Sunday, March 6, 2016

A Crane in the family

        The Indians called him The Crane. Historians call him a mountain man, a contemporary of William Sublette and Jim Bridger. I call him Uncle Sam.
         Samuel Tullock was one of the six sons of widow Jemima Tullock. She moved her boys to the Missouri territory in 1814 when Sam was 13. A decade later, Sam was a trapper and fur trader for the American Fur Company. He injured his wrist in a brawl at the fur traders' rendezvous in Idaho in 1827 and lived with a permanently withered hand. Didn't slow him down much. He slugged a  Frenchman named Bray who teased him about his hand at a Wyoming rendezvous in 1829. Bray never got up again.
         Sam built two forts in Montana for the American Fur Company: Ft. Cass in 1832 and Ft. Van Buren in 1835. Both forts were on the Yellowstone River, near the Big Horn River, in the middle of Crow country. He traded with the Indians: seven fur robes for a flint-lock gun, six robes for a red blanket.
         Sam returned to Missouri in 1839, married an Irish immigrant and raised seven kids. He served as a county judge in Iron County, Mo., from 1858-1860 and lived to be almost 80.
         But he left his name in Montana where Tullock Creek still flows into the Big Horn River less than a mile from where the Big Horn empties into the Yellowstone River.