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Document Number: AJ-116
Author: Rogers, Harrison G.
Title: The Journals of Harrison G. Rogers
Source: Dale, Harrison Clifford (editor). The Ashley-Smith Explorations and the Discovery of a Central Route to the Pacific, 1822-1829. (Cleveland: Arthur H. Clark Company, 1918). Pages 197-271.
Pages/Illustrations: 76 / 2 (1 table)
Citable URL: www.americanjourneys.org/aj-116/

Author Note

Nothing is known about Harrison G. Rogers’ birth or early life prior to his appearance in these documents as a member of Jedediah Smith’s trading party.

Expedition of 1826-1827

Rogers and Smith spent almost a year on this journey, leaving Great Salt Lake with fifteen men on a trapping and trading expedition on August 22, 1826. The trip is documented in the first of the two journals given here and a letter of Smith to William Clark (see AJ-112).

Passing southwest through lands belonging to the Ute, Paiute, and Mohave nations they reached the Colorado River in early October. Crossing the Mohave Desert, they arrived at the Spanish mission of San Gabriel, near present-day Los Angeles, the following month to spend the winter. Rogers’ first journal (pages 197-228 in this document) describes part of their sojourn at the mission of San Gabriel. Because the Spanish would not let Smith trade in their coastal settlements, the party traveled north up the central valley before climbing through the Sierra Nevada Mountains at the end of May, crossing Nevada close to the route of modern-day U.S. Highway 6, and entering Utah near present-day Grandy. They reached the rendezvous site near Great Salt Lake again in July, 1827.

Expedition of 1827-1828

After this trip, Smith and Rogers immediately retraced their route with another group of traders, but half were killed before they reached California. Smith, Rogers and the survivors continued north from California into Oregon and up the Pacific Coast; this portion of the trip is described in Rogers’ second journal (pages 237-271 in this document). On July 14, 1828, all but four of the group, including Rogers, were killed by Umpqua Indians in present-day Douglas County, Oregon.

Document Note

After Rogers’ death, his journals were taken by the Indians who killed him. With the help of British authorities in Vancouver, they were given to Smith several months later and he carried them back to St. Louis. When Smith was himself killed in 1830, his business partner and executor, William Ashley, retained them. A descendant of Ashley’s gave them to the Missouri Historical Society. They were first published in the volume excerpted here.

Other Internet and Reference Sources

The best online source for further information about Smith, Rogers and their travels is the “Mountain Men and the Fur Trade Virtual Research Center” at http://www.xmission.com/~drudy/amm.html

which contains dozens of diaries, narratives, and letters of their contemporaries. It offers books, maps, pictures, email discussion groups, and links to other sites on the Web related to the history of the fur trade in the far West during the early nineteenth century.

The standard books about these events are George R. Brooks, ed., The Southwest Expedition of Jedediah S. Smith: His Personal Account of his Journey to California 1826-1827 (1989) and Leroy R. Hafen and Harvey L. Carter, eds., Mountain Men and the Fur Traders of the Far West (1982).

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