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Bridger, James (17 March 1804–17 July 1881), fur trapper and trader, explorer, and scout, was born in a tavern near Richmond, Virginia, the son of James Bridger, a surveyor and innkeeper, and Chloe Tyler, a barmaid. Bridger and his family moved in about 1812 to a farm near St. Louis, where, on being orphaned five years later, he became a blacksmith’s apprentice. In 1822 he responded to an advertisement calling for a hundred able-bodied young men to join a fur-trapping expedition, lasting from one to three years, up to the headwaters of the Missouri River. The organizers of the expedition were ...

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Colter, John (1775– November 1813), fur trapper and explorer, was born probably in the vicinity of Staunton, Virginia, the son of John Colter and Ellen Shields, farmers. The Colter family (also spelled Coalter and Coulter) that farmed near the Shenandoah Valley community of Staunton traced its lineage back to Micajah Coalter, a Scots-Irish settler who arrived in Virginia about 1700. Virtually nothing is known about John Colter’s youth or early adult years. The earliest record of him dates to 15 October 1803, when ...