Mountain Men and Life in the Rocky

Subject Guide


Mountain West

Malachite’s Big Hole

August Clermont (AKA Auguste Claymore):

Little is known of the early life of August Clermont, when or where he was born, or when he came to the mountains.  Dick Wootton and others often referred to him as “Old Claymore” suggesting that he was an early participant in the fur trade.  Of course mountain men often referred to someone as "Old" based on mountain experience or "Knowing which way the stick floats" rather than age.

Clermont is mostly remembered for an almost miraculous recovery from injuries received in the autumn of 1833.  At this time he was part of a party of eighteen or so free trappers, with an additional six or seven Indian trappers.  The party was trapping in the Green River area.  One day, while alone, Clermont fell in with a group of Shoshones.  Somehow, a quarrel developed, resulting in an attack on Clermont.  The Indians beat his head till they thought he was dead, but were prevented from taking his scalp by the arrival of Clermont’s companions.  The trappers found Clermont, barely alive, with his skull crushed, and portions of his brain exposed and partially destroyed.  None of his companions thought he would live, and one of his friends donated a suit of clothes to bury him in.  The badly injured man was probably moved to Fort Hall where it was expected he would die.  The remaining trappers then went on with their business.  To the surprise of all, Clermont recovered from his injuries.  One of Clermont’s favorite stories in later years was how he lived to wear out the suit of clothes he was to be buried in. 

In later years Clermont eventually settled into southern Colorado, where he became known as the “last of the trappers,” by which it was generally thought that he continued to make his living by trapping long after the big money had left the fur trade.  He was well known in the early days of Denver having been a frequent visitor.  

In 1860, he and a partner “Old Charlefoux” had started a cabin on the site of present day Trinidad, but apparently the men never finished it. August Clermont died in 1879 at Nine Mile Bottom on the Purgatoire River.  He had gone out trapping and had failed to return.  Searchers found him in his camp, burro secured, firewood stacked, and bed made up.  Clermont was still sitting by the ashes of his campfire. 

To learn more about August Clermont see the following references:

The Mountain Men and the Fur Trade of the Far West, Vol. 2, edited by LeRoy R Hafen, published 1965 by the Arthur H Clark Company.

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