The Mountain Men. Illiterate or Educated?

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Mtman725

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After reading this thread, the wife was doing some spring cleaning and go thru my old books and came up with one I had forgot I had picked up when we went down to Cody years ago. The Mountain Men by George Laycock, we both are reading it.
 
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So, we have that same rule in our club; I thought it was standard…
When my daughter was fifteen she told me this joke she heard at school. It was a long shaggy dog story taking about five minutes to tell with lots of repetition. At the end is this dumb unexpected though stupid ‘moral of the story.
It’s all about a boy trying to find the meaning of the phrase ‘purple flower’ that as a child he heard two girls say and giggle about
I told it around a campfire one to a bunch of ‘ughs’ at the end. Luckily they had no rotten fruit to throw at me.
Next couple of years I was’ Ol’Purple Flower’
 
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When my daughter was fifteen she told me this joke she heard at school. It was a long shaggy dog story taking about five minutes to tell with lots of repetition. At the end is this dumb unexpected though stupid ‘moral of the story.
It’s all about a boy trying to find the meaning of the phrase ‘purple flower’ that as a child he heard two girls say and giggle about
I told it around a campfire one to a bunch of ‘ughs’ at the end. Luckily they had no rotten fruit to throw at me.
Next couple of years I was’ Ol’Purple Flower’
I have never been called anything that nice, be happy.
 
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Keep in mind, at that time an 8th grade education was equivalent to a college education now.
WOW !!! Sure does not say much for a college education , does it ?? Of course , i preach getting an education at VO-TECH , and get a career that will help your future and the well-being of this country at the same time !!!!
 
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As we all know, being literate doesn't make one smart. The dumbest people I've ever meet are highly educated. Most of the rich ones your quoting, got there on the backs of working people.

Holding a Tertiary Degree should never be considered an indicator of intelligence, I gained a Masters degree 0ver 8 years of external study that involved 2 x 2 weeks residential attendances yearly.

Many of the students I met on campus were habitual students relying on government subsidies, and to be bluntly frank were total Jerks, you wouldn't employ them as Car washers.
Sadly some of them are Party functionaries in politics now, and have influence in the Legislation that affects our daily lives.

God help us.
 
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The more I study the Mountain Men the more misinformation and incomplete information (sometimes being passed off as authoritative) I uncover. Not really surprising considering how fragmented a lot of the information is. Considering there were probably only a couple of thousand mountain men in total we have a good deal of information about them, but again it is very fragmented.

A current interest of mine is how well educated were these men. I'm in the process of chronicling this for about 4-500 of whom there is information.

So far I've researched 45 Mountain Men and thought I'd share what I've learned, more will follow. I begin with who has to be the most interesting, no, extraordinary in lifetime accomplishments (so far).

Albert Pike- qualified by examination for the junior class at Harvard but could not afford the tuition. Teacher until 1831. Wrote poetry. Published a newspaper. Became a lawyer and practiced before the Supreme Court. Became a judge. During the Civil War was a Brigadier General for the Confederates and Commissioner to all the Indian Tribes south of the Kansas and west of the Arkansas. Wrote one of the best versions of Dixie. Grand Commander of the Scottish Rite, Southern Jurisdiction for 32 years. Studied and revised the Rituals. Had a working knowledge of Sanskrit, Greek, Latin, French, Italian and Spanish. All his writing, which is enormous, was with a quill pen prepared by himself. And there is so much more.

Manuel Alvarez- cultured gentleman, read historical, philosophical, and religious books. Spoke English, French, Spanish

Abel Baker, Jr- worked as clerk, could read, write and do sums.

Jean Baptiste Charbonneau- raised by William Clark and Prince Paul. Spoke French, German, Spanish, English and various Indian tongues. An intelligent conversationalist. Traveled Europe and North Africa with Prince Paul.

Henry Chatillon- possibly illiterate, but wrote many letters

James Clyman- wrote extensive diaries, he could read, write and cipher. Read Shakespeare, Byron, and the Bible.

Alexander Culbertson- Spoke numerous Indian tongues. Became a wealthy man, then lost everything through poor investments.

Jimmy Daugherty- unknown

Job Francis Dye- could read and write amassing an enormous collection of books, well over a thousand

Thomas Eddie- attended school until he was seventeen. He kept a diary and enjoyed reading in his spare time.

Gabriel Franchere- could read and write, kept a journal, was hired by Astor as an apprentice clerk. His book was the second published account of the Tonquin story. He was considered at the time a literate gentleman.

Mark Head- unknown

Charles Larpenteur- could read and write, kept a journal which was twice published.

Joseph L Meek- was born into a first family of Virginia. Could read and write. He quoted Shakespeare and wrote poetry.

George Nidever- no formal education. Was considered extremely intelligent, had a photographic memory, and was very brave. Captained his own ship. A poem was written about him by Ralph Waldo Emerson.

Hiram Scott- worked as a clerk for Ashley, could read, write and do sums.

Issac Slover- unknown

Pinckney W Sublette- struggled in school and was sickly so William took him out of school and to the mountains hoping his health would get better.

Solomon P Sublette- was educated

Charles Town- unknown

John D Albert- carried a German bible, could read and write, and was fluent in at least two languages.

Charles Bent- he attended College, was a surveyor, became a partner in the Missouri Fur Company, then Bent and St. Vrain, and went on to become governor of New Mexico.

Thomas Biggs- unknown

Francis Ziba Branch- could read and write, kept journals during his ranching years, became the wealthiest man in San Luis Obispo County, CA.

Calvin T Briggs- unknown

Lewis T Burton- could read and write, became an accessor and a prominent citizen of Santa Barbara, CA

John Pierre Cabanne Sr- well educated in France, very powerful in St Louis including being on the board of directors of a bank

Moses Bradley Carson- half brother of Kit Carson, minor partner in the Missouri Fur Company. Could read and write.

Jacques Philippe Clamorgan- could read and write, became a well known and respected merchant.

Auguste Clermont- unknown

William Craig- he went to a military school until age 17 or 18. His writing was exceptionally good.

John Day- unknown

Jacques D’ Eglise- illiterate

Warren Angus Ferris- educated, trained as a civil engineer, wrote “Life in the Rocky Mountains”

Johnson Gardner- illiterate

Hugh Glenn- store keeper, government contractor, director of numerous banks, so was clearly well educated

Antoine Godwin- unknown

Miles Morris Goodyear- was educated and enjoyed poetry

Mathew Kinkead- he could sign his name. Probably educated as he went on to become very wealthy owning many ships and haciendas, and property in numerous cities.

James Kipp- educated and mastered the Mandan language

Lancaster P. Lupton- West Point graduate. Robert E Lee and Joseph E Johnston were classmates. Fluent in French.

Kenneth McKenzie- born in Scotland to a distinguished family. President of the Columbia Fur Company which later merged with the American Fur Company. Ran the resulting Upper Missouri Outfit sub-depart consolidating the fur trade on the Missouri and known as “King of the Missouri” and “Emperor of the West”. After the fur trade he invested heavily in lands in three states, railroads and other industries amassing a fortune. Obviously well educated.

Stephen Hall Meek- older brother of Joseph Meek. Could read and write (wrote an autobiography) but lacked a formal education.

David Dawson Mitchell- became a partner of the Upper Missouri Outfit. Appointed Superintendent of Indian Affairs a couple of times. Also served the US Government in numerous other ways including being a commissioner, along with Thomas Fitzpatrick, of the Fort Laramie Treaty. Clearly an educated man.

Antonio Montero- he could read and write as evidenced by letters between himself and Zenas Leonard. Also wrote a letter to David Adams.

If I may be so bold to include one William Drummond Stewart (Baronet) who spent 7 years as a Mountain Man in the 1830's and mixed it in with all of them, returning again in the 1840s.

He just happens to be my paternal ancestor, and according to family history (that includes original papers) he was obligated to return to Scotland because of Family and Peer obligations.

Our family resemblance is no surprise.
Sir_WD_Stewart.gif
 
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who cares if they were literate or not. they were a special breed of man

And left everything they knew as safe and predictable to forge a new life in an unpredictable wilderness that was dangerous and unforgiving; those of us trying to match them are mere players in their shadows.
 
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As we all know, being literate doesn't make one smart. The dumbest people I've ever meet are highly educated. Most of the rich ones your quoting, got there on the backs of working people.

With little to no ethics or scruples, generally Liars and Thieves ; many of them Doctors and Lawyers; I was married to one for 9 years and witnessed it all first hand.
 
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Thank you for your coming efforts, I enjoy reading as I have learned to dislike TV.

I have 3 books on Jim Bridger, by 3 different authors. Each book starts out different and then toward the end of each book they are almost word for word the same. Seems they got lazy in their writing, almost plagiarism. While Jim Bridger could not read, he enjoyed being read to. He did find Shakespear kind of strange to his liking. He did send each of his children off to boarding school, so they were educated, he knew the value of education.

While not on the mountain man theme, I have been reading books on the Western Indians and that has been really eye opening. A portion of them were cannibalistic and there were prone to multiple wives.

It was mentioned here some time ago, each of the larger camps had some books, and always a Bible.

Joe Meek did have some education and read the Bible on a regular basis.

There's a lot of wisdom in the Bible, both new and Old Testament.
Nowadays were confronted with a "well educated" people who lack real intellect and wisdom; in a society dominated by deceit , trickery and legal theft.
 
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Can anyone show some illustrations of the writing of the Mountain men, their actual writing, or point me to illustrations of their writing?
Perhaps their hands could be another of their arts that we could persue.
I personally write in a modified chancery script, when not lazy.

Found one, probably be a little more more authentic after I give it a wash in cold Tea for a few minutes though....

Old time writing.jpg
 

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