Chronology of Publication of the Hugh Glass Story

The story of the events and men involved in Hugh Glass being left for dead in the wilderness, yet surviving a vicious grizzly attack, had become a basic stable in the history of the Rocky Mountain fur trade. It was produced for public consumption several times. The following is a chronology of the publication of the Hugh Glass grizzly mauling story.

1825 – Hall (Published 1825)                                                                                                                        

The first publication of the Hugh Glass story was in the 1825 edition of a Philadelphia publication called The Port Folio, in a section titled, “Letters From the West, No. XIV., The Missouri Trapper.” The same article, “The Missouri Trapper,” appeared in the June 16 issue of the St. Louis Missouri Intelligencer newspaper. Up until 1940, historians credited its authorship to Alphonso Wetmore. Randolph C. Randall, however, dispelled this attribution when his research into the Hall Family papers provided evidence that the author was James Hall, the younger brother of John and Harrison Hall, who were the publishers of   The Port Folio.  Click Here to View This Article

1830 – Cooke (Published in 1830 and 1842)                                                                                          

Just out of West Point, Lieutenant Phillip St. George Cooke was posted to Jefferson Barracks in 1827 and served in the west for thirty years. Under the name of “Borderer,” Cooke penned “Some Incidents in the Life of Hugh Glass, a Hunter of the Missouri.” It was published in the December 2 and 9, 1830, issues of the St. Louis Beacon. It was republished in the 1842 issue of The Southern Literary Messenger. 

1839 – Flagg (Published in 1839)                                                                                                                  

Based on an unnamed informant who claimed to be present when the bear attack took place, professional writer Edmund Flagg, from Kentucky, produced the article titled “Adventures at the Headwaters of the Missouri.” It appeared in the Louisville Literary News Letter on September 7, 1839. The article was republished as “Adventures at the Head Waters of The Missouri” on September 19, 1839 in Illinois Weekly State Journal, and November 1839 in the Dubuque, Iowa, News under the title “History of a Trapper.”

1843 – Maximilian (Traveled 1832-34, Published 1843)

Prince Maximilian of Wied traveled to America from 1832-1834 and was on the upper Missouri shortly after Hugh Glass was killed. Maximilian’s journals provide accounts on Hugh Glass’s life and death on the Upper Missouri as told to him by people who knew Glass, including an account of his meeting with Johnson Gardner. His journals Travels to the Interior of North America were first published in German in 1839-41 and English in 1843. A new three volume edited version was published by the University of Oklahoma Press in 2008-2010 titled The North American Journals of Prince Maximilian of Wied.

1846 – Sage (Published in 1846)                                                                                                                  

Writer and mountain man Rufus Sage explored the west from 1841-1844. During his travels, Sage heard the story of Hugh Glass and included it his book Scenes in the Rocky Mountains published in 1846. The book was later published under the title Rocky Mountain Life.

1847 – Ruxton (Published in 1847)                                                                                                            

British adventurer George Ruxton toured the southern Rocky Mountains in 1846-47. His account was published as Adventures in Mexico and The Rocky Mountains in 1847 and included a grizzly bear attack story of John Glass which was certainly the Hugh Glass story.

1856 – Beckwourth (Traveled 1824-35, Published 1856)

James P. Beckwourth was a fur trapper with William Ashley’s party and in the Rocky Mountains 1824 to 1835.  He claims to have found Glass’s body and attended his funeral. He told his life story to Thomas D. Bonner who wrote, The Life and Adventures of James P. Beckwourth.

1880 – Covington (Traveled 1827-1829, Published 1880)                                                                

Phillip Covington worked on the supply caravan to the 1828 rendezvous held at the south end of Bear Lake and is the only account discovered to date related to the rendezvous of 1828. His letters relate his experiences during his employment with William Sublette from 1827 to 1829. Covington tells of meeting Glass, whom he referred to as John Glass, and that “to prove the facts in the case, pulled off his shirt and showed the scars on his back and body.” His account was originally published in fourteen installments under the title “Fifty Years Ago” in the 1880 in The Greely Colorado Sun newspaper edited by John S. Gray.  The Colorado Heritage Magazine re-published an edited version of the letters of Phillip Covington titled “Young Fur Trapper-Phillip Covington Travels to the Rockies with William Sublette” in Issue #1, Volume 2, pages 10-25, 1982.

1902 – Chittenden (Published 1902)                                                                                                

Based on information obtained from river boat Captain Joseph La Barge and the article that appeared in the St. Louis Missouri Intelligencer, Hiram M. Chittenden included the Hugh Glass story in his landmark book, The American Fur Trade of the Far West.
Click Here to Purchase Publication.

1920 – Neihardt (Published 1920)                                                                                                      

 John Neihardt worked along the Missouri River in the early 1900s.  He heard many of the stories of the early west that had survived through oral tradition.  Armed with the stories and more of his own research, Neihardt published The Splendid Wayfaring in 1920.  The book included the Hugh Glass story.  While it did not add to the grizzly story, Neihardt’s contribution to history was publication of the letter Hugh Glass wrote in June 1823 to the family of a colleague killed at the Arikara battle.

1923 – Yount (Written 1850s, Published in 1923)                                                                      

Charles L. Camp edited the memoirs of mountain man George C. Yount for the California Historical Society Quarterly. Yount dictated his life story and adventures to the Reverend Orange Clark in the early 1850s.  Having entered the fur trade via the Santa Fe trade in 1825, Yount traveled throughout the Rockies and claimed to have personally known Glass.  Yount’s memoirs had been in storage until Camp helped bring them to light in 1923. Yount’s account, “The Adventures of Hugh Glass”, is the source of the information about Glass’s early life as a pirate and for living many years with the Pawnee.

1928 – Clyman (Traveled 1823-1829, Written 1871, Published 1928)                                        

Charles Camp also edited and brought to publication the memoirs of mountain man James Clyman in, James Clyman, Frontiersman 1792-1881 (Clyman Narrative 1823-24). Clyman was a member of the Henry-Ashley Company in 1823. While Clyman was  with the Jedediah Smith party when Glass had his run in with the bear, he did record the event in his dairy and stated that he received the information from a trapper that had been in the Henry party. Click Here To View Publication

1947 – Potts (Written 1824, Published in 1947)                                                                                

 In a July 7, 1824, a letter from the “Rocky Mountains” to a friend in Pennsylvania, Henry-Ashley Company trapper Daniel Potts stated, “one man was also tore nearly all to peases by a White Bear and was left by the way without any gun who afterwards recovered.” This letter is owned by the US National Park Service, stored in the Yellowstone National Park Museum and was not widely known until published in the 1947 issue of Yellowstone Nature Notes. Click here to view Pott’s letter.

1951 – Miller (Traveled 1837, Published in 1951)

William Drummond Stewart hired artist Alfred Jacob Miller to travel to the 1837 rendezvous.  Miller is the only artist to visit and create images of rendezvous and mountain men. During his career, Miller painted at least 10 works involving the grizzly bear.  In his 1951 book, The West of Alfred Jacob Miller, art historian Marvin Ross published Miller’s painting “The Grizzly Bear” and Miller’s accompanying notes.  The notes tell the story of Hugh Glass which Miller must have heard during his 1837 trip. Click here to view Alfred Jacob Miller’s painting and notes.

1963 – Myers (Published 1963)

John Myers Myers authored Pirate, Pawnee and Mountain Man: The Saga  of  Hugh Glass. It has since been re-produced as a Bison Book titled The Saga of Hugh Glass, Pirate, Pawnee, and Mountain Man. In his book, Meyers provides excellent detail and analysis of the various published accounts of the Hugh Glass story.

Article by: Clay Landry