Wilson Price Hunt

March 20, 1783 - April 13, 1842

Hunt, Wilson Price, fur trader (Mar. 20, 1783-Apr. 13, 1842). Born at Asbury, New Jersey, he became a St. Louis merchant at 21 and in 1809 met with John Jacob Astor concerning the latter's plan for a northwestern fur empire. Hunt became leader of the overland Astorians and was to take charge of the Columbia River post where the project would center. The land party left St. Louis late in 1810, wintering a few miles below the junction of Missouri, Kansas and Nebraska. The group left up the river April 21, 1811, engaging in a "race" of sorts with Manuel Lisa of a competing company for the last few hundred miles to the Arikara villages. The overland party, leaving the Mandan villages, reached the Big Horn in late August, the Green River and then the Snake. An attempt to negotiate the river in dugouts proved impracticable. After great hardships, and the splintering of his party with the loss of some personnel by mishap and otherwise, Hunt reached the Columbia January 21, 1812, and Astoria February 15. Hunt now learned of the loss of the Tonquin, the ship which brought the other half of the enterprise to the Oregon coast, but concentrated trapping was underway, nonetheless. Aboard a second supply ship, the Beaver, Hunt visited the Russian governor, Count Baranoff, at Sitka, picked up 75,000 seal skins at the Pribilof Islands and sent them to Canton, himself remaining on the Hawaiian Islands where he chartered another ship, the Albatross, to return to Astoria. His British-Canadian colleagues, aware of the War of 1812 now underway, sold Astoria to the North West Company in Hunt's absence; duplicity seems obvious. Hunt, indignant, finalized the sale and left by sea for China, reaching New York at last in 1816 and St. Louis in 1817. He settled there for the rest of his life, and died at that city.