In 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.
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.
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.
To 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, 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, which is still available for purchase. The book cover is off to the side. You can purchase it at my website at: www.novels-by-KarenKay.com
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: http://store.samhainpublishing.com/karen-kay-pa-1676.html. Come on in — I”d love to hear your thoughts.