Mountain Men and Life in the Rocky

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Malachite’s Big Hole

Fraeb’s Instructions for care of Fort Jackson

Henry Fraeb found it necessary to return to St. Louis in the spring of 1838.  Abel Baker was given the position of fort factor during Fraeb’s absence.  Although Baker had functioned in a similar management position at Fort Hall, it appears that Fraeb wasn’t fully confident in Baker.  Before leaving, Fraeb prepared detailed written instructions regarding management of the post including inventories, personnel, construction projects, accounts, security, sanitation practices, and how to deal with the proprietors of the nearby posts (Fort Vasquez, Fort George, and Fort Lancaster).  Below is a transcription of Fraeb’s instructions to Baker:  

Fort Jackson, April 22, 1838,

A, Baker Jr.  

I leave this Fort tomorrow for St. Louis and I leave you here in charge, of Fort Jackson and all the property here belonging to Sarpy & Fraeb in and about said Fort and also of the trade of said Fort excepting the trade of Liquor which is as according to your proposal and our agreement at the time of my employing you that you would take charge of all the business and trade of this Fort except that of the Liquor you will therefore take charge of the trade & of all of the goods but not of the Liquor of that I have given the sole charge, to Guerin with instructions, the fol­lowing instructions I wish you strictly to conform to, and act ac­cordingly.

1st. You will take a correct account of stock of the goods you have in store, as soon as possible after you have more safely secured the Fort from invasions by altering the gate for the acct of stock that I have with me to take to St. Louis, is not perhaps exact from the insufficiency of time we had, to make it out,

2nd. You will keep the accts of Guerin's trade as well as of your own, you will settle no debts that any of your men may contract at any other Fort (nor purchase anything of any other Fort for the company) contract no debts whatever, unless it be an extreme case, and absolutely necessary.

3d.  Don't let any of your men, leave the Fort unless it be necessary and in no case to leave the Fort over night, unless it be to go to Indians to trade, or go for meat.

4th.  As you have not a sufficiency of men, you will hire two or three more your first opportunity, hire Spaniards if possible and don’t give them over Ten Dollars per month.

5th.  You will build a Store, Robe House, and a dwelling House, of Dobies in the north and west sides of the Fort according to the plans I told you yesterday.

6th.  Should you have orders for goods from either of the superintendents of the Forts upon the River let them have goods but not without written orders unless the superintendent should order in person.

7th.  You will for further security of the Fort then mentioned in article 1st as soon as your other duties will permit have the Fort cleaned and freed of the manure, in and about it to guard against fire.

8th.  You will have your animals guarded while out in the prairie and Forted every night except that perhaps after any of them may have had a hard day's work, and you have no reason to think any danger is near you in such a case you can risk part of them out at night but let that part be small.

9th.  After you have strengthened your Fort by hiring the men that you are authorized to hire in article 4th should you hear of Indians not too far from the Fort having Robes you will send a man with Guerin to trade.

10th.  As regards trading meat, I dont want you to trade any surplus stock and dont pay any high price for what you do trade in trading for Robes let the prices of goods to whites calculated for Robes at $4.00 each regulate your trade.

Henry Fraeb for
Sarpy & Fraeb

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