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John M. Bozeman

Bozeman, John M. (bōzˈmən) [key], 1835–67, American pioneer. A Georgian, he went to the gold fields of Colorado (1861) and Montana (1862). In the winter of 1862–63 he traveled with a companion from Bannack, Mont., to Colorado by a route lying E of the Bighorn Mts. through lands reserved by treaty to the Native Americans. Since the only other approaches to Montana from the east were the long, circuitous Missouri River or a trail leading N from the Oregon Trail in Idaho (which necessitated a double crossing of the Continental Divide), he was enthusiastic about his short cut, which became known as the Bozeman Trail. Several parties, including one guided by Bozeman himself, used the trail in 1864, and in 1865–66 the federal government built forts Reno, Phil Kearney, and C. F. Smith to guard it. However, after the Fetterman Massacre, Dec., 1866 (see under Fetterman, William Judd), the trail S and E of Fort C. F. Smith was abandoned. In Apr., 1867, Bozeman was killed by Native Americans. Bozeman Pass, where the trail crossed the Belt Mts., and Bozeman, Mont., were named for him.

See study by D. M. Johnson (1971).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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