“I wanted to be the first to view a country on which the eyes of a white man had never gazed and to follow the course of rivers that run through a new land.” ~ Jedediah Smith
At the age of 22, Jedediah Smith signed on with the expedition of General William Ashley to travel to the Upper Missouri and trap beaver. On his second expedition he was attacked by a grizzly bear. The bear came out of the thicket and mauled Smith violently, throwing him to the ground, smashing his ribs and literally ripping off his scalp. When the attack was over, the scalp was hanging on to his head by an ear. Smith instructed Jim Clyman to sew it back on. Clyman did the best he could, but thought nothing could be done for the severed ear. Smith calmly insisted that he do his best to stitch it back on. After only TWO WEEKS of rest, he resumed his job as leader of the group and led his men–and become known for his comb-over hair style.
In his lifetime, Smith would travel more extensively in unknown territory than any other single mountain man. He traveled in the central Rockies, then down to Arizona, across the Mojave Desert and into California making him the first American to travel overland to California through the southwest. In a most amazing journey, he also came back from California across the desert of the Great Basin. The heat became so unbearable Smith and his men had to bury themselves in sand to keep cool. His expeditions and overland routes are said to have connected America, as the railroad later would for those who didn’t care to walk 😉
a farm and townhouse, complete with servants, in St. Louis. However, he
didn’t take well to a settled life. When Smith sold his shares in the Rocky Mountain Fur Company the year before, he had agreed to help procure supplies for the subsequent owners. Forming a partnership with his brothers, he left in the spring of 1831 and embarked on the Santa Fe Trail. On May 27, he left the main party to search for water. near the Cimarron River, Jed Smith was killed by Comanche Indians.
Unfortunately he did not get the chance to publish his journals but he was a man who felt accomplished in life. “I started into the mountains, with the determination of becoming a first-rate hunter, of making myself thoroughly acquainted with the character and habits of the Indians, of tracing out the sources of the Columbia River and following it to its mouth; and of making the whole profitable to me, and I have perfectly succeeded.”
Hope you enjoyed this glimpse of Jed Smith. One of the things I find fascinating about him was the influence reading had on his life. As a writer, reading has definitely had great influence on my life and my passion to become a writer. My American History college course really fueled my interest in the American West, but it was the first western romance novel I read, FORGIVING by LaVeryl Spencer, that had the greastest impact on my budding interest in becoming a writer of western romance. Can you recall something you’ve read that had a profound impact on your life’s journey?