Jedediah Smith Biography, American Explorer Life Story


Who was Jedediah Smith? Information on American explorer Jedediah Strong Smith biography, life story, explorations and works.

Jedediah Smith


Jedediah Smith; (1799-1831), American explorer, who was the first white man to cross the Great Salt Lake Desert and the Sierra Nevada. His explorations are ranked in the forefront of those opening up the West.

Smith was born in Bainbridge, N. Y., on Jan. 6, 1799. An associate of the fur trader and explorer William Henry Ashley in the early 1820’s, Smith was one of three partners who took over Ashley’s business in 1826.

From August to November 1826 he led a party through Indian territory from Great Salt Lake to the San Gabriel Mission in California. Leaving the mission, Smith encamped some of his party on the American River early in 1827 and returned with two other men to Great Salt Lake, a grueling trip across mountain and desert. He soon set out again for San Gabriel, which he reached after Indians killed most of his men. Turning north, he picked up his party on the American River, wintered in the Sacramento Valley, and in 1828 journeyed up the coast to Fort Vancouver, crossing or following the Klamath, Umpqua, and Willamette rivers. En route, all but two of his men were massacred by Indians. Later he made his way back to the frontier. In 1830, Smith sold his interest in the fur trade. On May 27, 1831, he was killed by Indians on the Cimarron River.


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