Three Years Among the Indians and Mexicans, by Thomas James


Thomas James (1782-1847) published this book in 1846. It tells about his adventures on the Upper Missouri in 1809 with the Missouri Fur Company, and his later adventures as one of the first American traders in Santa Fe and with the Comanche Indians. His book is an important historical source for both of these events.

"By a plain, unvarnished tale of Western life, of perils and of hardships, I hope to amuse the reader who delights in accounts of wild adventure, though found out of the pages of a novel and possessing no attraction but their unadorned truthfulness."

Bibliographical Information

This on-line edition is based on the original 1846 edition. Here is a list of previous print editions:

On-line Edition

Table of Contents

Chapter 1

Introduction--Missouri Fur Company--Terms of Engagement with them--Departure for the Trapping Grounds--Incidents on the Route--The Pork Meeting--Scenery--Check--A Western Pioneer--His affair with the Irishman--A Hunting Excursion-- The Rickarees--The Mandans--The Gros Ventres--The Company's Fort--Cheek and Ried--Friends between the French and Americans--Violation of Contract by Company--Departure for Upper Missouri--Wintering--Trip across the Country--Famine and Cold--Scenery on the Yellow Stone--Manuel's Fort--Col. Menard and Manuel Liza--Indian Murders--A Snow Storm in the Mountains--Blindness--Arrival at the Forks of the Missouri-- Preparations for business.

Chapter 2

Colter's Race and escapes--Separation for trapping--Descent of the Missouri--A fine Landscape--Bad luck--Alarm from Indians--Retreat to the Fort--Death of Cheek--Pursuit of the Indians--Return--The White Bears--Incidents of hunting--Return to the Twenty Five Yard river--A party of Gros Ventres-- Suspected Robbery--Interview with the Crows--Rapid crossing of the Yellow Stone--Descent to the Fort and the "Cache"-- Robbery made certain--Passage to the Missouri--Indian character and customs--A Spree, ending almost tragically--Generosity of the Company--Settlement with them--A sage reflection.

Chapter 3

Employment from 1810 to 1821--The First Santa Fe Traders-- Members of the Fourth Santa Fe expedition--Ascent of the Arkansas--Vaugean--Removal of the Town of Little Rock--Fort Smith and Major Bradford--Trading with the Osages--Capt. Prior--Salt River--Salt Plains and Shining Mountains--Robbery by the Indians--Sufferings from thirst--Attack by the Indians-- Further Robberies--The One Eyed Chief and Big Star--Indian Council--Critical Situation--Rescue by Spanish officers--Cordaro--Journey continued--San Miguil Peccas and its Indian inhabitants--Santa Fe--Farming.

Chapter 4

Interview with Governor Malgaris--Commencement of business--Departure of McKnight--Arrival of Cordaro--His Speech-- His visit to Nacotoche--His death and character--Hugh Glenn-- Celebration of Mexican Independence--Gambling and dissipation--Mexican Indians--Domestic manufactures--Visit of the Utahs--Their Horses--Speech of the Chief Lechat--War with the Navahoes--Cowardly murder of their Chiefs by the Spaniards--Militia of Santa Fe--Attempt to go to Senoria--Stopped by the Governor--Interview with the Adjutant--Selling out-- Hugh Glenn again--How the Governor paid me a Debt--Spanish Justice--Departure for home.

Chapter 5

Col. Glenn's conversion--His profits thereby--Avenues to New Mexico--An instance of Spanish treachery and cruelty--Glenn's cowardice--Meeting with the Pawnees--Mexican Indians--Battle between the Pawnees and Osages--Disappearance of Glenn-- Chouteau and the Osages--Indian revenge--Passage of the Shoshoua--Singular Ferrying--Entrance into Missouri--Robbery by the Osages--Interview with Missionaries--Arrival at St. Louis--More of Glenn--Home--Still greater troubles with creditors than with the Indians.

Chapter 6

Endeavors to get out of debt--Proposition of John McKnight-- Preparations for another expedition--Journey to the Arkansas-- Ascent of the Canadian and North Fork--Hunting Bears, Elks, &c.--Fort commenced--Conversation with McKnight and his departure in search of Camanches--Continued ascent of the Canadian North Fork--A new Fort--Return of Potter and Ivy-- Robert McKnight goes out in search of his brother--He returns with Indians--Charges them with the murder of his brother-- I go out to the Camanche village--Incidents there--A council-- The One Eyed Chief--The whole band start for the Fort--A guard placed over me--Encampment--The One Eyed adopts me as his brother--He changes my relations with his tribes--Catching wild horses--Arrival at the Fort--Fright of some "brave" men--Trade--A robbery--The One Eyed punishes the thieves-- Fate of John McKnight--Mourning stopped--Indian customs--A dance--A case of arbitration by the One Eyed--Indian horsemanship--Parting with the Chiefs--Conversation with Alsarea-- The horse Checoba--A Bucephalus.

Chapter 7

We start for home--A stampedo--Loss of a hundred horses--Interview with a Chief and his tribe--Pursued by Indians--Passage through the Cross Timbers--Death of horses by flies--Night travelling--Arrival at the Arkansas--Death of horses by the Feresy--Loss of skins and robes by embezzlement--Start for home--Breakfast with a Cherokee Chief--James Rogers--An old Cherokee--Interview with Missionaries--Arrival at home--Troubles from debt--An emergence at last--Conclusion.