Clyman, James

Born: 1792-02-01 Fauquier County, Virginia

Died: 1881-12-27 Napa, California

Clyman moved to Ohio with his parents in 1811 and became involved in the War of 1812 as a ranger. He moved to frontier Indiana in 1818 and established a farm but gave up on agriculture in 1820. Instead, Clyman moved to Illinois where he became a surveyor. In 1823, he became affiliated with the explorer, General William Ashley, and accompanied him on an expedition up the Missouri River, which resulted in him traveling across large portions of the American West. Clyman returned to St. Louis in 1827 and then settled in Danville, Illinois. He established one of the town's first general stores with Daniel Beckwith and served in the Black Hawk War alongside Abraham Lincoln. He later managed a sawmill near Milwaukee. In 1844, Clyman accompanied one of the first emigrant parties to Oregon and explored the west coast. He set out to return to Wisconsin in 1846, encountering the Donner Party on the way back and advising them not to follow Hastings Cutoff. He only remained in Wisconsin for another two years before setting out with another emigration party to California in 1848. Once there, he married one of the emigrants, Hanna McCombs, with whom he had five children. Clyman settled in Napa with his new family and returned to farming.

Gravestone, Tulocay Cemetery, Napa, CA; James Clyman, Journal of a Mountain Man, edited by Linda M. Hasselstrom (Missoula, MT: Mountain, 1984), 1-350; Muster Roll of Captain Jacob M. Early's Company of Mounted Volunteers.