Captain Isaac Graham
by Michael F. Kinsella
Captain Isaac Graham - Time line biography of his life that was written by Mr. Kinsella. The pages use to be available on the internet at another location and are no longer there. I have created these pages because Isaac was a true California hero worth knowing. I once played Isaac at the Everygreen Cemetery in Santa Cruz on May 1st, 1999. - Floyd D. P. Øydegaard
July 1, 1830
George Nidever said that he was often with Isaac Graham, along with his brother, Mark, until they reached the Rocky Mountains, and that they often went out in search of buffalo meat, which was their main source of food. He said that once when he and Graham went out to hunt for meat, they were about four-miles from camp, they spotted a herd grazing too far away upon which to fire. As the men crept slowly up to their prey, Nidever spied an Indian watching them out of a hollow. He then warned Graham that they were trapped. He and Graham took off running back in the direction toward their camp. With a patch of trees about a mile in the distance, they felt if they could reach the timber that it would give them a small chance at survival. Nidever said there were eighty Arapahos on their heels.
"Graham was a good runner, in fact, the best in the party. Had he wished, he could have soon left me in the rear, but it was not his character to desert a comrade in danger, so we kept together, straining every nerve to reach the shelter of the woods. The Indians on horseback gained on us at once, and we were obliged to turn alternately, and by aiming at them, check them for the moment. Under any other circumstances, it would have been amusing to see them make their horses jump quickly from side to side. . . . We soon realized that each stoppage was enabling those on foot to press forward."
The chase had lasted for nearly a mile when the pursuers were so close that Graham became determined to turn about and fire. However, Nidever noticed that the Indians in front had thrown down their weapons, so prevented Graham from firing, probably saved their lives considering how out numbered they were, Nidever recalled, "Graham was naturally a brave man, but was a little frightened and was almost exhausted by the run."
The Arapahos grabbed the men, forcing them to sit on the ground while they formed a circle around them. Then they lit a pipe and passed it among them while discussing what to do with the two men they had captured. After a time the Indians expressed with sign language that they wanted the two men to take them back to their camp. When they returned to their camp, the trappers recognized that the Indians were not an immediate threat since Graham and Nidever were unharmed.
That evening, the Arapahos made camp alongside the trappers, who put a double guard out that evening to be extra cautious. During the evening, some Pawnee showed up, prowling around. And one of the trapper guards shot one dead. Fortunately the trappers had a cannon that they loaded with 60-bullets and a fight broke out, by morning seven horses had been killed, with many more wounded from the battle. The Arapaho who had apprehended the two men the previous day had sided with the whites and together, chased off the Pawnee, if not for this event, some of the trappers might have been killed, this would not be the last time an Indian would come to the aid of Isaac Graham.
It was during the fight with the Pawnee that weeded out exactly the character flaw in an individual these men did not want with them on their journey to Alta California. Apparently, Colonel Bean and another man with the name, William, were cowards. Because, while the rest of the trappers were fighting their attackers with precision and skill. Bean and William hid themselves away from the fray. The group returned to Fort Smith to re-group after the battle. During the trek, the men treated both, Bean and William, with undisguised contempt. Colonel Bean was still the commander of the trappers in name. However, Alexander St. Clair in actuality was their leader according to Dye's reports.