Jedediah Smith Society

A California non-profit organization founded January, 1957, with these objectives:

To acquire, preserve, and make available for scholarly research and public display the original journals, letters, records and personal belongings of Jedediah Strong Smith, 1799-1831, early American explorer, cartographer, and mountain man;

To encourage scholarly research and writing, with particular emphasis on the accomplishments of Jedediah S. Smith and other early fur traders and explorers, by offering appropriate awards, scholarships and grants for meritorious study and research;

To foster, through public meetings, publications, or other events or activities, appropriate and effective educational programs to promote public awareness and understanding of the career and accomplishments of Jedediah S. Smith and other early fur traders and explorers.

The Society holds two regular membership meetings per year, one in April at the time of the California History Institute at UOP, and a fall “rendezvous” in late September, early October or November at a historic location on or near one of Jed Smith’s known campsites. In addition, the Board of Directors meets on call.

The business office of the Society is:
Jedediah Smith Society
1322 Shattuck Ave.  Apt 401
Berkeley, CA 94709

The Society is headed by a president and other officers elected annually, by a board of directors elected every three years.

twotraders2019 Officers

President:  Kevin Kucera
Vice President:  Jim Smith
Secretary:  Milton von Damm
Treasurer: Milton von Damm

Board of Directors

Kevin Kucera
Jim Smith
Milton von Damm
Rich Cimino
Luke Kucera
Bob Shannon
Sheri Wysong

Executive Committee
Kevin Kucera
JIm Smith
Milton Von Damm

Click here to see photos of our past Rendezvous and Upcoming Events 

11 thoughts on “Jedediah Smith Society”

  1. Hello my name is Joe Kierst I’m a fur trade historian and reenactor. I’ve been wondering lately, and thought this would be a good place to start digging, about what has become of Jed Smiths guns? Are they in a museum or private collection or simply disappeared in the tides of time? I’m refering to the ones he carried on the the Santa Fe trail, which were taken from him by the Comanches that killed him, who traded them to a Comanchero who in turn had them on his trade blanket in Santa Fe where Jeds friends and brothers noticed them and learned of his death from the Comanchero. I believe he was carrying a Hawken rifle and a pair if dueling pistols. Any help is appreciated. Thank you.

    1. Just saw your post. We print maps on demand on strong paper that could be framed or secured to backing that could then be used as a poster. Milton von Damm.

  2. Dear Jedediah Smith Society ,
    I think it is cool how this website takes its time to learn all about Jedediah Smith.

  3. Dear jedediah smith society
    My name is isaiah and I am a middle school student currently learning about the history of the American West. We are doing a research project about any area of the American West that we find interesting and my group has decided to research jedediah smith While doing our research we came across your museum, and were hoping that you could lend your expertise on our subject and answer a few questions we have about it. If you would be able to help further our research please email us back and thank you for your time!

    1. Hello Isaiah,
      By any chance are you working with Turner on this project?
      Jim Smith, our JSS President has written a letter to Turner which he asked me you forward to you.
      We are interested to hear the types of questions you might have. Please read the thread below.

      Hello Turner,
      I received your email. I would be happy to work with your group as you learn about Jedediah Smith. I’ll try to answer any questions you may have. You didn’t mention the name of your school or the town you live in. That might help me.
      But please email with your questions. I hope you are finding the web site interesting and useful.
      Kindest Regards,
      Jim Smith,
      Jedediah Smith Society.

  4. Hi, Mayor David Ogden here in Richfield Ut.. We opened a
    visitor center June 27th. We had over 2,000 visitors before November. By any accounts it has been a big success. We have helped travelers find their way and also educated many on the importance of the Mountain Man/ Traders Trapper era. In our center we are creating a diorama of a mountain man/ beaver/traps and we intend that it be as good as possible. I need some assistance if possible. I have a very talented taxidermist who is helping with the project. I would love to teach about Jed Smith at the same time. I am prepared to purchase what I need to do this. I need best ideas for clothing etc. We have a beautiful beaver caught by government trapper and being tanned now. I plan on having the framed wall map of Jed’s travels. We will purchase a full size mannequin but I would appreciate any advice for our project. Thank you very much. Dave Ogden

    1. This may be nothing, but I recall my 5th grade teacher in Lawson, Missouri telling me that Jed Smith’s brother, her grandfather started the Lawson bank,in 1883…or perhaps the next generation, due to that 1883 date. Her name was Cleo, born 1900. Her grandson later married my sister(2010). Any truth here? I suppose the history of Lawson bank may lend some credibility. I have a Lawson history book from a centennial in 1971 that may shed light if I find it. It may be of some interest.

    2. Professor William Swagerty is a member of the Jedediah Smith Society and co Chair of the History Department at the University of the Pacific, located in Stockton, California. The Arthur Clark company published his two volume set about the Lewis and Clark Expedition titled ” The Indianization of Lewis and Clark”. It is relevant to your quest to have an authentic display because Swagerty describes in detail how the food they ate, the clothing they wore and all aspects of their daily living had to adapt to where they were and how the Indians were living in various locations along their route. Using clothing as an example, what they were wearing when they began had no resemblance to what they were wearing when they returned.
      Based on reading these thoroughly researched books, my suggestion is to follow Jed’s route from where he was coming from when he passed through your area. If he was traveling East from California he would have worn a cloth shirt made from material obtained at a mission. He probably would have been wearing hand made moccasins, probably made from cow hide. It was common for trappers to wrap a black silk handkerchief over their heads. For a coat, they might have still had a copote made from a three point trade blanket, or a leather coat made from an animal skin and a leather breech clout. I would be surprised if he would have been wearing anything red because it would stand out and be an obvious target. His accouterments would include a hunting pouch, a fire starting kit that included a flint, a steel and a magnifying glass, dark glasses similar to welders glasses, a small ax with a pole top that could be used as a hammer, a small wooden handled all purpose knife with an Indian beaded sheath hanging from a sting of leather around his neck with the knife just below his chin, a larger Bowie type knife, a flintlock pistol, probably military surplus, a full stocked flintlock rifle that was probably made in Lancaster, PA, plus personal items such as a razor, pipe, tobacco, and probably a bible. His saddle would probably have been a Spanish saddle tree with a buffalo hide to sit on which would also be his sleeping blanket. He would probably also be carrying a looking glass as well as pen and paper to maintain his daily journal. Carrying water was an unsolvable challenge for man and animal. He may have had a gourd, a sack of some type, or an animal horn. If he was traveling with a brigade of men from the East they would have had pack animals that were carrying food, camp tools and supplies, beaver traps, lead, powder and trade goods.
      Assembling an outfit of original artifacts would be costly, but spectacular if feasible. There are online sources that market reproduction items to fur trade rein actors. An online search would yield some names. Once you compile a shopping a shopping list, EBAY might be a good source for many items.
      One last suggestion, if you must use a manikin I would not include a head. It’s just my personal opinion but I think it would cheapen the exhibit.
      I hope this helps,

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