James Pierson Beckwourth was a mountain man, fur trader and explorer. Although he was born enslaved, he was freed and apprenticed to a blacksmith. James is credited with the discovery of a mountain pass through the Sierra Nevada Mountains between present-day Reno, Nevada and Portols, California. He also improved the Beckwourth Trail that thousands of settlers followed to central California.
April 26, 1798 James Beckwourth a mountain man, trapper, fur trader who was born of a white plantation owner and slave woman. He was later manumitted and regarded as free. Beckwourth forged an alliance with the Crow Indians and was a member of the tribe. Marrying 2 Blackfoot women and operating a trading post.
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James Beckwourth:Utah history, trappers, traders and
James Beckwourth had a life filled with adventure, drama, loss, and regret. Born to parents who were a black slave woman and her owner, Beckwourth was emancipated and headed out into the American West to make his fortune. Once there, Beckwourth met legendary mountain men, fought and was befriended by Native Americans, involved himself in warfare, and hunted buffalo.
For most descendants of African slaves born prior to the Civil War, the path to freedom was usually a covert and perilous foot journey to exile in the North. But for James Pierson Beckwourth, the trail blazed off the plantation and headed to the American West, into the Rocky Mountains, where he arrived as a fur trapper and, later, became an adopted member of the Crow Indians.