Here's another Old West character who's life was so Forrest Gump-like it's tough to swallow out of jealousy and kicking yourself for being born into the wrong era. Mr. Beckwourth lived redlining the fun meter in a way we never get to crank that needle half as high. In 1856, the appearance of the action packed Life and Adventures of James P. Beckwourth, mountainman, scout, and pioneer, and Chief of the Crow Nation of Indians offered the first published account of the escapades of a black man in the American West. He had been born a slave in 1798 or 1800 in Frederick County, Virginia. In the goldfields of California, Beckwourth dictated his rousing life story to T.D. Bonner, an itinerant justice of the peace, journalist, and temperance advocate with a heavy drinking problem. The book was an immediate success, a real top 10 on New York Times Book List if they had one back then. It was released in England later the same year, followed by a second U.S. printing and a French edition in 1860. While much of the public eagerly devoured the tales of high adventure among the Indians, others, in that time of blatant racism, dismissed the book as musings of a "mongrel of mixed blood". Critics pointed out that among his fellow mountain men, Beckwourth was jokingly referred to as a "gaudy liar". But later historians, such as Bernard DeVoto, reassessed Beckwourth and found that much of what he described actually happened. They also pointed out that to be a "gaudy liar" among mountain men was actually a compliment, since exaggerated tale spinning was a skill as valued as marksmanship and tracking. Beckwourth's autobiography remains the best account of several Indian tribes in the first thirty years of the nineteenth century. He is credited with discovery of Beckwourth Pass through the Sierra Nevadas between present day Reno, NV and Portola, CA during the California Gold Rush years, and improved the Beckwourth Trail which thousands of settlers followed to central California. He was a trapper for the Rocky Mountain Fur Company, lived with the Crow Indians for 8 or 9 years and married the chief's daughter, worked as a civilian wagon master for the U.S. Army, was a trader for Charles Bent, storekeeper, professional gambler, rancher, hotel keeper, Indian Agent, author. He stayed busy and married 5 different women and sired an unknown number of children while he was doing all this stuff. Come on, we're happy buying a car, getting married and settling down into a track house, Mr. Beckwourth had a thirst for seeing what was on the other side of that distant horizon. Like you need to drink water, this rock n' roller needed to breath air no one else ever had. His downfall ultimately came signing on as a scout for one of the biggest A holes in the American West; Colonel John Chivington, and his infamous 3rd Colorado Cavalry Regiment who perpetrated the Sand Creek Massacre. Col & Reverend John Chivington born too early to enlist in the Nazi Einsatzgruppen or them Russian NKVD squads Two years later while guiding a military column to a Crow band in Montana he started experiencing a series of unstoppable nose bleeds and severe head aches. On October 6th, 1866 he passed away. The cause of his death has never been officially determined, but the speculation was that either he was suffering from an extreme case of hypertension or he had been poisoned by the Crow because of his part in the Sand Creek genocide and couldn't be trusted any longer. Here's to a guy who knew only one direction; out yonder.