"A completely trustworthy account of Rocky Mountain trapping, 1831-35, including experiences with Walker's expedition from Salt Lake to California, 1833, of which it is the chief first-hand authority."--U.S.iana
In the spring of 1830, Leonard, a native of Clearfield, Pennsylvania embarked on an expedition across the Rocky Mountains, in the capacity of clerk to the company.
One misfortune after another happening to the company, he was deprived of all in the fall of 1835—after an absence of 5 years and 6 months.
Written in response to popular demand, Leonard's account of these years, based in large part on ‘a minute journal of every incident that occurred,’ is recognized as one of the fundamental sources on the exploration of the American West.
A free trapper until the summer of 1833, when he entered the employ of Captain B. L. E. Bonneville, Leonard was part of the group sent under command of Captain Joseph Walker to explore the Great Salt Lake region—an expedition that resulted in Walker's finding the overland route to California.
The Narrative ends in August 1835, with Leonard's return to Independence.
Zenas Leonard (March 19, 1809 – July 14, 1857) was an American mountain man, explorer and trader, best known for his journal Narrative of the Adventures of Zenas Leonard.Leonard worked for his uncle in Pittsburgh before moving to St. Louis and working as a clerk for the fur company, Gannt and Blackwell.
In 1831 he went with Gant and Blackwell's company of about 70 men on a trapping and trading expedition. Living off the land (Leonard reported that "The flesh of the Buffaloe is the wholesomest and most palatable of meat kind"), Leonard and his associates endured great privation while amassing a fortune in furs; the horses died in the harsh winter and the party was at times near starvation. They survived, in part, by trading with Native Americans. Among the more helpful tribal members he reported encountering was a negro who claimed to have been on Lewis & Clark's expedition, and who may have been the explorer-slave York. In 1835 Leonard returned to Independence, Missouri with enough wealth in furs to establish a store and trading post at Fort Osage. He continued to trade along the river for the rest of his life.
Leonard's journal was published in book form by D.W. Moore of Clearfield, Pennsylvania in 1839, after being serialized in the Clearfield Republican. It includes many details of the different tribes with which his parties interacted. As it is in the public domain, there are numerous reprints.