heading west on the Oregon Trail.

One of Beckworth’s most notable achievements was his exploration of the Sierra Nevada Mountain range in California. In 1851, he led a group of settlers through the treacherous mountains and helped establish the first permanent American settlement in the region. This journey was considered to be one of the most remarkable feats of exploration in American history, and Beckworth was hailed as a hero for his bravery and leadership.

Beckworth’s life was not without controversy, however. He was known for his tendency to exaggerate his own accomplishments and was often criticized for his treatment of Native Americans. Nevertheless, Beckworth’s contributions to the exploration and settlement of the American West cannot be denied.

Beckworth’s legacy continues to be celebrated in modern times. He is remembered as one of the most colorful and adventurous figures of the 19th century American frontier, a man who helped open up the West to American expansion. His story has been told in countless books, articles, and films, and he remains a symbol of the spirit of adventure and exploration that has always been a part of the American story.

In conclusion, Jim Beckworth was a remarkable frontiersman, mountain man, and explorer of the 19th century who played a key role in opening up the American West to exploration and settlement. Despite his controversial reputation, his contributions to American history cannot be denied. His legacy continues to be celebrated to this day, and his story serves as an inspiration to those who seek to explore the unknown and push the boundaries of what is possible.

One of my favorites to learn about and one who probably covered more territory than all the rest was …

Kit Carson:

Kit Carson was a frontiersman, scout, and Indian agent who played a significant role in the western expansion of the United States. He was born in 1809 in Madison County, Kentucky, and grew up in Missouri. At the age of 14, he left home to become a mountain man and fur trader, which led him to explore and map much of the American West.

Carson’s early years were spent in the Rocky Mountains, where he quickly established himself as a skilled trapper and hunter. He spent much of his time with the Ute, Cheyenne, and Arapaho tribes, and became fluent in several Native American languages. This knowledge proved invaluable when he was hired as a guide and scout by the U.S. Army, as he was able to communicate effectively with the tribes he encountered.

Carson’s most famous expedition was the Carson-Freemont Expedition of 1842-1843, led by John C. Freemont, which explored the west and mapped much of it. This expedition was instrumental in opening up the west to American settlement. Carson’s knowledge of the terrain, his ability to navigate and his ability to communicate with the Native American tribes made him invaluable to the expedition.

During the Mexican-American War, Carson served as a scout and guide for the U.S. Army. He was present at the Battle of San Pasqual and later served as a guide for General Stephen Kearny’s Army of the West as it marched to California.

Carson’s reputation as a scout and guide was such that he was appointed Indian agent for the Ute and Jicarilla Apache tribes in 1853. In this role, he worked to establish peaceful relations between the tribes and the U.S. government. He also worked to improve the lives of the tribes by promoting agriculture and education.

In the late 1850s and early 1860s, Carson led several expeditions against the Navajo tribe, which was resisting American expansion into their lands. He was responsible for the forced relocation of thousands of Navajo people, known as the “Long Walk,” which resulted in the deaths of many Navajo people and the destruction of their homes and way of life.

Despite his controversial actions towards the Navajo, Carson is remembered as a hero and legend in American history. He was a skilled scout and guide, and his knowledge of the West and its people helped to open up the region to American settlement. His legacy is remembered in many places throughout the West, including Kit Carson County, Colorado, and Kit Carson, New Mexico.

In conclusion, Kit Carson was a figure of great importance in American history, his contributions as a scout, guide and Indian agent were significant in shaping the American West. He was a skilled frontiersman and his knowledge of the terrain, as well as his ability to communicate with native tribes, made him an invaluable asset to the U.S. government. Despite his controversial actions towards the Navajo, his legacy remains as a hero and legend in American history.

Relationships:

Five of the men I mentioned above actually knew each other because of an employment situation that took place in 1822.  These were John Colter, Jim Bridger, Jedediah Smith, Tom Fitzpatrick and James “Jim” Beckworth.  This employment situation was with the Rocky Mountain Fur Company that was started by a guy named William Ashley who hired 100 mountain men to trap beavers and hunt deer in the western territories.

While the documentary mentions this man … they really did not focus on him.  Yet I believe he was the catalyst for much of the discovery of the west even though it was from a purely capitalistic point of view for him …

William Ashley:

William Ashley was a fur trader who played a significant role in the early American fur trade during the early 19th century. He is best known for organizing the Rocky Mountain Fur Company and leading the first rendezvous in 1825, which brought together mountain men and Native American tribes to trade furs.

Ashley was born in 1778 in Virginia, but later moved to St. Louis, Missouri. He began his career as a fur trader in 1802, working for the Missouri Fur Company. However, he quickly realized that the traditional system of trading furs with Native Americans at fixed trading posts was inefficient and costly. In 1822, he formed his own company, the Rocky Mountain Fur Company, which focused on the more profitable and less crowded Rocky Mountain region.

In 1825, Ashley organized the first rendezvous, a large gathering of mountain men and Native American tribes in the Rocky Mountains to trade furs. This event marked the beginning of the “rendezvous era” and greatly increased the efficiency of the fur trade. The rendezvous also brought together different groups of people and cultures, creating a unique blend of American and Native American cultures.

Ashley’s success as a fur trader was built on his ability to navigate the complex relationships between different groups of people. He was able to establish good relations with Native American tribes, such as the Shoshone and Blackfoot, and was able to recruit and lead a group of skilled mountain men. He also had a keen understanding of the economic and political landscape of the time, which allowed him to capitalize on the growing demand for furs in the United States and Europe.

However, Ashley’s success was not without controversy. The fur trade had a significant impact on the environment, as well as on the lives of the animals and the people who lived in the region. Ashley’s company was also involved in conflicts with other fur trading companies, such as the American Fur Company, and with the United States government over land rights and taxes.

In spite of these controversies, Ashley’s legacy as a fur trader is undeniable. He played a key role in the development of the American West and his rendezvous system greatly improved the efficiency of the fur trade. He was also a complex and dynamic individual, who was able to navigate the complex relationships between different groups of people, and had a keen understanding of the economic and political landscape of the time.

In conclusion, William Ashley was a prominent figure in the early American fur trade, known for his innovative approach to the fur trade and his skill in navigating the complex relationships between different groups of people. His legacy includes the organization of the Rocky Mountain Fur Company and the first rendezvous, which greatly improved the efficiency of the fur trade and brought together different groups of people and cultures. Despite controversies, his impact on the development of the American West is undeniable.

My conclusion:

I believe there is a lot to learn about our country and why we are where we are at today.  Good historic documentaries can help in learning more than could ever be taught in schools today – if watched with “learning in mind.”  For example:  While all these men did good for our country, they all also had some controversial actions that some people hold against them to this day.  They were just men doing the best they could do at the time.  They were all determined to complete the tasks they set out to do … and sometimes this may have required split second life and death decisions on their part.  All in all, though, they were good men and are a good part of our history.

That’s it for now.  Until next time …

Keep on learning!

Jerry Nix | Freewavemaker, LLC

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