Christopher Houston "Kit" Carson
Famous old west Figure
Was born in Madison County on December 24, 1809
Less than two years later, the Carson family moved to Missouri. After his father, Lindsey Carson, was killed in an accident, eight-year old Kit left school to help support his family. When he was 16, Carson joined a wagon train headed for Santa Fe. For the next ten years, Kit trapped and hunted in the Rocky Mountains, often living among Native Americans.
Carson was known for his courage, honesty, devotion to duty, and loyalty. He was also lucky, often finding himself in the right place at the right time. Such was the case in 1842 when he met John C. Fremont, and army engineer mapping the western states. Fremont hired Carson as a guide. Together they blazed trails across the American West. Fremont's colorful reports of Carson's skills and daring published in eastern newspapers made Kit Carson famous. Stories of his exploits soon appeared in popular "Dime Novels" and the legend of Kit Carson grew.
Carson and Fremont participated in the Bear Flag rebellion, which took California from Mexico in 1846. During the Mexican War, Carson led forces from New Mexico back to California to fight off an invading Mexican army. After the war, he served as Indian agent of the Southwest territories. During the Civil War, Carson joined the Union army. He helped raise a regiment of New Mexico troops and fought in the Battle of Valverde in New Mexico.
Failing health forced Kit Carson to resign his army commitment in 1867. He settled in Colorado. The next year, his wife of 25 years, Josefa, died. Kit Carson died one month later, on May 23, 1868. The following year, the couple's remains were moved to a cemetery in Taos, New Mexico.
Kit Carson Facts
He worked as a hunter for the U.S. Army.
Carson City, Nevada is named for him.
He helped John C. Fremont map California and Oregon.
Kit Carson Drive in Richmond, Kentucky is named for him.
He once drove 6,500 sheep from New Mexico to California.
California's Carson River is named for him.
He was awarded the rank of brigadier general for gallantry in the battle of Valverde.