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The Mountain Men

Fur Trappers

Back when Arizona was part of Mexico, it did not look like it does today. Back then only the bravest and strongest people cane West. The Mountain men were the first to explore Arizona. They helped to open up the West to other American settlers.

These mountain men were also known as fur trappers. They trapped beaver and other small animals along the rivers. Beaver fur was used to make tall felt hats that were very popular in eastern United States and Europe.

A Mountain Man's Life

A mountain man's life was very hard. Many lived outside in all kinds of weather, had to fight off wild animals and keep unfriendly Indians away. However, some mountain men lived with friendly Indians and even married Indian women and had children.

Riding their horses, mountain men explored Arizona's mountains and streams in search of  beaver. They learned how to survive in the wilderness by using skills they had learned from the Indians. Some wore buckskin coats and fur hats. They carried a rifle, gunpowder, a bullet pouch and a stick used to push the gunpowder down into the rifle. They used flint to start fires. They had to carry everything they needed with them including, an axe, a knife, blankets, cooking pots and traps.

After a season of trapping, mountain men went to the trading posts to a rendezvous. There they sold their beaver pelts. They used some of their money to buy food and supplies.

James Ohio Pattie

James Ohio Pattie was one of the few mountain men who kept a diary about his daily life. When his trapping days were over he wrote a book about his adventures. Pattie was twenty years old when he came to Santa Fe with his father and a group of traders and trappers. In Santa Fe, he helped rescue a woman from some Indians. The woman was the daughter of the governor of New Mexico. For his bravery Pattie won a Mexican trapping license.

Pattie and his father joined a group of trappers and were the first Americans to come to Arizona. They trapped along the Gila and Salt Rivers. On one trip Pattie and a group of French trappers were attacked. Only Pattie and two others survived.

After a while, Pattie and his father made their last trip to Arizona. When Indians stole their horses the men made boats out of cottonwood logs and floated down the Colorado River and hid their furs near the Gulf of California. The whole group was caught and put in a Mexican jail, where Pattie's father died. They men were let out of jail because Pattie new a little about medicine. The Mexican government sent him to California to give people shots to keep them from getting smallpox a disease that was killing thousands of settlers and Native Americans.

Learn more about James Ohio Pattie

Pauline Weaver

Pauline weaver was the son of an Indian women and a white man. He never went to school and did not know how to read or write. Weaver trapped up North but got tired of the cold winters. He came to Arizona where he found plenty of beaver to trap. Though he was not a miner, Weaver discovered small pieces of gold along the Colorado and Gila Rivers. He guided a party of gold seekers to a mining area near the Bradshaw mountains.

Weaver was a peacemaker and moved freely among the Indians. When he got older, he became a scout for the army and was assigned to live at a fort. Weaver refused and instead pitched his tent among the willows on the river bottom. That is where he died.

Weaver was the first settler on the site of Prescott. Today he is referred to as the Father of Prescott and a large granite rock marks his grave there.

Christopher "Kit" Carson

When Kit Carson was sixteen years old he became an apprentice in a saddle and harness shop in Missouri. He was supposed to learn how to make leather goods. he hated working in the shop and ran away to find a more exciting life out West.

View a picture of Kit Carson

After he got to Santa Fe, the young Carson worked for three years at any job he could get. He learned enough Spanish to work as an interpreter, explaining Spanish words to people who only spoke English

He later joined a group of trappers and trapped along the steams of Arizona and California. Carson is more famous as a guide than a trapper. He traveled all over the Rocky Mountains with explorers.

Learn about another Mountain Man "Bill Williams"


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