Jesse Chisholm (circa 1805 - March 4, 1868) was a mixed-blood Cherokee fur trader. His name is most famous because of the namesake cattle trail, which he originally scouted and developed to supply his various trading posts among the Plains Indians in what is now western Oklahoma. Although Chisholm died before the heyday of the Texas-to-Kansas cattle drives, he was nevertheless a participant in several important events in Texas and Oklahoma history.
Chisholm's father Ignatius was of Scottish descent, and his mother Martha (née Rogers) was a Cherokee from the region of Great Hiwassee. He moved with his mother to Oklahoma during a period when Cherokees were migrating voluntarily. In 1826, Chisholm became involved in a gold-seeking party, who blazed a trail and explored the region to present day Wichita, Kansas. In 1830, he helped blaze a trail from Fort Gibson to Fort Towson. In 1834, he was a member of the Dodge-Leavenworth Expedition, who made the first contact with the southern plains Indians on behalf of the United States federal government.
Chisholm was an interpreter and general aid in several treaties between the Republic of Texas and local Indian tribes, as well as between the United States federal government and various tribes after Texas joined the United States. This diplomatic work spanned 20 years, between 1838 and 1858. During this period, he also continued in the Indian trade, trading manufactured goods for peltry and for cattle.
During the Civil War, he mostly remained neutral. Many residents of Indian Territory feared they might be massacred, either intentionally or as an accident of war if either side attempted to contend for control of the territory. He led a band of refugees to the western part of the territory. For some time, they suffered privation, as the trade had dried up during the war, as well.
At the end of the war, he settled permanently near present-day Wichita, and recommenced trade into Indian Territory. He built up what had been a military and Indian trail into a road capable of carrying heavy wagons for his goods. This road became known as Chisholm's Trail. Later, when the Texas-to-Kansas cattle drives started, the users of the trail redubbed it the Chisholm Trail.
He died at his last camp near Left Hand Spring due to food poisoning on March 4, 1868, and is buried there. Chisholm was inducted into the Hall of Great Westerners in 1974.His grave site in Blaine County is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Jesse Chisholm | | V William Edward Chisholm and Frank "Jepee" Chisholm | | V Eliza Chisholm Angeline Biddie Lee Mary Cook Alice Asbury Cora Ann McKeel Estell Ward Julia Ann Daven Port William Edward Chisholm | | V Sarah Cathrine Harris Sallie Lee Sam Lee Jr.