Beckwourth, James - James Pierson Beckwourth, Mountain man - Beckwourth was born in 1798 in Fredericksburg, Virginia to an enslaved woman of African descent and Jennings Beckwourth, a white man. They moved to St. Charles, Missouri in 1806 and his father sent him to school in St. Louis from 1810 to 1814. As a youth he was apprenticed to a blacksmith to learn how to use the tools of that trade.
James Pierson Beckwourth was a mountain man, fur trader and explorer. Although he was born enslaved, he was freed and apprenticed to a blacksmith. James is credited with the discovery of a mountain pass through the Sierra Nevada Mountains between present-day Reno, Nevada and Portols, California. He also improved the Beckwourth Trail that thousands of settlers followed to central California.