Jacques La Ramee
|Jacques La Ramée|
|Born||June 8, 1784
Québec, British Canada
|Died||1821 (aged 37)
Laramie River, United States Unorganized Territory, present-day Wyoming
|Other names||Jacques Laramée, Jacques La Ramie, Jacques La Rami, Jacques La Remy, Jacques Laramie|
|Occupation||voyageur, frontiersman, coureur des bois, trapper, fur trader, hunter, explorer|
|Employer||North 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 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 the Laramie River of Wyoming and Colorado. The city of Laramie, Wyoming, with an Americanized spelling, is named for him.
The North West Company registry cites[when?] two Laramée brothers, Jacques and Joseph. A variant of the name La Ramée first appeared in the western United States in 1798, referring to a canoe man who worked until 1804. This probable relative may have been Francois Laramée, who is also listed in the registry of the company. 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.
Fur trader and explorer
According to historian C. G. Coutant, Jacques La Ramée worked as a voyageur and fur trader, for the North West Company and the John Jacob Astor & Co. fur company the American Fur Company. 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. La Ramée was known for his character and peaceful reputation. He 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. Coutant writes that La Ramée and his band of peaceful trappers befriended many Native American tribes who would sell pelts to La Ramée's operation. This enterprise established the free trapper rendezvous in Wyoming, where trappers represented themselves without middle-man or umbrella company. 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, and La Ramée was the trappers' spokesperson, responsible for assigning trapping areas to free traders.
In 1815, La Ramée organized a free-trapper rendezvous at the junction of the North Platte and what is now named the Laramie rivers; these later became annual events at this location. For five years these events grew in size, establishing a trade market as well as routes to and from supply depots. In May, following the rendezvous, the pelts would be transported to Saint Louis on bullboats via the Missouri river, and supplies returned by keelboat or bullboat. La Ramée would then distribute supplies to the free trappers, and assign their geographic trapping area for the coming season. In 1821, La Ramée was not present at the rendezvous, which initiated a search for him.
In 1820, La Ramée set off to trap along what is now known as the Laramie River and its tributaries. In the following year, 1821, he failed to arrive at the trappers' rendezvous, and a search party was organized. He was never seen alive again. 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, stated that LaRamée's camp was attacked by Arapahos, which they vigorously denied.
Several geographic sites in Wyoming were named for La Ramée (anglicized to Laramie), including the Laramie River, the city of Laramie, Wyoming, Fort Laramie, Laramie Peak, and Laramie County.
In popular culture
In James A. Michener's 1974 historical novel, Centennial and the 1978-1979 NBC television mini-series, of the same name, the colorful, French Canadian or French Metis, coureur des bois, from Montreal, Quebec, Canada, named "Pasquinel", was introduced, as an early, frontier mountain man and trapper, in 1795 Colorado, Spanish Upper Louisiana Territory of Mexico, now the present-day state of Colorado. Pasquinel was portrayed, in the NBC television mini-series, Centennial, by American TV actor, Robert Conrad. The fictional character of Pasquinel was loosely based on the life of French-speaking fur trader Jacques La Ramee. Pasquinel explains to his son Jacques that Jacques was named for Pasquinel's friend and former trapping partner, Jacques La Ramee.
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