Toussaint Charbonneau was born in Boucherville, Quebec back in 1767. For a time, he worked as a fur trapper with the North West Company. While living with the Hidatsa people he purchased a Shoshone girl. In 1804, he was hired by Meriwether Lewis and William Clark for their expedition
While on the journey his performance was a mix, Meriwether Lewis call him “a man of not peculiar merit”. He did however, make several contributions to the success of the expedition. He also served as a cook by making a sausage made for bison meat. He and his family stayed with the expedition until August of 1806. For his service he was paid $500.33, a horse and a lodge.
In 1809, he moved his family to St. Louis where he left them in the care of William Clark, never to see them again. From 1811-1838 he worked for the Upper Missouri Agency’s Indian Bureau as a translator earning $300-400.00 per year. While is exact date of death is not known it is believed he died around 1843, he was 76.
What you may not know about Toussaint is that the Shoshone girl he purchased was named Sacagawea, their first born was Jean-Baptiste.
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