The Three Williams, John and a Fort Called Laramie

The famous Fort Laramie of the west was once Fort William. In June of 1834 the foundation log was laid at the fort on the North Platte and Laramie Rivers. William Anderson and William Sublette got into a gentlemen’s argument over what the fort should be named. Anderson wanted to name it Fort Sublette and you guessed it, Sublette thought Fort Anderson sounded like pure poetry on the plains. Anderson even offered a bottle of champagne (likely the only one for miles around) to sway Sublette.

Didn’t work, they continued the argument while downing the champagne. Tired of listening to the argument, although he did get a fair share of the champagne, William Patton offered a suggestion, “Let’s call it Fort William, all of our first names.” The name stuck and Fort William It was.

By 1841 the fort was named after John Sarpy a fur trader at the fort. By Gold Rush time it was Fort Laramie a three year old military post. The new name was given to it by mistake in Saint Louis when a not very efficient clerk, addressed something to Fort Laramie instead of Fort William on the Laramie. And that name stuck.

Post a Comment