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Neosho Daily News - Neosho, MO
  • Mountain man speaks to battlefield group

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  • A large crowd gathered at Newtonia Thursday night to hear Charles Wesley Parker, in the guise of John Colter, tell stories of his life on the Lewis and Clark Expedition and as a trapper in the Rocky Mountains.
    Although the dates can't be documented, Colter, is believed to have been born about 1775 and died in 1813. In those years, Colter lived an exciting life, and Parker told it well.
    Among the stories he related were his adventures as a member of the Corps of Discovery with Lewis and Clark. He spoke of mighty troubles with Indians and grizzly bears. He said the men on the expedition developed great respect for the big bears and were constantly pestered by Indians.
    He also told of his well-documented escape from the Blackfeet Indians in which he was given a 100-yard lead over about 600 Black Feet. Colter ran without any clothes or shoes, but eventually made his escape on a riverbank. He eluded the Indians by hiding in a brush pile in the river. His run was about 200 miles.
    Parker told the humorous story of trying to get back to St. Louis with Lewis and Clark. After being in the Rockies, he started back several times, but before he reached St. Louis, he was hired as a guide by trappers going west. After several attempts to return, he made it back to "civilization" in 1810.
    He also talked about Sacajawea, the 16-year-old Indian guide who accompanied the Expedition from Fort Mandan in North Dakota to the west coast. He complimented her and said she had the love and respect from all the men in the Corps.
    Colter told of his discovery of a strange place near the Yellowstone River that had boiling pots of mud and great streams of hot water shooting into the sky. He said that no one believed his tales about the place that looked and smelled like hell.
    After the "performance" Parker spoke as himself and answered questions and showed replicas of old guns and many furs like those Colter would have trapped.

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