FUR TRADE - [BRIDGER, Jim and John SARPY]
[Manuscript Document Signed by John P. Sarpy Testifying to the Dispersal of the Estate of Henry Fraeb and the Difficulty of Collecting Money from Famed Mountain Man Jim Bridger]
St. Louis: June 20, 1843. pp., docketed on verso. Folio. Old fold lines; some separation at folds, a few repaired with older archival tape. Quite clean and bright. Good.
Jim Bridger's bad debts.
A remarkable window into the business dealings of famed mountain man Jim Bridger, this signed manuscript affidavit of John P. Sarpy, testifies to his actions on behalf of the estate of fellow fur trader Henry Fraeb, who was killed by Indians in the Rocky Mountains. Sarpy, who was a partner in the major firm Pierre Chouteau &. Co., had worked closely with Fraeb and knew him well. In his affidavit he writes about the Chouteau Company's concerns about Jim Bridger, Fraeb's partner at the time of his demise, and the difficulty of getting Bridger to pay his debts. Dated at St. Louis, Sarpy's affidavit says that "on the 8th day of August last he was appointed...administrator of the estate of Henry Fraeb then lately deceased. Said Fraeb had been a trader in the mountains, & was at the time of his death in partnership with a man of the name of James Bridger, & said Bridger & Fraeb were indebted to the firm of Pierre Chouteau Jr. & Co., & it was feared by the members of said firm that unless some one became the administrator of the said Fraeb, the said Bridger might interpose difficulties in the settlement of the accounts existing between them & Bridger & Fraeb. & for the purpose of doing justice to themselves, as well as to the said Fraeb, the said Sarpy applied for letters of administration, which were granted to him as above mentioned. The said Bridger has however since this time been here & has settled in full the accounts existing between the firm of Pierre Chouteau Jr. & Co. & the said Bridger & Fraeb. And the said Sarpy says that no property has come into his hands as the administrator of the said Fraeb, although it may be that the said Fraeb has property in the [mountain?] country or in the hands of James Bridger his former partner." Though he may have been one of the greatest and most beloved mountain men of all time, Jim Bridger was not the best debt in the world, nor did Pierre Chouteau & Co. forget business.