William Lewis Sublette

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William Lewis Sublette

Birthplace: Stanford, Lincoln County, Kentucky, United States
Death: July 23, 1845 (46)
Pittsburgh, Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, United States
Immediate Family:

Son of Phillip Allen Sublette and Isabella Sublette
Husband of Frances S. Sublette
Brother of Milton Green Sublette; Sophronia Fullen Sublett; Mary (Polly) L. Sublett; Andrew Whitley Sublette; Sally Whitley and 2 others

Managed by: Lori Lynn Wilke
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About William Lewis Sublette

William Lewis Sublette Born in Stamford, Kentucky on September 21, 1799. Died on July 23, 1845 in Pittsburg. W.L. Sublette was a fur trapper, pioneer and mountain man, who with his brothers after 1823 became an agent of the Rocky Mountain Fur Company (and later one of its owners) exploiting the riches of the Oregon Country, which helped settle the best routes later improved into the Oregon Trail.

He was one of five Sublette brothers prominent in the western fur trade: William, Milton, Andrew, Pinkney, and Solomon. Sublette was one of the leaders among the American mountain men pushing hard against the British companies active in the American fur trade in the Pacific Northwest and against the American Fur Company trappers in the high Rockies and other Incorporated territories of the United States.

He retired from high-risk (i.e. venturing near hostile Amerindian peoples) trapping activities after being wounded at the Rendezvous of 1832 in the Battle of Pierre's Hole, which some accounts claim he hot-headedly triggered in his actions prior to the gun battle. After recuperating over a year back in St. Louis, he returned to the uplands and founded Fort Laramie in the foothills east of the South Pass — the fort commanded the last eastern stream crossing at the foot of the last ascent to the floor of South Pass; the only route readily navigable by wagons over the continental divide.

In 1823, William was recruited in St Louis by William Henry Ashley as part of a fur trapping contingent later referred to as Ashley's Hundred. This was the beginning of a new strategy for conducting the fur trade in response to a change in law in 1822. Liquor had been one of the principal currencies traded to Amerinds; such trafficking had been made illegal. The new scheme set up a Trapper's rendezvous, a teamster-drover team operating the freight bringing in supplies and returning with furs, and a corp of trappers making their circuit to traps they themselves had set as team members.

By 1832, Sublette acquired Ashley's fur business along with Jedediah Smith and David Edward Jackson. His brother Milton some years later in the mid-1830s was one of five men who bought the Rocky Mountain Fur Company off his brother William and his partners.

In 1832, Sublette was wounded in the battle of Pierre's Hole in Idaho. After some uneventful fur business ventures, he sold Fort William to the American Fur Company (so it soon became Fort John). Sublette finally retired in St. Louis, Missouri.

Sublette County in Wyoming and the city of Sublette, Kansas are named for him.


Sometimes characterized as a "mountain man," perhaps because he had visited the Rocky Mountains more than once and had been associated with Jedediah S. Smith. That characterization may slight his capabilities as a merchant and trader, but is not incorrect. He seems to have been one of the buyers of a pioneer trading company established by William Ashley. In an index to a recent edition of Francis Parkman's The Oregon Trail I have noticed several references to William Sublett. [11 Aug 2001: MR, 1935--.] Addendum, 16 Aug 2001; source, Flanagan, Mike, The Complete Idiot's Guide to the Old West, New York, Macmillan, 1999: This source claims William took over the raising of his siblings after his parents died in 1822. He bought out Ashley in 1826, founded Fort William (a trading post in now ND) in 1833, helped build Ft. Laramie (another trading post) in 1834, and retired to Saint Louis in 1836, where he was a successful businessman. Flanagan also indicates that he was married to Frances Hereford, who, widowed, married his brother Solomon in 1849. [MR]

William Sublette

Born: September 21, 1799 in Lincoln County, Kentucky

Died: July 23, 1845 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

A mountain man,fur trader and frontier explorer, William Sublette was a partner in the Rocky Mountain Fur Company in 1826 with Jed Smith and David Jackson until 1830 when they sold to Fritzpatrick, M. Sublette, Jim Bridger, Fraeb and Gervais

Exploring with Jackson, William Sublette discovered the geysers of Yellowstone Park in 1826

Credit is given to William Sublette for developing the Mountain man rendezvous affair an annual event for many years

William Sublette played a major part in establishing the wagon trail through South Pass and the building of what was known later as Fort Laramie

On March 10, 1830 William Sublette purchased his Sulfur Spring farm located on the River Des Peres, six miles from St. Louis, Missouri. William Sublette was one of the original developers of Kansas City, Missouri

Forming a land company William Sublette believed a new town could exist between Westport and Independence before his death in 1845

SOURCE: http://www.linecamp.com/museums/americanwest/western_names/sublette...

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William Lewis Sublette's Timeline

September 21, 1798
Stanford, Lincoln County, Kentucky, United States
July 23, 1845
Age 46
Pittsburgh, Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, United States