About Charles Bent
Charles Bent (November 11, 1799 – January 19, 1847) was appointed as the first Governor of the newly acquired New Mexico Territory by Governor Stephen Watts Kearny in September 1846.
Bent had been working as a fur trader in the region since 1828, with his younger brother William and later partner Ceran St. Vrain. Though his office was in Santa Fe, Bent maintained his residence and a store in Taos. On January 19, 1847, he was scalped and killed by Pueblo attackers during the Taos Revolt.
Early life and education
Bent was born in Charleston, West Virginia (then Virginia), the oldest child of Silas Bent and his wife. He attended the United States Military Academy at West Point.
After leaving the army, in 1828 Charles and his younger brother William took a wagon train of goods from St. Louis to Santa Fe. There they established mercantile contacts and began a series of trading trips back and forth over the Santa Fe Trail. In 1832, he formed a partnership with Ceran St. Vrain, another trader from St. Louis, called Bent & St. Vrain Company. In addition to its store in Taos, New Mexico, the trading company established a series of "forts" (fortified trading posts) to facilitate trade with the Plains Indians, including Fort Saint Vrain on the South Platte River and Bent's Fort on the Arkansas River, both in Colorado; and Fort Adobe on the Canadian River. Bent's Fort, outside La Junta, Colorado, has been restored and is now a National Historic Site.
While serving as territorial governor during the Taos Revolt, Charles Bent was shot, scalped alive and assassinated by Pueblo attackers on January 19, 1847. The women and children in the Bent home were not harmed by the insurgents, and the remaining Bents fled to safety next door through a hole in the parlor wall.
Bent and the renowned frontier scout Christopher "Kit" Carson had married sisters. Maria Ignacia Bent outlived her husband by 36 years; she died on April 13, 1883. The Bents had a daughter Teresina Bent. Charles and Maria Bent and the Carsons are interred at Kit Carson Cemetery in Taos.
The Governor Charles Bent House is now a museum. An elementary school in northeast Albuquerque is named in Bent's honor.
Bent documented the indigenous peoples of New Mexico in an essay which was published posthumously in Henry Schoolcraft's study of American Indians:
Bent, Charles (1846). "Indian Tribes of New Mexico".