xt744j09w81t https://exploreuk.uky.edu/dips/xt744j09w81t/data/mets.xml Burdett, Charles, b. 1815. 1902  books b92-49-26953065 English Perkins Book, : New York : Contact the Special Collections Research Center for information regarding rights and use of this collection. Carson, Kit, 1809-1868. Frontier and pioneer life West (U.S.) Life of Kit Carson, the great western hunter and guide ...  : with an account of various government expeditions to the far West / by Charles Burdett ; with an introduction by G. Mercer Adam. text Life of Kit Carson, the great western hunter and guide ...  : with an account of various government expeditions to the far West / by Charles Burdett ; with an introduction by G. Mercer Adam. 1902 2002 true xt744j09w81t section xt744j09w81t 





 Great Western Hunter and Guide





         BY G. MERCER ADAM


         296 BROADWAY, NEW YORK.


  Copyright, 1902,



  Iw offering to the public a revised and com-
plete history of the most remarkable of Amer-
ican frontiersmen, we perform a pleasing task.
All the attainable circumstances connected with
his life, adventures and death are fully set
forth, and we offer this in confidence as a re-
liable authority for the reader.
  No one should hesitate to familiarize himself
with the exploits of the subject of this volume.
They evince a magnanimity and an uprightness
of character that is rarely found in one leading
so daring and intensely wild a life, and cannot
but contribute their share of luster to the in-
teresting records of the Far West. We regret
that his modesty, equally proverbial with his
daring, prompted him to withhold many of the
exciting incidents of his career from the public.
  We have compiled a portion of this work
from such official reports of his great skill, in-
domitable energy, and nfaltg courage as


have been communicated by his friend and com-
mander, Colonel Fremont, who has invariably
awarded to him all the best attributes of man.
hood, when opportunity afforded. Added to
these, our hero had been prevailed upon by a
few of his friends to communicate some of the
records of the most important passages in his
extraordinary and eventful life, which are em-
bodied in this volume.
  His has indeed been a life of peculiarly ex-
citing personal hazards, bold adventures, daring
coolness, and moral and physical courage, such
as has seldom transpired in the world, and we
have been greatly impressed, in its preparation,
with the necessity for a thorough work of this
kind. All are aware that the young, and even
matured, often seek for books of wild adven.
ture, and if those of an unhurtful and truthful
character are not found, they are apt to betake
themselves to trashy and damaging literature.
In this view, this work has a purpose which, we
trust, will commend it to every family through
out the land.





                     CHAPTER L
Hero of the narrative-from what race descended-his
fame-theater of his exploits-nativity--his father emi-
grates to Missouri-father's occupation-Kit's appren-
ticeship-dissatisfaction with his trade-joins an expe-
dition to Santa Fe-surgical operation-Santa Fe, its
situation, business, style of buildings, water, appear-
ance, altitude, scenery, population-spends the winter
at Taos-learns the Spanish language-joins a party
bound to Missouri-returns to Santa Fe-becomes a
teamster-El Paso, its grape culture, style of living of
-its people, name-youth of traveler-new occupation
for the winter-becomes interpreter for a trader .......  1

                     CHAPTER II.
Chihuahua, cathedral, statues, public buildings, convent,
mint, trade, age, population-Carson longs for the
prairie-changes employment-returns to Taos-joins
a party of hunters and trappers to punish the Indians-
result of the affray-Indian style of fighting-method
of trapping for beaver-beaver signs-setting the traps-
  bait-fastening the traps-caution in setting the traps.  9

                     CHAPTER III.
Carson's qualifications for a trapper-starts for California
-desert in the route-Mohave Indians, non-intercourse
with whites, appearances, dress, ornaments. painting
their bodies. money-Mission San Gabriel, cattle.horses,
sheep, mules, vineyards, income -other Missions in




 California-when founded, laborers-Missions of Upper
 California-Missionary subscriptions-management of
 the fund-Commandante-general-the Monks-golden
 age of the Missions .................................... 17

                    CHAPTER IV.
New Mexico and Arizona-their desert prairies-Carson
in California-traps on the San Joaquin-the valley of
the Sacramento ....................................... 28

                     CHAPTER V.
The Digger Indians, a description of them, and their
mode of living-Carson's visit to a ranche in search of
a cow-his journey to the camp with his prize ......... 33

                     CHAPTER VI.
Carson at the Mission San Gabriel-recovers sixty stolen
  horses after a fight with the Indians-" Los Angeles"
  -climate of California .......... ..................... 42

                    CHAPTER VII.
Visit to a ranche-likes California, but likes buffalo better
  -leaves Los Angeles, and traps on the Colorado-in a
  tight place, but gets out of it .......................... 54

                    CHAPTER VIII.
Trapping with Young upon the Colorado-captures cattle
  and horses from the Indians-goes to Santa Fe, disposes
  of furs, and sows his wild oats-coureurs des boistravels,
  dress. habits-joins Mr. Fitzpatrick trapping among the
  Nez Perces-winters in the New Park-punishes the
  Crow Indians for horse-stealing-pursues and punishes
  robbers of a cache-flies from a party of sixty Indians. 64

                     CHAPTER IX.
Hunts with two companions-saving his money-trading
  with Captain Lee-pursues an Indian horse-thief and
  recovers the horses without assistance-traps on the
  Laramie-fight with two grizzlies-description of the


 grizzly bear, his food-traps among the Blackfeet-un-
 successful attempt to chastise Blackfeet horse-thieves-
 Carson is wounded-Bridger's pursuit without finding
 them ............................................... 71

                    CHAPTER X.

Carson, recovered, attends summer rendezvous on Green
River-description of the rendezvous-camp, traders,
charges-British Fur Company-the Indians bringing
in furs-appearance of Montreal at a fair for the Indians
-trappers and traders from the States-purchases of
the trappers, necessaries, luxuries, Indian wife ........ 82

                    CHAPTER XI.
Green River rendezvous again-the backwoodsman-Car-
son the peace-maker-Sherman the bully. his punish-
ment -cause of the duel-trapping and parley with the
Blackfeet-on Humboldt River-explores the desert-
discovers the river afterwards named for him ........ 90

                   CHAPTER XII.
Dreary prospect on the Humboldt-Humboldt Lake-sinks
of others rivers-overflow of Humboldt Lake and River
-station at the sink, the traders-Humboldt Indians-
Fourth of Julv on the Humboldt-Humboldt sinking-
land available for agriculture on this river ............ 98

                   CHAPTER XIII.
Carson on the Humboldt-sufferings of the return party-
Pyramid Circle-a horse purchased for food-buffalo
hunt, meat jerked-horses stolen by the Indians-ex-
  tent of buffalo ranges-buffalo upon the Platte in 1857,
  numbers, trails crossing the river, animals killed ..... 106

                   CHAPTER XIV.
Carson traps with a party of a hundred in the Blackfeet
country-winter camp among the Crows-Indian lodges
-winter life of the trappers-fight with the Blackfeet-
  Carson saves the life of a friend, dislodges the Indians






from a rocky fastness, and compels their flight-no more
molestation-the rendezvous-trade with the Navajos
Indians-fort at Brown's Hole-goes again against the
Blackfeet, a thousand warriors assemble, retire without
an engagement-traps on the Salmon River-among the
Blackfeet, another fight, leaves their country-Chinook
and Flathead Indians-process of flattening the head.. 116

                   CHAPTER XV.
Carson continues trapping-the trade becomes unprofit-
able-war of extermination upon the beaver, silk for
  hats prevents-Carson's experience enables him to aid
  one who should explore in behalf of science-knowledge
  of the country-comes to Bent's Fort. forsaking trapping
  -becomes hunter for the fort-his employers-his
  business-reputation as a hunter-fulfils the early
  hopes of him-knowledge of the country-regard shown
  him, especially by the Indians-diplomatist between the
  Sioux and the Camanches-marriage-death of his wife
  takes his child to St. Louis fnr education-changes at
  his old home-reception at St. Louis-meets Colonel
  Fremont-engages to guide Fremont's exploring party
  to the South Pass in the Rocky Mountains ..............  129

                   CHAPTER XVI.
Fremont crosses the Ford of the Kansas-India-rubber
  boat-accident from overloading the boat-Carson ill-
  lies in camp on the prairie.                        142

                   CHAPTER X-VII.
Road over rolling prairie-Pawnee country-false alarm
  of the presence of Indians-Carson rides to discover
  the cause-coast of the Platte River-party of trappers
  from Fort Laramie-one of this party joins Fremont's
  company-buffalo-appearance of the herds-feasting
  in the camp-Carson's mishap in the hunt-Carson,
  Maxwell, and Fremont join in the chase .147

                   CHAPTER XVIII.
Fremont divides his party-attempt to lasso a wild horse
  -Maxwell prevents an Indian attack-Indians on a




  buffalo hunt-return laden with meat-Cheyenne village
  -tripod support for their weapons-Fremont enter-
  tained by the chief-tribute to the Great Spirit on
  taking the pipe-Jim Beckwith-other settlers on the
  mountain streams-St. Vrain's Fort-Fort Laramie-
  Carson's camp-excitement in the company-hostile
  intentions of the Indians-preparations for continuing
  the explorations-one of the command dismissed ...... 157

                   CHAPTER XIX.
The growth of Artemisia-fate of the Indian party so
much dreaded-cache of wagons and other effects-
value of Carson's aid to Fremont-propriety of calling
this an exploring party-ascent to the South Pass-
exploration up a tributary of Green River-lake at its
source-continue to explore in the mountains-Frenmont
climbs the highest summit-why Carson was not with
him ................................................... 169

                    CHAPTER XX.
Party returns to Fort Laramie-Carson remains-mar-
riage-joins Fremont-a second exploring expedition-
object of the expedition-Great Salt Lake-Fremont's
description-current impressions in regard to the lake
-Beer Springs-Hot Springs-Standing Rock ....  .... 178

                   CHAPTER XXI.
A part of Fremont's men return East-leave Fort Hall,
en route for the valley of the Columbia-difficulty of
finding camping places-Carson kills buffalo-melan-
  choly looking country-crossing Snake River-fish-eat-
  ing Indians-refitting equipage at the Dalles-pro-
  posed return route-spirits of the party-Tlamath Lake
  -sufferings of the party .......................... .. 198

                   CHAPTER XXII.
Fremont's story of the difficulties and exposures of his
party-hot springs-explorations for grass-mountain
lake-central ridge of the Sierra Nevada-Indians-
talks by signs-Indian guide-encouragement afforded
by Carson's descriptions of California-provisions low-




 snow deep-animals weak-Indian harangue-guide
 deserts-Carson recognizes Sacramento valley and the
 coast range-taking the horses through the snow-sleds
 for the baggage-pine nuts the food of the Indians-
 glorious sunrise ....................................... 207

                  CHAPTER XXIII.
Thunder storm-view of the Sacramento, and Bay of San
Francisco-mauls to path the snow-Carson saves Fre-
mont from drowning-rapid river, snow, grass, pines,
live oak, mistletoe-division of the party-horses lost-
members of the party wander, return-horses killed for
food-country improving in beauty-arrival at Sutter's
Fort-description of a cache ........................... 227

                  CHAPTER XXIV.
Carson at home in Toas-decides to commence farming-
preparations-Fremont requests his service for a third
expedition-meeting  at Bent's Fort-head-waters-
Great Salt Lake-expedition divides-Horse-Thief In-
dians-the skirmish ................................... 240

                   CHAPTER XXV.
Arrival at Sutter's Fort-command of General Castro to
leave the country-his march against Fremont-Fre-
mont departs for Oregon-Indians instigated by the
Mexicans, Fremont's march against thenm-he returns
to California-another Indian fight .................... 254

                  CHAPTER XXVI.
Loss to Fremont's party-Carson's attack upon Indian
village-start for the Sacramento-Frernont's campaign
against the Mexicans-captures Sc noma-calls Anmer-
ican settlers into his service-General Castro leaves San
Francisco-Fremont garrisons Sutter's Fort-marches
to Monterey-Commodore Sloat in possession-hoists
the flag of the United States ........................... 268

                  CHAPTER XXVII.
Fremont marches on, and occupies Los Angeles-ap.




 pointed Governor of California-Carson starts for Wash-
 ington as bearer of despatches-unexpected meeting
 with Apache Indians-meets the expedition of General
 Kearney-returns to California as guide ............... 240

                 CHAPTER XXVIII.

March to California-Mexicans intercept Kearney's troops
-American attack on the Mexican force-disastrous
result-Carson and Lieutenant Beale reach San Diego-
reinforcements sent by Commodore Stockton-capture
of Los Angeles-Mexicans surrender to Fremont-want
of harmony in the American camps ................... 275

                  CHAPTER XXIX.
Graphic description of the entrance into Monterey, of
Fremont, Carson, and party-indiscretions of American
officers-Kearney's despatch to the War Department-
Fremont's extraordinary ride .......................... 298

                  CHAPTER XXX.
Fremont visits his Mariposa purchase-grand hunt and
ball-the fandango-Carson and Beale ordered to Wash.
ington-kind reception-appointed to a lieutenancy-
encounter with Camanches-arrival at Los Angeles-
sent to the Tejon Pass--again to Washington-arrival
at home-the warlike Apaches-Carson entertains Fre-
mont and suffering explorers ......................... 807

                  CHAPTER XXXI.
Dreadful sufferings endured by Fremont and party-error
in engaging a guide-Fremont's letter to his wife-hor-
rible details ......................................  822

                 CHAPTER XXXII.
Mr. Carvalho's narrative-cravings of hunger-disgusting
food considered a delicaev-death of Mr. Fuller-Car-
son joins Colonel Beale as guide-the Apache and Ca-
mche Indiana ............8834


z                    aOONTENT

                 CHAPTER XXAL
Carson and Maxwell's settlement-exploits in defense of
his neighbors encounter with the Cheyennes-rescue.. 342

                 CHAPTER XXXIV.
Grand tra pping expedition-the Mountain Parks-Pike's
Peak-Carson drives sheep to California-San Francisco
-appointed Indian Agent-habits-services in New
Mexico-his death at Fort Lyon- summing up ......... 856



  WHAT our modern age owes to men of the fype of
Christopher (Kit) Carson as an early explorer and
guide in the Far West, when that region was but lit-
tle known, and as a hunter and trapper when the
recesses of the country were the abode almost entirely
of wild beasts and equally wild and savage tribes,
we are not always mindful of, though their history
forms a heroic and fascinating part of the national
annals. A marvellous change has now come over the
scenes of the exploits of these early Western scouts
and frontiersmen.  Even Nature has experienced a
transformation: the wild and wondrous life of those
rough days has suffered a change; its savage charms
have in the main disappeared, for the mountain lion
is now rarely met with, while the grizzly bear, as
Parkman tells us, " has shrunk from the face of man.
His ferocious strength is now no match for the re-
peating rifle: he seeks the seclusion of his den, and
has grown diffident and abated the truculence of his
more prosperous days.   In place, moreover, of In-
dian tepees, with their trophies of dangling scalp-
locks, we have now towns and cities, and the resorts
of health and of pleasure-seekers."



  The story of Colonel Carson's intrepid life and
labors as mountaineer, trapper, and guide, related
by Mr. Burdett in the following pages, is full of
thrilling incident. The narrative includes the story
of his many Indian fights with Blackfeet, Comanches,
Utes, Navajoes, and Cheyennes, and his important
services in conducting General Fremont's various ex-
peditions across the Rockies into California, and
afterwards in acting as agent for the United States
Government in New Mexico, Colorado, and Indian
Territory, and in the Civil War in expeditions
against the Confederates in Texas, and finally in
making peace with the Navajo Indians. All this is
told with graphic force and realistic description, as
are the early accounts of Carson's exciting buffalo
hunts, exploits in trapping and in the pursuit of the
fur trade, and his keen zest and adventurous experi-
ences in cxterminating beaver. Not without interest,
also, are the famous hunter's many trading ventures,
including the purchase of some thousand sheep from
the Navajo Indians and proceeding with them to
Fort Laramie, thence, by way of the regular emi-
grant route to Salt Lake, across the mountains, on
the farther side of which he disposes of them in Cali-
fornia.  Hardly less is the interest of the narrative
in treating of Carson's career as an officer in the
United States service during the Mexican war, as
well as in the Civil War, in the latter of which he
was rewarded with a brevet brigadier generalship.
But perhaps most important of all was the aid he
gave the National Government in his relations with




the Indians of the Far West, whose tongue he spoke,
and was well known to, and feared by, them as a
mighty Indian fighter, though a man who could at
the same time make a favorable peace with them,
when the war-hatchet was thrown down and the calu-
met of peace was smoked by the smouldering camp-
fire. Throughout his early career in the then wilder-
ness stretches of Missouri, and in his adventurous
roving life on the Plains, Carson's experience taught
the great frontiersman many things of much bene-
fit to him later on; but chiefly it developed in him
mighty resources and phenomenal self-reliance, be-
sides physical courage and hardihood, and gained for
him the knack of picking up an intimate knowledge
of Indian ways, and especially of the guile of native
hostiles, that was subsequently of infinite service in
his strenuous, diversified, and useful career.  Added
to these characteristics he had the virtues of honor,
uprightness, and kindly feeling, as well as a frank
manner and transparent truthfulness, which had
their influence on all he came across, and, when death
came to him, at Fort Lyon, Colorado, in May, 1868,
won for his memory the benediction of those who
best knew him.
                             G. AIERCER ADAM.


 This page in the original text is blank.



               CHAPTER I.
  As, for their intrepid boldness and stern
truthfulness, the exploits and deeds of the old
Danish sea-kings have, since the age of Canute,
been justly heralded in song and story; so now,
by the world-wide voice of the press, this, their
descendant, as his name proves him, is brought
before the world: and as the stern integrity
of the exploits and deeds of the old Danes in
the age of Canute were heralded by song and
story; so too, in this brief and imperfect mem-
oir, are those of one who by name and birth-
right claims descent from them. The subject
of the present memoir, Christopher Carson,
familiarly known under the appellation of Kit
Carson, is one of the most extraordinary men
of the present era. His fame has long been
established throughout this country and Europe,
as a most skilful and intrepid hunter, trap-


per, guide, and pilot of the prairies and moun.
tains of the far West, and Indian fighter. But
his celebrity in these characters is far surpassed
by that of his individual personal traits of
courage, coolness, fidelity, kindness, honor, and
friendship. The theater of his exploits is ex-
tended throughout the whole western portion
of the territory of the United States, from the
Mississippi to the Pacific, and his associates
have been some of the most distinguished men
of the present age, to all of whom he has be-
come an object of affectionate regard and marked
respect. The narrative which follows will show
his titles to this distinction, so far as his modesty
(for the truly brave are always modest) has
permitted the world to learn anything of his
  It appears, from the various declarations of
those most intimate with Christopher Carson, as
well as from a biography published a number
of years before his death, that he was a native
of Madison County, Kentucky, and was born on
the 24th of December, 1809. Colonel Fremont
in his exhaustive and interesting Report of his
Exploring Expedition to Oregon and North
California, in 1843-44, says that Carson is a
native of Boonslick County, Missouri; and from



his long association with the hunter, he prob.
ably makes the statement on Carson's own
authority. The error, if it is an error, may
have arisen from the fact stated by Mr. Peters,
that Carson's father moved from Kentucky to
Missouri, when Christopher was only one year
old. He settled in   what is now    Howard
County, in the central part of Missouri.
  At the time of Mr. Carson's emigration, _Mis-
souri was called Upper Louisiana, being a part
of the territory ceded to the United States by
France in 1803, and it became a separate State,
under the name of Missouri, in 1821. When
Mr.. Carson removed his family from Kentucky,
and settled in the new territory, it was a wild
region, naturally fertile, thus favoring his views
as a cultivator; abounding in wild game, and
affording a splendid field of enterprise for the
hunter, but infested on all sides with Indians,
often hostile, and always treacherous.
  As Mr. Carson united the pursuits of farmer
and hunter, and lived in a sort of blockhouse
or fort, as a precaution against the attacks of
the neighboring Indians, his son became accus-
tomed to the presence of danger, and the ne-
cessity of earnest action and industry from his
earliest childhood



  At the age of fifteen, Kit Carson was apm
prenticed to Mr. Workman, a saddler. This
trade requiring close confinement was, of
course, utterly distasteful to a boy already ac.
customed to the use of the rifle, and the stir-
ring pleasures of the hunter's life, and at the
end of two years, his apprenticeship was ter-
minated, for Kit, who, with his experience as
the son of a noted hunter, himself perfectly
familiar with the rifle, and, young as he was,
acknowledged to be one of the best and surest
shots, even in that State, where such merit pre-
dominated at that time over almost ever- other,
could not bear in patience the silent, sedentary
monotony of his life, voluntarily abandoned the
further pursuit of the trade, and sought the
more active employment of a trader's life.
  His new pursuit was more congenial. He
joined an armed band of traders in an expedi-
tion to Santa Fe, the capital of New Mexico.
This, at that period, (1826,) wvas rather a peril-
ous undertaking, on account of the Indian
tribes who were ever ready to attack a trading
caravan, when there was any prospect of over-
coming it. No attack was made on the party.
however, and no incident of importance oc-
curred, if we except the accident to one of the



teamsters who wounded himself by carelessly
handling a loaded rifle, so as to tender it nec-
essary to amputate his arm. In this operation
Carson assisted, the surgical instruments being
a razor, an old saw, and an iron bolt heated
red hot, in order to apply the actual cautery.
Notwithstanding this rough surgery, the man
  In November (1826) the party arrived at
Sante Fe, the capital, and the largest town in
the then Mexican province of New Mexico.
This place is situated on the Rio Chinto, or
Santa Fe river, an affluent of the Rio Grande,
from which it is distant about 20 miles. It
was then, as now, the great emporium of the
overland trade, which, since 182', has been car-
ried on with the State of Missouri. The houses
are chiefly built of arlobes, or unburnt bricks,
each dwelling forming a square, with a court in
the center upon which the apartments open.
This mode of building, originally Moorish, pre-
vails in all the colonies settled 1,y the Spaniards,
as well as in Old Spain, and the oriental coun-
tries. It makes each house a sort of fortress, as
General Taylor's troops learned to their cost at

0 Peters.




the seige of Monterey. The front entrance of
each house is large enough to admit animals
with their packs.
  Santa Fe is well supplied with cool water
from springs within its limits, and from foun-
tains above the city near the neighboring moun-
tain. The appearance of the place is inviting
and imposing, as it stands on a plateau elevated
more than 7,000 feet above the sea, and near a
snow-capped mountain, which rises 5,000 feet
above the level of the town; but the population
is said to be exceedingly depraved. The pres-
ent population is about 5,000; but at the time
of Carson's first visit, it was comparatively a
small town.
  Soon after their arrival at Santa Fe, Carson
left the trading band, which he had joined when
lie abandoned the saddlery business, or trade,
as the reader may choose to term it, and of
which we have previously spoken, and pro-
ceeded to Fernandez de Taos. In this place
Carson passed the weinter of 1826-7, at the
house of a retired mountaineer. And it was
while residing there, that he acquired that thor.
ough familiarity with the Spanish language,
which, in after years, proved of such essential
service to him. In the spring he joined a party



bound for Missouri, but meeting another band
of Santa Fe traders, he joined them and returned
to that place. Here his services being no longer
required by the traders, he was again thrown
out of employment. He now engaged himself
as teamster to a party bound to El Paso, a set-
tlement, or more properly a line of settlements,
embracing a population of about 5,000, situated
in the rich, narrow valley which extends 9 or 10
miles along the right bank of the Rio Grande,
in the Mexican State of Chihuahua, 350 miles S.
by W. of Santa Fe: Here the grape is exten-
sively cultivated, and considerable quantities of
light wine and brandy (called by the traders
Pass wine and Pass brandy) are made. The
houses are like those of Santa Fe, built of
Ud obes with earthen floors. With abundance
of natural advantages, the people are content to
li e without those appliances of civilized life,
considered indispensable by the poorest Amer.
ican citizens. Glazed w-indows, chairs, tables,
knives and forks, and similar every day con-
veniences are unknown even to the rich among
the people of El Paso. The place is the chief
emporium of the tra(le between New Mexico
and Chihuahua, and its name, " the passage " is
derived from the passage of the river through a



gorge or gap in the mountain just above the
  On his arrival at this place, young Carson
might justly be considered in view of his age
(not yet 18), more than an ordinary traveler.
He had arrived at a spot where everything was
strange to him. New people, new customs, a
new climate, a wine country, a population of
mixed breed, half Indian, half Spaniard-every-
thing wearing a foreign aspect; everything
totally different from his home in Missouri.
  He did not remain long in this place, but re-
turned to Santa Fe, whence he again found his
way to Taos, where he passed the winter in the
service of Mr. Ewing Young, in the humble
capacity of cook; this he soon forsook for the
more pleasant and profitable position of Spanish
interpreter to a trader named Tramell, with
whom he, for the second time, made the long
journey to El Paso and Chihuahua



               CHAPTER IL

  CmmuAlmA, where Carson had now arrived,
is the capital of the Mexican province bearing
the same name. It is situated on a small trib-
utary of the Conchos River, in the midst of a
plain. It is regularly laid out and well built;
the streets are broad and some of them paved.
Like other cities built by the Spaniards, it has
its great public square, or Plaza Major, on one
side of which stands the cathedral, an imposing
edifice of hewn stone, built at a cost of 300,.
000. It is surmounted with a dome and two
towers, and has a handsome facade with statues
of the twelve apostles, probably the first stat-
ues that Carson had ever seean Other public
buildings surround the square, and there is a
fountain in the middle. The city contains a
convent founded by the Jesuits, and an aque-
duct 3 miles long, supported by vast arches
and communicating with the river Chihuahua
It has also its mint, and in the neighborhood
are silver mines with furnaew for melting the


10           LIFE OF KIT CARSON.
ore. It carries on an extensive trade with the
United States by means of caravans to St. Louis
in Missouri, and San Antonio in Texas. It was
founded in 1691, and during the time when the
silver mines were in successful operation, it con-
tained 70,000 inhabitants. The population at
present is 14,000.
  As he had come with one of the trading car-
avans in the service of Colonel Tramell as
Spanish interpreter, we might naturally expect
that the engagement would be a permanent one.
But such was not the case. The monotony of
this life soon disgusted him, and after weary
weeks passed in comparative idleness, he longed
again for the freedom of the prairie and the
forest, and gladly abandoning the rather digni-
fied position of interpreter to Colonel Tramell,
entered into the service of Mr. Robert M.
Knight, in the more humble capacity of team-
ster in an expedition to the copper mines on the
river Gila, whence be soon after found his way
back to Taos.
  It was during this visit to Taos that Carson
was first enabled to gratify the desire which he
had long entertained of becoming a regular
hunter and trapper. A party of trappers in the
service of Carson's old friend, Mr. Ewing Young,

             LIFE OF KIT CARSON.           11
had returned to Taos, having been beaten off
from their hunting and trapping grounds by a
hostile band of Indians. Mr. Young raised a
party of forty mlen, for the double purpose of
chastising the Indians, and resuming the busi-
ness of trapping, and Carson joined them. The
fact that he was accepted for this service was a
marked token of esteem for his valor, as well as
his skill in hunting, parties of