Hawken Horse releases a new single inspired by the heroes of the Rocky Mountain Fur Company, headed by William Henry Ashley and Andrew Henry. The single, entitled "Enterprising Young Men" comes ahead of a November 3rd album release with more singles to come in September and October. Listen here.
In the early 1820s General William Ashley, of the Missouri militia, was looking to enter state politics but needed to raise funds to do so. Having barely survived a slew of past entrepreneurial and military pursuits, Ashley was looking at an insolvent future. To counteract his previous financial failures, he looked west to the fur trade.
Joining him as a partner was Major Andrew Henry, a long-time friend of Ashley's. Canvasing the local St. Louis area in 1822, they published an ad in the St. Louis Enquirer. It targeted "One Hundred enterprising young men . . . to ascend the river Missouri to its source, there to be employed for one, two, or three years." The caliber of men sought by Ashley and Henry would serve as the prototypical "mountain man". The criteria for the position was simple enough – masculine, well-armed, and able to trap for up to three years.
The ad attracted ample attention; roughly 180 men signed up. Among those hired were Jedediah Smith, Jim Bridger, Sublette brothers William and Milton, Jim Beckwourth, Hugh Glass, Thomas Fitzpatrick, David Edward Jackson, Joseph Meek and Robert Newell. Smith, Jackson and William Sublette bought the Company in 1826, and sold out to Bridger, Milton Sublette, Fitzpatrick and two others in 1830, at which time the enterprise was given the name by which it is most commonly referred to: The Rocky Mountain Fur Company.