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Hercules L. Dousman papers

Identifier: VAULT-Ayer-MS-18


Correspondence, agreements, powers of attorney, accounts, promissory notes, etc., of Hercules Dousman, primarily relating to his fur trade business.,Included are contractual agreements between Dousman, Sibley, and Rolette, and the American Fur Company (1834, 1841) and Pierre Chouteau Jr. & Co. (1842), and Dousman's statements of account (including several for the steamboat Ariel) with the firms. Also a power of attorney, correspondence, and other documents relating to Dousman's efforts to collect the debts of the defunct American Fur Company (1842-1857), and documents related to the settlement of Joseph Rolette's estate (1843-1845). Additional items include a ms. Dakota-English vocabulary, a volume of accounts with named Indians, the printed act of incorporation of the American Fur Company (1808, with certification by N.Y. governor Marcy, 1839), and a packing list of Joshua Palen's fur trade goods (1822).


  • Creation: 1808-1857, bulk 1840-1857
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1840 - 1857


Biographical / Historical

Wealthy Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin, fur trader and regional investor.,Born on Mackinac Island in 1800 and educated in New Jersey, Dousman worked at a New York mercantile house as a clerk and with his father at Mackinac before coming in 1826 to Prairie du Chien. There Dousman worked as an agent of the American Fur Company in partnership with Joseph Rolette (whose widow, Jane Fisher Rolette, Dousman married in 1844). In 1834, Dousman, Rolette, and H.H. Sibley became stockholders in Ramsay Crooks' reorganized American Fur Company and contracted to run the Western Outfit for Crooks. With the assignment of that company to creditors in 1842, the trio transferred their trade, becoming the Upper Mississippi Outfit of Pierre Chouteau Jr. & Co. of St. Louis.


0.4 Linear Feet (52 items in 1 box)

Language of Materials



Organized by type of document.

Ownership and Custodial History

Forms part of the Edward E. Ayer Manuscript Collection (Newberry Library).

Bibliographic References

Butler, R.L. Checklist of the mss. in the Ayer Coll.,,18

Catalog Record Only
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the The Newberry Library - Modern Manuscripts and Archives Repository

60 West Walton Street
Chicago Illinois 60610 United States