About Ezekiel "Zeke" Williams
"Ezekiel "Zeke" Williams (1775-1844) - Trapper, trader and frontiersman, Ezekiel was born in Kentucky about 1775 where he went to school. More familiarly called Zeke, he grew up to marry and fathered a son. by 1807, he was in St. Louis and worked his way up the Missouri River trapping along the way. He joined Manuel Lisa and helped to construct Fort Raymond at the confluence of the Big Horn and Yellowstone Rivers. Zeke returned to St. Louis with Manuel Lisa in 1808 and the following year, accompanied the St. Louis Missouri Fur Company back up the river, working out of Fort Mandan in present-day North Dakota.
"In 1810, he was trapping along the upper Arkansas River and later joined the Arapaho Indians, with whom, he was thought to have spent the years of 1812-13 with them in New Mexico. By December, 1814, he was back in St. Louis, Missouri. While he had been trapping along the Arkansas River, he was working with Jean Baptiste Champlain, who had been killed along the way. Some accused him of Champlain's death and stealing his furs, but this was most likely unjust. He married again and was farming near Franklin in 1814 and later moved to Boonville, Missouri in 1823. In 1827, he led a party to Santa Fe, New Mexico and returned safely. He then moved to Benton County, Missouri, where he died on December 24, 1844."
Source: Legends of America, Explorers, Trappers, Traders & Mountain Men.
The Williams Expedition
"Captain Lewis, when ready to leave Fort Mandan on his return trip, invited the chief of the Mandan tribe, Big White, to accompany him to Washington. The chief promised to do so, and to take his wife and son with him, provided he was assured of an escort up the river on his return. He feared warlike tribes who lived lower down on the river. Captain Lewis readily promised that the government would send a sufficient escort to guarantee their safety past the dangerous tribes who infested the Missouri lower down the river. The president made good Captain Lewis' promises. Twenty hardy Missourians who had all seen service were selected to form the escort. The command of the expedition was given to Ezekiel Williams, a man of large frontier experience,”a hunter of renown who had the reputation of being an excellent rifleman, cool, determined and brave. The party left St. Louis on April 25, 1807. They were outfitted for two years' stay in the mountains, it being understood that they were first to return the Mandan chief and his family to their native village, after which they were at liberty to trap as long as they saw fit. The party was not only well selected but well equipped, and they entered upon their journey with enthusiasm, feeling satisfied that they would bring home many thousand dollars' worth of rich peltries. It was their intention to trap for a time on the headwaters of the Missouri and then cross the mountains and try their luck on the other side." (Read more ...)
- Charles Griffin Coutant, History of Wyoming, Vol. 1 (1899), Chapter 6: Ezekiel Williams Party in Wyoming
- SantaFeTrailResearch.com, Ezekiel Williams, Grandfather of the Santa Fe Trail