Iowa History Daily: November 15 -

Iowa History Daily: On November 15, 1872, Charles Larpenteur died after a life filled with adventure working as one of Iowa’s earliest European explorers and fur traders. After spending forty years trading on the Mississippi & Missouri rivers, Larpenteur retired to Harrison County to write an important autobiography detailing his experiences on the edge of the Iowa frontier.


Born just outside of Paris, France, during 1803, Larpenteur’s family immigrated to Baltimore in 1818. At 21, Charles headed west on horseback after hearing about lands and opportunities available in the Mississippi River Valley. Arriving in St. Louis, Larpenteur spent two years learning from the fur trader and governmental Indian Agent Benjamin O’Fallon.

In 1831, Larpenteur struck out on a steamer headed north with a friend familiar with the Sauk and Meskwaki tribes of the region. Arriving at the head of the Des Moines Rapids at the site of modern-day Montrose, Larpenteur spent two months among the Sauk and Meskwaki before returning to St. Louis.

The sojourn near the confluence of the Des Moines and Mississippi rivers a few years before the arrival of the 1st United States Dragoons convinced Larpenteur a fur trader’s life would suit him well. Building a career which would span over forty years, Larpenter spent much of his life trading on the Missouri River. He recorded his observations in his book “Forty Years a Fur Trader on the Upper Missouri: The Personal Narrative of Charles Larpenteur, 1833-1872.” #IowaOTD #IowaHistoryDaily #IowaHistoryCalendar




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