Thomas Fitzpatrick (trapper)

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Thomas Fitzpatrick (1795-1854), known as "Broken Hand", was a trapper and a trailblazer who became the head of the Rocky Mountain Fur Company. With Jedediah Smith, he led a trapper band that discovered South Pass, Wyoming however before that Robert Stuart led the first know white party through the South Pass.

He shepherded the first two emigrant wagon trains to Oregon, including the Bartleson-Bidwell Party. He was the official guide to John C. Fremont on his longest expedition. He guided Col. Philip Kearny and his Dragoons along the westward trails to impress the Native Americans with their howitzers and swords.

Fitzpatrick helped negotiate the Fort Laramie treaty of 1851, at the largest council ever assembled of Native Americans of the Plains. Among the most colorful of mountain men, Fitzpatrick was also party to many of the most important events in the opening of the West.


  • Hafen, LeRoy R. and Ghent, W.J., Broken Hand. The Life Story of Thomas Fitzpatrick, Chief of the Mountain Men. Denver: Old West Publishing Co., 1931. Reprinted by University of Nebraska Press, 1973.
  • Pedersen, Lyman C., "Warren Angus Ferris", in Trappers of the Far West, Leroy R. Hafen, editor. 1972, Arthur H. Clark Company, reprint University of Nebraska Press, October 1983. ISBN 0-8032-7218-9

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