So what’s in store for these characters, and what challenges will they meet?
I’d like to discuss that in a post today.
In the last book, Manuel’s Money, we had a lot of things happen:
- Indians are siding with Britain instead of America
- Attacks are increasing
- Trade is getting disrupted
- Creditors are busting down the door
- Regular trappers are out of work
- Things are going to hell
What better atmosphere to launch an upriver trading and trapping expedition?
That’s what happened, and that was the last book.
So it was that the twenty-one men that’d set out from St. Louis were divided into four groups:
- Bijou and his five men at the new Fort Lisa for the Sioux, located at today’s Council Bluffs
- Manuel and his seven men heading back downriver to meet them
- Reuben Lewis, Michael Immel, and three others they’d picked up heading north to the Souris
- And finally Lorimer and his four men heading to the Wind River with Rose as their guide
Once Rose gets them there he’ll continue on to the Crow. Then the groups will number five.
So that’s the general make-up of what’s happening and what’s to come.
Rose’ll have his own book next, and it’ll be a pretty good cover. In fact, since there’s no image or drawing of Rose to speak of, this’ll be it – people will see that image on my site.
Edward Rose’s Journey
He’ll have company now, however.
The men he guided to the Wind River will be back, so this will be a 5-man group:
- Edward Rose
- Louis Lorimier
- John Dougherty
- William Weir
- Maurice LeDuc
I profiled those men in my post Lesser Known Fur Trappers and Mountain Men.
I have some historic events to go off of, but mostly I have to make up some things for these characters to do.
Most of their actions will revolve around the upriver slave trade that goes on between the tribes as well as between the tribes and the white trappers and traders.
This part of the story kind of got started by accident, but things really fell into place with it and that’s the course we’re taking.
Remember, Sacajawea was a 10-year-old captive when she was married off.
Captive is just another word for slave.
Or is it? Our characters – both upriver and down – will be discussing these ethical issues over the course of the next book.
The main character, Edward Rose, is a quarter black on his mother’s side, after all. That’d make him a slave in the South.
Back in 1812 the Civil War was still 49 years away. There was no talk of secession, and certainly no talk of emancipation.
Whites and their attitudes about slavery went westward with them, all the way to the Upper Missouri and today’s Montana.
It’ll be fun exploring those attitudes…in between thrilling battles and chases, of course.
The Story of Rueben Lewis
It’s Rueben Lewis, the younger brother of Meriwether Lewis.
If you’ve been reading the Mountain Man Series you’ll know that we profiled Meriwether’s suicide in Book 4, Colter’s Friend.
That was some time ago, about 4 years in the timeframe of the novels.
Now Rueben Lewis is a successful trader and investor himself, with $2,000 put into Manuel Lisa’s latest pursuit, the Missouri Fur Company.
The men left St. Louis with an expedition outfitted at $11,000 in the spring of 1812, and that’s what Manuel’s Money was about.
After that comes Rose’s book then we’ll have a book on William Clark.
But first we get to Lewis.
Rueben Lewis was the younger brother of Meriwether Lewis. He was born in 1777 while Meriwether was born in 1774.
So about 3 years separated them, though a great deal of fame did as well.
Reuben accompanied his famous brother to St. Louis in 1808. He got into fur trapping and was one of the men John Colter guided across the rocky mountain passes to the Three Forks of the Missouri.
There the doomed fort would be built, one that’d see the death of George Drouillard, a man that’d accompanied Meriwether Lewis west to the Pacific just a few years earlier.
That was the event that ended Montana fur trapping west of the Divide for a good twenty years or so, at least the St. Louis angle.
Meriwether would of course kill himself in 1809 at the age of 35, probably leaving Rueben feeling adrift.
Governor William Clark probably looked out for the younger brother of his dearly-departed friend, however, and it’s not a far cry to attribute much of Reuben’s success over the years to that.
Rueben became an Indian agent to the Mandan, Osage, and Cherokee tribes. He mainly stuck to the Arkansas River over the years 1810 to 1820.
After that he headed back to Virginia.
So…what’d he do during those ten years when he was travelling upriver to the Middle and sometimes Upper Missouri?
One account I’ve seen has him going north from the Mandan after accompanying Manuel upriver.
What he did and who he went with isn’t really clear, and I’ve checked Hafen’s 10-volume history of the mountain men but could find nothing of these years for Rueben.
That’s why I’ll just make some adventures up for him.
In Manuel’s Money I briefly mentioned how he and a few others were heading north to trap the Souris River.
They’re also going out to see what the British in that area are doing, now that war is afoot.
It’ll be a 5-man party:
- Rueben Lewis
- Michael Immel
- Robert Jones
- A Frenchman
- An Arikara Indian
Right off the bat I’m getting Jones and Immel into the story.
These two won’t show up again until 1823 when they were killed in a famous Blackfeet ambush and massacre. Their names have been synonymous ever since.
We know that Immel was heading upriver as early as the 1810s, however.
What was he doing?
Again, we don’t know so I’ll be making it up.
I think it’ll be fun.
I like to think the Mountain Man Series is a fun one.
Thanks for reading it!