Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Joshua Pilcher 1790-1843

Birth: Mar. 15, 1790
Death: Jun. 5, 1843
Born in Virginia, Pilcher came to St. Louis during the War of 1812. Originally a hatter by trade, he became involved in the mercantile business & was associated with Colonel Thomas Riddick for a while. Around 1820 he engaged in the fur trade of the upper Missouri River & spent a number of years in this venture, acquiring a thorough knowledge of the various tribes of that region. At the death of General William Clark in 1838, Mr. Pilcher was appointed by President Van Buren to succeed him in the office of Superintendent of Indian Affairs in St. Louis.
After Manuel Lisa died, the remaining partners signed a new contract, and Joshua Pilcher became the field representative in charge of the company's outposts and their fur traders. It was primarily through his efforts that the reorganized company enjoyed a degree of success. He was a merchant and banker in St. Louis, but had joined Lisa's company due to personal financial problems. He was a junior partner and served an apprenticeship as a trader among the Indian tribes in what was to become northeastern Nebraska.

From 1820 until at least 1824, Pilcher's primary base of operations on the Missouri was a trading post built by Manuel Lisa. The post is believed to have been about five miles southeast of present-day Fort Calhoun, Nebraska. Shortly before the Lisa post was abandoned, newer quarters were built at Bellevue around 1822 or 1823 and became the field headquarters and trading post of the Missouri Fur Company under the direction of Pilcher.

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