TRAPPERS, TRADERS,
AND HOMESEEKERS
CHAPTER 12

The overland movement pioneered by Jedediah Smith soon numbered other travelers. Among these were the trappers James Ohio Pattie and his father Sylvester as well as Ewing Young, William Wolfskill, the Sublette brothers, and the famous western scout Christopher (Kit) Carson. They were indeed a mixed lot, as their ranks included men like the obstreperous Isaac Graham. Nevertheless, this stream of mountain men, traders, and homeseekers would transform a remote Mexican province into an American outpost.

In mid-1824, James and Sylvester Pattie set out on a lengthy fur-trapping expedition southwest from the Missouri River frontier. On June 20, the little party, consisting of five persons, crossed the Missouri River sixty miles above St. Louis. There, a larger group joined them, not all of whom accompanied the Patties into the unexplored Southwest. For nearly two years, the Patties trapped for beavers along muddy streams never before seen by white persons. They reached the Mohave Indian villages near the Colorado River on March 16, 1826, some six months before Jed Smith, thus becoming the first Americans to trap the Arizona-California area. As they took many furs, prospects for the party seemed excellent until Indians stole their pack animals, compelling the Pattie group to cache (bury) their unwieldy furs, most of which they never recovered. Still worse, they had another cache confiscated by the Mexican governor at Santa Fe, who pocketed the proceeds himself on the ground that the Americans had been trapping without a license.

Late in September of 1827, the Patties and about thirty companions continued westward from Santa Fe in today’s New Mexico to trap below the Gila River. By the time they reached the junction of that river and the Colorado, repeated misunderstandings among them caused the party to divide, until the

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