(May 7, 1818 - September 7, 1885)
Born in St. Louis, Missouri, Simpson had some childhood problems and headed west. The exact nature of the delinquency is not known and several stories have surfaced over the years. George's first appearance out west was in 1838 at Fort Hall, ID.
Fort Hall was a favorite gathering place for free trappers and Simpson joined a number of veterans. One of the experienced was Old Bill Williams. This group trapped successfully along the rivers throughout Idaho. A Piute party, however, stole their horses. Trailing the band and finding the camp, the trappers recovered their horses.
At a rendezvous in the spring of 1839, two groups of trappers were aligned and the wandered through western Colorado, Utah and Nevada covering some two thousand miles. He arrived at Fort Laramie in June of 1841 and joined some trappers headed to Bent's Fort. Here Simpson began a new life as a trader with the Indians. George left the employ of the Bent-St. Vrain Company to partner in the building of a post called El Pueblo. This post established the town of Pueblo, Colorado. It was a complete post with stores, blacksmith and local agriculture. When his friend Old Bill Williams arrived, they got into an argument. Simpson pulled his gun and Williams grabbed a hatchet while running behind a door. Removing the axe head, Bill stuck out the handle so it resembled a gun. George Simpson and Williams began to laugh and the matter was settled in a friendly manner.
Simpson admitted his favoring drink from time to time. Although he seemed to make his way through trading, ranching and farming, there were times when some considered him a "loafer". In 1849, he decided to visit his St. Louis home. On a Mississippi boat a cholera outbreak was occurring and the victims were being buried along the banks on the trip north. Simpson requested if he were to fall victim that his body be delivered to his father in St. Louis. George did contract the disease and was presumed dead. He was put in a coffin and packed with ice. Crew members saw the ice moved and Simpson crawled out of burial box fully recovered.
After a brief visit to California Simpson established himself in southern Colorado after a brief visit to California in freighting and other frontier type jobs. Moving near Trinidad, CO, he held various civil positions and wrote articles for the local newspaper.
Simpson's lack of discipline, weak will and dependence on alcohol inhibited great accomplishments for this educated pioneer.
George Simpson is buried on Simpson's Rest in Trinidad, CO. Simpson's Rest is a small rocky mesa and a favorite overlook for the local residents today. His grave is actually a tomb cut out of the rocky mesa. A monument with a plaque was placed over his grave, but the monument is the victim of vandalism. The plaque has been stolen and graffiti has littered the once impressive memorial.
Information compiled by Steve Grimm
Books About George Simpson
George Simpson - The Wayward Pioneer by Edward Broadhead
A pamphlet outlining the life of George Simpson.