Kit Carson

uewb_03_img0149I have enjoyed riches and suffered the pangs of poverty. I saw General Grant when he was little known. I baked bread for General Fremont and talked to Kit Carson. Nancy Kelsey

When Nancy Kelsey was remembering her adventurous life, three famous Americans were top on her list of celebrities: Grant, Fremont, and Kit Carson, the celebrated scout, trapper, and frontiersman.

Last week I made a visit to Taos, New Mexico. It’s a lovely town to visit, especially if you like window-shopping among art galleries, which Taos is chock-full of. I didn’t have time for that, but for history buffs Taos has the Kit Carson Home and Museum.

(It also has Taos Pueblo, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, well worth a visit.)

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Hard to get a good picture with our tour bus parked right in front of the museum.

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The courtyard of the Kit Carson Home.

The house is a typical Southwestern-style one-story adobe structure surrounding a courtyard, with a flat roof and small connected rooms. The large cooking and heating adobe stove is two-sided, for versatility.

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The museum consists of four rooms of Carson’s home, full of family photographs and artifacts, plus a gift shop. Carson was a devoted family man, in spite of his many journeys away, and he was never happier than when he was home with his wife Josefa and their lively bunch of children.

DSCF7856Kit’s writing desk. I don’t know how much writing he did, since I am told that he was illiterate. He did learn to sign his name. Nevertheless, he had a writing desk.

Since Carson’s home was in Taos, what is his connection to California? Well, it was considerable. Maybe someday I’ll write about it.

The museum director asked our group, “What do you know about Kit Carson?” I said, “I know he was with John C. Fremont in California.”

The director said, “It might be more accurate to say that Fremont was with Kit Carson in California,” and he was right. Without Carson’s knowledge and quiet leadership, Fremont probably never would have made it.

So if you ever get to Taos, say hello to Kit and Josefa from all of us in California.

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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