Mountain Men and Life in the Rocky

Subject Guide


Mountain West

Malachite’s Big Hole

1839 Green River (Siskeedee-Agie) Rendezvous:

Pierre Chouteau did decided to take the risk and send a supply caravan to the mountains in 1839.  On May 4th of that year the caravan left Westport under the leadership of Moses “Black” Harris.  The supply train this year was very small in comparison to previous years, consisting of 27 persons, nine of whom were employed by the fur company, a party of missionaries, while the remainder were individuals who elected to travel to the mountains with the caravan.

The supplies and goods bound for the mountains were carried in four two-wheeled carts, plus 50-60 mules or horses.  The supply train arrived at Fort Laramie (formerly known as Fort William) on the morning of June 14th and left for rendezvous on June 15th.  

Again there was confusion as to the location of this years rendezvous, because at the break up of the previous years rendezvous it was not even certain that there would be another rendezvous in 1839.  Some trappers, such as Osborne Russell, were not even present for rendezvous this year because they were not aware it was being held.  In fact Harris didn’t even seem to know where it was because when the supply train was in the vicinity of New Fork, Harris sent out men to find the site.  They returned with Andrew Drips and Joseph Walker who informed Harris that the trappers were gathering again at the confluence of Horse Creek and the Green River. (Map)  

The supply train arrived at rendezvous on July 5th.   A party of 14 Hudson’s Bay Company men from Fort Hall under the leadership of Francis Ermatinger were again present at rendezvous, continuing to put commercial pressure on the American Fur Company.  According to one of the men traveling with the pack train, Dr. Frederick A Wislizenus, the Indians present at this rendezvous had few beaver skins for trade, and he wrote that the “the diminution in the beaver catch made itself noticeable at this year’s rendezvous in the quieter behavior of the trappers.  There was little drinking of spirits, and almost no gambling. Another decade perhaps and the original trapper will have disappeared from the mountains.”  (Wislizenus, Frederick A., A Journey to the Rocky Mountains 1839)

Most of the missionaries would leave rendezvous on July 9th accompanied by the Hudson’s Bay Company men.  Robert Newell would also accompany this party to Fort Hall.  Kit Carson indicates that the rendezvous broke up sometime in August, but no details are given as to the number and types of furs returned to St. Louis. Andrew Drips appears to have returned with the furs and skins to St. Louis, while Moses Harris remained in the mountains.

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1840 Rendezvous