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

Part 3 - Mountain man

November 1830

The group came upon the first Spanish settlement, just before reaching the town of Arroyo Seco, New Mexico where the locals treated them very well. The group had entered Mexico without passports, so they asked permission to enter the country to the local Alcalde, (Judge) whom in turn sent word to the Governor. The Governor sent word back to the men that they only had permission to stay for only ten days. Yet, It was there in San Fernavdo de Taos, that the group remained for the entire winter, treated well by the local people and government. Apparently not concerned to what the Governor had decreed.

March 1831

A group of about fifteen of the mountain men set out for the Platte River. Where on the north fork they found a valley teaming with beaver. Once again they gathered plenty of fur, then returned to Arroyo Seco on July 4, 1831. The total profit from the adventure was six hundred dollars. The price was four dollars a pound, with each skin averaging about ten dollars. The men smuggled the animal hides into the town at night so that they could avoid the heavy Mexican taxes.

September 1831
The party set out for the Arkansas River headwaters for another try at nabbing some beaver hides. The party grew to about eighteen men, after a few of the men in the party hired some Mexicans to assist them in their endeavor. However, after reaching their goal and surveying the trapping prospects for a few days. The group decided to move on to the Platte River and many of those in the group split company, with those that joined the men in Arroyo Seco turning around and heading back south, while Sinclair, Graham and the other men traveled on to the Green River where they would spend the winter. Selecting a valley that would provide a little bit of protection from the harsh weather. During their three-month stay, the only break in the monotony would be when a few in the party would go do some hunting for hide and meat.

March of 1832
The men make their way out of the valley and followed the Green River to its headwaters where they would trap the area around the Columbia River. However, upon finally reaching their goal sometime in May of 1832, they became discouraged at their trapping prospects after finding that the landscape was scattered with men from three other trapping ventures. The Hudson Bay Company the Rocky Mountain Fur Company and the American.

July 17, 1832
So now the men were faced with a formidable competition for furs and some members of the Sinclair Company abandoned the association. Yet, the main group stuck together and decided to trek back to the Platte River and try their luck there. Then, most were reunited again in July at Pierre's Hole for the 1832 rendezvous. This event, held at the same spot many times, would prove to be one of the notable years, with many attending who would latter go down in mountain men history. James O' Fallon, James Bridger, Moses Harris, Thomas Fitzpatrick, Henry Fraeb, William and Milton Sublette, Captain Benjamin Bonneville, Nathaniel Wyeth, Joseph Reddeford Walker, Zenas Leonard and of course Sinclair's group of fifteen men, including Isaac Graham. Sinclair's men joined with Nathaniel Wyeth, Milton Sublette, Henry Fraeb and others leaving Pierre's Hole on July 17. Graham's group was going to try their fur trapping skills on the Marys River, Southwest of Salt Lake, while Wyeth and his group were also going to eventually split up and either go the St. Louis, or trap the Columbia River. Their first night after leaving the rendezvous, the two groups camped about eight miles away.

Two groups of Blackfeet Indians numbering about 300, were seen in the area. Immediately Milton Sublette gave a call for assistance to his brother William, back at Pierre's Hole. Graham and the others were embroiled in what would later become known as, "The Battle of Pierre's Hole." After the arrival of William Sublette and some of his hand picked mountain men to come to the aid of the trapper's eight miles away. Some died, including the leader of Graham's group, Alexander Sinclair, and the Blackfeet Indians successfully stole many horses. However, for Graham and the other mountain men in his group, now they were leaderless and decided to return to Pierre's Hole with the Wyeth, Sublette, and Fraeb party, in order to regroup and make hard decisions as to their future association.

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