William Henry Vanderburgh

December 6, 1800 - October 14, 1832

Vanderburgh, William Henry, fur trader (Dec. 6, 1800-Oct. 14, 1832). Born at Vincennes, Indiana, of a good family, he attended West Point for four years from 1813, but did not graduate. He worked for the Missouri Fur Company near Council Bluffs, serving under Manuel Lisa and Joshua Pilcher, and short-lived Fort Vanderburgh, North Dakota, was named for him in 1821. Made an officer in an informal legion of fur men by Colonel Henry Leavenworth, he took part in an attack on the Arikara villages August 9-15, 1823. In 1826 Vanderburgh and others formed a fur trading company to succeed the Missouri Fur Company; he wintered on the Green River in 1827-1828, and traded with the Poncas in Nebraska the following winter. He served under Kenneth McKenzie of the American Fur Company at Fort Union, at the mouth of the Yellowstone, then led 50 men to Green River in the summer of 1830. Vanderburgh traded through the mountains, took part in the battle of Pierre's Hole July 18, 1832; he and Andrew Drips followed up a Rocky Mountain Fur Company brigade into Blackfoot country to the vicinity of Alder Gulch, where he and a trapper, Alexis Pilou, were killed in an Indian ambush. His body was not recovered. Vanderburgh was one of the more intelligent mountain men, fearless and well regarded, and his loss was a major one.