|John M. Bozeman|
Portrait of John Bozeman from frontispiece of The Bozeman Trail, Vol II (1922)
Pickens County, Georgia
|Died||April 20, 1867
Yellowstone River, Montana Territory
|Resting place||Sunset Hills Cemetery
|Occupation||Explorer, trail guide, merchant|
John Merin Bozeman (January 1837 – April 20, 1867) was a pioneer and frontiersman in the American West who helped blaze the Bozeman Trail through Wyoming Territory into the gold fields of southwestern Montana Territory in the early 1860s. Bozeman was born in Pickens County, Georgia. He helped found the city of Bozeman, Montana in 1864, which is named for him.
Gold mining and the Bozeman Trail
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.
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. 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". In 1864, he laid out the town of Bozeman, Montana. Its proximity to the trail helped it to grow in the following years.
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- "Origins of Names on Milwaukee". Roundup Record-Tribune & Winnett Times. August 22, 1940. p. 6. Retrieved 27 April 2015.
- Schontzler, Gail (3 October 2014). "Historians find new suspect in John Bozeman murder mystery". Bozeman Daily Chronicle. Retrieved 10 November 2016.