Mountain Man - Mystery Man

Although the trapper period of Wyoming history lasted only about 20 years, (1820-1840) there was some activity by mountain man/trappers before that time. Those that made it are remembered as the colorful characters they were. One of the most famous, or in some circles, infamous men was Edward Rose. Rose was the son of a white trader and an African American/Cherokee mother. He was more than likely the first resident of Wyoming’s Big Horn Basin. Rose was in the Basin as early as 1807 or 08, a decade and more before the trapper period in the west.



Rose was described by Washington Irving as, “A dogged, sullen, silent fellow of sinister aspect more of a savage than a civilized man in his appearance.” Rose, who may have been a river pirate on the Mississippi before becoming a legend in the West, purportedly left the east after being released or escaping chains put on him by the law.

Washington Irving


Rose was adopted into the Crow tribe and was at times called by one of two Crow names, Five Scalps after killing five Blackfeet in and battle, and Nez Coupe, meaning Cut Nose. The Nez Coupe moniker referred to the scar and a small missing part on the side of the tip of his nose. Westerners who know Rose never saw him without the prominent scar leaving this historian to surmise that it was a result of a mix-up on the river. 
Mississippi River near Vicksburg Mississippi - I took this shot last October

Mississippi River near Vicksburg Mississippi - I took this shot last October



The exact year of Rose’s death is unknown, but some believe he died with legendary Mountain man Hugh Glass on the Bighorn River in a fight with the Arikara in 1833. Rose would have been about 53 at the time, quite a few years for the life he led. 

Me and a Mountain Man -not saying which is which
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