Friday, October 26, 2012

Old Joe Meek

Recently I read the diary of an old Idaho mountain man, Osborne Russell. Russell trapped beaver for the Rocky Mountain Fur Company from 1834-1843. His diary is fascinating to me because he traveled through areas I'm familiar with here in Idaho and describes these sites in graphic, poetic detail. 

In a diary entry dated August 9th, 1836 he notes that he met Marcus Whitman, one of the first missionaries to the region, during the Rendezvous at Jackson Hole in 1834. The fact that he mentions Whitman suggests that he was impressed with the man, not a small matter when men like Jim Bridger, Joe Meek, Kit Carson, Jim Beckwith, Isaac Rose, Jedediah Smith and a host of other well–known mountain men were also at the Rendezvous that year.  

Later Russell settled in Fort Hall, Idaho and read extensively from a library made available by the Chief Factor of the Hudson's Bay Company there. In the process, he came across a Bible that he began to peruse. This led to his conversion and commitment to Christ. (In the forward to the diary the editor remarks upon his reputation among mountain men as a man of great courage, but also outstanding integrity and honor.) 

Russell mentions that one of his close friends during that time was Joe Meek, a notoriously profane fellow-trapper. Some years ago I came across a letter from Meek to a family member in which he wrote, "Well, old Joe Meek has finally come to Jesus." I can't help but wonder if Russell's life influenced him in that decision. 

What fascinating stories we shall hear in heaven!


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