When the free trappers banded together for self-preservation, they usually elected a partisan or captain to act as leader. He was usually a man with experience and had proven capable of keeping his men alive. The partisan had about as much power as a wagon boss on the Oregon Trail or the captain of a ship. The greatest of these in the Southwest was Ewing Young. Young had made the trek over the Santa Fe Trail in 1822 with William Becknell. He later led trapping expeditions down along the Gila River and its tributaries in Arizona. He also led the first American group that viewed the Grand Canyon.
Young served as a mentor for a lad named Christopher Carson, who had run away from home at the age of sixteen and had also come down the Santa Fe Trail in search of adventure. He had been apprenticed to a saddle maker in Missouri who offered a penny reward for the return of the runaway.
Trapper, scout, he was John C. Fremont, “Great Pathfinder’s,” pathfinder. Scout, Indian agent and army general. Kit Carson would prove to be worth far more than a penny to his country before he was through.