Ramsay Crooks

January 7, 1787 - June 6, 1859

Crooks, Ramsay, fur trader (Jan. 7, 1787-June 6, 1859). Born near Glasgow, Scotland, he reached Montreal in 1803 and St. Louis by 1807, entering the fur business, forming a partnership with Robert McLellan which endured until 1810. Crooks became a partner in the Pacific Fur Company and joined the overland Astorians. Plagued by severe ill health he endured a harrowing journey, reaching Astoria May 11, 1812, and giving up his partnership two days later. He returned to St. Louis with Stuart, although again troubled by ill health enroute. He rejoined Astor, undertaking a mission to Michilimackinac in 1814, traded along the Ohio River, and in 1817 accepted a 1/20th interest in Astor's American Fur Company and became its general manager. He spearheaded the campaign to abolish the government factory system for fur trading, which traders opposed. In 1821 Crooks was given a one-fifth interest in the AFC and other benefits, engineering expansion of the firm into the west; when Astor sold out, Crooks and others purchased the AFC northern department, of which Crooks became president, operating it from Lake Superior until it failed in 1842. Crooks remained in the fur business at New York City, as well as engaging in other enterprises, until his death. He was married and had children by two women, nine by his formal wife. Despite his precarious health, he traveled to all parts of his fur domain, knew the business thoroughly, and was able and considered honest. He was buried at Greenwood Cemetery, Brooklyn.