William Becknell

William Becknell, the husband of Hannah’s sister Mary, is widely recognized as the father of the Santa Fe Trail.

Unlike the other two men whose stories are told here, Becknell has previously been the subject of extensive research efforts. The most complete work is Larry M. Beachum’s book, William Becknell: Father of the Santa Fe Trade (El Paso, Tex.: Texas Western Press, 1982). The essential facts about Becknell’s public life have also been recognized by numerous organizations in the region where he lived, including

The following pages are not intended to repeat Beachum’s work. Instead, images and transcriptions of historical documents are presented, along with further research into Becknell’s relationship with his wife’s family. The result is perhaps a more personal portrait of the man.

Some details described by Beachum are omitted here. His book is recommended as a supplemental source of details. In some instances, of course, new or conflicting information has been found.


Table of Contents

I. Into the Frontier
Notes to Part I

II. St. Charles and the War of 1812
Notes to Part II

III. Franklin and Boone’s Lick
Notes to Part III

IV. To Santa Fe
Notes to Part IV

V. The Santa Fe Trade
Notes to Part V

VI. A Trapping Expedition
Notes to Part VI

VII. Saline County
Notes to Part VII

VIII. Missouri Legislator
Notes to Part VIII

IX. Texas and a New Republic
Notes to Part IX

X. Red River County
Notes to Part X

XI. The Last Years
Notes to Part XI

XII. Widow Mary Becknell
Notes to Part XII

Document transcriptions


Copyright 2012-2014 Gregory Hancks

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 United States License.