Synchronicitously, serendipitously I picked up one of my books on Jim Beckwourth and began to read: "I was born April 26, 1798 in Fredericksburg, Virginia."
Granted, it would have been stranger if I had done that today, but alas it was yesterday. This fact doesn't change the fact of Jim remarkable life, which I summarized into next to nothing in the Wikipedia:
James Pierson Beckwourth (a.k.a. Jim Beckwourth, James P. Beckwith) was born in Fredericksburg, Virginia in 1798 to Sir Jennings Beckwith and an African-American woman about whom little is known.
His father saw to it that his son would not suffer the vicissitudes of slavery, and thrice had him manumitted at court.
Like his father, Jim enjoyed nature, native Americans and adventure, and it was not long before he set out to explore the vast expanses of what would become that which kept the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans apart.
Places still bear his name.
Later in his life, Jim recounted his astonishing life to Thomas D. Bonner, who set the book The Life and Adventures of James P. Beckwourth, Mountaineer, Scout, and Pioneer, and Chief of the Crow Nation of Indians to type. As notable as are the adventures, Jim's linguistic and stylistic prowess also impresses as being beyond the normal scope of reportage. The lessons of the book have currency, and much can be learned that might help us understand the role of alcohol in the US Government, how occupations effect the occupied, our historical relationship to diseases, wildlife, and the environment...among other things, including massacres and war.
and added his father's mini-bio today:
Sir Jennings Beckwith is perhaps best known for being the father of James P. (Jim) Beckwith (Beckwourth), or more commonly known and spelled as Jim Beckwourth, who, among other things, was a writer, raconteur, trapper, trader, explorer, mulatto and Indian Chief. Jennings Beckwith was the son of Sir Jonathan Beckwith, signer of the Virginia Stamp Act, and grandson of Sir Marmaduke Beckwith who documented nearly every aspect of life in that part of the Northern Neck of Virginia which produced such statesmen as Washington, Lee, Mason, Carter, Tayloe, Fauntleroy, Brockenbrough, and others whose influence on the early republic was felt far and wide.
As it was a fondness of Virginians, at the time of Sir Jennings Beckwith, to regard time with relative disregard, and consider it something that one "kills", so too did Jennings have such an attitude. One obituary even said that he had "insuperable objections to spending his time profitably". But because of this freedom, he was able to travel to, what was then, the Far West, and thus help expand America...which he did -- and took his family, some of whom were of African-American descent, through their mother.
It seems Jennings Beckwith may well have brought his family out west in order to shelter them from such a life, as on three seperate occasions he saw to it that his children were manumitted. And it is obvious, from the magnificent liguistic inventory of Jim Beckwourth that he had been taught the fine details of the language.
Jennings Beckwith died at Mount Airy, the beautiful palladian ancient home of the Col. John Tayloe family. Story is told that his spirit still visits the ancient mansion.
Happy birthday, Jim!
It is also the birthday of the most wondrous invention ever...the Hubble Telescope.
Again! May you have many more years!