John Bozeman

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For the U. S. Senator, see John Boozman.
John M. Bozeman
John Bozeman [1]
Resting place Sunset Hills Cemetery, Bozeman, Montana
Occupation Montana pioneer, trail guide, merchant
The Death Of John Bozeman by Edgar Samuel Paxson

John Merin Bozeman (January 1837 – April 20, 1867) was born in Pickens County, Georgia.[2] He was an early Montana pioneer and helped create the Bozeman Trail through Wyoming Territory into the gold fields of southwest Montana Territory. He helped found his namesake city of Bozeman, Montana in 1864.

Gold mining and the Bozeman Trail[edit]

In 1860, John Bozeman headed west to join in the Pike's Peak Gold Rush in Colorado, leaving behind his wife and children. After his mining claims in Colorado failed, Bozeman traveled to Deer Lodge in western Montana Territory in 1862 to work the gold fields discovered by Granville and James Stuart. Bozeman joined the January 1863 rush to newly discovered gold in Bannack, Montana but his claims there proved unsuccessful.[2]

Seeing that it would be more profitable to "mine the miners" than to mine for gold, Bozeman enlisted the support of another unsuccessful Bannack prospector and friend, John Jacobs, to explore a new and shorter route into Montana Territory from the East.[citation needed] In 1863, he and John Jacobs blazed the Bozeman Trail, a cutoff route from the Oregon Trail in Wyoming to Bannack, Montana, and guided miners to Virginia City through the Gallatin Valley. Bozeman settled in the Gallatin Valley at a site "standing right in the gate of the mountains, ready to swallow up all tenderfeet that would reach the territory from the east, with their golden fleeces to be taken care of".[citation needed] In 1864, he laid out the town of Bozeman, Montana.[3] Its proximity to the trail helped it to grow in succeeding years.[citation needed]


Bozeman was murdered while traveling along the Yellowstone River in April 1867. His partner, Tom Cover, reported they had been attacked by a band of Blackfeet Indians. Inconsistencies in his story have led historians to suspect that Bozeman was killed by Cover himself.[citation needed]


  1. ^ Hebard, Grace Raymond; Brininstool, E.A. (1922). The Bozeman Trail-Historical Accounts of the Blazing of the Overland Routes into the Northwest, and the Fights with Red Cloud's Warriors - Volume II. Cleveland: Arthur H. Clark Company. frontispiece. 
  2. ^ a b Merrill G. Burlingame (March 1941). "John M. Bozeman, Montana Trailmaker" (pdf). The Mississippi Valley Historical Review (Organization of American Historians) 27 (4): 541–568. 
  3. ^ "Origins of Names on Milwaukee". Roundup Record-Tribune & Winnett Times. August 22, 1940. p. 6. Retrieved 27 April 2015. 

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