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Bent and St Vrain collection

Identifier: COU:130

Scope and Contents

This collection includes photographs of William and Charles Bent and their families, and Ceran St. Vrain and his family and their descendants. It also includes correspondence from the descendants on the collection and information of the history and genealogy of Bent’s Old Fort.


  • Creation: 1830 - 1850

Historical Note

William W. Bent was born on May 23, 1809 in St. Louis, Missouri, and his brother Charles Bent was born November 11, 1799 in Charleston, Virginia (now West Virginia) to Silas Bent, later a Missouri Supreme Court Justice. William was a prominent trader and rancher in the American West. Charles was the first territorial governor of New Mexico briefly in the later months of 1846 before his assassination during the Taos Revolt on January, 19 1847. Ceran St. Vrain was born on May 5, 1802 in St. Louis Missouri to a French family. He became a major fur trader near Taos, New Mexico and allied with Charles Bent during the Mexican-American War. In 1832, Bent and St. Vrain partnered up to build Bent’s Fort along the Santa Fe Trail in what is now Southern Colorado. It was a major post in trade between the Americans and the Cheyenne and Arapaho tribes for over a decade. In 1849, during a great cholera outbreak, William Bent abandoned the Fort until returning in 1852. He then burned the entire fort to the ground for unknown reasons. In 1849, a newer fort was build, named Bent’s New Fort, in the Big Timber’s area.. William W. Bent died May 19, 1859 of pneumonia in Kansas City, and Ceran St. Vrain died October 28, 1870.


.5 linear feet (1 box)

Language of Materials



William and Charles Bent and Ceran St. Vrain built Bent's Fort on the Arkansas River in 1832 as a buffalo robe and fur trading post on the Santa Fe Trail. Through trade with the Kiowa, Cheyenne, and Arapahoe, Bent's Fort performed economic, diplomatic, and provisioning functions. They also built Fort St. Vrain on the South Platte River. The collection contains letters, photographs and articles about the two families and about Bent's Fort.


This collection is arranged in original order in which we attained it from the donor, with a box level inventory list.

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Repository Details

Part of the University of Colorado Boulder Libraries, Rare and Distinctive Collections Repository

1720 Pleasant Street
184 UCB
Boulder Colorado 80503 United States