Biography The Early Years The Mountain Man Life with the Crow Farewell to the Rockies In the Everglades On the Santa Fe Trail The California Revolt The Mexican-American War The "Terrible Tragedy" The Forty-Niner The Last Years
James Pierson Beckwourth was born in 1798 in Frederick County, Virginia to an African American slave mother and English father, Sir Jennings Beckwith. Although his father raised him as his own son, according to the law, Jim Beckwourth was still legally considered a slave. His father appeared in open court on three separate occasions (in 1824, 1825, and 1826) and "acknowledged the execution of a Deed of Emancipation from him to James, a mulatto boy."
After a brief sojourn to New Orleans, Beckwourth returned to his father's home, but was soon struck with wanderlust again, and in the summer of 1824 he signed on with General William Ashley for a trapping expedition to the Rocky Mountains.
Beckwourth's Birth Year
While 1798 is generally given as the year Beckwourth was born, Elinor Wilson has made an excellent case that the year was actually 1800. See Jim Beckwourth: Black Mountain Man, War Chief of the Crows, Trader, Trapper, Explorer, Frontiersman, Guide, Scout, Interpreter, Adventurer and Gaudy Liar, University of Oklahoma Press, 1972.
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