Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Joe Meeks On Western Wednesday...!

All the mountain men of their time were a bit larger than life, Meeks was certainly that type of individual.

He certainly had a colorful life and was the stuff from which legends were made. His history reads more like a novel than true life, but Meeks was as real as they come.

Mountain man Joe Meek dies

A skilled practitioner of the frontier art of the tall tale, the mountain man Joe Meek dies on his farm in Oregon. His life was nearly as adventurous as his stories claimed.

Born in Virginia in 1810, Meek was a friendly and relentlessly good-humored young man, but he had too much rambunctious energy to do well in school. At 16 years old, the illiterate Meek moved west to join two of his brothers in Missouri. In subsequent years, he taught himself to read and write, but his spelling and grammar remained highly original throughout his life.

In early 1829, Meek joined William Sublette’s ambitious expedition to begin fur trading in the Far West. For the next decade, Meek traveled throughout the West, reveling in the adventure and independence of the mountain man life. At 6 feet, 2 inches tall, the heavily bearded Meek became a favorite character at the annual mountain-men rendezvous, where he regaled his companions with humorous and often exaggerated stories of his wilderness adventures. A renowned grizzly hunter, Meek claimed he liked to “count coup” on the dangerous animals before killing them, a variation on a Native American practice in which they shamed a live human enemy by tapping them with a long stick. Meek also told a story in which he claimed to have wrestled an attacking grizzly with his bare hands before finally sinking a tomahawk into its brain.

Over the years, Meek established good relations with many Native Americans, and he married three Indian women, including the daughter of a Nez Perce chief. Nonetheless, he also frequently fought with tribes who were hostile to the incursion of the mountain men into their territories. In the spring of 1837, Meek was nearly killed by a Blackfeet warrior who was taking aim with his bow while Meek tried to reload his Hawken rifle. Luckily for Meek, the warrior dropped his first arrow while drawing the bow, and the mountain man had time to reload and shoot.

In 1840, Meek recognized that the golden era of the free trappers was ending. Joining with another mountain man, Meek and his third wife guided one of the first wagon trains to cross the Rockies on the Oregon Trail. Meek settled in the lush Willamette Valley of western Oregon, became a farmer, and actively encouraged other Americans to join him. In 1847, Meek led a delegation to Washington, D.C., asking for military protection from Indian attacks and territorial status for Oregon. Though he arrived “ragged, dirty, and lousy,” Meek became something of a celebrity in the capitol. Easterners relished the boisterous good humor Meek showed in proclaiming himself the “envoy extraordinary and minister plenipotentiary from the Republic of Oregon to the Court of the United States.” Congress responded by making Oregon an official American territory and Meek became a U.S. marshal.

Meek returned to Oregon and became heavily involved in politics, eventually helping to found the Oregon Republican Party. He later retired to his farm, where he died on this day at the age of 65.

Where would we be today without the brave and adventurous men like Meeks? Men like him gave us the knowledge and some of the tools to continue our settling of the far West.

Coffee out on thew patio today. It's hot, but hey...this is Texas!


Chickenmom said...

Americans were a lot tougher back then and of course the country was wide open. Amazing that they stayed alive for so long. Coffee on the patio is fine with me. Since it's so hot, I'll bring a bowl of refreshing fruit to share.

linda m said...

Hats off to men like him. Sure wish we had a few today. Don't mind the heat on your patio as I like the company and conversation.

Mamahen said...

I agree with Chickenmom n Linda, there aren't many like him around these days! I'm cold most of the time so the heat will feel good to me....i'm on my way :))

JO said...

I have read a few stories about Meek he sure was a colorful guy but a great guy.
Think it's going to be cooler here today about 99

HermitJim said...

Hey Phyllis...
I have to admit that I am also amazed that some of them lived as long as they did. Times were a lot harder back without a doubt.

Thanks for the fruit and for dropping by!

Hey Linda...
Not many tough guys around anymore. Not tough like this man. He and his kind were a totally different breed altogether!

Thanks for coming over today!

Hey Mamahen...
If you want some warm, this is the place! 80 degrees at 8:00 am.

Thanks for dropping by today!

Hey Jo...
Wow! A regular cold snap, huh?

Thanks, sweetie, for the visit this morning!

Dizzy-Dick said...

I always dreamed of living back in those times, but the truth of the matter is, I probably wouldn't have made it past child birth, being that I had to be born by cesarean section and then was a sickly child. I sure wouldn't have made into my 70's.