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Jean Baptiste Charbonneau
(11 February 1805 – 16 May 1866)

Sakakawea and Pomp in the Rain
Photo by Sharon Silengo

Sakakawea’s son, Jean Baptiste Charbonneau, was born February 11, 1805, while the expedition was in winter quarters at Fort Mandan, near present-day Washburn, N.D. Carried on his mother’s back, the infant Jean Baptiste accompanied the expedition west to the Pacific Ocean and back. Captain William Clark developed a particular affection for the child, calling him “my dancing boy Pomp.”

Clark offered to educate the child, taking the child into his St. Louis home when Baptiste was about six years old. In 1823 Baptiste met the traveling Prince Paul Wilhelm, Duke of Wurtemburg, who took him to Europe to live. He returned with the German nobleman to the United States in 1829, becoming a mountain man, fur trader, and later a guide for such explorers and soldiers as John C. Fremont, Philip St. George Cooke, W.H. Emory, and James Abert. In 1847 he was appointed Alcalde (an office comparable to magistrate) for the San Luis Rey mission in California. Baptiste died of pneumonia in Oregon on May 16, 1866 while on his way to the gold fields of Montana Territory.