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Kit Carson. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-107570).


Carson, Kit (24 December 1809–23 May 1868), mountain man, army officer, and Indian agent, was born Christopher Houston Carson in Madison County, Kentucky, the son of Lindsey Carson, a farmer and revolutionary war veteran, and Rebecca Robinson. In 1811 Lindsey Carson moved his family to Howard County, Missouri, to find “elbow room.” He died in 1818, hit by a falling limb while clearing timber from his land. Christopher enjoyed no schooling and never learned to read or write, other than signing his name to documents. In 1825 his mother and stepfather apprenticed him to David Workman, a Franklin, Missouri, saddler whom Kit described as a kind and good man. Nevertheless, he ran away because he found saddlemaking tedious and distasteful work and yearned to travel. Following in the footsteps of a brother and a half-brother who were in the Santa Fe trade, Carson joined a caravan as a “cavvy boy” (an assistant to the wrangler in charge of the horse and mule herd). Though not unsympathetic, Workman was obliged by law to advertise for his runaway. But he misleadingly suggested to readers of the ...


Hardin, John (01 October 1753– May 1792), soldier and scout, was born in Fauquier County, Virginia, the son of Martin Hardin, a tavern keeper and landowner, and Lydia (maiden name unknown). At about the age of twelve, Hardin moved with his parents to George’s Creek in the unbroken wilderness of southwestern Pennsylvania, where he learned woodcraft and Indian ways and became such a proficient marksman that he was greatly feared by hostile natives. When he reached maturity, he married Jane Daviesse (or Davies), with whom he had six children. After their marriage the couple moved to Virginia. In early 1774 he volunteered as an ensign in Dunmore’s War against the Indians. Although wounded in a battle with the Shawnee while campaigning with Captain Zachariah Morgan, he refused to be invalided out of the service....


Reynolds, Charles Alexander (20 March 1842–25 June 1876), soldier and scout, was born in Warren County, Illinois, the son of Joseph Boyer Reynolds, a physician, and Phebe Bush, both of pioneering Virginia families. Reynolds received schooling at the preparatory division of Abingdon College, Abingdon, Illinois. In 1859 the family moved to Kansas, where the boy worked on his father’s farm, gaining a knowledge of animals and other frontier skills....