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.

Term beginning April 22, 2022 and ending on December 31 of the applicable year.

President             Milton von Damm          2023

Vice President    Rich Cimino                      2024

Castor Editor       Joe Green                         2025

Treasurer             Arthur Hurley                  2025

Secretary              Daryl Morrison               2023

Board member   James Aherns                  2024

Board member   James O’Callahan           2025

Board member   Robert Zybach                 2024


Emeriti  Board Member   Joe Molter

Emeriti  Board Member   Wayne Knauf


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

15 thoughts on “Jedediah Smith Society”

  1. I am a decedent of Jedediah Smith, My fathers name is Billy Roy Smith, of Tulsa, Oklahoma. I was told I was related by Mildred Smith, my Granny, who was born in 1911. There is a sculptured picture of Jedidiah on the wall of Comparative Ovations on the side of the museum in Murphy’s California that I have personally viewed in person.

  2. Hello there!
    My name is Emily Holmes, and I’m a Venture Crew scout here in Southern California. In regards to an award, I am researching and making a to-time set of mountain men clothing. As another requirement, I am to take my crew and I to an important place, museum or person in regards to the mountain men time period of 1810-1880s. Do you by chance know of any places or museums that may have artifacts from their period down here near San Diego county?

    Thank you so much for if this gets to you!
    Have a lovely day!
    – Emily

    1. I just saw your Nov 1919 note, sorry for the late reply. The nearest comprehensive museum is in Pinedale, Wyoming, Museum of the Mountain Man. In San Diego the Morman Museum may have something. Also, the San Diego Museum in the park may not have a current display but has artifacts in storage, perhaps they could assemble some things. Also try the San Diego Historical Society.
      Regards, Milton von Damm

    2. Not in San Diego, but the museum in Murphy’s California has a lot of information regarding mountain men of that time. Another source you may want to contact would be the Clampers local #58 of Stanislaus County in northern California.

  3. Hello JSS Mgmt, Our family is descended through my mom’s great grandfather Charles Edw. Strong b in 1820s CT. He came to California BY 1854. WE HAVE OVER 18 WIDE SASMPLES OF HIS AUTOSOMAL DNA NCESTRY, but there is not one record of his birth, parents, siblings, even his marriage to Mary Eliz Wiles of Perry, Wyoming NY b @ 1833. Her family was in CT (Clothier Squier)and Seneca, Ontario Co NY by 1793. The Family search fan chart of Jedidiah S Smith has most of the names we find in our cousin matches In the town (Perry NY)1812-1840s was a Rufus H Smith and Elisha Smith who traded PROPERTY. We have many close enough Smith Cousins here in early California, incl the BORAX King, his great grandson matches us. Francis Marion Smith (February 2, 1846 – August 27, 1931). JED Smiths fan chart has almost all the names we have via all our cousin matches on FTDNA- MY HERITAGE- ANCESTRY There was a Strong minister in Santa Cruz County CA from CT in the 1850s near our C. E. Strong., who also was in Hayward, Alameda , CA 1860 census and 1870, where Francis and his dad; Henry Grovier Smith b sep 1810 White Creek, Washington, NY
    died 1890 San Jose, Santa Clara, CA where ours died 11 miles north in Mt. View, SC, CA ABT1896. An unrelated cousin has placed our Charles Ed. Strong’s father as Braddock Strong & Mary Clark but no tie at all and should have disappeared. He still has not been tied in the Strong family records. Although all cousins lead to Elder John Strong and wife Deane & Ford and even our Mary Wiles grandmother with CE Strong, was a desd of a Mary Dean & Seba Squier b abt 1764 they are buried in Seneca, Ontario, NY coming from Litchfield Co CT in 1793+ Hopefully I will find why we are related to JS Smith
    as told by the granddaughter about 1910.

    1. I have been searching for information that might be helpful to Terry Bohme and discovered that there is a book by Benjamin Dwight titled The History of the Descendants of Elder John Strong of Northhampton, Massachusetts. Surprisingly there is a paperback copy for sale at

  4. 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. Hi, my name is Milton von Damm and I collect fur trade arms and trade goods. Jed purchased two percussion pistol from Creamer sometime before he led a freight caravan to Santa Fe. After he was murdered by Indians en route, one of his brothers subsequently found his pistols and rifle for sale in the Santa Fe marketplace. His brother Ira took one pistol and we don’t know what happened to the second. The first one was stolen from a museum in San Diego and has never been recovered. The type of rifle is not known, but it couldn’t have been Hawken because Jed was murdered in 1831, too soon for Hawken. Jed’s uncle said it was a colt revolving rifle, but that was also before they were manufactured. It might have been a Billinghouse revolving rifle, but slightly too soon. The common assumption is that the rifle was a Creamer, but there is no verification and I have not found evidence of a Creamer western plains rifle. Hope this helps.
      Milt, Secty/Treas Jedediah Smith Society

    2. Check the Pacific Historian. Vol 28, No. 4. Winter 1984.

      “The Pistol of Jedediah Smith.” By Troy S. Tuggle.

      Very good article. Names the San Diego police officers involved originally.

    3. I wrote an article in Pacific Historian Winter 1984 entitled “The Pistol of Jedediah Smith,” pp. 55-63. This pistol was preserved in the line of Jed’s younger brother Peter Smith, which is well documented. There was a rifle at one time which I believe was taken to California by Jed’s brother Ira (I believe that is correct).
      One of our learned Society members, Joe Moulter, has done a good deal of research about the maker of the pistol, which was probably Creamer. You don’t seem to be aware, that THE pistol was stolen from the Serra Museum in San Diego– there is much more about this in my article. Good luck, and I hope something herein is helpful.

  5. 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,

Leave a Reply to Milton von Damm Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *