Jedediah S. Smith was a trailblazer, brigade leader, and partner in two fur-trading companies whose travels took him throughout Utah and the West. Born in 1799, he was the first American after the Astorians to cross west over the Continental Divide, rediscovering South Pass; the first to cross overland to California, and in so doing journey the length of Utah; the first to traverse the Sierra Nevada; and the first to cross the Great Basin Desert.
In 1822 Jedediah Smith became one of the original "Ashley Men," trappers under the command of William Ashley. He ascended the Missouri River that spring under Andrew Henry's command and spent his first winter on the Musselshell River. In the spring of 1823 Smith was sent downriver to find Ashley's main group, at which time he proved his worth as a leader.