Posted by Eric Peterson
After an intro by Dan Ward, Rotarian Bob Meroney will bring to life the history of a man with Colorado ties whose life was so colorful that it defied belief.  James Pierson Beckwourth, (1798-1866) was born a slave in Frederick County, VA.  His father was Jennings Beckwith, a plantation owner, who raised James as his own.  At an early age he trapped the frontier in Missouri and then moved west to work for the Rocky Mountain Fur Company.
Beckwourth was tall, muscular, rugged, and weatherworn.  He wore his black hair to his waist or braided in long rolls decorated with brightly colored ribbons, looking like a pirate in buckskin.  He was adopted by a Crow Indian tribe in 1833, was made a war chief, took several Indian wives, and fought in battle against the Cheyenne, Blackfoot, and Sioux.  Later he joined the US Army to fight in the Seminole war in Florida.  He owned trading stores in Taos, NM, and Denver, CO.  In 1850 he discovered Beckwourth Pass, a shorter way through the Sierra Nevada mountains to the gold fields of California, and led wagon trains over the pass to Marysville, CA.  He was at the Sand Creek Massacre in Colorado, worked as a guide with Jim Bridger, and died at the age of 66 under mysterious circumstances.  He was widely known and respected for his tall tales about himself, which people assumed were lies, but later turned out to be true.  Nonetheless, he was deemed the “Gaudy Liar”. ​
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 Bob Meroney has been a Fort Collins Club Rotarian since 1990.  Past Board Director, Rotary Scholarships (Chairman 15 years), 4-Way Test participant, Program Committee, Peacebuilders Newsletter, and History Fellowship.  He has previously spoken to the club about B-17 History, Colorado Bats, Colorado Reptiles, Old Age Ain’t for Sissies, Fluids that Whirl, Rotary Codes of Conduct, Rotary Pins, Secret Messages in Corporate Logos, Art of Salvador Dali, Art of Norman Rockwell, Photoshop Disasters, Misquotes of Our Founding Fathers, and Gravestones, Tombs, Caskets, Urns & Epitaphs.  He is a self-professed licensed purveyor of Balderdash, Codswallop, Bunkum and Poppycock. ​