Carson, Kit

Trapper, Guide, Indian Agent, and Soldier


Born on December 24, 1809, in Madison County, Kentucky, Christopher Carson received no schooling as a child. In 1826, he began a career as a professional hunter and guide at Taos, New Mexico, which became his headquarters and lifelong home. However, he trapped in California and as far north as Montana, associating at various times with Thomas Fitzpatrick, Jim Bridger, and other mountain men.

Between 1842 and 1846, he guided John C. Fremont in mapping trips along the Oregon Trail and California. Then in 1847, he fought in several battles for the conquest of California, gaining national fame as an American hero.

And two years later, during the gold rush of 1849, he led large emigrant convoys to the Pacific coast. As a U. S. Indian agent in the Southwest, he was most effective.

He resigned, however, when the Civil War began, accepting the title colonel and then brigadier general. Organizing Union scouts in the West, he served again with distinction.

Unfortunately, he soon became ill. He died at Fort Lyon, Colorado on May 23, 1868, after a number of fruitless trips to the East in search of medical treatment.