Old West Lifestyle & Stories

Indian Fighter Jim Baker

Although he may not be as well known as mountain men Jim Bridger and Jim Beckwourth, this “Jim”, Jim Baker was also a trapper, scout and Indian fighter. Born in Illinois in 1818, at the age of 20 he went out West and spent time trapping in the Rockies for the American Fur Company.
He was a friend of Kit Carson, and next to Carson, Baker was General Fremont’s most trusted guide. He also spent a number of years living with the Shoshone Indians.
As an illustration of the type of man Baker was, in 1841 Baker and about 20 other trappers encountered over 500 Cheyenne, Arapaho and Sioux at the Little Snake River, and although unbelievably outnumbered, they were able to hold off the Indians.
After successfully guiding an army detachment on a dramatic midwinter trek from Fort Bridger, Wyoming to New Mexico, and back again in order to get emergency provisions for Fort Bridger, in 1858, at the age of 40, he moved to what is now downtown Denver, Colorado. Although at the time, a settlement of a few shacks, over the next five years Denver grew to the point that Baker decided it was just too crowded, and he moved to a more remote area…Wyoming.
Baker was usually a gentle man, but “the bottle” brought out the devil in him. On one drunken spree, because of a suspected infidelity, he threatened to cut off his wife’s ear.
Finally, at the age of 55 Jim Baker decided he had had enough adventure and settled down in Dixon, Wyoming, and became a farmer. Living to the ripe old age of 80, he died peacefully on May 15, 1898.

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