An Ashley era mountain man
(1778 - 1838)
Entrepreneur in St. Louis who organized fur expeditions into
the Yellowstone country in 1822 and 1823. General of the
Missouri Militia, and Lieutenant Governor of the newly created
state of Missouri.
William Ashley, a friend of the Indian Superintendent William
Clark, believed fortunes were to be made in the fur country of the
upper Yellowstone. (For more on Ashley, click here)
Ashley was not the least bit intimidated by the feverish
competition he could expect from American and British rivals.
In 1822 he rounded up 100 able bodied men who were willing to go
into the wilderness, offered to pay them $200 per year, then sent
them up the Missouri with three long boats and enough provisions
for a year. The boats were sixty feet long, and 14 feet
The first boat, guided by his partner Andrew Henry,
reached its destination. The second foundered in the
ferocious whirlpools and eddies of the upper Missouri (a loss of
$10,000), and the third, captained by himself, reached the
confluence of the Missouri and the Yellowstone, the site where
years hence other men would build Fort Union. Ashley would
eventually sell his shares in the company he founded to Thomas
Fitzpatrick and Jim Bridger, who took ownership, in 1834, of the
trading post that later became known as Fort Laramie.