From 1825 to 1850, trappers were very active in the Far West, west of the continental divide.  Between 1800 and 1825, the experience of a trapper in the Midwest and some of the higher elevation settings like the Adirondacks, Appalachia, and the Midwestern ranges in and around the Canadian border, could not compare with what trappers witnesses and experienced once they made their way through the Rocky Mountains.  Unlike much of the continent east of the Rockies, there were regions of high temperature and very low water supply.  Whereas the east coast had introduced the problems of venomous snake to trapping, it was the Far West that turned this natural problem into something more than just  an occasional encounter you had with one of your worst or your horse’s worst enemies.  Also, the problems trappers had with the Black Bear of the eastern mountain ranges did not at all compare with similar events involving the Brown and Grizzly Bears of the Rockies.  The trees were bigger.  The fish seemed bigger.  The tales a trapper told when he ventured back home got bigger.

Everything seemed larger and more pristine to trappers in the Far West wilderness.  Yet just a few trappers provide us with much insight into how these natural settings influenced their philosophy of things.  Whether or not the trapper depended only upon his knife and gun to survive was not always apparent in the few reviews that do exist of trapper life in the wilderness.  What we obtain most of our perceptions of what this unique life in the outdoors was like comes from what we read in later books published about this kind of lifestyle.  In contrast, the trappers of the Rockies can be very much like the Davy Crocket of the East when we find those less common writings or books that seem to reveal what their life was really like.  These  writings provide us with some valuable insights, and at times stories riddled with one exageration after another.

The world of the trapper from 1825 to 1850 pretty much overlaps with the world of an Indian scout or Fur Trader working at some Great Northwest Fur trade company fort setting.  The following provides us with a few insights worth noting.  This materia medica includes some phrases and words referred to in the writing that provide us with insight as to what the trapper knew about some of the more “modern world” back home.  This suggests that a trapper’s life was not always as primitive as we like to imagine.  Questionable or exceptionally unique trappers (or “trappers”) are reviewed separately from this page.

Mescal and Doe Mountain area

The following are the references used for this work:


[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)

NOTE:  Took the Santa Fe route.

[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)

NOTE:  The original diaries of Clyman, a Rocky Mountain Trapper, are owned by the Bancroft Library at the University of California.  The route he took for healing west was the Oregon Trail during its early years of increasing use.  Part of his travels also followed along the Missouri River, along White River and then through the Black Hills into Northern Wyoming.

[Zenas Leonard.]  Milo Milton Quaife.  Narrative of the Adventures of Zenas Leonard.  A Native of Clearfield County, Pa., who sepnt 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.

Bracketed page numbers in the materia medica text refer to the copy produced by University Microfilms, Inc., 1966.  Most other entries come from a review of Quaife’s rendering of this book.

Rufus B. Sage (Wikipedia)

Rufus B. Sage.  Rocky Mountain Life: or, Startling Scenes and Perilous Adventures in the Far West.  (Dayton: Edward Canby, n.y.

Events take place ca. 1842/3.


[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)

[Thomas Long (Pegleg) Smith.]  Sardis W. Templeton.  The Lame Captain.  The Life and Adventures of Pegleg Smith.  (Los Angeles: Western Press, 1965)

Pegleg Smith is the nickname given to Thomas Long Smith.

[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)

Includes “Notes of a Journey beyond the Rocky Mountains in 1843 and 1844 with the Expedition for the Exploration of Oregon Territory.”

Secondary References

Mari Sandoz. The Beaver Men.  Spearheads of Empire. (Hastings House Publishers, New York, 1964)


Both science and medicine were changing during this pivotal time in American trapping history.  The image we often attach to a trapper is that he knew little about these important elements of culture and survival, but through the basic life experience alone, along with some scommon sense, the trapper was aware enough about these discoveries to be able to integrate some of them into his personal philosophy.

For example, a trapper of the turn of the century might have felt that health was very much a result of self-determination with the individual always fighting back with the environment.  Your shelter, how you could generate and make the best use of your fire, how good you were with catching fish and trapping beaver with what few inventions you had available to help you through this process, all of these made you a small piece of the local natural history, so small in fact that at times it must have been overwhelming to some to realize one morning while looking over a set of mountains that your presence is nothing more than just a single thread woven into the large tapestry before you.   Not that trappers typically get up every morning and think this way, but at times during a journey out west these elements of a personal philosophy must have crept into the daily activities at times, once you had some time to rest and contemplate about things.

For the 1825 to 1850 period in history, things had changed somewhat regarding natural philosophy and health.  This natural history interpretation of the outdoors was made only bigger once more natural events and various forms of Nature’s artwork were experienced.   But our view in general of the much smaller world, the microcosm as it was referred to a century or two earlier, had grown as well.  The trapper alert to this change in the human understanding of things might be able to imagine the smallest of organisms found in water being associated with disease.  No longer did the organism responsible for you illness have to be visible to the naked eye.  You could look at a cup of mountain water and see the animalcules floating about that scientists claimed sometimes made you sick.  The trapper therefore had a better sense of the environment he was in, and could make a few changes when necessary to live a healthier life–uncleanliness and all.

The 1825-1850 trapper also had a different sense of people, in particular those natives he often interacted with.  Physiognomy and phrenology were becoming popular, and one of its first applications was  regarding the shape of the American Indian and the related intellectual make-up these experts of the wilderness possessed.  This was only occasionally brought up in the woods, but back home in the intellectual environment of American Europeanism, this was a major topic of conversation at times, one a trapper could not that easily engage in quite often.

We also find evidence during this time that not only was medicine becoming more specific in terms of how medicines were to be used for treating individuals, there were better details provided on what these uses were and for what types of conditions they most often applied.  Some conditions remained unchanged since the early 1800s, such as the inability to distinguish between cancer and cancer-like problems, those that could be cured versus those that could not be cured.  Others became more accurate in their descriptions and distinction from similar conditions, such as the differences between the different fever types (intermittent, continuous, etc.) or the different reasons for how and why some airs and waters were healthy whereas others were not.

Also, when we look at how Indian philosophy and medical practices are documented in the Trapper stories and writings, we see the influences of the transcendental movement taking hold between 1825 and 1850.   Nature’s displays of magical powers are now recognized, admired, and now written about, like the fairy rings of the past now being referred to as the magical mushroom circles of the present.  The details of the ability of the snake to charm its prey was better understood.  The meaning and purpose of Indian rituals like the sweat lodge, the smoking of the pipe, the makings and content of a medicine bag, were now all a part of the trapper’s lifestyle, not just another unique observation that could be recorded.  The animal bones of the past became the talismans of the present.   Equivalents were found in the Midwest and Farwest for the older herbs back east, with similar or slightly modified legends to be told about these uses.  The Plantain of the Far East had its Downy Rattlesnake Plantain out west (although this Goodyera pubescens is east coast as well, just never really noticed.)   The gall of a bear or deer was of little value in trapper medicine when compared with the gall of the Buffalo.

One thing that didn’t change so much in herbal medicine during the trapper period is this ongoing fascination with plant remedies for venomous snake bites.  In American history, we can trace this common folklore passed down through the generations back to the 1600s, and if we take into consideration the shipping routes themselves, we can show proof that this American fascination with plants for treating snakebites had its parallels in European-Asian culture in India, where the plant legends related to venomous bites from asps, adders and cobras fascinated early plant taxonomists like Carl von Linne.   From Northwest Territory in and around the Great Lakes during the late 1600s, to the Pacific Northwest of the 1800s, snakebite remedies continuously return to the diaries, recipe books, and even books published for those who wished to migrate to  these new virgin territories.  This seems more like a common folktale being repeated, than a series of facts about medical treatment being reinstated.

Trapper medicine was perhaps at its peak in intellectual development during the 1825-1850 time frame in this part of American history.  This provides us with a unique way to think about trapper medicine–the result of schooling and knowledge acquired through experience within an outdoors classroom setting.

Were it not for the Civil War, the interest in trapping and its underlying natural philosophy may have undergone a fairly constant change over the years.  But the temporary halting of public interest in this philosophy and unique style of living was lost due to the War of the Union.  This meant that trapper’s philosophy remained something more common to just those few places where the war was not occupying most of the people’s times.  Once the war was over, people could reminisce on those things popular before the war began, including the popular culture perspective of trappers and trapper life.  This enabled trapper medicine to become a popular fad in medicine once again during the years following the Civil War.  We see this mostly taking place in the Far West.

So, not only did clothing change throughout the 3 or 4 periods in trapper history, the philosophy also changed, as did the effects this ideology had on American culture in general.  This impact of trapper culture on American history in general is never really appreciated much by historians and writers, except by a select few.  The signs are there of of trapper knowledge and philosophy penetrating the old-fashioned thinking back East, but like trappers, they are often hidden amongst the many other elements of nature.

There are two medicinal plants that I often think about in reference to this piece of trapper history.

The first is Ratibada or the Prairie Coneflower of the midwest.  When this was first discovered,  it became a very popular medicine, so much, that like ginseng it was overharvested in the Midwest.  Soon, it was no longer a popular herbal medicine sold in the marketplace.  A few decades later, this use for this plant was mimicked by a popular medicinal plant chemist, and the values of the Ratibada reassigned to the its new replacement, using the same lines of reasoning and same health claims–Echinacea.  We have since then established a number of lines of reasoning, scientific or not, for echinacea being so valuable to the health of the human body, never aware of the fact that it was the Ratibada that really deserves this attention.  But we cannot step back on the trail the science of plants medicines has taken us.  We could go back to Ratibada, place it into our interpretation of things by testing its chemistry, and then be forced to change our theory slightly so the Ratibada can be included as well in this paradigm.  That would provide a sense of fulfillment for the trappers’ knowledge and contributions to this forgotten piece of herbal medicine history.

The second plant I often refer to regarding trapper history is the Cleome or Rocky Mountain Bee Plant of the Midwest to Far West region.  Its distribution began close to the Rocky Mountains on the Great Plains side of the mountain face.  This plant has since taken a route of migration eastward towards the main eastern and central Great Plains cities.   This is a result of trappers bringing this plant back with them from the Rocky Mountains.  Due to the seed dispersal method (it does not stick to clothing and such like many plant seeds do), this suggests the plant was carried back deliberately across the travel routes.  (For more, see Flora of the Great Plains plant distribution maps.)   Like the Polygonum persicaria that follows the overland routes westward toward Oregon, making its way across Nebraska by way of this circuitous migration route only, we see the same happening for Cleome serrulata, but in an opposite direction.  This mapping of these two plants is evidence for the contributions that trappers made to medicine.




Absinthe–see Artemisia, Wormwood.


“animalcules” is mentioned in relation to putrescent waters.  Animalcules were not only a curiosity, they were often considered the cause for certain diseases.  This was in part true, such as intestinal worms and diarrhea or the role chiggers and fleas played in skin rashes and subsequent fevers.   A very religious and/or natural theology minded trapper would probably have had some understanding and respect for these animalcules as a form of life.  This sensitivity to these little beings would have been due to the very unique and powerful vital force they were felt to have in spite of their very small size.  Some of this can be traced to a post-Newtonian essay penned by Cadwallader Colden, circulating around 1800, in which Newton’s Grand Theory based mostly on mechanical principles and philosophy absent of much God-evidence was surpassed in popularity by Colden’s more metaphysically-based essay on the same.    This emphasis on Colden’s interpretation of the Universe and its energy was very influential upon students in the early years of microbiology being taught around this time. [See Colden’s detailed chronology for more, esp. 1750 entries from my webpage]

[Talbot, 1843, p. 17]


      Artemisia.  Synonym: Greasewood.

[Sage, 1842/3, p. 148]


“…a sapless bitter shrub, and the leaves, though smaller, very much resemble our garden sage. [Tho very bitter, it is sometimes used for tea.  Tis a very good diaphoretic.]”

             [W.M. Anderson, page 115,

June 3, 1834 (Narrative)]

“Following the course of the Platte crossing “Deer Creek” about 10 A.M.  Country affording nothing but sage or wormwood, or more properly Absinthe.  This plant when first seen on the prairie is only a few inches high, as you approach the Rocky Mtns its size encreases until it is sometimes more than 6 feet, and the trunk as large as a man’s body…It is easily gathered and makes an excellent and much used substitute for wood, to make fires, especially west of the Rocky Mountains.”

[Talbot, 1843, p. 36]

See Sage, Wild Sage and Wormwood.

Ash Tree


Part of a recipe for treating Rattlesnake bites [which see].  Possibly Fraxinus americanus (?)  (White Ash).

[Talbot, 1843, p. 29]

Bitters–see Gall

Black Cohosh–see Snakeroot, Black

Black Currant–see Currant

Black Snakeroot–see Snakeroot, Black


See also Rattlesnake and Tourniquet.

Blister Plasters


i.e. plaster of Cantharides [Colonial; Allopathy]

i.e. blister plaster made with white walnut bark [late Colonial/early Allopathic method, using an Indigenous herb.]

      A Rattlesnake bite remedy [which see].

[Talbot, 1843, p. 29]

Boeuf–see Grains de[s] Boeufs

Bois de bache–(def.) Buffalo Chips

Botanical Medicine

From James Clyman’s 1840 Memoranda and Diary, pertaining to life near Wauwatusa, near Milwaukee, Wisconsin:  “183[?]  Jany 5   Bot Medicine of Doct Castleman unpd”.

[J. Clyman, 1840, p. 49]

Box-Elders (Acer sp.)


From sap: “a sweet and pleasant liquid, and not inferior to that of maple.”

[Sage, p. 155, 1842/3]

Bread-root (Psoralea esculenta)

Near the Sweetwater-Platte confluence.

[Sage, p. 154, 1842/3]

See other discussion of Psoralea as a possible “Wild Turnip.”


      Buffalo meat is not covered as a food item.

      See Gall.



Buffalo Berry (Shepherdia argentea; aka Lepargyrea argentea)

Buffalo berries.

      (White, Yellow and Red types noted.)

[Sage, 1842/3, p. 147, 257]

At the Middle Division: “cherries, with wild fruits noted: larb [?], buffalo, goose and service berries, and currants, plums, and grapes, together with several other species not recollected, as well as vegetables and roots.”

[Sage, 1842/3, p. 272]

See Grains des Boeufs.


Bull-berries (Lepargyrea spp.)–see Grains de[s] Boeufs

Butternut (Juglans cinerea)

Part of a Plaster recipe for Rattlesnake bites [which see].

[Talbot, 1843, p. 29]


Near Taos Mountains, in the Canon de las Animas, Sage witnessed some Native Americans roast and eat a cactus (possibly a Mescal ceremony).  He notes: “the inherent properties of the cacti began to have the effects upon the ennervated systems of the participants.”  Symptoms he described include: weakness of the joints, severe trembling, desire to vomit, and insufferable pain of the stomach and bowels.  Sage claimed these cacti were eaten by several hungry and starving Natives, nearly “starving to death” and suffering “the torments of hunger.”

[Sage, 1842/3]

See also Prickly Pear, and Rattlesnake remedy.


Blister plaster of Cantharides: a Colonial-Allopathic remedy.

      Used for Rattlesnake bite.

[Talbot, 1843, p. 29]

See also Blister Plasters, Plasters, Poultice, and Rattlesnake Bites.


      Allopathic and most others; English and French.


Along with amounts of bear, beaver, otter and muskrats skins, 150 pounds of castoreum were noted by Lucien Fontanelle in a letter to Pierre Chouteau.

       [W.M. Anderson, Sep 15, 1834, (footnote)]

Sandoz gives a very full, rich history of the Beaver and Castoreum in The Beaver Man.



Near the Sandy River-Horse Creek vicinity:

“Never was there a purer, drier and more elastic atmosphere than we have breathed…”

             [W.M. Anderson, page 129,

June 13, 1834 (Narrative)]

      Wind burning on while travelling on the Wind River.

Upper Montana

[W.M. Anderson, page 177, (Narrative)]

Travelling into the mountains covered by Balsam and Cedar trees, the foliage “afforded an atmosphere…as aromatic as the air of Eden.”

[Sage, 1842/3, p. 148]

“The entire Eastern Division of Upper California possesses a uniformly salubrious and healthful atmosphere.  Sickness, so far as my knowledge extends, is rarely known.”

[Sage, 1842/3, p. 237, (see also page 270)]

New Mexico

Western California:  “The air is almost invariably pure and free from the noxious exhalations common to many countries, which contributes to render the climate uniformly healthy…”

[Sage, 1842/3, p. 245]

“animalcules” is mentioned in relation to putrescent waters.  Ponds or wallows formed by Buffalo wallowing, allowed rainfall to collect for the trappers to drink.

[Talbot, 1843, p. 17]


Common Saffron–see Saffron, Common

Commote [French]


            “radish like with blueish stem”

Probably the Sweet Potato (Ipomoea batatas), the common name for which is camote.    This can be differentiated from the Yam (Dioscorea sp.) by the stem and leave color and form, but in more recent gardening history, this is less the case due to controlled cross-breeding.

                                             [Sage, 1842/3, p. 147]


Cottonwood (Populus sp.)


In December, 1814, the horses of the team Leonard was on were near starving.  In an attempt to alleviate this problem, they decided to try to feed the horses the inner bark of cottonwood trees.  There was a tree often referred to as Sweet Cottonwood on the trail they travelled, the bark of which was palatable.    Leonard writes “each man turned out and peeled and collected a quantity of this bark, from the grove in which we were encamped for his horses.”  The bark of the tree noted on this occasion turned out to be too bitter for the horses to eat.  [December, 1814]

Identification note:  Cottonwood is Populus deltoides, of which various varieties, subspecies, and hybrids now exist across the country.  At the junctions of different habitats or ecosystems, hybridization could take place between two native trees.  With the import of decorative Populus species in the 1800s, this enabled further hybridization to take place, perhaps as early as 1840 near the settled farmlands in the Missouri-Kansas-Arkansas-Texas region.  Tilia heterophylla Vent. (T. alba Michx.) in the Southeastern United States was also referred to as “Cottonwood.” [Lyon’s Plant Names, p. 372]  This is the White Basswood, Bee-Tree, Silver-Leaf Poplar or Wahoo referred to in other writings.  Wahoo later became a very important Physiomedicine and Indian Doctor medicine.

The inner bark of Basswood would be a great deal more palatable to horses than the Populin and perhaps simple tannin-bearing Populus tremuloides.  The vague resemblances of Maple or Sweet Elder (Acer spp.) leaves to Cottonwood may have also led to Acer being misconstrued as Populus by early pioneers, but that assumption does not match the expected knowledge of a large group of trappers when it comes to identifying or knowing the plants.

[Leonard, 1839, pp. 19-20]

See Cottonwood, Sweet.


Cottonwood, Sweet (Tilia heterophylla Vent./T. alba Michx.)

Sweet cottonwood

At the Laramie River mouth:

“At the foot of the mountain we found abundance of sweet cottonwood, and our mules being very fond of it, we detained two to three days to let them recruit from their suffering in crosing (sic) the mountains.” [1814]

Notes also made about the fir, cedar, white pine willow and rose growing in abundance nearby.

[Leonard, 1839, pp. 40-41]


Black Currant (Ribes nigrum)

Part of an internal Rattlesnake bite remedy [which see].

[Talbot, 1843, p. 29]

Daphne species

Spurge-Flax [French: Ecorce de Garow, or Garou] as Daphne Guidium, as well as other Daphne species.

The Spurge-Laurel is identified by Carey in a footnote to Talbot’s writings as Daphne laureola.

Both were part of a Rattlesnake bite remedy [which see].

[Talbot, 1843, p. 29]

Ecorce de Garow [French]–see Daphne species.

Edible Rootstock [Camas? Lily?]

Sage gave a description of large harvest of rootcrops in Rio de las Animas near the Head of Cimarone; from the description, he apparently thought the harvest was of a wild onion: “Its color was white, size a bit equal to a pigeon’s egg, and appearance much like that of the common onion; but it had flag-shaped stalks and was much less offensive in taste and smell than is natural to this species of roots.”

Daphne species like D. mezereon and D. gnidium are traditional examples of Ecorce de Garou.  [Ecorce = bark, garou = ?ware?)

The French nomenclature of course implies this is a French Trapper name for the plant.

The french verbage doesn’t exactly fit the plant Sage described.  Ecorce means bark.  Sage gives a description of a root crop that resembles the wild onion, suggesting a member of the Liliaceae or its close allies.  Since it lacked the odor of Alliums, this suggests a look-alike.  Camas (not deadly camas) has  and edible rootstock, which for the moment best fits the descriptions provided.

[Sage, 1842/3, p. 325]

Elm, Slippery, and American

      American Elm (Ulmus sp.)

      Slippery Elm (Ulmus rubra) (added by self)

Both could be part of a Rattlesnake bite remedy [which see].

[Talbot, 1843, p. 29]

Farrier Notes

“…tall, rough prairie grass would otherwise have rasped our horses hoofs to the quick.”

[W.M. Anderson, page 205, (Narrative)]

“the Liriodendron Tulipifera (Poplar), an infusion of its Bark given with success to horses.”

See Rattlesnake Bites, Cottonwood (as feed).

[Talbot, 1843, p. 29]

French Trappers

For notes and remedies, French terms commonly used included: Bois de bache, Commote, Ecorce de Garow, Garou, Pomme blanc(he/e), Pomme terre (common potato), etc.

For French herbs, see Commote, Daphne, Pomme blanc(e).

The French had also perfected the Essential Oil-Perfume industry quite early in European history, enabling them to secure income by selling their essential oils, such as oil of peppermint and oil of horehound.


Gall, Buffalo

Travelling through the Platte River Valley near Sibelle’s Creek and Hole, Sage describes to his reader an example of a truly Midwest healing agent, the gall (and/or perhaps bile) from the Buffalo which some mountaineers had learned to capture and skin:

“I here became for the first time acquainted with a kind of beverage very common among the mountaineers.  The article alluded to may with much proprietary be termed “bitters,” as the reader will readily acknowledge on learning the nature of its principle ingredient.”

“It is prepared by the following simple process, viz: with one pint of water mix one-fourth gill of buffalo-gall, and you will then have before you a wholesome and exhilirating drink.”

“To a stomach unaccustomed to its use it may at first create a slightly noisome sensation, like the incipient effects of an emetic; and, to one strongly bilious, it might cause vomiting; –but on the second or third trial, the stomach attains a taste for it and receives it with no inconsiderable relish.”

Sage noted it to be most effective on treating the “whole system.”  The Gall served to brace the nerves, and to tonify and restore an impaired appetite and digestive tract.  Of its most traditional use, a characteristic of the Bible Belt and of the Native American influence, Sage wrote:

“As a Sanative, it tends to make sound an irritated and ulcerated stomach, reclaiming it to a healthful and lively tone, and thus striking a blow at the most prolific source of so large a majority of the diseases common to civilzed (sic) life.”

Sage claimed it was most useful for treating dyspepsia (indigestion and similar digestive tract disorders):

“…were those laboring under the wasting influences of this disease to drink gall-bitters and confine themselves exclusively to the use of some one kind of diet (animal food always preferable,) thousands who are now pining away by piecemeal, would be restored to perfect soundness, and snatched from the very threshold of a certain grave which yawns to receive them.”

[Sage, 1842/3, p. 178-79]


Garou–see Daphne and Rattlesnake Bites

Glauber Salt

glober salts

“I saw to day, the earth covered for half a mile, with a white robe, resembling at a distance, lime, when closely viewed, is very similar to burnt alumn.  This is on the average, three inches in depth.  Its taste to me is compound of salt, some kind of alkali & salt petre of which last it seems to be principally composed.  It is call[ed] by the mountaineers glober salts.  It has a purgative effect of great suddenness.”

             [W.M. Anderson, page 118,

June 7, 1834 (Diary)]

Glauber Salts Lake

“The trappers call this “Glauber Salts Lakes…It seems that luxuries, neccessaries, and apothecary stuff are spread all over the earth, as well as for irrational as for the rational creature.”

             [W.M. Anderson, page 119,

June 7, 1834 (Narrative)]

Goldenrod (Solidago species)

Solidago sp. (Golden Rod)

Part of a Rattlesnake bite internal remedy [which see].

[Talbot, 1843, p. 29]

Grains de[s] Boeufs [Bull-berries] (Lepargyrea argentea [Nutt.] Green; aka Shepherdia argentea)

“”Grains de Boeuf” or Bull-berries…not quite ripe, but we found them very palatable”

[August 27th, 1843]

[Talbot, 1843, p. 40]


“salt and gunpowder”

[Talbot, 1843, p. 29]

Possibly a Domestic remedy, picked up by early 19th Century allopaths.

See Salt, Rattlesnake Bites, and separate Oregon Trail pharmacal section for Gunpowder notes.


White Horehound (Marrubium vulgare?)

Part of a Rattlesnake bite internal remedy [which see].

[Talbot, 1843, p. 29]

Horses–see Cottonwood, Farrier Notes, Rattlesnake Bites.

Lamb’s Quarters (Chenopodium species)

Note regarding the growth of a Mushroom ring, in which Chenopodium grew in abundance in the fertile portion of this ring.  These “Magical Circles of the Prairies” were possibly the “fairy rings” of Honey Mushroom (Armillaria mellea).

The Lamb’s Quarters was identified as Chenopodium album, an introduced species.  The native plant Chenopodium ambrosioides, which has a very similar appearance, may be the one discussed here.

[Talbot, June 23, 1843 entry, p. 14-15]

Ligature–see Tourniquet

 “Magical Circles of the Prairies”

Rings of flowers and plants produced by the seeds dropped from the hides of by cattle:

“We frequently notice circles or, rather rings varying from 10 to 50 feet in diameter, the grass of which is ranker than the surrounding sword.  Sometimes the belt is composed of the plant called Lambs Quarters intermixed with large mushrooms; many conjectures have been framed with regard to this curious vegetation.”

One such conjecture:

“The cows rolling in during the day gather quantities of seeds &c in their heavy fleeces; now it is supposed that tramping continually in one spot all night, they shake off these seeds and thus spring up the “Magical Circles of the Prairies.”

Possibly a note regarding the growth of a Mushroom ring, in which Chenopodium grew in abundance in the fertile portion of this ring.  These “Magical Circles” were possibly the “fairy rings” of Honey Mushroom (Armillaria mellea).

[Talbot, 1843, p. 14-15]

Maple (Acer spp.)

a sweet and pleasant liquid from the sap.

[Sandoz, p. 91]

      See Sweet-Elder.

Medicine Bag/Medicine Wheel

Of “grandes medecines” or the medicine bag:  “similar to Jewish phylactery or Arab amulet, a charm for good or evil purposes.”

[W.M. Anderson, page 240, (Letter)]

      “a great medicine”

Anderson described a circle he saw which he termed “a great medicine.”  In it a healing ceremony took place which he witnessed, leading to the following remark:

“This term I do not understand or appreciate.  Is it not a French misnomer?  The Indians do not, as far as I can learn, attribute medical qualities, physical or spiritual, to any wonder or extraordinary thing.  Yet all rare and unusual occurances each and every variation from nature, they are made to be called medicine.”

            See also pages 88, 151, 215 and 240.

[W.M. Anderson, 1834. p. 91]

Mushrooms–See Lamb’s Quarters, and “Magical Circles of the Prairies.”

Oil/Oil Spring

After making his way through Wind River, Yellowstone, Leonard made a note regarding an oil with a use and history resembling that of the Seneca Oil:

“A few days after leaving this place we arrived, Aug. 20, on Popoasia Creek, where we found an oil spring, rising out of the earth similar to that of any other spring.  After emptying the creek, the oil can be seen floating on the surface for a considerable distance.  The oil is of a dark hue when in the fountain almost on the surface for a considerable distance.  The oil is of a dark hue, when in the fountain, almost like tar, but is as thin as water.  If this spring was in the States, I have no doubt the chemist might make a valuable use of it.  A Mr. Bergen, belonging to our companym & who had been severely afflicted with the rheumatism, procured a phial of it, which he used, and afterwards said it afforded him entire relief.”

[Leonard, 1839, p. 225]

See also Seneca Oil in other file.


      Compare the June 17, 1834 Diary and Narrative writings  of the same experience:

Diary: “His indian name is Insillah….He has an amiable, but not an intellectual face.”

                        [W.M. Anderson, 1834. p. 132]

Narrative:  “He has, as I before remarked a very mild and amiable countenance but I think not a very-intelligent looking one.”

                        [W.M. Anderson, 1834. p. 133]


Early on, in the morning of March 9th, Harrison Rogers and John Hanna, two members the expedition with Jedediah Smith, ran into opposition with a bear they were hunting.  The bear escaped from a shooting, only to be acught up to by Rogers who was then “severely cut in 10 or 12 different places.”  Jedediah treated this injury with a plaster:

“washed out his wounds and dressed them with plasters of soap and sugar.”

The high sugar concentration may have actually prevented some bacterial contaminiation in modern day germ-theory sense.  Smith’s goals may have been quie different.  Native American based sanative plasters were then common in the Midwestern and Far Western trapping regions.

                        [J. Smith, 1826-9, p. 195]

See Poultice, Rattlesnake Bite remedies, and Blister Plasters.

Pomme Blanc 

      Pomme blance

            “like sheep sorrel in appearance”

Pomme Blanc literally translates to white apple but could also relate to pommes de terres suggesting the white potato or some other white-starchroot bearing plant.  Since this plant is “like Sheep Sorrel in appearance”, this could be referring to the arrow-like leaves of Rumex acetosa or acetosella.  However,   the common names noted in Lyon’s Plant Names. Scientific and Popular. . . specifically have Apios apios (L.) Mac M. associated with the common name “White-apple”.  This plant is also fairly common in New France along the eastern seaborad, and has a distribution extending across North America.  The leaves of Apios are trifoliate, and so resemble more the other sorrel Oxalis, which has three leaflets that are heart shaped.  So, an Apios or Apios-like plant is possible.  But the distribution of Apios does not extend so far westward.

Continuing on with the argument that Pomme refers to the rootstock, two other possibilities for this plant worth mentioning are biscuit root or one of the Northwestern Lomatium species, and Lupines with an edible rootstock (also of the Northwest, see Lewis and Clark’s travels).  Both of these produce a very white flour.

[Sage, 1842/3, p. 147]

Poplar, Athenium (Populus sp.?)

Populus species?  This name possibly refers to Athens. Balsam Poplar (P. balsaminifera), Mountain Asp or Quaking Aspen (P. tremuloides), or Cottonwood (P. deltoides)?  Noted growing next to balsam firs, and the shorelines of two creeks.

[Talbot, 1843, p. 43]

See also Yellow Poplar (Tulip Tree: Liriodendron tulipifera)


“The squaws…set about gathering roots and herbs, which they chewed and plastered on the stump as a poultice.”

[Pegleg Smith, ca. 1840s, p. 79]

See Plasters, Rattlesnake Bite remedies, and Blister Plasters.

Prickly Pear

Prickly Pears

“boiled in water for some ten or twelve hours till it became perfectly soft,…compressed through a thin cloth into the fluid in which it had been boiled…[it is] highly stimulating and nutritious.”

[Sage, 1842/3, p. 217]

Racine de Tabac

      Other names: Kooyah, Black Root.

Of the Bear River “Shoshonees.”  “[A] black sticky, suspicious looking compound of a very disagreeable odor.  It is said that when you overcome the prejudices which its appearance and smell create, that it is very palatable and soon a favorite mess.  It is made from the roots of a species of pond lily, steamed and pounded.”


[Talbot, 1843, p. 45]






Rattlesnake/Rattlesnake Bites

              [Notes taken from Talbot, 1843, p. 29, 124]

Human and Horse remedies are given by Talbot, 1843.

Rattlesnakes, along with Cacti and Yellow-Grass are noted near Crow Creek.  Regarding the rattlesnake bite:

“The bite of the rattlesnake is much more poisonous at some seasons than at others.  At every blow the poison is less deadly, it being very slowly secreted.  This will account for many escaping without ill effects: when the wound is made over a large vein it generally proves fatal.”

“The common mode of remedy for a person bitten is to first place a ligature above the part effected then scarify the wound, rubbing in salt and gunpowder; lastly place over the whole a piece of white walnut bark, which acts as a blister, and may be well supplied by a plaster of Cantharides. The Indians in addition use many roots &c for whose efficacy I cannot vouch.”

Talbot’s last note pertaining to Indian Doctoring is not in fact the case.  His listing of remedies is in fact more than likely Indian Doctor herbs. Perhaps by learning of these through other French fur traders, trappers and pioneers, he was not informed of that aspect of their history.  Nearly all, if not all, of these herbs are native to North America and have traditional Native American uses, many as “snakeroots.”

Of the use of herbs (not necessarily the Indian root and bark medicines):

“I will mention a few of them to be taken internally.  The Actaea recemosa or Black Snake root, Fraxinus or White Ash, Star of Bethlehem, White Horehound, Black Currant, Solidago or Golden Rod, Common Saffron, White Ivy Leaf, Convallaria or Solomon’s Seal, the Liriodendron Tulipifera (Poplar), an infusion of its Bark given with success to horses.”

“The following are external applications: Sassafras, American Elm, Star Root, Rattlesnake Plantain, Butternut, Daphne Mezereum, or Spurge-Olive, and the Daphne Guidium in French Ecorce de Garow, are very stimulating and like all the Daphne said to be efficacious.”

Treatment modalities which were mentioned:


  • salt and gunpowder  [Traditional Domestic; perhaps    Allopathic]


  • ligature  [Allopathic; Traditional Domestic]
  • plaster of Cantharides [Colonial; Allopathy]
  • blister plaster made with white walnut bark [late     Colonial/early Allopathic method, using an    Indigenous herb]

Indian Doctoring:

The Indians’ “many roots &c” [Indian Doctors]

Listing of herbs for use as internal remedies:

Indigenous or European?:

  • Daphne Guidium (Spurge-Flax)  [Colonial]
  • Daphne laureola (Spurge-Laurel)
  • European [most with Colonial history]:
  • Solidago sp. (Golden Rod)     [Colonial]
  • Common Saffron (Crocus sp.? or Centaurium sp.?)
  • White Horehound (Marrubium vulgare) ??
  • Convallaria [Polygonatum sp.] (Solomon’s Seal)


  • Actaea racemosa (Black Snake root)
  • Black Currant (Ribes nigrum)
  • Cacti
  • Common Saffron (Crocus sp.? or Compositae?)
  • Convallaria [Polygonatum sp.] (Solomon’s Seal)
  • Fraxinus americanus (?)  (White Ash)
  • Liriodendron Tulipifera (Poplar). “an infusion of its Bark given with success to horses”
  • Solidago sp. (Golden Rod)
  • Star of Bethlehem (Trientalis americana? Ornithogalum umbellatum? Houstonia coerula or other species?)
  • White Horehound (Marrubium vulgare)  ??
  • White Ivy Leaf (Lamium album?, probably not Hedera helix)
  • Yellow-Grass (Sisyrinchium angustifolium?)

Listing of herbs for use as external remedies:

Indigenous or European?:

  • Daphne Mezereum (Spurge-Olive)
  • Daphne Guidium [French: Ecorce de Garow, or Garou]


  • Sassafras (Sassafras albidum)
  • American Elm (Ulmus rubra)
  • Star Root (Aletris farinosa/Veronicastrum sp.)
  • Rattlesnake Plantain (Goodyera pubescens)
  • Butternut (Juglans cinerea)
  • Daphne Mezereum (Spurge-Olive)
  • Daphne Guidium [French: Ecorce de Garow, or Garou]

See separate notes compiled for each of these herbs.

Regarding this July 29, 1843, p. 29 entry, by Talbot, and the matching footnote number 33 on page 124, Editor Charles H. Carey makes an error in his footnote interpreting the Journalist’s name selection for Solomon’s Seal as “Convallaria,” which at one point in time was an acceptible Latin name for this plant.  Carey’s note on the Poplar family relationship to Liriodendron tulipifera is correct, although another common name for the Tulip Tree is Yellow Poplar.

Carey correctly identified the Spurge-Flax (Garou in French) as Daphne Guidium, as well as other Daphne species.  The Spurge-Laurel is identified by Carey as Daphne laureola.

[Talbot, 1843, p. 29]

Rattlesnake Plantain (Goodyera pubescens) [photo in above essay]

Roots and Herbs–see Poultice, Rattlesnake.

Saffron, Common

Common Saffron (Crocus sp. esp. C. sativus is less likely due to horticultural history. Most likely Compositae plant Safflower Carthamus tinctorius.)

The “common saffron” is most likely the highly popular Mexican herb used as a Saffron substitute Carthamus tinctorius (illustrated above).   Although this species is also from Europe, its continued use to this day suggests very early introduction related to the Spanish explorations.

      Rattlesnake bite internal remedy [which see].

[Talbot, 1843, p. 29]

Sage (Artemisia or Salvia spp.)

Most often refers to Wild Sage or Sagebrush (Artemisia spp.) [which see under Artemisia].

The garden Sage, a member of the Mint Family [Labiatae] is of the Salvia genus.  It lacks the toxicity of some Artemisia plants and does not contain Absinthe.

See also Artemisia

Sagebrush/Wild Sage–see Artemisia.  See Sage.



“salt and gunpowder”

[Talbot, 1843, p. 29]

Possibly a Domestic remedy, picked up by early 19th Century allopaths.

      See ‘Glauber Salt’ and ‘Water, Mineral.’

Salt Grass, Blueish

“Blueish salt grass (herba salee)…”uncropped by game.”

[Sage, 1842/3, p. 148]


Salt Weed

salt weed

“And here comes in the salt weed.  It is a short withered looking plant with small leaves, which are strongly saline…In the fall of the year, wild horses and buffalo are very fond of it, and it is said that in the winter the meat of all browsing animals is naturally and sufficiently seasoned by it.”

Either Salicornia herbacea which has wordwide distribution or Frankenia grandifolia (Yerba Reuma) of the salt marshes in the southwest, especially near California.  Since Buffalo are mentioned, Salicornia seems more likely; it is distributed worldwide and is repeatedly noted at the salt and mineral springs across the western Great Plains.  The mention of this plant having a leaf however makes this identification questionable, for salicornia lacks leaves, leaflets and usually bracts (leaflike formations at joints in the stems).   Anderson’s name may also just be made-up or some make shift name for time being for a plant he found growing next to salty areas, and withered due to the stress of this setting.    Another salt-loving genus, Salsola, is ruled out since it is of the East Coast and Europe.

             [W.M. Anderson, page 119,

June 7, 1834 (Narrative)]

Sassafras (Sassafras albidum)

      Rattlesnake bite poultice remedy [which see].

[Talbot, 1843, p. 29]


      serviceberry: noted as an edible.

[Sage, 1842/3, p. 154]

At the Middle Division: “cherries, with wild fruits noted: larb [?], buffalo, goose and service berries, and currants, plums, and grapes, together with several other species not recollected, as well as vegetables and roots.”

[Sage, 1842/3, p. 272]

Slippery Elm–see Elm

Snakebites-See Rattlesnakes

  • Snakeroot, Black
  • Actaea recemosa (Black Snake root)

The identification for other Black Snakeroot is Cimicifuga racemosa (Black Cohosh).

      Rattlesnake bite internal remedy [which see].

[Talbot, 1843, p. 29]

  • Solomon’s Seal (Polygonatum sp.)
  • Convallaria [Polygonatum sp.] (Solomon’s Seal)

      Rattlesnake bite internal remedy [which see].

[Talbot, 1843, p. 29]

Springs/Soda Springs

In association with springs that were also known as “Steamboat Springs.”  Talbot noted large white and plate-like salt crystals forming around the principle “syphon” spring.  “The water was strongly impregnated with carbonic acid gas, cold, and of similar properties to our common soda water.  We took long draughts of these refershing waters.”

See other descriptions which follow this Saturday Sep. 9 entry.

[Talbot, 1843, p. 45-46]

“Steam Springs…emitting a strong, sulphureous smell–the water also tastes of sulphur.”  Leonard notes no plants grew around this spring.

 [Leonard, 1839, pp. 203-204]

Spurge-Flax–see Daphne species and Rattlesnakes.

Star of Bethlehem

(Trientalis americana? Ornithogalum umbellatum? Houstonia coerula or other species?)

      Rattlesnake bite remedy [which see].

[Talbot, 1843, p. 29]

Star Root–see Unicorn Root

Starvation–see Subsistence/Sustenance

Stones–see Talisman



In the “Adventure of Fitzpatrick,” Leonard writes: “On the second evening whilst digging for a sweet kind of root, in a swamp, I was alarmed by the growl of wolves…”

 [Leonard, 1839, p. [20]]

“roots, buds, &c.”

“I found that the further I descended the river, the scarcer became the roots, buds, &c. on which I must depend for subsistence, and I was finally obliged to turn my attention to eat, without travelling any further.”

 [Leonard, 1839, p. [20]]

Mention of Shoshonee as “Diggers and Root eaters.”

 [Leonard, 1839, p. [25]]

See Wild Turnips and Cottonwood, Sweet (feed for horses).

Sweet Cottonwood–see Cottonwood and Cottonwood, Sweet.



George Holmes, fo the Rocky Mountain Fur Company, was bitten on the face by a Mad Wolf.  Together, he and Dr. Harrison went out searching for a cure, which they believed to be a special stone or talisman.  Following Holmes death, he was buried at an undisclosed spot:

“…the stone which is believed to be the talisman for the cure of Hydrophobia and [Holme’s] bones we left, we could never learn exactly where.”

[Clyman, p. 60. n.d.]

About Crow Indian burial with Talisman.

 [Leonard, 1839, p. [81]]

See also Edward Warrens noted on page 106 in DeVoto’s Across the Wide Missouri.

Tar, Mineral

A spring bearing “mineral tar” which spill from the mountainside was noted, but not visited by Sage.

[Sage, 1842/3, p. 258]

Tonics–see Bitters, Gall.

Tourniquet (Ligature)

ligature  [Allopathic; Traditional Domestic].

From Rattlesnake bite poultice remedy [which see].

[Talbot, 1843, p. 29]

See also Bleeding.

Tulip Tree-see Yellow Poplar

Unicorn Root/Star Root (Aletris farinosa/Veronicastrum sp.)

      Rattlesnake bite poultice remedy [which see].

[Talbot, 1843, p. 29]

Water, Mineral/Hot Spring

At Fontaine qui Bouit, or Boiling Fountain, a stream under Pike’s Peak, flowing westward from Greenwich, then south to Arkansas.  Known as “The Medicine Fountain” by Arapahos, it was described by Sage as:

“two singular springs, situated within a few yards of each other at the creek’s head, both of which emit water in the form of vapor, accompanied with a hissing noise–the one strongly impregnated with sulphure and the other without sulphur.”

In the footnote for this writing, Sage added notes pertaining to Captain Fremont’s description of the water and its chemistry:  carbonate of lime, carbonate of magnesia, sulphate of lime, chloride of calcium, chloride of magnesia, silica and vegetable matter. [Sage, 1842/3, pp. 219-220, fn]

A while later, Sage noted the “Beer and Soda springs” which he described as being “slightly acid and beer-like” and the second as an “excellent natural soda.”   The “Steamboat spring” he stated “discharges a column of mineral water from a rock-formed orifice, accompanied with subterraneous sounds like those produced by a high-pressure steamboat.”  Several hot springs were briefly referred to as well.  [Sage, 1842/3, p. 257]


“A French engage, who had been suffering for several days past from a severe attack of the fever and ague, experienced a sudden attack of the fever and ague, experienced a sudden and novel cure.  Unable to travel, quarters were prepared for him in one of the whiskey waggons…In passing a rough place, the waggon overset, when out came the invalid head foremost, and out came the whiskey barrels showering full on him!  The suddenness of the fall, with the surprise and excitement of the occasion, -one, or bot, or all, or some other cause unknown, effected a complete cure…” [September 30th]

[Sage, 1842/3, p. 55]

White Ash–see Ash Tree

White Ivy Leaf (Lamium album?)

Possible Identification: White Ivy Leaf (Clematis sp.?), probably not Hedera helix due to distribution of this plant.   Hedera helix is very late European introduction to North America, especilly out west.

      Rattlesnake bite internal remedy [which see].

Based on Lyons, for the common name, “White-vine”, the options are Clematis virginiana or C. crispa.  Clematis crispa (not pictured above)  flowers are not completely white unless specifically bred for this appearance.  So the former is assumed to be this plant.

[Talbot, 1843, p. 29]

White Walnut (Juglans cinerea)

blister plaster made with white walnut bark [late     Colonial/early Allopathic method, using an    Indigenous herb]

      Rattlesnake bite internal remedy [which see].

This is a very popular American medicine introduced early to the local materia medica during the mid-1700s, as late as the Revolutionary War. (See William Thacher’s  1776 writings and related notes for this.)

[Talbot, 1843, p. 29]

See also Blister Plasters, Plasters and Poultice.

Wild Cherry

indigenous cherry

Noted as “Cerasus virginiana” in the text after the term “indigenous cherry.”  Considered larger and more pleasant tasting than the regular cherry.  Located along “Soublet’s [Sublette’s?] Creek,” near Grand River, on the way to the fort.

[Sage, 1842/3, p. 344]

          Wild Cherry.  All non-Cerasus (i.e. Prunus) cherries are introduced.

A tea, “which proved to be quite wholesome,” was prepared from this:

“a drink quite common among mountaineers and Indians in the Spring season, and is used for purifying the blood and reducing it to suitable consistency for the temperature of summer….I most cordially attest to its virtues and recommend it as the most innocent and effective medicine, if medicine it may be called, that can be employed for a result so necessary to great health.”

[Sage, 1842/3, p. 147]

Wild Sage  (Artemisia spp.)

Related medicines, herbs or spices include Southernwood (Artemisia sp.) and Tarragon (Artemisia ___).  The Indian Ceremonial Sage is a different Artemisia species.

See Artemisia, Sage, Wormwood.

Wild Turnips

Eaten during a period of starvation due to lack of Buffalo to hunt.

There are really just two native plants to North America with the common name consisting of “turnip” and most likely seen by trappers in this neck of the woods.

The first is Arisaema sp. (Jack in the Pulpit), which has a western species Arisaema dracontium (illustrated above on the left) and Arisaema triphyllum, which is for the most part an east coast species.  But there is also the Prairie Turnip (Psoralea esculenta) distributed across the Great Plains westward into the Rockies.  Both have some toxicity.  The Arisaema species contain oxalated and must be fully cooked ot treated before eating.  One tradition for eating the Arisaema root that does not require cooking is to pound it into a mash and then cook it, thereby dissolving all of the oxalates, or let it dry in the sun to save for a later day.

The Psoralea contains coumarins, which can sequenter in the skin and cause photosensitization, outbreaks of which appear like measles or some sort of rash that doesn’t itch.  Either of these plants is a possibility for the Trapper’s Prairie Turnip.  Depending upon where someone is at the time of gathering this root will reveal whether it is a woodlands bound Arisaema or the prairie bound Psoralea.

An earlier entry of Bread-root (above) supports the Psoralea option.

[Leonard, 1839, pp. 5-10, 26-30]

Wormwood (Artemisia species)

The Oregon Trail and Native American species were also referred to in the early years as Absinthe, Sage, Wild Sage, etc.

NOTE: This is an early name for the various Artemisia sighted during the explorations.  Later this plant took on the name Sage or Wild Sage, and was occasionally referred to as Absinthe for its Absinthe-like uses.

This term therefore has the potential of being misconstrued as referring to the European herbal medicine Artemisia absinthium, also known as Absinthe.  The chemical which causes Absinthism (Absinthe euphoria or intoxication), is apparently absent in the North American species, or present in very small amounts.

In Colonial medicine, Oil of Absinthe/Wormwood and Salt [Ashes] of Absinthe (Sal Absinthe) were very popular medicines.  The latter was commonly made by burning the boughs of the plant in a receptacle to produce ashes which were quite salty.

Related medicines, herbs or spices include Southernwood (Artemisia sp.) and Tarragon (Artemisia ___).  The Indian Ceremonial Sage is a different Artemisia species.

See Artemisia.

Yellow-Grass (Sisyrinchium angustifolium?)–see Rattlesnake Bite remedy (not noted as a remedy).

Yellow Poplar (Liriodendron tulipifera)

“the Liriodendron Tulipifera (Poplar), an infusion of its Bark given with success to horses.”

Yellow Poplar was another common name for Tulip Tree.

[Talbot, 1843, p. 29]

See Rattlesnake Bites.


“A Trappers equipment in such cases is generally one Animal upon which is placed…a riding Saddle and bridle a sack containing six Beaver traps a blanket with an extra pair of Moccasins his powder horn and bullet pouch with a belt to which is attached a butcher Knife a small wooden box containing bait for Beaver a Tobacco sack with a pipe and implements for making fire with sometimes a hatchet fastened to the Pommel of his saddle his personal dress is a flannel or cotton shirt (if he is fortunate to obtain one, if not Antelope skin answers the purpose of over and under shirt) a pair of leather breeches with Blanket or smoked Buffalo skin, leggings, a coat made of Blanket or Buffalo robe a hat or Cap of wool, Buffalo or Otter skin his hose are pieces of Blanket lapped round his feet which are covered with a pair of Moccasins made of Dressed Deer Elk or Buffaloe skins with his long hair falling loosely over his shoulders complete the uniform.”

-Osbourne Russell from “Journal of a Trapper”

“His skin, from constant exposure, assumes a hue almost as dark as that of the Aborigine, and his features and physical structure attain a rough and hardy cast. His hair, through inattention, becomes long, course, and bushy, and loosely dangles upon his shoulders. His head is surmounted by a low crowned wool-hat, or a rude substitute of his own manufacture. His clothes are of buckskin, gaily fringed at the seams with strings of the same material, cut and made in a fashion peculiar to himself and associates. The deer and buffalo furnish him the required covering for his feet, which he fabricates at the impules of want. His waist is encircled with a belt of leather, holding encased his butcher-knife and pistols — while from his neck is suspended a bullet-pouch securely fastened to the belt in front, and beneath the right arm hands a powder-horn transversely from his shoulder behind which, upon the strap attached to it, are affixed his bullet-mould, ball-screw, wiper, awl, &c. With a gun-stick made of some hard wood, and a good rufle, placed in his hands, carrying from thirty to thirty-five balls to the pound, the reader will have before him a correct likeness of a genuine mountaineer, when fully equipped. ”

-Rufus B. Sage