July 22, 1841

“Gray returned this evening having found Trapp’s company, which consisted of about 20 men. They had returned to meet our company, though on their way to hunt buffalo, and were now encamped on Green river about 8 miles distant. Gray had suffered much in overtaking the trappers; his mule gave out, there being no water for a great distance, and he himself was reduced so much by hunger and thirst that he was unable to walk. He was therefore compelled to crawl upon his hands and feet, and at last came up with the company in the most forlorn situation imaginable–if they had been another half mile farther, he never could have reached them.”

The man that Bidwell here calls “Trapp,” was generally called “Frapp” by his men. A German-American from St. Louis, his name was actually Henry Fraeb, and he was a veteran fur trapper and one of the founders, with Jim Bridger and William Sublette, of the Rocky Mountain Fur Company.  The Rev. Joseph Williams called his outfit “a wicked, swearing company of men,” which is probably a pretty accurate description of the kind of men who lived far from civilization.

John Gray, who nearly lost his life in pursuit of Frapp’s company, was a half-Mohawk, half-Scottish trapper and trail guide from French Canada. He had been hired by W. G. Romaine as a companion and guide for Romaine’s summer excursion on the plains. If anyone could have found Frapp, it was John Gray, but he was traversing some of the most  unforgiving territory in America, and he was very lucky to survive the ordeal.

About nancyleek

Nancy is a retired librarian who lives in Chico, California. She is the author of John Bidwell: The Adventurous Life of a California Pioneer.
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