Missionaries and Mountaineers


At first we were independent, and thought we could not afford to wait for a slow missionary party. But when we found that no one knew which way to go, we sobered down and waited for them to come up; and it was well that we did, for otherwise probably not one of us would ever have reached California, because of our inexperience.

Afterwards when we came into contact with Indians our people were so easily excited that if we had not had with us an old mountaineer the result would certainly have been disastrous. The name of the guide was Captain Fitzpatrick; he had been at the head of trapping parties in the Rocky Mountains for many years. He and the missionary party went with us as far as Soda Springs, now in Idaho Territory, whence they turned north to the Flathead nation.


John Gray, as depicted by Father Nicholas Point. S.J.

The party consisted of three Roman Catholic priests — Father De Smet, Father Pont, Father Mengarini — and ten or eleven French Canadians, and accompanying them were an old mountaineer named John Gray and a young Englishman named Romaine, and also a man named Baker. They seemed glad to have us with them, and we were certainly glad to have their company. (Echoes of the Past)

Click on those links to read the fascinating stories of John Grey and “Lord” Romaine.


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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