John Bozeman

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John M. Bozeman
John Bozeman from The Bozeman Trail, Vol II (1922)[1]
BornJanuary 1837
DiedApril 20, 1867(1867-04-20) (aged 30)
Resting placeSunset Hills Cemetery
Bozeman, Montana
OccupationExplorer, trail guide, merchant

John Merin Bozeman (January 1837 – April 20, 1867) was a pioneer and frontiersman in the American West who helped establish the Bozeman Trail through Wyoming Territory into the gold fields of southwestern Montana Territory in the early 1860s. He helped found the city of Bozeman, Montana in 1864, which is named for him.


Bozeman was born in Pickens County, Georgia.[2]

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 James and Granville Stuart. Bozeman later 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 the following years.[citation needed]


The Death Of John Bozeman by Edgar Samuel Paxson

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, but some historians suspected that Bozeman was killed by Cover himself, or perhaps even by a henchman of pioneer Montana rancher Nelson Story named Thomas Kent.[4]


  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". The Mississippi Valley Historical Review. Organization of American Historians. 27 (4): 541–568. JSTOR 1897956.
  3. ^ "Origins of Names on Milwaukee". Roundup Record-Tribune & Winnett Times. August 22, 1940. p. 6. Retrieved April 27, 2015.
  4. ^ Schontzler, Gail (October 3, 2014). "Historians find new suspect in John Bozeman murder mystery". Bozeman Daily Chronicle. Retrieved November 10, 2016.

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