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Frontier Era Bookstore -- Historical Accounts and Biographies

Here, we hope you will find some further reading on this period and possibly even buy a book from us! As we go along, we will be adding more and more books (and movies) through our association with Amazon.com. Why buy here, well... in buying a book through us, you help support reenactor.Net (and our surprisingly HIGH server bill) AND keep the site free. As we have just revamped this area, we are in the process of setting this up now.

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Historical Accounts and Biographies

Journal of a Trapper: In the Rocky Mountains -- In 1830, 16-year-old Osborne Russell left his Maine farm and ran away to sea. He didn't like it. He ended up joining an expedition headed to Oregon by way of the Rocky Mountains. Along the way he acquired the skills necessary for survival in the mountains. He also learned the Snake language, hunted buffalo, and trapped beaver, looked for new trails west, and kept a journal that forms the basis of this vigorously authentic book. The descriptions are so accurate that contemporary readers are using the book to retrace Russell's footsteps!
Crow Killer: The Saga of Liver-Eating Johnson -- The book is a fascinating look at the real life model for the "hero" of the movie Jeremiah Johnson; John Johnston was his real name and this story is essentially compiled from the oral tradition of the old west augmented by interviews with people who knew Johnston (or alleged to know him). I read this book BEFORE I actually saw Jeremiah Johnson, so it was a bit different for me.

Great read though! bad George Bentley borrowed it back in 1981 and I have never seen it again ;-( Guess I need to buy a new copy... Okay, I did buy anew copy,... it's now in a box from my move between Ft. Loudon and Chambersburg...

Give Your Heart to the Hawks -- Blevins portrays the incredible lives of such men as Jed Smith, Jim Bridger, Tom Fitzpatrick, and Bill Williams, while he looks for the greater story, the story of their experiences, rather than the political realities of their era.
A Life Wild and Perilous: Mountain Men and the Paths to the Pacific -- It's true, Robert Utley writes, that mountain men such as "Crazy Bill" Williams and Jeremiah "Liver-Eating" Johnson were an unlearned, unwashed, drunk, and violent bunch who tore a bloody swath across the then-unconquered American West from the 1810s to the 1840s. Yet their travels across deserts and plains and over high mountains yielded a huge body of geographical knowledge that would enable American pioneers to cross the Mississippi and traverse the continent in relative security. Utley, a historian with a fluent narrative style, tells the stories of hard-fighting men like Jim Bridger, Benjamin Bonneville, Kit Carson, and Joseph Walker, whose names now figure prominently on maps of the region but are otherwise little remembered.
Broken Hand, the Life of Thomas Fitzpatrick, Mountain Man, Guide and Indian Agent -- It is a vivid, comprehensive and sweeping biography of a most important and influential man of the early American West. At the age of twenty four, Thomas Fitzpatrick started out with Ashley's expedition of 1823 as a fur trapper going up the Missouri River. The following year he discovered South Pass, then was part owner of the Rocky Mountain Fur Company. After the fur trade declined, he guided the first wagon train west over the Oregon Trail, then acted as guide to Fremont, Kearny and Abert on their expeditions. Later,he was appointed as an Indian Agent for the government and in this position he was most significant in facilitating relations with the Plains Indians.
Jim Bridger, Mountain Man -- 333 pages. Author: Stanley Vestal. Even among the mighty mountain men, Jim Bridger was a towering figure. By 1824, when he was only 20, he had discovered the Great Salt Lake. Later he was to open the Overland Route, which was the path of the Overland Stage, the Pony Express, and the Union Pacific. He was one of the greatest explorers and pathfinders in American History.
Jedediah Smith and the Opening of the West -- The saga of Jedediah Smith began at age 23, and ended ten years later, in 1831, when, on the Santa Fe trail, he was killed by indians when he stopped for a drink from a stream. He was one of the first true mountain men and trappers whose life story, during those ten years, introduces the reader to others whose names are more familiar now than his own. He died before the western movement began that relied so heavily upon the knowledge of such persons. Yet it is doubtful that any, except perhaps Kit Carson, came close to exploring so much country, much of it alone, or nearly so. The book is a scholarly presentation of his incredible feats each, for the most part, intended to discover the elusive beaver. Jedediah's territory covered the then unknown expanse ranging from the confluence of the Yellowstone and the Missouri Rivers, current site of Fort Union where I purchased my book, to Oregon, California as far south as LA, east along the Old Spanish Trial and the Gila River as well as into NM and everywhere in between. His knowledge of so vast a country was invaluable and, in spite of his untimely death, contributed mightily to what eventually would become known as Manifest Destiny. Some are destined to contribute whether intended or not. The book deserves a place in the library of every serious student of the west.
Hugh Glass -- To state that Hugh Glass led an extraordinary life would be to miss the mark through understatement. In the book entitled "Hugh Glass", author Bruce Bradley attempts to assemble into a cohesive whole the facts, stories, and legends that have sprung up around Glass. He has succeeded in producing a thrilling book on that remarkable and unenviable life.
A Rendezvous Reader: Tall, Tangled, And, True Tales of the Mountain Men, 1805-1850-- A trapper returns from the dead, hunters feast on buffalo intestines served on a dirty blanket, a missionary woman is astounded by the violence and vulgarity of the trappers' rendezvous ... these are just a few of the stories, tall tales, and just plain lies that make up Rendezvous Reader.

A good book to keep by the bed to help you fall asleep with images of a time that is gone forever.

Not to be confused with a history book written by any one person, A Rendezvous reader is a collection of selections from journal entries, newspaper articles and books, most only a page or two long, that show the culture and folklore of the mountain men and the beautifully wild world in which they lived. It describes everything from trapping techniques, encounters with grizzlies, descriptions of giant heards of buffalo, bloody fights with blackfeet, common and uncommon sources of food, surgery on the trail, beggers, weapons, river crossings, whisky, everything you might ever want to know about rendevous, why many were motivated to let out for the mountains in the first place and so much more.

The selections in this book offer the sights and sounds, smells and tastes of yonder mountains which makes worthwhile reading.

John Colter: His Years in the Rockies by Burton Harris -- Yellowstone...Colter's Hell...geysers...Indians.... this book is a total pleasure to read. Although it is true that Colter's life was somewhat obscure by a lack of more historical documentation, Harris does an exemplary piece of work with what there is to work with. Citing such references as William Clark, Thomas James, Brackenridge, Bradbury and others, Harris does make a justifiable attempt to back up his story. Required reading for those into this time period of the early American West when mountain men roamed the wide open spaces, high mountain valleys and peaks. It must have been a tough, but very rewarding way of life...if you survived the perils and hardships of that day.
Fur Traders, Trappers, and Mountain Men of the Upper Missouri by Le Roy R. Hafen -- This book offers some very good, concise descriptions of eighteen lesser known fur trappers, traders and mountain men of the early American wes -- men such as James Kipp, Gabriel Franchere, William Laidlaw, David Dawson, William Gordon and John Sanford to mention a few. Each one of these men's lives had obstacles of hardships, disasters, frustrations, etc. to overcome and all had something to do with the founding and development of the early American west in one way or another. It is a fun book to read and the bibliographies in each chapter simply 'whet the appetite' to read more about these interesting early frontiersmen.

Reenacting and Living History Resources | Historical Accounts and Biographies
Native American Studies
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