John Potts

c. 1776 - c. 1808

Potts, John, frontiersman (c. 1776-c. 1808), Born at Dillenburg, Germany, he was a miller who joined Lewis and Clark November 24, 1803, accompanying them to the Pacific and return. He was a friend of John Colter's and with Colter accompanied Manuel Lisa's 1807 party to the upper Missouri. Charles Clarke says that in 1810 he was a member of Andrew Henry's party to the Three Forks, but Burton Harris wrote that he was killed in 1808. In July 1808 Potts had saved Lisa from a heavy pummeling or perhaps being killed by Edward Rose, but was himself savagely beaten in the process. In the fall, according to Harris, Potts and John Colter were trapping in a creek near Jefferson's Fork of the Missouri when they were surprised by Blackfeet. Potts was killed after he slew one of them, and Colter seized and loosed on his famous ordeal in which he escaped naked from the Indians, finally regaining Lisa's Fort.


Burton Harris, John Colter. N.Y., Charles Scribner's Sons, 1952; Clarke, Lewis and Clark.