A Scottish emigrant, Andrew Dawson (1817-1871) worked at Pierre Chouteau Jr. and Company’s Upper Missouri trading posts from 1847 until 1864. After superintending Fort Benton from 1854 onward, he retired to Scotland. By then, government freighting contracts and commerce with overland migrants, soldiers and miners had supplanted the old-time Indian trade.
Thirty-seven of Dawson’s surviving letters to relatives form the documentary core of This Far-Off Wild Land: The Upper Missouri Letters of Andrew Dawson, by great-grand-nephew Andrew Erskine Dawson and Lesley Wischmann . The work includes a biography and two “lodge talks” that Dawson perhaps intended to publish. Sadly, Dawson’s own detailed journals vanished when a steamboat wrecked during his return to St. Louis in 1864.
This book presents the story of a troubled man whose vivid account of life in the Upper Missouri sheds light on the early history of Montana and its environs.
—Barton H. Barbour, author of Fort Union and the Upper Missouri Fur Trad