SCOTSMAN IN BUCKSKIN by Mae Reed Porter

SCOTSMAN IN BUCKSKIN

Sir William Drummond Stewart and the Rocky Mountain Fur Trade
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KIRKUS REVIEW

This sprawling and undocumented book is the biography of Sir William Drummond Stewart, an eccentric and quarrelsome Scotsman who in the 1830's made many journeys through the American Far West, with fur-trading and hunting expeditions, and who later returned to his ancestral home. Born in Murthly Castle, Perthshire, in 1795, the second son of the Fifth Baronet of Murthly, William Drummond Stewart served under Wellington, fought at Waterloo, and in 1820 retired to Murthly, where he had an illegitimate son by a self-effacing girl whom he married to legitimize the boy. In 1832 after a violent quarrel with his elder brother, who had inherited the title, he came to America, to spend years in the West with trappers and fur-traders. He brought the Indian painter, Alfred Jacob Miller, to the West; he hunted big game, collected plants for the Murthly gardens, made cotton-buying trips to New Orleans, and sent live buffalo to his British friends. Inheriting the title, he returned to Murthly, to build Catholic shrines, quarrel with his relations, and adopt an unpleasant American boy who, after Sir William's death in 1871, looted Murthly of most of its treasures. The best part of this book is that dealing with Sir William's life at Murthly, which is of little interest to American readers; the rest of it is devoted to a repetitious and shopworn account of the fur trade in the 1830's, in which Sir William is often lost in a mishmash of unverified conjectures and unrelated details taken from unspecified sources.
Pub Date: May 1st, 1963
Page count: 306pp
Publisher: Hastings House
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1st, 1963