Old West Lifestyle & Stories

Mountain Man Joe Meek

Joe Meek was born in Virginia in 1810. He had little use for school. So, at the age of 16 he left home. Later Joe did teach himself to write, and he read the classics of his day. But, when he wrote, his spelling and grammar were highly creative to say the least.
At the age of 19 Joe headed out west, and for ten years was a mountain man. At rendezvous, he was always asked to tell stories of his adventures. He told stories that were not only humorous, but often highly exaggerated.
By 1840 Meek realized the golden era of the mountain man was coming to an end. So, he took his Indian wife and led one of the first wagon trains along the Oregon Trail. Meek settled down in western Oregon and became a farmer.
At this time Oregon wasn’t a territory of the United States, and there was no military protection from Indians. So, in 1847 Meek led a delegation to Washington seeking territorial status. The heavily bearded and buckskin Meek was a sight to behold. He announced himself as the “envoy extraordinary and minister plenipotentiary from the Republic of Oregon to the Court of the United States.” Congress responded by making Oregon an American territory.
Meek became Oregon’s U.S. Marshal, and got involved in politics, helping found Oregon’s Republican Party. During the later part of Meek’s life there was strong anti-Indian feelings in Oregon. With an Indian wife, and children of mixed nationality, Meek endured what came his way, and remained to his death on June 20, 1875, a man of integrity, courage and magnetism.

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