Jacques La Ramee

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Jacques La Ramée
Coureur de bois.jpg
Jacques La Ramée was a coureur des bois, believed similar in appearance to this woodcut by artist Arthur Heming
BornJune 8, 1784
Died1821 (aged 37)
Other namesJacques Laramée, La Ramie, La Rami, La Remy, or Laramie
Occupationvoyageur, frontiersman, coureur des bois, trapper, fur trader, hunter, explorer
EmployerNorth West Company, La Ramée family free trapping company
Parent(s)Joseph Fissiau dit Laramée and Jeanne Mondou

Jacques La Ramée (June 8, 1784 – 1821), was a French-Canadian Métis coureur des bois, frontiersman, trapper, fur trader, hunter, explorer, and mountain man who lived in what is now the U.S. state of Wyoming, having settled there in 1815. His name appears in several spellings, including La Ramee, Laramée, LaRamée, La Ramie, La Rami, La Remy, and Laramie. La Ramée is credited as an early explorer of what is now called the Laramie River of Wyoming and Colorado. The city of Laramie, Wyoming, with an Americanized spelling, was later named for him.

Early life[edit]

Jacques La Ramée was born on June 8, 1784, in Québec, British Canada, to Joseph Fissiau dit Laramée and Jeanne Mondou. He has been described as Métis, or French-First Nation.[citation needed]

Volume VI of the North West Company registry cites[when?] two Laramée brothers, Jacques and Joseph.[1] A variant of the name La Ramée was first documented in the western United States in 1798, referring to a canoe man who worked until 1804. This may have been Francois Laramée, who is also listed in the registry of the NW company.[1] This La Ramée had several sons, who ventured west into Wyoming and Idaho. According to Joachim Fromhold, one of the sons was Jacques La Rami, for whom the Laramie River is named.[2]

Jacques La Ramée organized a group of independent, free trappers, who set out in 1815 for the headwaters of the North Platte River in the United States Unorganized Territory of present-day Wyoming

Fur trader and explorer[edit]

According to historian C. G. Coutant, Jacques La Ramée worked as a voyageur and fur trader for the North West Company and John Jacob Astor's American Fur Company.[3][4][5] Employees of the North West Company and its rival, the Hudson's Bay Company, were in competition, and disputes at times turned violent. In 1821 the two feuding companies merged.[6]

La Ramée was known for his character and peaceful reputation. He organized a group of independent trappers, who set out, in 1815, for the headwaters of the North Platte River, in the United States Unorganized Territory of present-day Wyoming.[7] Coutant writes that La Ramée and his band of trappers befriended many Native American tribes who would trade pelts to them for European goods. This enterprise established the free trapper rendezvous in Wyoming, where trappers represented themselves without middle-men or an umbrella company.[8] According to journalist Jim McKee (citing Robert Stuart from 1812), free trappers would rendezvous each May on the Oregon Trail pathway along the shore of the North Platte River. La Ramée was a leader and considered the trappers' spokesperson. He assigned trapping areas among the free traders.[5]

LaRamée's rendezvous[edit]

In 1815, La Ramée organized a free-trapper rendezvous at the junction of the North Platte and what is now named the Laramie rivers. Later fur trading companies held annual rendezvous here.[9] For five years these events attracted more trappers and traders, and a trade market was established, in addition to routes to and from supply depots.[9] In May, following the rendezvous, traders would arrange for transport of the pelts to Saint Louis, Missouri on bullboats via the Missouri river. Supplies were returned by keelboat or bullboat.[9] La Ramée distributed supplies to the free trappers, and assigned their geographic trapping area for the coming season.[9]


La Ramée was known to have set off in 1820 to trap along what is now known as the Laramie River and its tributaries.[9][10] He was never seen alive again.[11][12] When he did not show up for the rendezvous, organizers initiated a search for him.[9] Speculation on his disappearance and death vary. It was said that he slipped on ice and fell into the Laramie River; or that his body was found in a small cabin; or that he was found "stuffed under a beaver dam"; or that he was killed by rival trappers or traders, and thrown into the Laramie River. An alleged eyewitness account, from Pierre Lesperance, said that La Ramée's camp was attacked by Arapaho warriors, which the people vigorously denied.[13][14][15][16]


Several geographic sites in Wyoming were named for La Ramée (anglicized to Laramie), including the Laramie River, the city of Laramie, Fort Laramie, Laramie Peak, and Laramie County.[17][18][19][20]

In popular culture[edit]

James A. Michener's 1974 historical novel, Centennial featured "Pasquinel", a French Métis coureur des bois from Montreal. He was portrayed as an early frontier mountain man and trapper in 1795 Colorado, then part of the Spanish Upper Louisiana Territory of Mexico. NBC television produced a mini-series adaptation of the same name, airing it in 1978-1979. Pasquinel was portrayed by American TV actor, Robert Conrad. Pasquinel is believed to be loosely based on La Ramee.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Hafen, LeRoy R. (1966). The Mountain Men and the Fur Trade of the Far West, Vol. VI. Glendale, California: Arthur H Clark Company.
  2. ^ Fromhold, Joachim (2012). Alberta History – The Old North Trail (Cree Trail), 15,000 years of Indian history 1750-1822. Canada: First Nations Publishing. p. 366. ISBN 978-1-105-65418-3.
  3. ^ Coutant, C. G. Dr. (1899). History of Wyoming and (The Far West). New York: Argonaut Press, Ltd. ISBN 1293790222.
  4. ^ Bettelyoun, Susan Bordeaux; Waggoner, Josephine (1999). With My Own Eyes: A Lakota Woman Tells Her People's History. Lincoln, Nebraska: University of Nebraska Press. pp. 24–33. ISBN 0803212801.
  5. ^ a b McKee, Jim (February 18, 2007). "Fort Laramie was in territory from 1854–1867". Lincoln Journal Star.
  6. ^ Eddins, Ned O. "Mountain Men Fur Trade Exploration History". The Fur Trapper. Archived from the original on 2015-05-07.
  7. ^ Fetter, Richard (1982). Mountain Men of Wyoming. Boulder, CO: Johnson Publishing Co. ISBN 0933472641.
  8. ^ McDermott, John D.; Hafen, Leroy R. (ed.) (1982). "J. LaRamee" in The Mountain Men and the Fur Trade of the Far West (Vol. VQ. Spokane, WA: Arthur H. Clark Co. pp. 223–225.CS1 maint: Extra text: authors list (link)
  9. ^ a b c d e f Shumway, Grant Lee (1921). History of Western Nebraska and its People, Volume II. Lincoln, Nebraska: Western Publishing and Engraving Company. pp. 12–13. Retrieved 21 January 2018.
  10. ^ Allen, Charles W. (2001). From Fort Laramie to Wounded Knee: In the West that Was. Lincoln, Nebraska: University of Nebraska Press. ISBN 9780803259362. Retrieved 21 January 2018.
  11. ^ "Jacques Laramie First Independent Trapper in State". Lincoln Journal Star. 26 February 1912. Retrieved 30 June 2019.
  12. ^ Spearman, Frank K. (1904). "The First Transcontinental Railroad". Harper's New Monthly Magazine. 109: 717. Retrieved 21 January 2018.
  13. ^ Pitcher, Don (2000). Wyoming Handbook (Fourth ed.). Emeryville, CA: Avalon Travel Publishing, Inc. Hafen, LeRoy (1968). The mountain men and the fur trade of the far west. Spokane, WA: Arthur Clark Co.
  14. ^ Chittenden, Hiram H. (1935). The American Fur Trade of the Far West. Lincoln, NE, and London UK: University of Nebraska Press.
  15. ^ Thrapp, Dan L. (1988). Encyclopedia of Frontier Biography, Volume 2 G-o. Glendale, CA: A.H. Clark Company. p. 813. ISBN 0-8032-9417-4.
  16. ^ Robertson, Roland G. (1999). Competitive Struggle: America's Western Fur Trading Posts 1764-1865. Tamarack Books, Caxston Press. p. 144. ISBN 978-087004-5714. Retrieved 22 June 2015.
  17. ^ National Park Service (2000). NPS Historical Handbook: Fort Laramee. United States National Park Service. |access-date= requires |url= (help)
  18. ^ University of Wyoming. "Jacques LaRamie Historical Marker Site near Wheatland, WY". Retrieved 22 June 2015.
  19. ^ Hardee, Jim. "The Fur Trade in Wyoming". Wyoming History. Retrieved 22 June 2015.
  20. ^ Fisher, James J. (October 2, 1986). "For was a rest stop before the peaks". Indiana Gazette. The Kansas City Star.

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