Mormon History

Gentile Mountain Man Escape - 1853

The Weekly Tribune November 25, 1853

Mr. James Bridger.

It will afford gratification to the numerous friends and acquaintances of Mr. James Bridger, the well known trader, to learn that the reports in circulation concerning his death, are without foundation, and that by this time he has doubtless, arrived with his family, safely at [W-----], Me. He had a narrow escape however, as the Mormons were greatly [------ed] at him, for furnishing (as they say) arms and ammunition to the Utah Indians, with whom they are at war. A party of some thirty or forty Mormons were sent by Governor Young, to his Fort to arrest him. Being apprised of their approach, he took to the mountains in the vicinity of Bridger's Fort, where he watched the movements of his pursuers. They took possession of the Fort and lived upon his [----s] and provisions several days, but, being unable to find him returned home. Immediately after their departure he collected his family together and started for the States. -- Sidney, Iowa Journal.


Note 1: Reports of "Mountain Man" Bridger's death began to circulate after some of his fleeing employees reached the settled portion of the western frontier without him. For one such news item, see the Nov 12, 1853 issue of the Illinois Dixon Telegraph.

Note 2: After Jim Bridger fled in 1853, The Mormons took control of the Green River Basin, establishing their Fort Supply in the area and leaving Fort Bridger vacant. Bridger returned to Utah Territory in 1855 and sold his fort and lands to his occasional enemies, the Mormons, for $8,000. They then occupied his fort and trading post, fortifying the outpost against the possibility of future attack by Indians or outsiders from the States. In 1857, the Mormons abandoned the fort and destroyed much of its usefulness to the advancing United States Army. "Johnson's Army," guided by Bridger, occupied the area late in 1857 and the old fort was eventually rebuilt.

 

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