John Colter

John Colter (* approx. 1774 with being astonished clay/tone, Virginia; † November 1813 in Missouri), also John Coulter, was an American Trapper and participant of several expeditions, which explored the American west. Its excursions as Trapper led it repeated into up to thenof the white ones unexplored areas. Colter probably as first white the hot sources of the today's Yellowstone national park, among other things discovered. Some its experiences American myth formation entered. The most well-known experience is its running against Blackfoot - Indian, that among other things from authorsas Washington Irving was literarily processed.

Lewis and Clark on the Lower Columbia, gemalt von Charles Marion Russell - Colter war einer der Expeditionsteilnehmer
Lewis and Clark on the Lower Columbia, painted of Charles Marion Russell - Colter was one the expedition participant

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around 1700 John's great-grandfather Micajah Coalter from Scotland emigrated to America. Michael, the oldest son of Micajah and at the same time John's grandfather,changed the names in Colter. Some family members were written also Coulter. The Colters acquired larger Ländereien with being astonished clay/tone in Virginia, where John came to the world. Five years later pulled it after Maysville, Kentucky.


John Colter had blueEyes and 178 cm were large. It was considered as if scrub, courageous humans with rapid apprehension.

Lewis and Clark expedition

John Colter announced itself to 15. October 1803 in Maysville as private first classes for the expedition of Meriwether Lewis and William Clark across the today's USA. The expedition participants were selected according to hard criteria: They had to be good hunters, stämmige, healthy and unmarried men, who were accustomed to the forests and which could endure physical strains. Up to the start to 14. May 1804 the participants became in close proximity to Pc. Louis, which they reached in December 1803, for the journey prepares. Colter should never return more to Virginia. For its service it received five US Dollar per month. The expedition participants was however permitted it to catch besides fur animals and up-improve so their wages.

ThoseJourney took place to a good part on the river way. Colter stood under the command of Sergeant John Ordway, which led the largest ship.

After Colter had to be called at the beginning once to the discipline, he did rapidly as outstanding and reliable hunters out.During its touching routes by the forests it met Indians of most diverse trunks: Lakota, Mandan, bulk of Ventre, Menominee, Nez Percé. Once it surprised three Flathead - Indians, who pursued two Shoshone, because these had robbed 23 horses from them. Colter could do one the Flatheadpersuade to serve the expedition as leaders. The past indianische leader, a Shoshone, returned gladly home, since they moved now in strange territory.

Colter was characterised during the arduous expedition by its untiring employment. It had an excellent condition, thusthat it and George Drouillard the only one were, the day after day to the hunt took off. Its achievement for the expedition was honoured, as a brook, which admits so far as Potlatch Creek was, in Colter's Creek was renamed.

To 7. November 1805 reached the group that Pacific. After the winter it began the home journey.

falling plate

Expeditionen von John Colter
expeditions of John Colter
Die Wege des John Colter im heutigen North Dakota, Montana, Wyoming und Idaho
the ways John of the Colter in the today's North Dakota, Montana, Wyoming and Idaho

to 5. August 1806 asked Colter Captain Clark for the dismissal. At a villagethe Mandan had they Joseph Dixon and Forrest Hancock, two falling plates from Illinois, know learned, which it wanted to follow as partners. Clark corresponded to the desire and expressed its large satisfaction with Colters achievement. Colter had the wages from the possibility, by fur huntto up-improve, made and exchanged now its captured skins move use for the necessary equipment for two years out. The three said good-bye to the south toward Yellowstone River.

They spent the winter in a shelter. Colter used this time, in order to explore the environment.

Since the beaver catch in this region was not very productive and Colter had diversities of opinion with its partners, he separated in spring from them. Colter drove the Yellowstone River down up to the Missouri River. There the Lisa and Drouillard expedition the Missouri came to meet it for company,with that among other things three former colleagues from the Lewis and Clark expedition participated: George Drouillard, John Potts and Peter Weiser. Manuel Lisa, the director/conductor of the fur fur expeditionfur expedition, could win John Colter for the participation in the 42-köpfigen expedition, which consisted mostly of French Canadians. Lateralso Hancock followed. Whether Dixon was likewise also from the portion, is uncertain.

While the expedition traveled undisturbed by the areas of the Lakota , Arikaree -, Mandan and Hidatsa - Indian, it came in the area of the Assiniboine to confrontations with Indians, however peacefully solvedwill could.

At the Yellowstone River concerned, swung the expedition on these. In October 1807 it reached the inlet bends horn Rivers. In November the participants established there, on the territory of the Absarokee - Indian, a blockhouse, them after Lisas son away Raymondbaptized. Away Raymond, occasionally also Manuel's away mentioned, was the first building in the area of the later Federal State Montana and should than commercial station serve. Lisa sent its Trapper - under it also Colter - out, in order to make the commercial station well-known with the neighbouring trunks. Colters over500 miles long route led it into the area of the today's Yellowstone and Grand Teton national park.

investigations in the Yellowstone area

Mount Moran und Jackson Lake
Mount Moran and Jackson Lake

Colters route is not conclusively restorable. Probably it penetrated only to the Stinkingwater River (today: Shoshone River) forwards, into oneof volcanic activities coined/shaped area, which admits as Colter's bright became. Then it crossed the today's Grand Teton national park, went around the Jackson Lake and pulled further northward, where it met on the Yellowstone Lake. These went around it in the northwest and followed the Yellowstone River up to Tower case, possibly even up to the Mammoth Hot jump. Subsequently, it returned with a excursion to Colter's bright again to away Raymond, where it arrived in late spring 1808.

It had thus undertaken a majority of its march in the winter. Hadit on the search for Indian trunks again and again excursions in different directions made. With security it had visited a village of the Absarokee. Occasionally it had accepted the services of Indians, who had led it by difficult area.

After a recovery break Lisa sent it into thatArea Blackfoot Indians. Colter followed on the way a group of Absarokee and Flathead Indians, consisting of several hundreds. At the Gallatin River it by a probably still more numerous Blackfoot group were attacked, which was traditionally disliked with the Absarokee. Colter helped its companions to repel the attack andthereby at the leg one wounded. For the remainder of the fight it could resist only creeping. The been subject Blackfoot attacked white ones in the next fifty years always again, because they - in view of participation against her, involuntary of Colters - were convinced that itselfthe white ones had allied with the Absarokee. Colter broke its journey off and returned to away the Raymond.

running against the Blackfoot Indians

Crowfoot, former chieftain of the Blackfoot

after its wound had healed, went Colter itself again on beaver catch. Probably with thatit John Potts accompanied second catch route in the area of the Blackfoot Indians. They experienced an adventure, which was told in the west again and again in the most diverse variants. The actual process of the happening is still disputed, might have itself to course-carry however about as follows:

AsColter and Potts of one morning, ever in a Kanu, in the Jefferson River their beaver traps absuchten, them by some hundred Blackfoot Indians were surprised and to the creation requested. Colter threw its traps in the water and paddelte to the bank, where the Blackfoot packed him immediately and it thoseDresses of the body tore. When Potts saw this, he refused steering its Kanu to the bank. An Indian shot an arrow on him and hurt Potts heavily. This shot back and met an Indian deadly, on which he was killed by several arrows. ThoseBlackfoot pulled its corpse to the bank and carved them up. The members of the killed Indian could be held only with trouble to loose-happen on Colter. The Blackfoot instructed it, in order to run its life. Although Colter had to run naked and barefoot, he knew itself a projection/leadfight for. To the Madison River were it approximately five miles. An individual Indian had extracted itself from the mass of the running Blackfoot and was Colter on the heels. This stopped suddenly, entriss the Blackfoot the Speer and firstoh it thereby. Rapidly it tore its coveractually and jumped into the river. Before the Indians near were, he could hide himself in a building of beavers, in which he remained into the night. Then it made on the way back, went around themselves the close convenient passport, by it a high mountain erklomm,nourished themselves meet for a long time only of roots and bark and came to a march from approximately 500 km to northeast completely exhausted into away on.

It is secured that Colter and Potts with the Blackfoot fought that Colter brought a indianische cover with itself in away the Manueland that the Blackfoot brought the captured skins into a commercial station.

return to the civilization

in the following winters visited Colter again the place of the fight, in order to get the valuable traps thrown in the water. Hardly there concerned, he became from Indians violentlyfired at and again successfully fled.

In the next months Colter worked as falling plate. At least once it led a group after Colter's bright. Occasionally it visited Indian villages, above all the Mandan and Hidatsa.

Probably in March 1810 Colter led a group of 32 men inthe area of Three Forks, the source area of the Gallatin, Madison and Jefferson Rivers, in order to develop a new commercial station. On the way they were surprised by a snowstorm. The situation became critical. Due to the snow blindness they could hunt several-day-long no game and had three dogs and two horseseat. Suddenly 30 Blackfoot men emerged, who did not attack Colters helpless group however. After the expedition had crossed that place, where Colter had run around its life, they reached at the 3. April 1810 the source area of the three rivers. There, in the middle in the territory of the Blackfoot, establishedit a palisadengeschütztes Camp. While Colter led afterwards a part of the group to first catch courses, the Camp was attacked by bulk vent RH Indians. Both sides had to deplore dead ones. By this event Colter became clear that there were only two alternatives for him: In the west in constantFear of the Indians, particularly before the Blackfoot to live or eastward return. It decided to always leave the area. The later death of its comrade of many years George Drouillard should give it right. Together with the young William Bryant it left the Camp.Shortly thereafter they were attacked by Blackfoot Indians, could save itself however in the Dickicht.

In May Colter met in pc. Louis. It harvested Unglauben for its stories only.

old age

Colter-Stein mit eingeritztem Namen
Colter stone with scratched name

John Colter remained not for a long time in pc. Louis, butDundee in the Franklin County in Missouri established itself, north of Charette , in the proximity of the today's locality. It went there likewise on beaver hunting such as Daniel Boone, which lived also in Charette.

Sometime between May 1810 and March 1811 Colter married a womannamed Sally. Probably they had a son, who was called Hiram.

In November 1813 John Colter on its farm in Missouri at jaundice died. Later Sally a man married two years named James Brown.

In September 1889 three hunters at the Coulter Creek found a largePinie, into which an X was scratched and among them „J C “. They assumed the fact that Colter had attached 80 years in former times the marking and announced the find to the authorities. This let the tree fall, in order to issue the section with the initials in a museum. In the case of transportit was however lost.

1931 found the Farmer William Beard and its son in close proximity to Tetonia (Idaho) a magma stone, which had been carved by hand for the form of a human head and which signature carried „for John Colter 1808 “. ThatColter stone can be regarded today in the Moose Visitor center in the Grand Teton national park.


around Colter climbed already to its lifetime a number of look up-exciting stories. Against many narrations killed it however probably only one Indian, a Blackfoot. This very day is with manyStories unclearly, to what extent they correspond to the actual conditions. Particularly the escape before the Blackfoot was a popular history, which was shown by different authors. As the first Henry Brackenridge noted it, which had heard her in away the Manuel directly of Colter. Later took over other authorsit, so for example 1836 Washington Irving in „Astoria “.

Colters of earnings/services lie particularly in its achievements with the Lewis and Clark expedition to attach in its ability, relations with the most diverse Indian peoples and in the following investigations in so far areas unknown for the white ones. 1814 leftWilliam Clark Colters data into its sketch of a first map of the American west flow, since Colter had explored a set of mountain courses, which Clark does not admit was during its excursions.

In memory of its escape before the Blackfoot Indians finds in the source area Missouri of the Rivers annuallyJohn Colter run instead of.

To 6. September 2003 opened the city new Haven in Missouri a museum over John Colter.


  • Burton Harris: John Colter - His Years into the Rockies, Charles Scribner's Sons, New York (1952), ISBN 0-8032-7264-2
  • AubreyL. Haines:The Yellowstone story. A History OF our roofridge national park. University press OF Colorado, Niwot (Colorado), 1996, two volumes, ISBN 0-87081-390-0 and ISBN 087081-391-9
  • Marks of H. Brown: The Plainsmen OF the Yellowstone. A History OF the Yellowstone Basin.G. P. Putnam's Sons, new one York, 1961, ISBN 0-8032-5026-6

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