An Extraordinary Story — An Extraordinary Life

bannerIn delving into the history of the American West, I’ve often come across some quite unusual stories…facts.   Some of these stories are  “stranger than fiction,” and so is this story I’m about to tell you.

Before we start I should mention that I”ll be giving away a free book today — ebook or hard cover, depending on the book  and the address of the winner.

This is a true story, even if highly extraordinary.  It concerns an unusual man, a man who was born on the Lewis and Clark expedition and was the youngest member of it.  That man was Baptisle Chareonneau, Sacagawea’s baby.

thumbnail[1]In 1804-1806, Sacagawea, as we might remember, accompanied Lewis and Clark on their expedition into the West.  She was the only woman on the journey and Baptisle was the only child.  He was born in 1805 in the Minnetaree Village on the Knife River,  just a few miles below the Mandan Village on the Missouri.   His birth was noted by Lewis as February 11, 1805.  Baptiste’s father was a French trader who had won Sacagewea in a gambling wager in a Minnetaree Village, and because he could speak the language of the Indians, he was engaged on the expedition.  His wife was also much needed on the expedition because she was Shoshone (I believe that is the correct tribe, but bear with me as it”s been almost 10 years since I did this research).  The Shoshone were an influencial tribe in the West and it was believed that having Sacagawea with them might prove to be a good thing for the expedition.  At the time Sacagawea was with child.  (For all you women who have been pregnant — can you imagine making this journey while with child?)

It is said by historians that Baptiste inherited his mother’s sunny disposition, her intelligence and attractive features.  Captain Clark was particularly fond of the boy and called him, “my little dancing boy, and also as “my boy, Pomp,” from Pomp’s tower.  Indeed, Captain Clark had become to so fond of the little boy, that he begged his parents to let him take the boy, whereupon he promised to raise him as his own.  Baptiste’s parents declined, but over the years, Clark apparently did enter both Baptiste and his older, half-brother into school.

thumbnail[5]Now, here’s where the story gets really interesting.  In 1823 (Baptiste would have been 18), he was introduced to Prince Paul of Wurtemberg, Germany.  The prince was twenty-six and he had come to America in search of scientific information.  It was at the mouth of the Kaw or Kansas River that the two were introduced and a fast friendship was struck up between the two.  Indeed, the prince declared in his pokies online written diary in 1829 that he “hunger(ed) for the vast silent places and the simple life among free unaffected children of nature.”  Prince Paul offered to bring Baptiste with him back to Germany, where he promised to educated the lad and to tour the European continent.  Captain Clark, who by now was like a father to Baptiste, agreed, and so on November 3, 1823. Baptiste began his journey to Europe with Prince Paul.

For six years, Baptiste lived the life of a prince.  He lived in a castle in a beautiful woodland setting, he learned many different languages, including  German, English, Spanish and French,   He was instructed in the arts and social graces of the court and Baptiste was the companion of Prince Paul for all those years, developing a fast, fast friendship.  Here’s where the story gets even stranger.

thumbnailCAPDU9IWTo the left is a picture of Prince Paul.  In 1829 Baptiste and Prince Paul returned to America.  Here, somewhere along the route, Prince Paul and Baptiste parted, never to see each other again.  Baptiste went on to become a mountain man and a scout for various private and governmental parties.  Why the two friends parted remains a mystery, as none of Prince Paul’s published works mention the affair.  It is, however, speculated that their separation was less than amicable.  Some have suggested that the two weren”t as close as one might think.  But I believe that highly unlikely, since Baptiste is known to have left America with Prince Paul and since it is a known fact and documented that the two became fast friends, and since Baptiste did live with Prince Paul”s family, and he was educated by that royal family.

To the right here is a painting of a man I have googled as Baptiste.  However, that is in dispute, thumbnail[10]since about a month after I posted this blog, a reader contacted me to tell me that the painting was of someone else.  I”m reproducing it here, if only because it did come up on my search through google.  Anyway, the mystery of Baptiste became highly enigmatic since he never again corresponded with Prince Paul, nor did he keep a diary.  However, because Baptiste went on to be one of the best scouts the West has ever known, we have learned of him from the writings of travelers at that time.

Perhaps one of the most interesting aspects of Baptiste’s life is that he neither married, nore produced heirs, and this in a land where a man could easily have taken more than one wife or mistress.  Again, I am told that he did have an off-spring while in Europe and then also here in the States.  But that was again given to me by a reader and is unverified by me.  My sources state conclusively that he produced no “heirs.”

What happened?  Why did he suddenly cut all ties to the prince in Europe?  Had he fallen in love with some princess, only to be dismissed out of hand because he lacked any real royal standing?  Perhaps.  My asking this question led me to write the story of THE PRINCESS AND THE WOLF, 519WK1CHY5L._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-click,TopRight,35,-76_AA300_SH20_OU01_[1]which is still available for purchase.   The book cover is off to the side.  You can purchase it at my website at:

 Well, that”s the story as I researched it.  It’s one of the strangest tales that I uncovered in my research into the West and its many legends   What do you think?  What would be your guess?  Why did the Prince and Baptiste — who had been fast friends for six years — had toured together, learned together, hunted together — why did they separate, never to see one another again?  Come on in and tell me your ideas.

These three books below are in a series called the LAKOTA series and one of them, LAKOTA PRINCESS is, like THE PRINCESS AND THE WOLF, set in England.  You can purchase them here:  Come on in — I”d love to hear your thoughts.

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KAREN KAY aka GEN BAILEY is the multi-published author of American Indian Historical Romances. She has written for such prestigious publishers as AVON/HarperCollins, Berkley/Penguin/Putnam and Samhain Publishing. KAREN KAY’S great grandmother was Choctaw Indian and Kay is honored to be able to write about the American Indian Culture.
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31 thoughts on “An Extraordinary Story — An Extraordinary Life”

  1. Karen, what an interesting story. Isn’t it fun to uncover facts that seed a story while you’re researching? Great blog. Hugs, Phyliss

  2. What an interesting story! Okay, here is my imagination at work. I think Baptiste and Prince Paul returned to America and both became enamored with the same woman along the way. This woman ultimately chose the Prince and this upset Baptiste greatly. Prince Paul and the woman returned to Europe to live the royal life. Baptiste returned to the mountains and scouting. The two never crossed paths again. Baptiste remained alone all of his days, mourning the loss of his first love and his best friend.

  3. I loved this post…so very interesting! Here is my take on things..Prince Paul had a sister that Baptiste fell madly for. This would not work in the eyes of Prince Paul or his family so he escorted Baptiste back to America making sure that he arrived without any chance of turning back. With harsh words exchanged upon their parting, Prince Paul went back to Europe and Baptiste lived out his days with his fist love in his heart always.

  4. Such an interesting story, thanks for sharing. I would love to win one of your books for my Grandma. It’s her Birthday today and she love your books as much as I do.

  5. Thanks for an interesting post today Karen! I did not really know anything about Baptiste. I enjoy these little history lessons!

  6. Thanks for sharing Baptiste’s story. As A child I was fascinated by this baby born on the Expedition but never found out more(I was not into research then).

    My story runs much the same as the other. Star crossed lovers whose family did not approve.

  7. Hi Melanie!

    Good conjecture. Close to what I put together for my story, also. But not a sister. In real life, however, this just might have been! Would also explain why Prince Paul never mentioned the affair ever…not in all his written work or correspondence that we know of.


  8. What an interesting post! Its amazing what you can come up with when you are doing research. I have learned a lot since I started using a computer.

  9. Hi Quilt Lady!

    Yes, the internet does make it easier to access real information. Of course there is a catch, since there is much disinformation abounding, also. But if one persists, one everntually can get at the truth. : )

  10. No one mentioned what came to me first. Maybe the two of them were involved. Maybe one was more willing than the other or one cared for the other more than the other wanted. Maybe one found another partner. I would think it was at least a good possibility?

  11. Romantics that we are we think there had to be a woman involved but maybe Baptiste just wanted to stay in the plains and mountains and was tired of the European life-style. Prince Paul on the other hand was mad at him for rejecting all that he had given him. Guess we’ll never know what really happened.:)

  12. Perhaps Baptiste wanted to change his lifestyle and was tired from the travel and his companion. He needed his freedom and wide open spaces suited him.

  13. This post is captivating and fascinating. To learn about this history is so interesting. Baptiste and Prince Paul had ended the relationship due to growing apart and seeking different and new pastures.

  14. Hi Catslady!

    Of course it’s a possibility — who knows — of course my take on it turned into a romance book. But it’s a possibility that hadn’t really occurred to me when I first learned of the story.

    Thanks for the post.

  15. Hi Anne!

    That’s certain a good conjecture — as good as mine. But then, if that were so, and the two of them were close — why no communication, where there had been so much?

    Interesting, I think…

  16. Hi Ellie!

    Good one! I do, however, think that they would have at least kept in communication with each other — one of those mysteries that seem to make one want to write, huh?

  17. Well that certainly is interesting. Many intriguing ideas as to what could have caused the split. Hmmmm. 🙂
    I definitely didn’t know that about him!

  18. Hi, Karen!

    Enjoyed your post on Baptiste! My first thought on Baptiste was the same as catslady (but I was hesitant to suggest it) – & that being, that he & Prince Paul were more than friends. My other thought was that Baptiste just wanted to return to his previous life.

    There will always be some conjecture about certain events & people in history. Don’t know if you are acquainted with the story of Blue Jacket, alias Marmaduke VanSwearingen, who was supposedly captured by the Shawnee – who were so impressed with his bravery that they made him a war chief of their tribe. There was an outdoor drama about Blue Jacket in Zenia, Oh. that ran for about 25 years. A few years ago – a article came out stating that DNA from descendants of both Marmaduke, & Blue Jacket had proven that Marmaduke was not Blue Jacket. I am a descendant of Marmaduke – guess we will never know the true story about him.

  19. Hi kaaren. Very interesting. I also think he might have decided to go back to his old life after returning. Maybe it hurt the Prince and also made him mad, especially after coming on the long trip. It wouldn’t be the only time someone really close friends had become estranged to never speak again. I have a close friend has two daughters who never speak to each other, or go to see their folks at the same time even on Holidays, over something that was said. Sad, but it happens. I would love to have your book. Maxie mac262(at)me(dot)com

  20. Hi Maxie!

    Thanks for your thoughts on this. What you say makes sense, doesn’t it? Interestingly, however, when one writes, one really needs an understandable reason for these things — so much so that one tends to forget how minor these riffs can be.

  21. You know, Bonnie, I no longer believe in science and their conjectures and such. Seems as if science has become the betrayer of humankind, and such things as these tend to stir my ire.

    Originally science freed mankind from superstition (although my mother never knew this : )) — but now it has become the enslaver of mankind with such things as chemicals that should never, ever be put on the body, let alone in them, genetically modified food that is nothing more than eating poison, flouride in the water, which is known to be a toxic waste from aluminium production — so toxic that they would’ve had to pay much money to dispose of it — so of course they sold it to your local water system — lying of course — and toxic waste became profitable.

    So science in my opinion has turned the corner and is now the enslaver of mankind — may it’s reign be short.

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