Pierre Chouteau, Jr. and Company Records, 1834-1864  PDF

Overview of the Collection

Creator
Pierre Chouteau, Jr. & Company
Title
Pierre Chouteau, Jr. and Company Records
Dates
1834-1864 (inclusive)
Quantity
.7 linear feet of shelf space
Collection Number
MC 4 (1:1-3)
Summary
Pierre Chouteau, Jr. and Company was a St. Louis, Missouri, based fur trading company with operations on the Upper Missouri River, including the area that later became Montana. Records include a letter from Pierre Menard (1810) from the region around Three Forks; Fort Benton Journal, Fort Sarpy Journal, and Fort Union Journal (1854-1856); and scattered correspondence and financial records (1834-1864). [Includes copies. Journals published in Contributions to the Historical Society of Montana, vol. 10.]
Repository
Montana Historical Society, Research Center Archives
Montana Historical Society Research Center Archives
225 North Roberts
PO Box 201201
Helena MT
59620-1201
Telephone: 406-444-2681
Fax: 406-444-5297
mhslibrary@mt.gov
Access Restrictions

Collection open for research.

Languages
English
Sponsor
Funding for encoding this finding aid was provided through a grant awarded by the National Endowment for the Humanities.


Historical NoteReturn to Top

Pierre Chouteau, Jr. and Company, a St. Louis, Missouri-based fur trading company, was formed through the purchase of the assets of the American Fur Company's Western Department, in 1834 by Bernard Pratte and Pierre Chouteau, Jr. The new firm operated as Pratte, Chouteau and Company, but in 1838, Pratte retired, Chouteau gained control and the firm operated for the remainder of its existence under his name. The firm, however, continued to be known as the American Fur Company throughout its operation. The Chouteau Company's Upper Missouri Outfit was the major American trading company in the Northwest from its inception to the end of the fur trade era in the 1860s, with periodic competition from other short-lived companies. The monopoly enjoyed by the Company from the mid-1830s was gained primarily by the combined use of light-draft steamboats and an illegal distillery at Fort Union. Some of the Chouteau Company's more well known partners and employees included: Alexander Culbertson, Andrew Dawson, Malcolm Clarke, Kenneth McKenzie, Alexander Harvey, and Louis Rivit.

Content DescriptionReturn to Top

Included in this collection are items representing the operations of several of Chouteau's predecessor companies as well as records of the later firm. Of particular note is a letter from Pierre Menard to Pierre Chouteau (April 21, 1810), written from the Three Forks of the Missouri, describing an attack on Menard's party by a group of Blackfeet. The two journals in the collection were kept by employees of the Choteau Company while operating from posts in what is now Montana. The Fort Benton journal (September 28, 1854 - November 30, 1856) was primarily kept by Andrew Dawson (1818-1871), but also by Alexander Rose, during May-October, 1856. The entries detail daily life and trading at Fort Benton, the Company's primary post for trade with the Blackfeet tribes at the head of navigation on the Missouri River. The James Chambers journal (January 1855-August 1856) reflects primarily the activity at Fort Sarpy, principal company post for fur trade with the Crows, but also includes entries from Fort Union and Fort Benton. Chambers' journal is also a detailed description of the life of the traders of the era. With the original journals are various transcripts, notes, indices, and miscellany, produced when the volumes were edited for publication in Vol. X (1940) of Contributions to the Historical Society of Montana, done by Society Library staff members John B. Ritchie and Anne McDonnell. Also included are copies of correspondence by chief agents at Fort Union for the American Fur Company (1834-1835) and post inventories representing operations of the Chouteau firm. All of the copies in this group come from the collections of the Missouri Historical Society.

Use of the CollectionReturn to Top

Restrictions on Use

Researchers must use collection in accordance with the policies of the Montana Historical Society. The Society does not necessarily hold copyright to all materials in the collection. In some cases permission for use may require additional authorization from the copyright owners. For more information contact an archivist.

Preferred Citation

Item description and date. Collection Title. Collection Number. Box and Folder numbers. Montana Historical Society Research Center, Archives, Helena, Montana.

Administrative InformationReturn to Top


Detailed Description of the CollectionReturn to Top

The following section contains a detailed listing of the materials in the collection

Incoming Correspondence Return to Top

Container(s) Description Dates
Box/Folder
1 / 1-2
Pierre Menard to Pierre Chouteau [original and copy]
April 21, 1810

General Correspondence Return to Top

Container(s) Description Dates
Box/Folder
1 / 3
Copies from the Fort Union letterbook and elsewhere
1834-1835, 1848, 1860-1861

Financial Records Return to Top

Container(s) Description Dates
Oversize Folder
1 / 4
Inventory of goods shipped to Fort Alexander, Fort Benton, and Fort Union [copies only]
1850
1 / 5
Inventory of goods at Fort Alexander, Fort Benton, and Fort Union [copies only]
May 1851
Box/Folder
1 / 6
Inventory of goods at Fort Alexander, Fort Benton, and Fort Union [typed transcripts]
May 1851
1 / 7
Inventory of goods at Fort Benton [original]
1864
Oversize Folder
1 / 8
Payroll for steamboat Banner State [copies only]
July 31, 1852
1 / 9
Statements of furs and robes shipped and onhand [copies only]
1852, 1856
Box/Folder
1 / 10
Statements of furs and robes shipped and onhand [typed transcripts]
1852, 1856

Legal Documents Return to Top

Container(s) Description Dates
Box/Folder
1 / 11
Agreement between Pierre Chouteau and Andrew Dawson and Malcolm Clarke
1862

Writings Return to Top

Container(s) Description Dates
Box/Folder
1 / 12
Fort Benton journal (kept primarily by Andrew Dawson and Alexander Rose)
1854-1856
1 / 13
James Chambers journal (primarily Fort Sarpy, but also includes Fort Union and Fort Benton)
1855-1856
1 / 14
Fort Benton journal (kept primarily by Andrew Dawson and Alexander Rose) [copies]
1854-1856
1 / 15
James Chambers journal (primarily Fort Sarpy, but also includes Fort Union and Fort Benton) [copies]
1855-1856

Miscellany Return to Top

Container(s) Description Dates
Box/Folder
2 / 1
Materials re publication of the journals (includes copies of credits, foreword, indexes, etc.)
1940
2 / 2
Appendices from 1940 volume
1939-1940
2 / 3
Notes and references from 1940 volume
1939-1940
2 / 4
Photographic copies of pages of the journals
undated

Names and SubjectsReturn to Top

  • Subject Terms :
  • Frontier and pioneer life--Montana
  • Fur trade--Montana
  • Trading posts--Montana
  • Corporate Names :
  • Pierre Chouteau, Jr. & Company (creator)
  • Geographical Names :
  • Dakota Territory
  • Fort Alexander (N.W.T.)
  • Fort Benton (Mont.)--Commerce
  • Fort Sarpy (Mont.)
  • Fort Union (undated)
  • Three Forks (Mont.)