Jump to navigation. E-book enthusiasts using an Amazon Kindle have an opportunity to delve into a novel in the Christian, supernatural genre written by a University of Arkansas - Fort Smith professor. Robert J. Willoughby of Fort Smith is set in Israel during an archeological excavation and study of a 12th century castle.
Local villagers have a problem with their well, and a cache of ancient weapons turns up. If this alternative translation is correct, then the inscription appears to suggest that Robidoux had not yet established a trading post on the Uinta River by This contradicts evidence that he purchased and rebuilt the Reed Trading Post on the Uinta River in , five years earlier.
A simple solution is that the year engraved in the inscription has also been misinterpreted, and that the original message reads "" instead of ""; this would be a logical fit with the notion that Robidoux may have been searching for a place to establish a new trading post in late , shortly before he eventually did so when he bought the Reed Trading Post.
Yet there is evidence that Antoine Robidoux was actually in Missouri selling furs and procuring supplies in November , making it impossible for him to have carved the inscription at that time.
Encore -- The brothers Robidoux and the opening of the American West / Robert J. Willoughby.
A third solution is that is actually correct and that Robidoux was, in fact, planning to build a third, unidentified trading post in a new location at the time, which either never materialized or was built and subsequently lost to history. Both Fort Uncompahgre and Fort Robidoux were evidently attacked and destroyed by Utes in , just as the fur trade was declining with changes in the European market.
Over the next decade, he worked in various capacities as an emigrant guide and a U. Army interpreter.
Kearny 's expedition to California during the Mexican—American War. He was severely wounded at the Battle of San Pasqual in December and later applied for a government pension. Robidoux died in in St. Joseph, Missouri, at the age of From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Already, Joseph had mounted a new outfit for that country, the one for which Antoine, Michel and Isidore had been licensed in July. It appears that by this time, a Robidoux trading post had been established nearby Ft. Atkinson, which was the main jumping off point for the Santa Fe trade.
Whether a post had been here prior to the Yellowstone Expedition is unknown. Possibly between and time may have been spent by Joseph and Antoine in setting up this post. Almost against its will, this firm had become entangled in the Santa Fe traffic as early as , its factor in the Council Bluffs area, Joseph Robidoux, having taken upon himself the responsibility for "sending" to new Mexico in the first year Santa Fe was opened up.
Very little is known about that first expedition. In , however, the picture begins to clarify. In February, Antoine Robidoux came up the Missouri with a supply of goods. He reached Fort Atkinson on the 15th, and four days later was authorized to pass through the Indian country to New Mexico. Fugitive glimpses of his activity in the Mexican province during the winter following indicate that he operated rather precariously as far northwest as Green River, an area with which for the next two decades he would be prominently identified.
Antoine returned to Taos in February, , and must have left for St. Louis almost immediately thereafter, for on June 29 he and his brothers Michel and Isidore were licensed at St. Louis for a new venture to Santa Fe. Colonel H. Leavenworth at Fort Atkinson issued to Antoine Robidoux in company with unspecified traders a passport to travel across Indian country to Santa Fe, dated the 19th of February, Huntington Library.
By virtue of the power and authority in me vested by the Act of Congress of the United States, is titled an act to regulate trade and intercourse with the Indian tribes and to preserve peace on the Frontiers. Permission is hereby granted to Antoine Robidoux and the other persons named in the within permission to pass through the Indian country lying between this place and the boundary line between the Territory of the United States and New Mexico in the direction of Santa Fe Pegleg Smith, in his recollections, stated that in February , his friend Hopper had been trapping on the Green River and had come to Taos "accompanied by Antonio Rubedoux, John Roland, and some twenty-five men of Provost's company.
Antoine and possibly others may have joined their brothers at the Robidoux's Cabanne's? Post sometime in the fall of , and that Antoine probably returned to Taos soon afterward, leaving in October, possibly bringing his brother Isadore with him. It is in mid December of that we find the arrival at the Santa Rita mines of the French party mentioned in the Pattie Journal, purportedly led by Michel.
His brothers Antoine, and possibly Isadore, may have headed north at this time. Whatever the actual case, it is clear that the entries by Kennerly at Fort Atkinson did not include Antoine, who was first in the Green River region, and afterward in St. For the next twenty years Antoine was to be closely associated with what has been referred to as the "intermontane corridor" that extended from Northern Utah, through Colorado, into Santa Fe', New Mexico--so much so that he has gained the epithet of "Kingpin of the Rocky Mountain Fur Trade".
He was mostly likely of the first party into this region, which had been hitherto a relatively unexplored terra incognita, and it is also likely that his was probably the first party to trap and explore the Green River region. It is possible that he may have used and borrowed information from the Escalante' expedition which led through Ute Country some fifty years previously, as his later trade routes between his forts clearly follows the lines demarcated by the Escalante map.
Antoine's name is probably one of the "four Americans Robidour" mentioned in Auguste Duran in a treasure account dated Jan. His name also appears about the same time, as one Antonio Rubidu without a passport, along with his brothers Miguel and Francisco, in Governor Narbona's report on foreigners dated Feb. It is apparent that these three brothers traveled to Santa Fe, possibly along with Isadore, sometime in early December, His name appears again as Antonio Robidour a year later, sometime in late October or early November, , as the twenty-second "guia" issued by the Custom House of Santa Fe that year, without a "destination given" as was customarily the case.
It is possible that he traveled to El Paso this year, perhaps with his brother Louis. His name is also listed as one "Antonio Rovidour" by the treasurer as among the few to whom "outgoing funds" were paid in December of Listed among the outgoing funds of this month December, is a payment to Jorge Westt and Antonio Rovidour which represents the return of a deposit paid at El Paso. That same year his brother Louis name also appears as the first Guia issued, along with that to Manuel Martin, bound for El Paso On July 16 of the following year he petitioned at Santa Fe for naturalization Meanwhile, in , he had married Carmel Benavides Our next reference to him is back in Santa Fe in , during which time he married is wife , Carmel Benavides, and after which he petitioned the Mexican Government for naturalization under the name "Don Antonio Robidoux.
Among other advantages it freed them from the taxation imposed upon aliens. The petition, roughly translated to English, reads as follows:. The citizens Antoine and Louis Robidoux, residents and traders in this capital,present themselves before V. It appears that he must have been doing very profitable business from the Intermontaine corridor. This occurred a year later, in Then he verbally attacked the foreign traders in Santa Fe, many of which were his friends and acquaintances, for exploiting the resources of the country. This attack led many to adopt Mexican citizenship. He also turned to speculation in New Mexican mining interests.
According to John Barton, Antoine Robidoux, probably in affiliation with his brother Louis, established a trading house in the main square of Santa Fe which they maintained as a warehouse and store for several years, and which was broken into at least twice during the 's. He also owned a tannery "at the northwest corner of Gaudalupe and San Francisco streets. She would have been sixteen years old and would have had her first sweet-sixteen coming out celebration when she married Antoine, who would by then have been thirty-four years old, more than twice her age.
According to Orral Messmore Robidoux, her family was "an old and aristorcratic Spanish family, who brought to this country the courtly manners, the gallantry and the chivalry of the Court of Castile. Her father was a Spanish captain, one of the bravest and most efficient officers in the service, who distinguished himself of courage in many hard-fought battles with the savages.
It was in one of these battles with a band of Comanches that he met his death. Carmel Benavides was a belle in New Mexico in her younger days. The flower of Spanish chivalry was at her feet, and there was not a youth within a radius of fifty miles of Santa Fe but would have braved the very jaws of death for a smile from the fair Carmel or a glance of the dark eyes that sone with the splendor of the stars that twinkle in the southern firmament. Hers was a lively, vivacious nature. She was fond of dancing and would frequently ride horseback from Santa Fe to Albuquerque, a distance of sixty miles, in one day to attend a ball.
Nor were the triumphs of Spanish beauty confined to the ballroom. She was as brave as beautiful, as her feats of daring were the talk of the country. On several occasions she swam the Rio Grande on horseback when not a man would undertake the feat. In those days all traveling was done on horseback or. Robidoux, Orral Messmore Robidoux notes that she had made the trip between St. Joseph and Santa Fe six times between and , a journey that took about three months to complete. On one such trip the caravan was stuck in a blizzard upon the "plano estacado". The snow piled over the wagons and every mule froze to death.
Seven men of the party perished, "and a servant girl who slept beside her was discovered to have died of the cold during the night". They burned the wagons for firewood, and subsisted for several weeks on frozen mule flesh. Joseph Robidoux sent out a relief expedition which rescued the party. Those who had the pleasure of her acquaintance found her a most refined and cultured lady.
She spoke with fluency French, English and Spanish and mingled with elegant and aristocratic society of Santa Fe. Robidoux Whether Antoine accompanied her on these sojourns across the Santa Fe Trail, or one or another of the brothers, or she led the caravans herself, is not mentioned in the text. It is held that Carmel and Antoine had no child of their own, but adopted a child they named Carmelite Carmelette.
The date of adoption would coincide with the prospective date of the first born of newlyweds The record is confusing on this account. Messmore mentions that she had no children of her own, but adopted "the child of a relative, Miss Barada.
Robidoux, the second son of Joseph III, was confused, for whatever reason, with the identity of their own child, Carmelette. Amanda's own descendants drop out of the official lineage at this point, though it is apparent that Amanda, Antoine and Carmel's adopted granddaughter, married Colonel C. Stollsteimer, an Indian Agent. They apparently had no more descendants. It is my contention that the records are unclear on the point of Antoine's and Carmels daughter, Carmelette, whom I would suggest was the natural daughter of their marriage, but who later died after the birth of her only child, Amanda, and whom Antoine and Carmel then adopted as their own.
The birth of their first child would place Antoine in and in the Santa Fe nexus. It is apparent that his involvements after this period meant his absence at home and prevented effectively his having other offspring. In the 's, Antoine Robidoux formed a partnership with John Robertson, Also known as Jack Robinson "an old Ashley man and whiskey peddlar, buying furs, selling ammunition, firearms, tobacco and trinkets to both "free" trappers and to the Indians dominating the vast area between northern Utah and southern Arizona. It was even hinted that some of their trade goods consisted of loot taken by the pirate LaFitte and shipped west from New Orleans.
One of the best known and one of the most interesting mountain men in the Black's Fork Green River country, next to Jim Bridger, was John Robertson, also an Ashley man on his first introduction to the mountains. He was generally known as "Uncle Jack Robertson often misspelled "Robinson". Jack Robertson and Antoine Robidoux, in the early thirties, entered into a partnership and acquired some horses and cattle to trade to Indians and trappers in the Green River country.
Cattle, herds of hroses and mule and horse trains loaded with hides were also driven from California over the Old Spanish Trail through Utah Lake Valley and Salt lake Valley, and thence eastward. Jack Robertson had been the first white man to discover that livestock could winter well on the Black's Fork of the Green River country, and he brought many horses, mules and cattle in from Taos, New Mexico, and from California. In the thirties he built a cabin on Black's Fork, about two miles from the present Mountain View.
The town of Robertson, Wyoming, on Smith's Fork, was named after him. Auerbach that for years, he, Antoine Robidoux, Jim Bridger, Kit Carson, Etienne Provost, Louis Vasquez, Lucien Fontenelle, who came from New Orleans, and other early mountain men, who later became noted, had hunted and trapped together, and that they all prided themselves on being crack shots, so much that they often engaged in marksmanship contests and on occasions had shot tin cups containing whiskey off one another's heads.
Jack Robertson also said that during the thirties and forties, he made frequent winter trips to Brown's Hole, where he conducted a very profitable trade with the Indians and trappers who congregated there during the winter. While at Brown's Hole he lived with his family and some relatives and friends in wickiups, Indian style, and in one of these wickiups he kept his stock of goods and transacted his trading business.
The goods he spread out on buffalo robes laid on the ground, and he and his costumers sat cross-legged alongside his ares and examined them and conducted their trading pow wows. Uncle Jack spoke the language of various Indian tribes, and his services as interpreter were much in demand. Antoine's name appears as one "Antoine Robadeau" in the accounts of W.
Ashley for the sum of For one year, between October 12th, , to October 25th, , Antoine Robidoux was issued a draft on Ashley, as listed on the account sheet of W. Jackson that year. Twitchell, That he may have been interested in prospecting for gold during this time is revealed in another vague account which is linked to the first reputed and ill-fated discovery of gold in the Black Hills and the mysterious Thoen stone that was afterward discovered there. It seems that the base of operations of the American trappers was the pueblo of San Fernando de Taos.
Herbert Auerbach gives an interesting description of this southern base of operations:. In Taos was a noted distillery, the product of which was highly prized by the trappers and widely known as "Taos lightning. Taos was known as the "Barter town" and was noted as a great market for horses, mules, and oxen. In the 's, and particularly from to the early 's, Taos became an important headquarters for trappers and traders and trading parties.
A number of the traders maintained trading posts in Taos. Prominent among these were the Robidoux Brothers. The trappers seemed to prefer Taos to Santa Fe, the larger and the capital city of New Mexico, probaby, for one reason, because most of the Mexican officials resided at Santa Fe, while there were not many at Tos.
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There was in fact a dearth of Custom Guards at Taos which made it very difficult to patrol the extensive border, and this facilitated the smuggling of furs and goods into Taos. Then, too, the official supervision in Santa Fe was much stricter than in Taos. At any rate, Taos was the much more popular town among the trappers and tradrs and especially during the winter season these men remained for some time at the village.
Business was very active and the place took on a lively and festive air, and the townsfolk as well as the trappers and traders had happy times. The principal pastimes were drinking and gambling and upon frequent occasions Fandangos. For a number of years the Mexican Government would issue licenses to trap to Mexican citizens only. The native Mexicans, however, engaged but very little in trapping. Americans were forced to become citizens of Mexico in order to obtain trapping and trading licenses, or else they had to trap without a license, risking arrest and fines and confiscation of their catches and belongings.
Some Americans, as for instance Antoine Robidoux and Wm. Wolfskill, became Mexican citizens for this reason, but many Americans did not, and they engaged in clandestine trapping and trading, which was particularly remunerative.
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Taos appears to have been a smuggler's paradise and great quantities of valuable peltries and trading goods cleared illegally through the village. According to her, Antoine Robidoux lived in Taos when she was a girl. Cragin Papers, Notebook 7; Pg. Bailey notes that in the American Fur Company records, all the Robidoux brothers bought goods in large quantities, except for Antoine:. In fact, all the Robidoux brothers had open accounts at the store.
There are only small purchases of personal items by Antoine. One was dated March 23, There are subsequent purchases, significant only in the respect that they show exact dates when Antoine was in St. Probably these dates would indicate he was in town to pick up pack trains of merchandise. Some other dates that Antoine could have been in St.
Louis to pick up orders are July 15, and February 28, Presumably, Antoine dealt mostly either through his brothers, or through trade in the Mexican trade ports of Taos and Santa Fe--even there most probably in trade with his brothers. A manifest of goods picked up in Mexico displays some of the trade items that could have been found at Fort Uncompahgre. In this case, Robidoux is asking a second party who knows the country, to pick up the following effects in the State of Sonora.
Some of these items orginated frm the Missouri. Not many references are known from the 's in regard to Robidoux's forts, though many trappers probably visited them during this time. As they approached the Rockies, the group separated. The Indian traders went to the Green River. The Estes Party of 25 headed for the Rio Dolores placer mines. Ruxton, in his famous Life in the Far West, mentions that his primary characters, La Bonte and Killbuck, were well known to the Yuta Indians "having trapped in their country and traded with them for years at Roubideau's fort at the head waters of the Rio Grande.
This reference is curious, as it suggests the possibility that Robidoux may have had an alternative post besides Fort Uncompahgre in the region. It may have been due to Ruxton's lack of familiarity with the region, or his second hand recounting of La Bonte's story. What later became known as the Gunnison River was during that time called the Grand. La Bonte' met with Robidoux after an unsuccessful trapping expedition into Digger Country of the Great Basin, probably sometime in the late early 's.
This was just after a winter Rendezvous at Brown's Hole along the Green "--an inclosed valley so called-which, abounding in game, and sheltered on every side by lofty mountains, is a favorite wintering ground of the mountaineers. Singly, and in bands numbering from two to ten, the trappers dropped into the rendezvous; some with many pack-loads of beaver, others with greater or less quantity, and more than one on foot, having lost his animals and peltry by Indian thieving. Here were soon congregated many mountaineers, whose names are famous in the history of the Far West.
Fitzpatrick and Hatcher, and old Bill Williams, well known leaders of trapping parties, soon arrived with their bands. Chabonard with his half-breeds, Wah-keitchas all, brough his peltries from the lower country; and half-a-dozen Shawanees and Delaware Indians, with a Mexican from Taos, one Marcelline, a fine strapping fellow, the best trapper and hunter in the mountains, and the ever first in the fight. Here, too, arrived the "Bourgeois" traders of the "North-West" Company, with their superior equipments La Bonte joined a small party of trappers on an adventure into the Great Basin region west of the Great Lakes.
Harrassed by payutes, it proved an ill-fated venture which eventuated in their near starvation and in an account of two trappers committing cannibalism on a the ham muscles of a living payute female:. La Bonte' now found himself without animals, and fairly "afoot:" consequently nothing remained for him but to seek some of the trapping bands, and hire himself for the hunt. Luckily for him, he soon fell in with Roubideau, on his way to Uintah, and was supplied by him with a couple of animals; and thus equipped, he started again with a large band of trappers, who were going to hunt on the waters of the Grand River and the Gila.
This band was led by Captain Joseph Walker, and its venture on the Gila is further described by Ruxton as one entailing horse-theft by Indians and the subsequent massacre of the Indians by the trappers. This passage would indicate that Antoine was probably using an alternative route to reach his Uintah posts at this time, possibly keeping more true to the Spanish trail as far as the Green River, whence La Bonte' fortunately met him. This party trapped the Spring along the Gila, then turned northeast to find more success among the streams in New Mexico.
They had an encounter with a band of Navajo Indians just returning from a slave raid in Mexican settlements. They recaptured these prisoners and returned them to Socorro, when the turned west again to meet the Green or Colorado and hence up this river. Before reaching the capital of the province they struck again to the westward, and, following a small creek to its junction with the Green River, ascended that stream, trapping en route to the Uintah or Snake Fork, and arrived at Roubideau's rendezvous early in the fall, where they quickly disposed of their peltries, and were once more on "the loose.
This passage suggests that Robidou had occupied a site, sometime in the late 20's or early 30's, that was known as Robidoux Rendezvous and that was proximate to the junction of the Uintah and Green Rivers. This is the same unnamed site drawn on the Ferris Map in , based on his sojourn to the region between and , showning three small cabins or trading posts in a row along the eastern bank of the Green just north of the confluence of the White river.
While going north to the North Fork of the Platte that winter, Arapahoes attacked La Bonte' settlement and when he returned, he found that all was lost. La Bonte' fell asleep and awoke to find his second wife had escaped the clutches of the Arapahoe and had faithfully returned to him. Together they packed their belongings and set off "on the Indian trail for Platte. Louis and French Canadians trappers and hunters, who were encamped with their lodges and Indian squaws, and formed quite a village. Several old companions were amongst them; and, to celebrate the arrival of a "camarade," a splendid dog-feast was prepared in honor of the event.
To effect this, the squaws sallied out of their lodges to seize upon sundry of the younger and plumper of the pack, to fill the kettles for the approaching feast. With a presentiment of the fate in store for them, the curs slunk away with tails between their legs, and declined the pressing invitations of the anxious squaws. These shouldered their tomahawks and gave chase; but the cunning pups outstripped them, and would have fairly beaten the kettles, if some of the mountaineers had not stepped out with their rifles, and quickly laid half-a-dozen ready to the knife. A cayeute, attracted by the scent of blood, drew near, unwitting of the canine feast in progress, and was likewise soon made dog of, and thrust into the boiling kettle with the rest.
This is the earliest reference to Horse creek encampments which suggest that a creole colony had been formed at a fairly early date sometime in the early to mid 's in this vicinity--this also clearly demonstrates a trade route or trail between the region of Fort Laramie and Robidoux's Rendezvous at Uintah. It appears that La Bonte' must have remained for a season among this colony, for it was not until early November of that year possibly that he and his wife head for the North fork and arrived at Laramie when a large Sioux village also arrived for their winter trade.
Two other Sioux villages were nearby, and he mentions traders who had been alotted different portions among these groups of Sioux.
This early reference to traders near Laramie river and to a winter Rendezvous which was primarily an Indian affair, gives clues to the involvements of other Robidoux brothers, possibly Michel and Francois, who were known to have been about this vicinity and trade nexus by this time:. The traders had a particular portion of the village allotted to them, and a line was marked out, which was strictly kept by the soldiers appointed for the protection of the whites.
As there were many rival traders, and numerous coureurs des bois or peddling ones, the market promised to be brisk, the more so as a large quantity of ardent spirits was in their possession, which would be dealt with no unsparing hand to put down the opposition of so many competing traders. The village presented the usual scene of confusion as long as the trade lasted. Fighting, brawling, yelling, dancing, and all the concomitants of intoxication, continued to the last drop of the liquor-eg when the reaction after such excitement was almost worse than the evil itself It is apparent that La Bonte' spent that winter near Laramie among the Indians and the post that was there.
In early spring, he and his wife went north to the headwaters of the Yellow-stone, and there they were attacked by the Blackfeet along a creek which afterwards bore La Bonte's name. His wife was captured, and all but La Bonte' was killed. His wife was later on sold at the posts along the Platte. Two years pass with La Bonte' trapping over on the Columbia, when he joins with another party of trappers including Joseph Meek and old Bill Williams. This must be probably in They meet with ill-luck, being attacked by Indians repeatedly. Almost perished from hunger, the survivors chance to encounter a hunting party which included a Scottish nobleman--presumably Stuart on his expedition to Oregon.
They then join a party of 14 trappers, and they make their way to California, presumably in They stay what appears to be a season in California among the missions, afterwhich, in company of a cavallada of some head of mules and horses, they make their return trip, presumably along the Old Spanish trail, crossing over the mountains to the headwaters of the Arkansas, whence they made their way down to Bent's Fort. They apparently stopped again at this time at Robidoux's rendezvous on the Uintah, by which time there is reference to both a Rendezvous and a fort:. Farnham provides another interesting account associated with one of Robidoux's forts "on the upper waters of the San Juan.
This account suggests the possibility that Antoine Robidoux had established some kind of trading post among the Navajos of this region at a fairly early date. The account, retold in , goes back to the mid to late 's. About four hundred and fifty miles from the mouth of the Colorado, and a short distance north of that stream, a river arises, which, on account of its rough character, the Mexican Spaniards have named Rio Seve're--Severe River. Its source is among a small cluster of mountains, where it presents the usual beautiful phenomena of rivulets gathering from different quarters--uniting--increasing--tumbling and roaring, till it reaches the plain, when it sinks into chasms or kenyons, of basalt and trap rocks, and dashes on terribly over fallen precipices for about eighty miles, where it looses itself in the sand.
This river was explored by an American trapper, several years ago, under the following circumstances. He had been hunting beaver for some time among the mountains in which the river rises, with considerable success, and without seeing any Indians to disturb his lonely tranquility. One night, however, when the season was far advanced, a party of Arapahoes, which had been watching his movements unseen by him, stole all his traps.
Thus situated, without means of continuing his hunt, and being two hundred miles from any trading post where he could obtain a supply, he determined to build a canoe and descend the Rio Seve're in the hope that it might bear him down to the habitable parts of California. He, therefore, addressed himself to this task with great perseverance, completed his bark, and launched himself upon the angry stream, with life pleged to his undertaking, and that daring expectation so peculiar to the "mountain men," to light his way among the dark and brawling caverns through which his frail and perilous craft was to bear him.
Seven days passed in floating down this stream. Most of its course he found walled-in by lofty perpendicular cliffs, rising several hundred feet high, dark and shining, and making papable his imprisonment within the barriers of endless solitude.
At intervals he found cataracts, down which he passed his boat by means of lines, and then with great labor and hazard, clambered up and down the preceipices till he reached the waters below. On these rapids the water was from two to three feet deep and a hundred yards in width. In the placid sections, the stream was often thirty or forty feet in depth, and so transparent, that the pebbly bottom and the fish swimming near it, were seen, when the sun shone, as distinctly as the like appear in the supposed peerless waters of Lake George.
As this man drew newar the close of his fifth day's journeying, the chasms began to disappear, and the country to open into rolling and drifting plains of sand, interspersed with tracts of dark-colored hard-pan. About the middle of the seventh day, he came to the sands in which the river was swallowed up, and hauling his shattered boat on shore, explored the country northwest, for the reappearance of the stream.
But to no purpose. A leafless, dry desert spread away in all directions, destitute of every indication of animal life, breathless and noiseless, a great Edom, in which every vital function was suspended, and where the drifting sands and the hot howling winds warned him that he must perish if he persisted. He therefore left his faithful old boat and made his wayback to the mountains, where he lost his traps, and thence traveled to Robi'doux fort, on the upper waters of the San Juan.
He subsisted on snails and lizards during his journey; and when he arrived, was reduced to a skeleton, with barely strength enough to creep into that solitary fortress. It is needless to add that he was most kindly received by the hospitable owner, for who does not know that from the Artic seas to the southernmost limit of the fur-trader's habitations, the wayworn stranger finds a home and a brother at any of their posts?
These iron men of the wilderness of the wilderness, like those who combat the waves and the winds of the seas, never fail to feel a bond of holy brother-hood for those who have met and overcome the same difficulties. That Farnham was not mistaken in his identification of the San Juan is shown in the very next paragraph where he locates the Rio San Juan as a "fine stream of mountain waters which rises in the Anahuac ridge, and, running in a westwardly direction, empties itself into the Colorado about three hundred and fifty miles from its mouth.
The picture we gain from the brief and passing accounts of Carson, La Bonte' and also from Thomas Jefferson Farnham, suggest that for almost the entire decade of the 's, Robidoux was a fairly stable fixture at his "Robidoux Rendezvous" site at the confluence of the Uintah River and the Green, against the background landscape of the Intermontane corridor. Mention of a "fort" does not arise until the late 's, suggesting that construction of forts in the Uintah area did not actually proceed unitl this time. It seems also possible that Robidoux built, kept and periodically relocated during the 's a number of posts cum trading forts both in the vicinity of the Uintah River and the Green, as well as in the vicinty of the headwaters of the Grand or Gunnison rivers, San Juan and Rio Grand Rivers.
It is unfortunate that not more is known about Antoine's relations with the Navajo Indians. A council of Navajo elders joined him at Santa Fe during the Kearny occupation of this city, and it is apparent that they must have heavily relied upon and trusted Robidoux implicitly with their delicate negotiations with Kearney, and that he apparently could understand Navajo well enough to be able to translate it to English.
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It is also apparent that Robidoux kept numerous sheep, and that this activity is clearly an association with the Navajo pattern. Later in his account, Farnham briefly recites a very general history of the early trade with the Navajos:. These Nabajos have within a few years past been taught some respect for the Americans in the following manner. A large party of trappers, with a few Shawnee and Delaware Indians, penetrated into the heart of their country, were victorious in all their skirmishes, killed a great many Indians, at a loss of only one or two of their own party, and drove off many mules, horses and sheep.
This expedition has had a good effect upon the Nabajos. They now prefer tradng to fighting with the Americans. In the autumn of , also, a trader from Bent's Fort, on the Arkansas, went with a party of thirty-five men into the Nabajo country, built a breastwork with their bales of goods, and informed the astonished Indians that he had "come into their country to trade or fight, whichever they preferred.
They chose to trade; and soon a brisk business commenced--the savages bartering freely their valuable furs and blankets for the gaudy goods of the whites; so that, in a couple of days, the latter were on their return to the Arkansas. Antoine may well have been this unidentified trader. If Antoine Robidoux had had such a post among the Navajos, then it is apparent that this was established late in his career in the Rockies, in the late 's or 's. If he had had such a post, then it reveals a pattern that Antoine was in the process of building and maintaining a chain of fortified trading posts through the central corridor of the western Rockies, spread at a distance of about miles apart from one another.
The object perhaps being to consolidate his somewhat precarious lines of communication through this region, safeguarding a vast central trade-network allowing up to one or two fortnights travel between each of his posts. He would have had alternative sites for the caching, protection and resupplying of his alternative posts through alternative routes--via the Old Spanish Trail, and via Robidoux's Route over Coochetope pass.
Because no other evidence for such a post has yet surfaced, its facticity in our story is only speculative and suggestive at this point of our knowledge. Irving Stone wrote clearly of the larger trade network of Forts that developed in the Southwest between and 's:. The period between Major Long's expedition of and Lieutenant Fremont's of is dominated by the epochal story of the hunters and trappers who, in search of ever fresh sources of beaver skins, explored and created trails through Colorado that would have taken twenty or more army expeditions to duplicate.
Vrain, Peter Skene Ogden were the greatest woodsmen since Daniel Boone and his confreres opened the Kentucky wilderness. Either working for themselves or attached to the big fur companies, squaw men, they spent most of the year in the wilderness, emerging in summer with their bundles of valuable pelts at one of their trading posts or open-air rendezvous, to "barter for food, liquor, trinkets for their wives, and enjoy a week of wild carousal" before returning to the solitude of mountain lakes and streams for another year of danger, adventure and, of necessity, exploration.
At these summer fairs there were sometimes as many as two hundred whites and two thousand Indians. The posts, serving as forts against hostile Indian attack, were always built by commercial traders who brought in goods from the East: flour, sugar, coffee, cloth, guns, knives, whiskey, tobacco, which they traded for furs. Between and there were eight important trading posts: Bent's El Pueblo along the Arkansas River, on a fairly straight line in the southeast secontion; a couple of hundred miles north, on the South Platte were Vasquez's, Sarpy's, Lupton's and St.
Vrain's; in the extreme northwest corner Davy Crockett's, close to the Utah border; and Uncompahgre on the Gunnison.
Out of these eight forts were sent many millions of dollars worth of furs and skins, to New York, Boston, Paris, Berlin; so many, in fact, that the beaver and buffalo were depleted and the era of the mountain man, the trading post, the rendezvous was on its way to extinction. This chain of trading posts was roughly equivalent to the chain of Spanish padre-built missions of California; though they did not last, the adobe walls crumbling to ruins, the posts were Colorado's first settlements.
Around them, as around the missions, towns sometimes grew. If the mountain men were through as hunters there was an equally important role awaiting them: the only whites who knew every mile of the mountains and streams of this most easterly portion of the Far West, they would become the indispensable guides to the army expeditions and emigrant trains headed for California.
Stone, The network that these forts represented was part of a North-South supply system that had its base in Taos and Santa Fe, and had in its employ an increasing number of Mexican laborers throughout the Southwest. Peltries fell off with each advancing year of the 's, and this represented the culmination of the fur trade era. The main staples of this system by the mid-a' s was cheap Mexican whiskey and flour. Vrain and Compnay was a notable feature of the fur trade in its declining years. Although the Yankees who took part in this movement were not attuned to imperial themes, their activities were of some interet to diplomats.
During this same period, Creole traders, among them Michel and Francois Robidoux and some of his sons, were making in-roads at the Laramie nexus with the Sioux, and at the same time were extending themselves into the areas of the Yellow Stone, "the most dangerous" of the trapping regions.
It appears that "winter rendezvous", including both Indians, trappers and traders, were important yearly events during this classical rendezvous era. The intermontane corridor can be described at that region which is bounded by the Gila River, Colorado and the Santa Rita Mines on the South, extending Northward through the Virgin River, that leg of the Old Spanish Trail which today is approximately followed by U. Within this large region, the exact Intermontane Corridor appears in part to follow the Old Spanish Trail, to reach up to the Gunnison river from old Taos and Santa Fe, and to nearby Grand Junction, then to go north and west up to where the Green River emerges from the Uintah Mountains.
Herbert Auerbach outlined the various branches and off shoots of the Old Spanish Trail system, besides the updown-shaped "v" of the main trail, a subsidiary branch called the "Grand River Trail" led from the San Luis valley over the Cochetopa pass to the junction of the Uncompahgre and Grande rivers, where Antoine established, apparently, his first post. It followed this river and then continued northwesterly to Cochetopa Pass and after going through this Pass it led along Pass Creek to Cochetopa Creetk, and followed the course of Cochetopa Creek to the Grand River later named the Gunnison River , passing the mouth of the Uncompahgre River.
It then continued past Fort Uncompahgre of Robidoux near the present town of Delta Colorado , and thence westward, beyond the present town of Grand Junction, one branch trail striking northwesterly to White River, by way of Two Water Creek, and then following down along the White River to its junction with the Green River.
From here, the next leg of this trail leds up to the Junction of the Green, White and Duchesne rivers which encompasses as well the Great Salt Lake Region and the basin territory beyond. Here Antoine had established supposedly his second post. From this point, a trail continued northerly along the Uinta River and across the summit of the Uinta Mountains, and thence down along Smith's Fork of the Green river to the Fort Bridger Country.