Auguste Pierre Chouteau

May 9, 1786 - December 25, 1838

Chouteau, Auguste Pierre, fur trader (May 9, 1786-Dec. 25, 1838). Born at St. Louis the son of trader Pierre Chouteau, he was graduated from West Point in 1806, served in the army briefly and in 1807 entered the fur trade. He went up the Missouri to open trade with the Mandans in 1807, but the Arickaras drove the party back downstream; Chouteau again went up the Missouri next year to trade with the Sioux. He married a French woman in 1809, she outliving him by 27 years. Chouteau became a partner in the St. Louis Missouri Fur Company, went up the river to trade with the Mandans and other Indians, and returned to St. Louis in 1810. By 1812 Chouteau became a trader to the Osages. In 1814 he became a sub agent for the Osages, continuing illegally to trade with them and fathering several illegitimate children. With DeMun Chouteau headed a trapping-trading expedition to the upper Arkansas River, had a good beaver catch, fought the Pawnees on the return, delivered the furs and returned to the mountains. Here the party was captured and imprisoned by the Spanish for 48 days at Santa Fe, then returned to Missouri, filing a claim with the U.S. for $30,000 worth of goods confiscated; the claim was paid 34 years later when both Chouteau and DeMun were dead. Chouteau then engaged in the mercantile business at St. Louis until 1822, when he re-entered trade with the Osages, became influential among them, expanded his operations to other Indian peoples removed from east of the Mississippi. Chouteau was a friend of Sam Houston, then living with the Cherokees, but his business affairs were most tangled and he always lived a financially-uncertain life. During the Texas war with Mexico Chouteau was commissioned to visit the southern Plains tribes and keep them at peace; his efforts were strenuous and indecisive. His business and financial affairs erupted into disaster for him in 1838, and Chouteau died at Fort Gibson, Indian Territory, receiving a military funeral and being buried at the post cemetery. Despite his problems in the white world, he won a host of Indian friends by just dealings.