Kit Carson: Hero Of The Old West


If you remember your grade school geography exercise, you know that the capital of Nevada is Carson City, but do you know why? It was named after Kit Carson, a trapper, hunter, and all-around frontiersman who told himself to become a larger-than-life character in Wild West tales in the gray, industrial east.

On My Own 16

Christopher "Kit" Carson was born on Christmas Eve 1809 in Kentucky, but moved with his family to Boons Lick, Missouri, the starting point of the Santa Fe Trail. He was only nine years old when his father died, and after his mother remarried, he clashed with his stepfather, so in 1826, he joined a merchant caravan headed west to New York City. Settled in Taos, Mexico. He supported himself with odd jobs as a cook, harness repairman, and wrongdoing boy while he honed his hunting and trapping skills, and by 19, he was on a fur-trapping expedition to California . His skill and bravery earned him the respect of his peers, and he won the honor of Tom "Broken Hand" Fitzpatrick, Jim Bridger, John C. Fremont, Dr. Marcus Whitman, and befriended many of the most famous frontiersmen and explorers of the time. Lucien Maxwell, who later became the owner of the largest land grant in New Mexico and Carson's brother-in-law.

Carson the Family Man

During this time, Carson lived in the world of white people and with various native tribes. In fact, his first wife was an Arapaho woman named Singing Grass, but she died giving birth to their second child. He next married a Cheyenne woman named Making-Out Road, but after her divorce, he married Maria Josefa Jaramillo, a Hispanic woman from an affluent Taos family. They lived together for 25 years until his death, and had eight children. (Carson leaves her and Singing Grass' surviving child, Adeline, to be raised by nuns.)

A Blazing Mark

One of Carson's most notable achievements was guiding Fremont's expedition to scout and map the trails westward. His name was featured prominently in reports of the campaign that were formerly sent back to the region's newspapers, making him a national hero. Later, Carson served in the Mexican–American War of 1846 and became a major player in the conquest of California.

Taos Rebellion

Kit Carson was away from his Taos home in April 1847 when the Taos Rebellion broke out, and his friend and brother-in-law, New Mexico Governor Charles Bent, were killed trying to protect him and Carson's family. After the rebellion, a distraught Carson vows to leave his campaign days behind and begins a farming and ranching campaign with Maxwell.

Fighting the Navajo

Although Carson hoped to settle, he was caught up in a growing conflict between the US government and the indigenous population. After the Navajo people defied government orders to relocate to a designated reservation, Carson burned their crops and carried their livestock on a "long walk" more than 300 miles from Arizona to Fort Sumner, New Mexico. Confiscated before being taken away.

One Last Trip

In 1868, Carson met with the President and the Commissioner for Indian Affairs to convince them that the US government had a moral obligation to better care for the Native American people. By the time Carson returned to his family, his health was deteriorating, and after the death of his wife giving birth to their last child, he saw no reason to move on. Only a month later, he died of an aortic aneurysm at the age of 58.

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