Thomas James

November 1, 1782 - December 17, 1847

James, Thomas, frontiersman (Nov. 1, 1782-Dec. 17, 1847). Born in Maryland, he joined the St. Louis Missouri Fur Company in 1809, reaching the Mandan Villages in September and because of a dispute, became a free trapper. His two companions were killed by Indians while James trapped the upper Missouri country; he rejoined the company and returned to the Three Forks area. James went back to St. Louis in 1810, spent three years in Pennsylvania, several years thereafter at various pioneering enterprises. In 1821 with others and a keelboat load of supplies, he ascended the Arkansas River and reached Santa Fe December 1, after an adventurous crossing of the plains. He returned to St. Louis in 1822. The next yea he again entered the South Plains; after harsh adventures with the Comanches, he returned to St. Louis in 1824. He undertook various frontier activities, commanded a scout company during the Black Hawk War. About 1846 he dictated to Nathaniel Niles, an attorney, his autobiography; Three Years Among the Indians and Mexicans, published in that year at Waterloo, Illinois, and in various editions since. It is a "substantially accurate," engaging and occasionally very revealing narrative, and portrays its subject as a good observor, honest and intelligent.


Thomas, James, Three Years Among the Indians and Mexicans, N.Y., Citadel Press, 1966.