The North American Frontiersmen



Staff Writer

Smoke Signals

JAN/FEB 2011


Get Involved

Get involved with your interests, don't stand bye - your missing out on the adventure, the research and those things others with like interests are enjoying.

"Trapper Tom" Thompson & "Little Dick" Dahlgren [Masonville Rendezvous 1980]

I was born in Chester County, Pennsylvania. My motherís parents lived near Penn State on a farm of 1000 plus acres. I spent most of my youth as time allowed on the farm or in the mountains in the area.

When friends find I lived near and  had family at the Paoli Massure, they ask why was it called a "Massure".

  • Probably one reason this event was called a "Massure", was the people murdered while sleeping in their blankets, non-trained military personnel or not skilled in war, as were the men that did the deed. The largest part of them were local farmers and merchants that should have stayed home according to many of the local historians of this area. They were out classed by a long ways, compared to trained and field harden troops.

  • This happened on the night of September 20-21, 1777, in what is now the Borough of Malvern, Chester County, Pennsylvania, American soldiers under the command of Brigadier General Anthony Wayne were attacked and put to the bayonet by British soldiers under the command of Major General Charles Grey.


My family owned a small farm next door to the Malvern Memorial Grounds (Paoli Massure site) before and up until around 1937, at which time my father sold all but one acre of the original farm. Needless to save my friends and myself spent countless hours running around this site and the Valley Forge Park site from the time we could walk through high school.

My father has always been a history buff, didn't matter as to the time frame, interested many areas from the colonial period to the wars fought in this century. This is probably where my interest was developed, with all the research books, weapons, misc.. equipment and cabinets of historical society papers neatly filed to period.

His interest in history, weapons and the outdoors, and me being an only child I was taken at a very young age to gun shows, collector meetings, museums, private collections, etc.

He was involved with the Erie Canal through his company and going to some of the first meeting on rebuilding the old canal system. I have been very lucky being able to have made that trip on the Erie Canal, along with other trips that went west into Ohio and finally seeing the Mississippi River.


..... I've traveled from Ft. Benton, MT on the Upper Missouri to as far south as Ft. de Chartre, IL on the various rivers that dump into the Mississippi, and from Harrisburg, Pa to the Ohio Country on those connecting rivers, doing these trips in a number of different types of water vessels and time periods. We have always used correct clothing and equipment for those times. Have camped at Paoli Massure site, Valley Forge to original rendezvous sites of the Rockies, and slept in the same places as Lewis & Clark, when making their famous journey, in an attempt to  "following Others Footsteps".

I have settled down to just a few associations: American Mountain Men, Lenni-Lenape Society, and the National Rifle Association, this makes live much easier and leaves more time for research, (I have fallen into my father's trap)!

Some early travels are not worth mentioning, typical scouting events, very organized with our father's commanding the youth, serious stuff at the time. We became more interested in  doing the "Indian thing" with the Explorers and the Joe Hunt books, made about anything you can think of with logs and ropes. All done for badges and merit awards, not so much  to experience a period of time or style of living.

My first real experience at getting into the historical mode of travel was done so many years ago, I hate to admit to it.

Masonville Homestead

Original cabin on the property, new house behind cabin picture taken around 1930. [the future home of "Buckhorn Rendezvous" early 1980's].


We have been involved in several movies, "Centennial" at Estes Park, "The Mountain Men" at Jackson Hole, "Duchess & the Dirt Water Fox" at Central City, "The Frisco Kid" at Durango/Silverton, along with a half dozen local historical "shoots" for different societies. 

We have been involved in several "still sets" for local artists, showing "makin' sign", trapping in ice water to our waist, setting traps and general camp life of the Rocky Mountain fur trapper.

As time allows I  have been writing a few books, one at the publishers; "Success in The North American fur Trade" - for release in the summer of 2003, and still involved in writing articles for several national magazines. Along with these ventures I manage the AMM trade blanket & auction site.

There's always time to prepare a meal, Upper Missouri River near Ft. Union.  Buck Conner (left) & "Master Cook" Jerry Farthentault (right).






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