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Dickson, Robert (1765–20 June 1823), fur trader and British Indian Department officer, was born in Dumfries, Scotland, the son of John Dickson, a merchant. His mother’s name is unknown. Robert Dickson emigrated to the United States in 1785–1786, soon after the American Revolution and was first employed at Oswego (N.Y.), where “he began his apprenticeship, which induced him to adopt the fur trade as a life-long occupation” (Cruikshank [1931], p. 88). Within a few months, Dickson was removed to the Niagara area, where his duties included selling and shipping goods to the fur-trade posts and managing accounts. As he was closely connected with some of the most respected and influential Loyalist families along the Niagara, Dickson enjoyed preferential treatment in both the choice and flexibility of his work. As a result of this good fortune, Dickson took the opportunity to leave the drab routine of his work at Niagara and in July 1786 was pleased to be transferred to the “Island of Michilimackinac” (MacKinac Island, Mich.) in order “to learn the art and mystery of commerce” (Cartwright papers, 10 July 1786)....

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Mitchell, David Dawson (31 July 1806–31 May 1861), fur trader and government American Indian agent, was born in Louisa County, Virginia. Nothing is known about his parents. Mitchell’s youth remains wrapped in mystery. He arrived in St. Louis as a young man and quickly became involved in the Rocky Mountain fur trade. Employed by the American Fur Company as early as 1828, he was assigned first to the Ioway country and then to the Upper Missouri River, where he displayed considerable skill in dealing with the Blackfoot and Assiniboine Indians. During the period between 1828 and 1838 he headed several trading outfits and built Fort McKenzie in Montana in spite of American Indian objections to the construction at the mouth of the Marias River. Noted for a cool head in stressful situations, Mitchell managed to keep tensions from reaching a boiling point, especially over the issue of which native groups might be favored in trade. ...

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Rice, Henry Mower (29 November 1816–15 January 1894), Indian trader and commissioner, Minnesota territorial delegate, and U.S. senator, was born in Waitsfield, Vermont, the son of Edmund Rice and Ellen Durkee. After his father died in 1828, Rice lived with the family of Justus Burdick. He completed an academy education and studied law in Rutland, Vermont, before moving to Michigan with the Burdick family in 1835. He worked as a chainman in the surveying of the Sault Ste. Marie Canal and for Kalamazoo merchants until 1839. That year he traveled to St. Louis, Missouri, where he was hired by Kenneth MacKenzie, a prominent commission and forwarding merchant and fur trader, who sent him to Fort Snelling, in present-day Minnesota, to assist the post sutler. The next year he was appointed sutler at the newly created Fort Atkinson near the Winnebago reservation in northeastern Iowa. In 1842 he moved to Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin, to join Hercules L. Dousman, a longtime partner in the Western Outfit of the American Fur Company, in trade with the Winnebago and Ojibwa of the upper Mississippi region. Five years later he was sent to Mendota near Fort Snelling as an agent of Pierre Chouteau, Jr. and Company (see ...