Wednesday, February 6, 2013

A Trapper's Journal (Fiction - Historical)

May 15, 1834.   My name is Richard Gaulin,   I come from Burlington, Vermont.   I am  28 years old and on my way to the Great Rocky Mountains where I hope to make a respectable living selling pelts to furriers.   I make this first entry on a train bound for Chicago.  I boarded the train in Syracuse, New York where I bought this journal on a lark.  I grew up on a farm, but my father insisted I attend school and I finished the sixth grade so I figure I can write fair enough to keep a journal.  From Chicago I shall travel by river to the Mississippi and then up the Missouri past Omaha, Nebraska.  Eventually I will be forced to give up the boat for a coach on the last leg of the trip to Butte, Montana.  I hear there are entire mountains teaming with beaver, mink and ermine waiting for someone like me    My baggage includes a Springfield rifle, traps, snares, knives, an axe and other assorted tools. I have enough money saved to buy a horse when I get to Butte.

Oct 18, 1834 - My cabin is near enough finished to protect me from the elements.  It may only have one room and a dirt floor, but I have built a fireplace out of rock from a near-by creek to provide warmth this coming winter. 

June 14, 1835 - Since my arrival on this mountain I have done well in my estimation, bringing many pelts into Butte.  I was able to purchase a Hall Breech loading carbine and a mule.   The winter was more severe than I had contemplated.  I might have starved to death if I had not shot a bear, early out of hibernation, the first week of March.

Sept. 9, 1836 - A band of Blackfoot Indians camped nearby.  We got to trading and I have come away with a wife.  I traded her father my Remington, two knives and several pelts.  Her name to my ears sounds like Con'ney-aghtal; I call her Connie.  She does not understand English and I do not know her language.   She is good with a knife and can skin any animal, but she hasn't really taken to becoming my wife.  I hope she doesn't kill me in my sleep.

April 7, 1837 - Connie is Pregnant.

Sept. 4, 1837 - Connie gave birth in the cabin to a son.  I named him Noble.

Feb. 20, 1839 -
Connie is pregnant again.

Aug. 4, 1839 - Connie died in childbirth.  The unborn child died with her.  They are buried behind the cabin.    I have sent Noble to stay with my sister in Vermont.

June 8, 1840 - I am told that the market for beaver pelts has collapsed.  People prefer hats made of silk.  It will be hard to buy enough provisions with the money I earned for the pelts.

Feb. 1841 - Leg broke.  Firewood gone.

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