Mountain Men and Life in the Rocky

Subject Guide


Mountain West

Malachite’s Big Hole

Caught with his Pants Down:

While packing supplies to the Rendezvous of 1837 Alfred Jacob Miller records the following about Lucien FontenelleHe distinguished himself for speed of foot in running from a grizzly bear; he having no gun with him at the time.

Alfred Jacob Miller does not further describe the situation, nor what Fontenelle might have been doing without his gun.  Now Fontenelle was part of a culture which lived and died by the gun, so much so, that a mountain man would hardly move to the other side of his lodge, but what he took his gun with him.  So it is curious that Fontenelle was caught without his gun. There are numerous things which Fontenelle might have been doing. Whatever it was, Fontenelle almost certainly intended to go only a short distance from camp, and for only the briefest period of time.  However, based on the drawing by Alfred Jacob Miller it is quite clear that that old bear caught Fontenelle with his pants down. 

Fontenelle at this time was a distinguished leader and bourgeois.  

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