On the Trail — July 24-25, 1841

Saturday, 24th. Remained at this encampment and continued our traffic with the hunters. Chiles sold his oxen, 2 yoke, and wagon, another also was left.

The hunters, or fur trappers, bought all the alcohol brought by Bartleson and others, as well as other items, like Chiles’s wagon and ox team. Bidwell doesn’t say what they used to pay for it. It seems unlikely that they had money, but they probably had goods the travelers could use, such as weapons, ammunition, and clothing. Maybe this is where Bidwell picked up the buckskin suit he later says he was wearing.

The Rev. Joseph Williams described the party of hunters in his recollections:

We lay on the Green River bottom, where we fell in with Mr. Frap who was on a hunting expedition. This man, with nine or ten of his company, was afterwards killed in a skirmish with the Sioux Indians. His company was mostly composed of half-breeds, French, and Dutch, and all sorts of people collected together in the mountains, and were a wicked, swearing company of men.

In “The First Emigrant Train to California,” Bidwell relates what became of Fraeb’s party.

Years afterwards we heard of the fate of that party; they were attacked by Indians the very first night after they left us and several of them killed, including the captain of the trapping party, whose name was Frapp. The whisky was probably the cause.

Indeed, the alcohol and the resulting drunkenness would have drawn the attention of Indians. And since by the time Bidwell wrote this recollection he was a Prohibitionist, he does not fail to point the moral.

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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