(May 16, 1809 - August 27, 1879)
Alexander Culbertson was born near Chambersburg, Pennsylvania to a Scots-Irish family. After working with his uncle, John Craighead Culbertson, on the Florida and Minnesota frontiers, Culbertson joined the American Fur Company in 1833.
Culbertson's contribution to expanding the west were many and varied. His headstone provides the best summary:
Major Alexander Culbertson
Born Penn. May 20, 1809
Died Orleans, NE Aug 27, 1879
An important figure in the development of the western frontier associated with the fur trade. Entered the service of the American Fur CO. 1829. Began career on the Upper Missouri 1833. In charge of Fort Mckenzie until 1840 then Fort Union and Fort Laramie - a special assignment to reestablish fur trade and save Fort from abandonment. Superintendent of the Upper Missouri outfit which included all forts on the Yellowstone and Upper Missouri rivers. 1847. Established Fort Benton, the first permanent settlement in Montana. Married Na-Ta-Wis-Cha a Blackfoot maiden about 1840. Acted as interpreter and special agent of the U.S Government in making treaties with the Indians such as the one with the Blackfeet and Gros Ventres in 1855 permitting the survey through their territory for a Pacific railroad. Blazed trails from Fort to Fort and to Indian camps which were later followed by settlers and today are routes of highways. For nearly half a century his high character and ability enabled him to make major contributions to the development of the Missouri Basin.
Alexander Culbertson is buried in the Orleans Cemetery in Orleans, NE. The cemetery is on the north side of Hwy 136 on the east side of town. Enter the cemetery and drive to the shelter which has a map of the cemetery and a listing of names and locations.
Information compiled by Steve Grimm
Books About Alexander Culbertson
Frontier Diplomats: The Life and Times of Alexander Culbertson and Natoyist-siksina' by Lesley Wischmann