Kenneth McKenzie

April 15, 1797 - April 26, 1861

McKenzie, Kenneth, fur trader (Apr. 15, 1797-Apr. 26, 1861). Born at Bradlack, Scotland, he arrived in America in 1816, becoming a clerk for the North West Company, but quit and removed to St. Louis in 1822. McKenzie joined the Columbia Fur Company, eventually becoming president. With establishment of Fort Union near the junction of the Missouri and Yellowstone rivers, McKenzie guided operations of his organization, which had been merged into the American Fur Company, to blanket the upper country, opening trade even with the hitherto implacable Blackfeet. By 1833 control of the entire Missouri River by the American Fur Company was assured and McKenzie widely considered the "King of the Missouri" and the "Emperor of the West." Competition however caused him to begin distilling whiskey for the trade and this with other events brought troubles that led McKenzie to retire in 1834. He eventually became a St. Louis businessman, operating a wholesale liquor business. He accumulated considerable wealth.