The following is a chronological listing of the references used for this work. These are for the most part just primary references. Of course many of these primary references are published much later by various publishers, but due to their original (unedited or slightly edited and footnoted) form when they are printed, are still considered primary reference material.
Those references in which the information is provided from a Trapper’s point of view are distinguished from those produced from a company or governmental point of view. The “Explorer” type of presentation in a diary or journal can be either. Some of these references take the form of being an actual journal or diary, some are reminiscences, some are simply official documents related to an order place by a fur trade company or ship captain.
The Blog Pages on which the notes, comments, and brief essays can be found are provided in Blue.
For the best trapper references, see
Notes regarding this:
Prior to 1820/1, we see little evidence for actual trapper philosophy coming out in the writings. There was the 1806-1809 (post-Lewis and Clark Expedition stage) when regular medicine was practice, but practiced little if one were a trapper due to limited supplies carried along on most of the journeys. 1810 to 1820 has the impacts of the War of 1812-15 getting in the way of some of the development of trapper medicine. Trappers are now more detached from European and Euro-American medical tradition, and are developing a tradition on their own. Since this period is also when climate and weather were considered very important if not the most important causes for disease, trappers naturally began to belief in weather and health, and the impacts of climate on health and the chances for getting disease. In general, the belief was that the mountain air was healthy for those with consumption (tuberculosis), and so the trapper tradition took off with this philosophy. Weather and climate also effected on other disease common to aging men like trappers–rheumatoid arthritis. The healthy feeling of high elevation, less-humid mountain air made trapping the way to live when you had this chronic medical condition. These observations help provide us with some insight into the development of trapper natural philosophy and health.
1821-1830 is the most impressive period in trapper philosophy development. This is the period in which it is being practiced. We probably see some loyalists to traditional medicine and weather-climate medicine, as well as some new non-traditionalists popping up who are more into the local plant medicines, if not completely into this philosophy by this time. Metis and other mixed Indian children would have lived the Native American life most of the time if they were involved at all with these trapper’s life experience and lifestyle.
1830+. The later years summarize the tradition of trapping, but by the mid and late 1830s, begin demonstrating the changes then taking place. In the Pacific Northwest, perhaps the last unclaimed territory on the Continental proper, missions are being established. One individual reviewed elsewhere, William Dain, was a scout for an 1845 Overland Trail expedition to California. He perhaps understood the trapper lifestyle, but just how much he lived this experience is uncertain. We know he was affiliated with Fort Vancouver and papers related to this history refer to his wife taking a boat to a local town center; according to these notes, she was at least half Indian. When Dain is first promoted for a new career during the 1860s in a local newspaper, he is called an Indian Doctor. His 1845 medical recipes for Capt. Solomon Tetherow are part Indian Root Doctor/Ohio Botanical school and part Thomsonian philosophy. Much of the indirect circumstantial evidence suggests is possibly from Kentucky. (Based on these notes, Dain is essentially removed from being definitive of trapper tradition, and so eliminates the Thomsonian philosophy I have long wondered about.)
1840+. These later trappers provide writings that are good readings, perhaps summarizing quite well the natural philosophy and tradition of trappers. However, a number of loyalists to American non-Indian traditions were published as trappers as well. See Townsend and Russell for more on this. There were probably very Anglocentric trappers still around at the time, but they were not traditional thinkers in the trapper sense. They made have even been involved due to personal curiosity, because they had the time and money to spend (Maximilian), or to serve as an information source for companies and the government (Townsend), or due to their desires to write and publish a diary later, or to improve their chance of being elected to congress (Russell).
1850+. These writings are more for financial gain and provided as reminiscences. The glory of trapping life is not a popular culture phenomenon, that increases substantially around 1855, drops in popularity during the Civil War, and is reborn once the Civil War is over. It is possible retained as a medical practice style in those parts of the country not participating much in the Civil War, like the Pacific Northwest, and even California and perhaps Idaho.
For early colonial ethnobotany history, see: https://brianaltonenmph.wordpress.com/6-history-of-medicine-and-pharmacy/hudson-valley-medical-history/first-impressions/explorers-and-plants/explorers-and-plants-part-3-food-and-medicine/.
The following Code is used for the major collection in which each primary document referenced was found:
BCNO = Les Bourgeois de la Compagnie du Nord-Ouest, by L.R. Masson, first published from 1889-1890, and republished by Antique Press, Ltd., New York, 1960
EWT = Early Western Travels, 1748-1846, edited by Reuben Gold Thwaites. These books were originally published in Cleveland, Ohio, by Arthur H. Clark Co., 1904, and republished in 1966 by AMS Press, Inc., N.Y.. The specific volumes of Thwaites’ texts researched are noted at the end of the title name in brackets.
HBRS = The Publications of the Hudson’s Bay Record Society (London: The Hudson’s Bay Record Society. E.R. Rich, Editor), have been reviewed for Materia Medica.
IP = Books published independently of the series evaluated for this research. Often these are university press reprints, typically from Minnesota publishers. Some are reprints by private printers. A few are from original books purchased or located in the historical society libraries over the years, or perhaps better stated about now, during the past two decades.
A Chronological Listing of Primary References (and perhaps a very few secondary references)
Andrew Graham’s Observations on Hudson’s Bay 1767-91. [HBRS, Volume 27. 1967. Glyndwr Williams, Gen. Ed.] [Hudson’s Bay Company]
George Sutherland. Journal of George Sutherland 1796-1797. A Journal of Transactions at Edmonton House by George Sutherland 1796 & 7. [HBRS, Volume 26. 1967. Glyndwr Williams, Gen. Ed.] [Hudson’s Bay Company]
Mr. John McDowell. Some Account of the Red River About 1797. With extracts from his Journal. 1793-1795. [BCNO, I, 265-295] [Trappers from ca. 1800-1810]
Andre Michaux, F.A. Michaux and Thaddeus Mason Harris. Travels West of the Alleghanies Made in 1793-96 by Andre Michaux; in 1802 by F.A. Michaux; and in 1803 by Thaddeus Mason Harris, M.A. [EWT, Thwaites, Volume 3] Key words: Botanizer. [Early Western Travels, 1810-1850]
Mr. James McKenzie. Extracts from his Journal. 1799-1800. [BCNO, II, 369-399] [Trappers from ca. 1800-1810]
1800 – 1805
Mr. Duncan Cameron. The Nipigon County, 1804. With extracts from his Journal. [BCNO, II, 229-265]. [Trappers from ca. 1800-1810]
Mr. Peter Grant. The Sauteux Indians about 1804. [BCNO, II, 303-366] [Trappers from ca. 1800-1810]
Mr. Duncan Cameron. Extracts from the Journal of D. Cameron, Esq. North-West Company while in the Nipigon Department, 1804-1805. [BCNO, II, 267-300] [Trappers from ca. 1800-1810]
M. Francois-Victor Malhiot. Journal du Fort Kamanaitiquoya a la Riviere Montreal. 1804-1805. [BCNO, I, 222-263] [Trappers from ca. 1800-1810]
Mr. Charles Mackenzie. The Mississouri (sic) Indians. A Narrative of Four Trading Expeditions to the Mississouri, 1804-1805-1806, for the North-West Company. [BCNO, I, 315-393] [Trappers from ca. 1800-1810]
Mr. Simon Fraser. Journal of a Voyage from the Rocky Mountains to the Pacific Coast. 1808. [BCNO, I, 155-221] [Trappers from ca. 1800-1810]
Mr. James McKenzie. The King’s Posts and Journal of a Canoe Jaunt through the King’s Domains, 1808, The Saguenay and the Labrador Coast. [BCNO, II, 401-454] [Trappers from ca. 1800-1810]
Mr. George Keith. Letters to Mr. Roderic McKenzie. 1807-1817. [BCNO, II, 61-132] [Trappers from ca. 1800-1810]
Mr. W.F. Wentzel. Letters to the Honorable Roderic McKenzie, 1807-1824. [BCNO, I, 67-153] [Trappers from ca. 1800-1810]
John Bradbury. Travel in the Interior of America in the Years 1809, 1810, and 1811. [EWT, Thwaites, Volume 4.] [Early Western Travels, 1810-1850]
Fortescue Cuming. Sketches of a Toure to the Western Country Through the States of Ohio and Kentucky; a Voyage down the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers and a Trip through the Mississippi Territory and part of West Florida. Commenced at Philadelphia in the Winter of 1807, and concluded in 1809. [EWT, Thwaites, Volume 5.] [Early Western Travels, 1810-1850]
Thomas Nuttall. A Journal of Travels in to the Arkansas Territory, during the year 1819, with Occasional Observations on the Manners of the Aborigines. [EWT, Thwaites, Volume 13] [Early Western Travels, 1810-1850]
Adlard Welby. A Visit to North American and the English Settlements in Illinois, with a winter residence at Philadelphia. Originally published in 1821 in London. Reprinted as part of Early Western Travels, 1748-1846, Volume 12, pp. 145-341. Reuben Gold Thwaites, Ed. AMS Press, Inc., N.Y., 1966. [IP] [Early Western Travels, 1810-1850]
John Woods. Two Years’ Residence in the Settlement on the English Prairie in the Illnois Country, United States. [1822.] [EWT, Thwaites, Volume 10] [Early Western Travels, 1810-1850]
W. Faux. Memorable Days in America: being a Journal of a Tour to the United States…including Accounts of Mr. Birbeck’s Settlement in the Illinois. (London, 1823) [EWT, Thwaites, Volume 11 and 12.] [Early Western Travels, 1810-1850]
Edwin James. Account of an Expedition from Pittsburg to the Rocky Mountains, performed in the years 1819, 1820. Originally Published in London in 1823. [EWT, Thwaites, Volumes 14-17.] [Early Western Travels, 1810-1850]
Alexander Roderick McLeod. Journal of a Trapping Expedition along the Coast South of the Columbia in Charge of A.R. McLeod C.T. Summer 1826. [HBRS, Volume 23. 1961. K.G. Davies, Editor.] [Hudson’s Bay Company]
Peter Skene Ogden’s Snake Country Journal 1826-27. [HBRS, Volume 23. 1961. K.G. Davies, Editor.] [Hudson’s Bay Company]
[Jedediah Smith.] Alanson J. Smith. Men Against the Mountains. Jedediah Smith and the Southwest Expedition of 1826-1829. (The John Day Company, New York, 1965) [IP] [Late Trapper Medicines (1825-1850)]
[Thomas Long (Pegleg) Smith.] Sardis W. Templeton. The Lame Captain. The Life and Adventures of Pegleg Smith. (Los Angeles: Western Press, 1965) [IP] [Late Trapper Medicines (1825-1850)]
George Simpson, Esqr. Simpson’s 1828 Journey to the Columbia. Part of Dispatch from George Simpson Esqr. Governor of Rupert’s Land to the Governor & Committee of the Hudson’s Bay Company London. March 1, 1829. Continued and Completed March 24 and June 8, 1829. [HBRS, Volume 10. 1947] [Hudson’s Bay Company]
James Ohio Pattie. The Personal Narrative of James O. Pattie. Timothy Flint, Ed. (1833) [IP] [Early Western Travels, 1810-1850]
Maximilian, Prince of Weid. Travels in the Interior of North America. Part I of Maximilian, Prince of Weid’s, Travels in the Interior of North America, 1832-1834. From the London Edition, 1843; translated from the German Edition by Hannibal Evans Lloyd. [EWT, Thwaites, Volumes 22-24] [Early Western Travels, 1810-1850]
[William Marshall Anderson.] Dale L. Morgan and Eleanor Towles Harris, Eds. The Rocky Mountain Journals of William Marshall Anderson. The West in 1834. (The Huntington Library, San Marino, Cal. 1967) [IP] [Late Trapper Medicines (1825-1850)]
[Zenas Leonard.] Milo Milton Quaife. Narrative of the Adventures of Zenas Leonard. A Native of Clearfield County, Pa., who spent five years in trapping for furs trading with the Indians, &c &c, of the Rocky Mountains. Written by Himself. Originally printed and published by D.W. Moore, Clearfield, Pa., 1839. Reprinted by Lakeside Press, Chicago, 1934. [IP] [Late Trapper Medicines (1825-1850)]
J.K. Townsend. Narrative of a Journey across the Rocky Mountains to the Columbia River. Originally published ca. 1839. Reprinted by University of Nebraska Press, Lincoln/London, Neb., 1970. Also re-published as Volume 8, of Thwaite’s Early Western Travels series. [IP] [Non-Trapper J. K. Townsend]
Russell, Osborne, b. 1814. Journal of a trapper : or, Nine years in the Rocky Mountains, 1834-1843 : being a general description of the country, climate, rivers, lakes, mountains, etc., and a view of the life by a hunter in those regions by Osborne Russell. Boise, Id. : Syms-York, 1914. Edited from the original manuscript by L. A. York. [“Trapper” Osborne Russell, ca. 1845] (also see http://www.xmission.com/~drudy/mtman/html/ruslintr.html)
1841 – 1850
Rufus B. Sage.  Rocky Mountain Life: or, Startling Scenes and Perilous Adventures in the Far West. (Dayton: Edward Canby, N.Y. [IP] [Late Trapper Medicines (1825-1850)]
[Theodore Talbot]. Charles H. Carey, Ed. The Journals of Theodore Talbot, 1843 and 1849-1852, with the Fremont Expedition of 1843 and the First Military Company in Oregon Territory 1849-1852. (Metropolitan Press, Portland, 1931) [IP] [Late Trapper Medicines (1825-1850)]
John Rae’s Correspondence with the Hudson’s Bay Company on Arctic Exploration 1844-1855. [HBRS, Volume 16. 1953] [Hudson’s Bay Company]
Joel Palmer. Journals of Travels over the Rocky Mountains, to the Mouth of the Columbia River: Made during the Years 1845 and 1846. [EWT, Thwaites, Volume 30] [Early Western Travels, 1810-1850]
[James Clyman.] Charles L. Camp, Ed. 1792-1881. James Clyman. Frontiersman. The Adventures of a Trapper and Covered-Wagon Emigrant as told in his own reminiscences and diaries. (Champoeg Press, Portland, OR, 1960) [IP] [Late Trapper Medicines (1825-1850)]